Splish Splash! Phoenix at the Pool!

Splish Splash! Pool Days!

We’re in that phase of parenting where everyday Phoenix discovers something for the first time. His first time seeing a flamingo at the zoo, his first bite of bacon, his first experience driving through a car wash and his first pool party!

Our apartment in Nashville had a pool (like most here do), but Phoenix never got to experience it. By the time I was cleared for swimming, we bought our house. I wasn’t sad to move out of our apartment, except for our easy pool access.

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Currently / / July

July

Well, I did it. I made it to July! Baby boy’s birth month! I have so many thoughts swirling in my head, it’s hard to know where to begin. Despite this pregnancy being very intentional, I still find myself feeling overwhelmed by all of the last-minute details. I’m doing my best to have our bases covered, but it’s difficult knowing what one really will needs!

Let’s dive in to July…

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Weekend Links / / Semi-Vegetarian

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^ One more from Mt. Adams!

How was your week, friends? Mine began a little haphazardly (which is normal whenever you come back from a trip!) but it turned around quickly. On Tuesday I had tea with Greta, a fellow blogger in town. I love turning internet connections into real ones.

On another note, I’ve been toying with the idea of going (mostly) vegetarian. I don’t know. I try not to get too crazy with my food choices (as the right to pick and choose what I eat is something I don’t take lightly) but the factory farming practices pervasive in this country leave me uneasy. I can’t ignore it anymore. Listening to this Fresh Air interview on pig farming was the straw that broke the camel’s… er, pig’s back…literally.

I think often of my papa (my mom’s dad) who ran a dairy farm, the exact farm he was born on in 1923. Raising cattle, pigs and chickens to only eat them later in the season was a way of life, at least for a midwestern farmer. This was prior to factory farming, a time when nothing was wasted. He even milked all of his cows himself!

Anyway, I’ve decided to take it week by week, day by day, circumstance by circumstance. I enjoy the challenge involved in creating meals around vegetables, legumes and grains. It’s been similar to the challenge when I first eliminated dairy and gluten — it feels really daunting at first, but it gets easier and I kind of enjoy it! Early in the week, I roasted a whole bunch of vegetables, cooked a batch of quinoa and prepared hardboiled eggs to help aid in quick meal preparation.

Onto the links!

Simplify Your Home: A Guide To Decluttering your Home / / Brittany’s tips on decluttering your home have come at just the right time as Jordan and I are getting serious about our belongings. This afternoon we are visiting our storage unit hopefully to downsize even more. The point which really got me thinking? Resist the urge to reorganize. I do this often. Don’t reorganize, declutter!

Ryan Adams Cover’s T-Swift  / / Have you listened yet? It’s so good! I often forgot Ryan Adams’ covers of Taylor Swift’s songs weren’t originally his. Shake it Off  wasn’t one of my favorite songs on Taylor’s 1989, but I really like Ryan’s interruption.

Workout Wednesday: Tips for Taking Up Swimming as Exercise / / Anne, while training for a triathlon, has begun swimming and is sharing her tips with us! I grew up swimming. I wasn’t ever the fastest on my teams but, technique wise, I was always fine. Swimming is a complete full body workout that happens to also be low impact — unlike running.

Remember You Are Spending Your Life / / It’s easy to wish away seasons of life. I know I do it often and Chelsea’s recent post was a good reminder to not take my time for granted and to spend it wisely.

“We really have to remember that we are spending our lives. Whether it feels like it or not. No matter how much free time you have or how much of a choice it feels like you have about your life, you’re still spending it. From what you do on your commute to work, to your lunch break, to before bed, to your day off…whatever you do, you’re spending your life.”

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos / / I received sweet potatoes in my CSA and immediately roasted them for this recipe. Delicious! I felt full and satisfied and they were excellent as leftovers throughout the week.

Happy Weekend, All!

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Styled | Crop Tops + Overalls

Crop Tops + Overalls

One of my favorite style bloggers is Kendi. Do you read her blog? Her style is a little more ladylike and dressed up for my current lifestyle, but I still love how her everyday outfits are simplistic and tangible. If I worked in an office and needed a work wardrobe, I would wear pretty much everything she pieces together.

Last summer, Kendi began wearing crop tops and I was intrigued. Could I wear them? Should I wear them? One fashion rule I learned from watching countless episodes of What Not To Wear (RIP) is choose one or two areas to show skin. Shorter hem lengths shouldn’t be pared with a low neckline and vice versa. The longer the sleeve the shorter the hemlines or neckline etc. I can do crop tops when paired with the right pieces.

Crop tops work well with overalls or high-waisted pants and skirts. The result is edgy, but not risqué. I am only slightly edgy, but definitely not risqué! Haha. Tie on a flannel and call me Angela.

So, what about you? How do you feel about crop tops?

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Crop Top + Overalls

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Something about this resurgence of 90s fashion speaks to me. I have a lot of nostalgia for this decade: Aunt Becky was the prettiest, The Cranberries had the best music and My So-Called Life and Clarissa Explains it All the ultimate television shows. My oldest brother was a teenager in the early-mid nineties and much of my taste comes from his influence.

What decade do you identify with the most?

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Madewell Overalls | Abercrombie & Fitch Crop Top (similar)  | Sandals — Old (similar) | Jordan’s Fossil Sunglasses (similar/similar)

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Weekend Links / / Experience Joy

Pool Days

I often feel the push and pull between being spontaneous (fully living up this free season we find ourselves in) and rooting deep into the hustle that can potentially take Jordan and I to unchartered waters. This weird juxtaposition has plagued me as of late. Jordan and I talk often about embracing this extra “time” we’ve been given, but I wonder what I am supposed to do with said time? I’m still working through some things.

One thing we’re doing with our time is enjoying the pool! I was a water baby and spent most of my youth as a competitive swimmer so I find water extremely calming. Plus, when it’s 90 degrees for weeks, pool time is really the way to spend an afternoon.

Onto the links!

/ / Bridget and her family are living the next three months in Italy. What a fun adventure! I can’t imagine a better way to spend your husband’s sabbatical than traveling throughout the country of your choice! Where would you choose to live for three months? I would probably choose London as my home base but spend a lot of time out in the countryside à la a character from a Jane Austen novel.

/ / 10 Lessons Learned from the Home-Buying Process. I will reference back to this when it comes time for us to purchase a home.

The tip I found most useful? “Buy smaller than you think you need.” The larger the place, the easier it is to accumulate more stuff!

/ / How I Am Reading More. My podcast kick is still going strong. When I have spare time or need a distraction while cleaning, I reach for my phone and hit play. The problem with this new-found love? I’m not reading nearly as often. Audible’s service sounds appealing, but our library system actually offers a similar program (you can rent audio books straight to your phone!).

There are a lot of classics I started reading a number of years ago, but never finished. One of those is Jane Austen’s, Emma. I began listening to the unabridged audio this week. Do you enjoy listening to audio books?

/ / Experiencing Joy. The way Betsy is walking through her family’s battle with cancer (and other life events) is inspiring.

“This earth is broken and fallen.  War, disease, accidents that cut a life too short.  All of those things could absolutely leave a person in total despair. But thank goodness for a God who restores, who redeems, and who brings joy.” 

/ / How to Roast Vegetables + Combination Ideas. I really need a new roasting pan. Something happened to mine over the years!

Happy Weekend, all!

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Summertime Essentials + A Giveaway

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Even though autumn is about a month away, I don’t feel like our summer weather is ending anytime soon. That is one perk about living a little further south! I am careful about sun exposure, especially during the summer months, but I enjoy the endless possibilities summer brings to my day: early morning walks for coffee before the sun gets too hot, afternoon dips in the pool and backyard parties that reach late into the night. It’s the best.

Because our summer days have been full, I try to leave the house fully equipped. On Saturday alone, Jordan and I worked in the morning, spent a few hours in a friend’s pool that afternoon and in the evening we went to two birthday gatherings! My tote bags have gotten a lot of use lately. 😉

I’m teaming with Summer and several other bloggers to give one lucky winner a bag full of our summertime essentials!

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Weekend Links / / Reunited

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Today is a good day. Today, Jordan returns home from London! I can’t wait to meet him at the airpot! I’m grateful he’s had the opportunity to travel more for work, but I sure did miss him. I found plenty of ways to occupy my time this week (err 10 days) — I baked some, cleaned some and met up with friends, but Jordan is my person and I just love being near him.

It’s been in the 80’s all week, our farmers market opened on Tuesday, and I finally ordered a new swim suit. Summer in Nashville has arrived!

I had A LOT of time to read blogs this week and it wasn’t easy to narrow down which posts to share! Let’s get right to it.

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Scenes from the Road

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After 19 + hours on the road, traveling through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas we are finally in New Mexico! Whew! I seriously don’t know how truck drivers do their job. My body does not like to sit for that long.

A few lessons I learned on the road:

1 | Stop frequently to swap out drivers or just stretch your legs! We probably added an extra hour, but in the long run it was worth taking that moment to snap photos of that Texas storm and get some fresh air.

2 | Avoid the dollar menu. Splurge a little and order that salad. Fast food is somewhat unavoidable on the road (unless you are really organized and and pack all your meals), but most places have healthier options.

3 | Ignore your instincts to leave the hairspray behind. You will want it.

4 | Time will go by quicker if you allow yourself to get a little silly. Jordan and his brother spent about 20 minutes conversing exclusively in exaggerated southern accents. Every time I tried joining in, I couldn’t stop laughing.

5 | “Car face” is a real condition.

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^ Taking a dance break.

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{Dairy-free} Coconut Whipped Cream

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When eliminating a dietary group (in my case dairy), the multitasking ability of food will suddenly reveal itself with just a little poking around. Maybe it’s fairly common knowledge in tropical climates, but living in the Midwest, the different uses for coconut products never crossed my mind. Jordan and I use coconut milk in smoothies and of course coconut flakes in baking, but the creativity stopped there. Oh, how little did I know!

My friend, Lauren, mentioned using coconut cream and powdered sugar to make whipped cream (I didn’t even know coconut cream existed). I decided to give it a try and I’m so glad I did, because it is really good! Whipped cream is not something I make or consume regularly, but considering traditional ice cream is out for awhile, this will be my go-to treat for summer nights.

After searching pinterest for inspiration, I added lemon juice and vanilla to the base. This was a suggestion from the blog, Love and Lemons. I’m not sure why, but most sources that I found said to refrigerate canned coconut milk and then separate the cream from the milk. I skipped that step and used canned coconut cream.

I’m looking forward to fresh summer berries with a dash of this cream because this is seriously one of the best “whipped creams” I’ve ever tasted!

Coconut Cream

You will need:

1 can coconut cream (refrigerated overnight)
1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 – 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I like it with the extra vanilla)
splash of lemon juice

Instructions:

Cream the coconut the same way you would for a traditional whipped cream (hand-held or stand mixer). Once it has reached the desired consistency (it took just a few minutes), slowly incorporate the rest of the ingredients.

Chill and serve over berries, pie, cake, granola or alone on a spoon 🙂

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^sometimes our dining room table is for creating and not for eating 🙂

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Essential Chicago | Lincoln Park Zoo

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This summer  has been particularly special. Not because of any grand event, but mainly a bunch of small wonderful ones. Playing tennis in the afternoons, walks to the library (stopping at Dairy Queen perhaps) and lots of visits with friends and family. After experiencing a long work commute for a few years, I wanted to regain lost time and it is finally starting to come back.

Many have asked me if I was scared when Jordan began working for himself, but honestly I was more excited for the possibilities. This is the first summer in years that my work scheduled has leaned in my favor with very little coaxing. Having a few Saturdays off in a row has been amazing! Jordan and I have taken full advantage by turning off the computers, leaving the office (our house) and exploring outside. A few weekends ago we decided to brave the crazy July heat and spend time at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The LPK zoo is one of the few free attractions in the city. The zoo is lush (almost tropical) and displays amazing views of the Chicago skyline. The animals were lazily taking naps in the shade and overall unimpressed with us humans. My favorites were the kangaroos and camels!

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Before we left in the morning, Jordan decided last-minute to throw towels in the trunk of our car. It was a good call. After walking the zoo (and enjoying the surrounding neighborhood) we journeyed to the beach and enjoyed the lake breeze. Lake Michigan is really quite beautiful. We can’t wait to go back!

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