A Blueberry Adventure

Last weekend we ventured out to a Blue Harvest Farms for our annual blueberry picking trip with our friends Beth, and Steve and their three kids. We have made this a family tradition and its so much fun to go each year and fill our buckets with delicious, fresh berries!

I die of cuteness overload with that hat on Kolbe! One thing I wasn't expecting was for Kolbe and Joseph to be excellent little berry pickers! Those two definitely helped us fill up our buckets quickly. We gave them a mission and they took it seriously. 

The boys do the hard labor and the ladies relax:

When we got home, Kolbe begged me to make blueberry muffins with him (and then picked out all the blueberries and ate the muffin part...so typical!)

I played around with a couple of recipes and since I'm known to never follow a recipe 100%, I ended up coming up with one of my own. 

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If you find yourself with a bucket full of blueberries, then give these a shot. They came out delicious and they're mostly gone by now. Even Annabelle has enjoyed a muffin or two =)

Delicious Blueberry Muffins

2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4-1/2 cup raw honey (I used 1/4 but add up to a 1/2 to taste)

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup unsalted butter (or just use all coconut oil)

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk (quick homemade version: pour 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup, then pour whole milk over it until reaching the 1 cup mark and let sit for 5 minutes)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

sprinkle of sugar 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees and spray a 12 muffin tin to coat. 

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, mix together honey, coconut oil, butter, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla until well blended.

4. Pour in flour mixture and beat until well blended. 

5. Carefully fold in blueberries until they are evenly spread throughout batter.

6. Fill each muffin cup to the brim and sprinkle a small amount of sugar on top of each muffin.

7. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350F degrees and bake for 13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

8. Let muffins cool on baking rack and enjoy!

And because I can't resist, here's a little throwback from our blueberry picking adventures in the past. We have decided to keep taking this picture every year for as long as the boys will let us =)



A Tribute...

If I had to choose just one word, it would be Integrity. From the first day that I met you, this particular characteristic shone forth from your very being and it continues to shine today in everything you do. These past eleven years have taught us both so much about each other, about life, and about the gift of self, but one of the greatest lessons you have taught me is how to be a person of honor. At first, it was a tough lesson for me, but you always chose the path to goodness, even if it was also the, often less traveled, path of hardship.

Throughout the years of giving of yourself to me, first in our dating relationship, and later in becoming one within our marriage vows, I have come to realize the strength of character that it takes to be a person of integrity. I find myself constantly looking to you (and to Christ!) for leadership and guidance and I am ever so thankful that you are ready and able to fulfill that role in our marriage, and as the leader of our family. Because of your integrity, our children and myself have a constant example of honesty, trustworthiness, fairness, levelheadedness, and many more virtues that I could fill this page with.

Thank you for always choosing goodness; for allowing peace to reign in your heart and therefore, in my heart and the hearts of Kolbe and Annabelle. I'm so grateful to God for giving me the gift of your beautiful soul to have here on Earth. I love you so very much!

Happy Father's Day....

Happy 11 year (dating) anniversary....

and Happy Birthday to you, Matt, the best man I know! You are my everything =)

May your life always be a light to everyone that you encounter. And may we continue to make wonderful, goofy, and fun memories for years to come.

Annabelle Update: The Foodie Edition

Well hello there, its been a while. I've missed this place but life is so full at the same time that I struggle to find a moment to sit down and document things. I've got things like this happening over here: 

As you can guess, Annabelle is growing and delighting us all with her charming ways. She has been a very laid back baby since birth in every department, easy to please, and rarely makes an angry sound (unless tired or hungry but who can blame her? I do that too--just ask Matt haha)

Her face lights up if anyone so much as looks at her and she is so easy to make laugh. We all love her so much and she has been the perfect little addition to our family these past 7.5 months. 

Part of her laid back temperament means that she is in no hurry to try new things and prefers to lay around with a chew toy all day or hang out in someone's arms. She just recently started sitting up on her own and can now roll around like a ninja all over the house. Its so hard not to compare her to Kolbe who was in such an eager hurry to do all the new things! 

The girl LOVES her sleep and prefers to take 3 naps a day ranging anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 1/2 hours. She usually goes to bed around 6pm, wakes up to eat once around 2am and then is up for the day around 630am. Although she's an early riser, it makes me happy that she is well rested and its also nice to have that evening time to give my attention to Matt and Kolbe.

She's weighing about 16 pounds, is still breastfed plus she eats three meals of solid food per day. I'm loving introducing her to new flavors and textures.

When Kolbe was an infant, I took the pureed baby food approach and while that is a perfectly acceptable way of doing things, it was too much hassle for us in the hustle and bustle of life. Plus I always felt like I was worried about how much he was actually eating and he wasn't always super into it. Fast forward to Annabelle and I decided that we would be taking a way more laid back approach this time around to save my sanity. Enter Baby Led Weaning - a method of introducing solids where the baby takes the lead in figuring out how to feed herself, and then decides how much or little to eat. Pretty much I just sit back and let her do her thing. 

A little after she turned 6 months, we started by giving her little bites of banana and she's been impressing us ever since. I've never seen a toothless baby eat so much! In the very beginning, she couldn't pick up food yet so we helped her by putting little bits in her mouth and following her satiety cues but now that she's a little older, she's become pretty proficient at it and doesn't need our help so much anymore.  

Of course, I've been keeping with the pediatric guidelines (no honey before a year, wait a few days to introduce a new food to watch for allergies etc) but we are basically just giving her smaller, softer versions of what we are eating for dinner. 

She has zero teeth, but has been chewing her food since the first day she tried it. I have no idea how she knew how to do that! 

We have evolved to doing a combination of Baby Led Weaning + some pureed food pouches when we are on the go for convenience sake, but for the most part, we have been sticking to letting her feed herself and just sitting back and watching the show. Every single meal, I have to cut her off after I feel like she's had a ton and even then, she cries because she wants more....what a tough life =)

I know the picky food preferences of the toddler years are approaching (trust me, I'm still living it with Kolbe!) but for now, we are rolling with the ease of a baby who wants all the food!

And in case you're in the market, here's a list of Annabelle's favorite foods (for babies who are six months or older):


The Triduum + Easter Weekend

We had a packed schedule the last few days for the Triduum and Easter. I love this season of the Church because it truly encompasses in itself the mystery of what Jesus did for us. In Lent we are called to die to the desires of our flesh so that we can receive new life at Easter, figuratively speaking of course. The solemn and still darkness of the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) are some of the most intriguing days of the year for me, mainly because it is during this time that the world stands still in anticipation of the Passion, death and Resurrection. The darkness must occur for the light to shine afterwards, and this short liturgical season never fails to remind me of that simple but powerful Truth.

HOLY THURSDAY

We didn't do anything too special on this day, except for read the story of the Last Supper from Kolbe's Children's bible while we ate dinner. I'd love to add some more Holy Thursday traditions, maybe recreating the Last Supper here at home or something along those lines. But this year, we kept it low key.

GOOD FRIDAY

One of our family's traditions for Good Friday is the Walk of the Nine Churches in uptown and downtown New Orleans. I've been partaking in this walk for the past 13 years missing only one year because it was around Kolbe's due date. There are so many beautiful and ornate Catholic churches in New Orleans, which makes it easy to walk from one to the other starting uptown and ending at St. Louis Cathedral downtown. Our group of 20 or so people usually stops and prays one or two stations of the cross at each church and then we regroup and continue to the next one. This year we took both of our littles to experience the walk, and although this is Kolbe's third time doing it, this is the first time he really experienced it. It was one of the best Good Fridays I have had in years, spiritually speaking, since Matt and I spent most of the day explaining to Kolbe the story of Jesus' passion and death. It allowed me to recall all of the details and events in such great detail because of Kolbe's inquisitive personality, and for that I am so grateful. 

We only did about six churches this year because the kids had reached their limit, so after we were done, we hopped on the streetcar (their first ride--they loved it!) that took us back to our car. It was a beautiful and holy Good Friday indeed.

*Sidenote* I'm just going to brag on my girl a little here and say that she is SUCH a peaceful baby....We waited for an emtpy streetcar for over 30 minutes, rode it for another 20 + the 10 minute walk back to the car and I never heard a peep from her. Seriously, not one. She's the mellowest, which clearly she gets from her dad ;)

HOLY SATURDAY

On Holy Saturday we joined Matt's extended family for a family reunion and to celebrate his grandpa's 90th birthday. What an awesome feat! 

Later that night, we had a family movie night and watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch, and the Wardrobe with Kolbe. To say he loved it is an understatement! Although the plot line and language were a bit advanced for him, he loved all of the action and adventure, animals, and magic. It was a great tool to help explain the story of Jesus' sacrifice to Kolbe in terms he could more easily understand. 

"Aslan is on the Move" =)

EASTER SUNDAY

After enjoying a breakfast of eggs, bacon, fruit, and coffee (for me!), we headed to Easter mass. 

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...and then we headed to City Park in New Orleans for a family picnic. We had a blast, and enjoyed some delicious food. Unfortunately the rain came a little early and forced us to leave but not before the kids enjoyed a mini Easter egg hunt!

I hope you all had a happy and blessed Easter weekend!