10 Layer Salad Recipe

I love Salad! It’s just one of those foods that makes me feel good when I eat it. I love putting a lot of ingredients in my salad. When I’m craving salad, I usually search my kitchen pantry and fridge to see what ingredients I have that would go great in salad.

Recently I made something I call a 10 layer salad, as I layered my salad with 10 different ingredients. Here is what you’ll need for this recipe:

Ingredients

  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Green Olives
  • Black Olives
  • Tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Ranch Dressing

And literally all you do is add one ingredient at a time, creating layers in a large bowl. For example I did lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumbers, carrots, green olives, black olives, shredded cheese, roasted chickpeas and Ranch dressing. And that’s it!!! Such a perfect dish for any summer occasion.


If you are wondering how to roast chickpeas, check out my other blog post: Roasted Chickpea Recipe.

Reblog: Making Peace with God

The following post was written after my first loss in 2019. In this post I discuss my crisis of faith and the peace I felt when I had finally come to terms with my first loss.


So I’m gonna be honest… I have been dreading writing this post. It’s not because it’s hard, I’m lazy or I just don’t want to talk about being restored in Jesus. I mostly think, my hesitation for writing this post is because I am so humbled and gracious for all God has provided for me. I am also feeling somewhat guilty for how I have treated Him.


Before I really dive into this post, I should give you a little background of my beliefs and faith. I grew up going occasionally to a white nondenominational church. I did this off and on with my aunt until I was about 10 years old. When I was 11 I started attending a weekly bible study with my friend and even attended Lake Ann Camp for a week. It was here that I asked Jesus into my heart and to forgive all my sins. I was born again. When I was 12 I started going with my best friends to a larger white baptist church. I faithfully went to that church for about 6 years. At this church I attended many church camps, found growth and strength in my relationship with Jesus as well as wonderful fellowship with friends. I also was baptized and learned how to be a God fearing, woman of God. When I was 19 I attended my first mission trip. I knew of many people who had been on mission trips and claimed they were life changing, but I didn’t believe it until I experienced it. I traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where I met so many children, created food packages, clothing bundles and even helped build houses for widows and their children. This trip changed my life. At 19 I also started teaching 2 and 3 year olds in children’s church. Even though I felt lost in the church, I was slowly starting to discover my purpose.

When I was 19 almost 20, I decided to start attending my husband’s black nondenominational church (we were only dating at the time). Part of the reason I made the switch to a new church again is simply because, I just felt lost not knowing my identity in church or feeling like I had much of a church family. At this church it was smaller and I felt more at home and accepted. It was here my relationship with Jesus really took off. I was able to grow in skills of faithfulness, trust and even obedience.


“WE GOT MARRIED IN THE SAME CHURCH MY GRANDPARENTS WERE MARRIED IN 50+ YEARS AGO.” 


Before meeting my husband, I had developed boundaries, and goals of what and how I would like to be pursued by a man, how I wanted to engage in a courtship instead of a dating relationship, and what I would like as far as values and characteristics of my future husband. When I met Charles, he wasn’t totally familiar with courtship, but he completely valued a Christian based relationship. We courted for two years, and were engaged for three months. We got married in the same church my grandparents got married in 50+ years ago. Our wedding was beautiful with traditional vows, our first kiss at the alter, and the moment I gave my purity ring to my groom. I wouldn’t change a thing.


Fast forward to January 2019, when I became pregnant. Charles and I had been married for two years and two months. Both still faithful Christians, going to church at least every other week, and thanking God for all that we have. I was content and even excited in where I was. I was pregnant, about to be a mom. We shared this news with my church family, and they rejoiced with us. Everything was great, not perfect but pretty close.

My heart and all my hopes and dreams shattered when we lost MacKenzie. Since there was no concrete reason for such a terrible loss, who could we blame? Well… unfortunately, I chose to blame God. The one being who is In charge of the whole universe, I assumed He had control over this situation and He let me down. I would even go so far to say at the time I hated Him. I cringe at even admitting that. But it’s true. My anger and my hatred was so strong at myself and at God.


“MY ANGER AND MY HATRED WAS SO STRONG AT MYSELF AND AT GOD.” 


The time between my ultrasound and by surgery, I didn’t really pray much. I think if I did it was just asking things like “Why God?” and “How could you?” I know I worried I would end up miscarrying naturally, before my surgery, but I don’t think I prayed about it. I had hundreds of people praying for me, which was comforting because at the time I just didn’t have the strength. The only time I remember praying was as I was getting rolled to the operating room. I was so sad. I wanted to die. However, I didn’t want to die and hurt other people. I couldn’t bare imagining dying and leaving my friends and family behind to grieve and mourn my loss. So, I prayed. I asked God to get me through. When I woke up from surgery I cried, screaming and told God I hated Him. It was awful. I was still under anaesthesia but I felt like I was watching myself scream from outside my body. I’m ashamed at how I was acting. But honestly, this is what heartbreak looked like.

The weeks following the miscarriage, I continued to fall into depression and blame God. It really hurt my husband to see me like this. I refused to go to church for over a month. I didn’t want anyone to say anything to set me off. I also just didn’t want to come to Jesus and praise His name. So I didn’t. I cried at home, and journaled instead.

By about 5 weeks after the miscarriage, I decided to go back. It wasn’t because I wanted to find comfort in Jesus, it was because I missed my church family. When we went back we were greeted by some kind words as well as some not so helpful words. Most people at the church knew what had happen, but still didn’t know how to react. Once I was there, I was ready to leave. I didn’t want to be there anymore, I came to church but that’s it. That was enough for me at the time.


” I DON’T REALLY THINK I HAD ONE ‘COME TO JESUS’ MOMENT, BUT RATHER A BUNCH OF LITTLE MOMENTS…”


So, looking back I don’t really think I had one Come to Jesus moment, but rather a bunch of little moments that helped me. After many conversations with my mom, she helped me see that having a baby in Heaven who is perfect, living joyfully and without pain is sometimes better than having a baby here on earth who is sick and in pain all their life. Seeing various rainbows in the sky, gave me peace. It was like a spiritual humbling peace, that showed me that my baby was okay up in Heaven. Going to church and having my sister-in-law pray over me was also so powerful. She just kept saying something good would come out of this, double for my trouble so to speak. But the most surprising moment that happen, was more about Charles grief than mine. As we were praying at church one day, he just burst out crying. He was crying in anguish and devastation that mirrored my own devastation and heart break. This was a side of him I had never seen before.

Through all of these moments and more, I realized yet again there is an all powerful and loving God. He is the creator of the universe, the planets and the stars… and yet He cares for me! He loves me. I am just a spec on this large planet, but to Him I am everything. I am His daughter. i was wounded, I was angry, and I was broken… and He still loved me. My baby died, but it wasn’t His fault. He allowed it to happen for a reason. The reason being she would have been in pain here on earth, and he knew if I had to watch her in pain everyday, that would have destroyed me more than miscarrying her. He is a gracious and good God.

It has taken me a really long time to get here, but I have. I’ve made peace with God. Even though it hurt, and it still hurts I know it happened for a reason. I know I have a little baby up in Heaven watching over me. I know she is living her best life probably chasing a butterfly. I know she’s okay.

I cry as I write this because I was so awful. I was wrong. Jesus took my baby home, for everyone’s best interest, and for that I am grateful. He is good. I’ve made my peace. I’ve said I’m sorry and I’m trying to do better. I can’t believe I’m saying this but, I am thankful for this lesson of grief and love. I am so thankful I was able to carry my baby, if only for a short time. And I am so thankful that even though I constantly pushed Him away, Jesus never left me, and when I came running back to Him… He welcomed me with love and open arms.

“Be Still and KNOW that I am God.” – Psalms 46:10

Creating a Baby Routine

Now that my baby is 3 months old, I have decided to try to implement more structure to our day-to-day life and set a routine for myself and my baby. Since he is still very little, I am not expecting our routine to be very strict, but rather would like to have repetitive tasks throughout the day that can help my baby feel more secure and allow myself to better plan out each day as it comes.

Our current routine is pretty basic.

  • After each nap baby wakes up, gets changed, has a feeding, burps and snuggles mommy or whoever is caring for him.
  • He has 8 feedings in a 24 period and eats every 2-4 hours.
  • He has anywhere from 1 to 4 naps in a day.
  • Baths are at night before bed 2-3 times a week.
  • Tummy time, swing, music and sensory play happen periodically throughout the day, but at least 3 times.
  • With the weather getting nice we sometimes go on a walk or spend a few minutes on our balcony.

Below is an example of what I would like our routine to look like between now and when he turns 6 months old.

I’m hoping by 6 months we will be very close to our baby sleeping through the night, but we shall see.

This is only the general framework of our routine, I’ll keep you posted on how things are going! 💕

Sprucing Up Baby Boy’s Nursery

In the past few weeks as our baby boy has gotten older, we have been sprucing up Baby Bear’s nursery!

This crib was a gift from family friends who buy storage units. It’s considered a mini crib which is perfect for apartment living. We also put up the animal pictures which were a gift from a coworker off of my registry,

A majority of our son’s books are in the living room, however I like to keep a couple in his bedroom for easy access and late night story time.

We have continued to keep his shelf with bins full of clothes and it is perfect and a very efficient system.

Matthew started rolling around 7 weeks of age. He is now 10 weeks as I write this. Between 7 and 8 weeks we transitioned Matthew from the bassinet to the crib. However, we have kept the bassinet and are using it as a diaper changing station until he fully grows out of it.

This diaper caddy has been a lifesaver. We love having everything accessible and organized for diaper changes.

I decided to also create a bath time basket where all his wash cloths, soaps, shampoos, extra diapers and brushes can be found. I also am hanging his towels on a hook nearby where it can be easily found. I am currently storing this in his room while we continue to give him baths in the kitchen sink. Once we switch to doing baths in the bathroom, I would imagine we will move everything there.

Finally, I’ve continued to store blankets, sheets, bibs, socks and shoes on this shelf.

Thanks for taking this fun little tour of our Baby Boy’s updated nursery! 💕

People Who Inspire Me: Meet My Mom

Mom… a simple 3 letter word that means the world to me. When I was little, I had one constant in my life. I had one person in my life that cared for and loved me every single day. I had one person that fed me, changed me, hugged me, kissed me good night, sang You Are My Sunshine, and showed me what it looks like to love someone else, and that person is my mom.

As a preteen and teenager life was pretty rough and confusing. I can recall countless times of feeling hurt and rejected by friends. I can remember many embarrassing and awkward moments, that I don’t care to share or relive. But through all the heartache, changes and confusion my mom was always there.

When I first met my husband, and I didn’t know if I should allow myself to let my guard down and actually open my heart up to someone else, my mom was there. She listened and talked me through it. She taught me what I should look for in a husband and how I deserved to be treated.

When I went through my biggest events of my life, my two miscarriages; my mom was there. My mom never left me alone. She too had suffered loss and knew full well the pain and grief I was living through. She felt my pain, she understood it, and she wore my heartbreak too.

I honestly don’t know what I would do without my mom. I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her. She’s amazing. She inspires me to be a good person. She has conquered so much in her young life and been dealt a pretty crappy hand at times, and yet she keeps pushing forward. She still finds joy in the little things like her playful cats, or watching America’s Funniest Home Videos on a Sunday night.

My mom taught me practically everything I know. She taught me how to love others, show compassion and empathy, how to clean, create a budget, do everyday household chores, how to read and study, she taught me how to use coupons and get a good deal, and how to turn a few simple ingredients into an amazing meal. My mom has taught me a lot. But more than anything, my mom taught me how to be a good mom. From growing up and watching her raise me, I have been able to learn how to selflessly be a good mom myself. I don’t think I’m anywhere near as good of a mom as she is, but I’m learning, I’m growing and she is still there when I need help.

Mom, I know you’re reading this and I hope you know that I don’t think I can truly ever thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me. For now, I think the best thanks I can give you is watching you be an amazing grandma to my son. So thank you Mom. Thanks for raising me, teaching me and loving me. I can’t wait for my baby to grow up and get to know the amazing person that I call Mom. ❤️

My 2022 Goals Check In

1. GIVE BIRTH TO OUR BEAUTIFUL RAINBOW BABY! ✅
2. START A SMALL BUSINESS ON THE SIDE (In the planning process)
3. FINISH READING THE ENTIRE BIBLE (In process)
4. MOVE TO A BIGGER PLACE TO FIT OUR FAMILY OF 4! (On hold for now)
5. PUBLISH 1 OF MY BOOKS (In the editing process)
6. PAY OFF HALF OF MY CAR (In process)
7. KNIT CHARLES A SWEATER (In process)
8. CREATE A WILL (Haven’t started)
9. MAKE MONEY BLOGGING AND TURN MY BLOG INTO A JOB FROM HOME (Haven’t started)
10. WRITE 500 BLOG POSTS (In process, 344 written so far!)

1 goal met, several in process and 9 months or so left in 2022. Let’s keep on a keeping on!

Reblog: My First Mother’s Day as an Angel Mommy

The following blog post was written in May of 2019 after my first loss.

Mother’s Day Part 1

During one of my counseling sessions in April, I discussed with my counselor how I was dreading Mother’s Day. Even though my baby would not have been born during this Mother’s Day, just the thought of seeing kids celebrating their moms would be triggering for me. My counselor suggested that I make plans for the day and how I wanted to celebrate.

I talked it over with my husband and we decided to take an over night getaway to Silver Beach, St. Joe. All week long as we prepared for the trip, I obsessively watched the weather. It wasn’t until Thursday that it said it was going to rain all weekend. Bummer. Never the less we still went.

On the drive there we picked up some coffees from Biggby and enjoyed the ride. We had a really nice conversation about work, school, our future together and everything in between. This trip was relaxing and well needed. When we arrived at our hotel, we checked in and went to our room. It was gorgeous. We were on the 6th floor with a beautiful view of the city and Lake Michigan. We spent that afternoon doing some shopping and heading to dinner at a local brewery. We enjoyed some delicious burgers and fries, and continued talking about our future as husband and wife and as parents.

I brought up the topic of kids and when we wanted to try again and start a family. As much as both our desires are strong and we want kids, we both knew we still had some healing to do. I really wanted to work on myself this summer by physically losing weight and being healthier. I also wanted to be emotionally and mentally in a better space. Lastly, I still needed to find some spiritual healing and make peace with God as I was still quite angry with him. Charles wanted to work on himself as well by getting a better job, saving more money, eating healthier and just continuing to grow in our marriage.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and went swimming in the pool and hot tub. There weren’t a lot of people and it was very relaxing. After swimming we rested in our hotel room for a little bit. As the sun started to set we headed down to the beach. It was very chilly but comforting. As one way to remember my baby that Mother’s Day weekend, I wrote her name in the sand. I knew she was in Heaven and I had faith that she could see it from where she was. 🧡


Mother’s Day Part 2

On the morning of Sunday May 12th, 2019; I was greeted with a variety of different emotions. It was Mother’s Day. It was the first Mother’s Day that I felt different. Every other Mother’s Day in the past I celebrated my mother, grandma and other motherly figures in my life. However this year, when that pregnancy test turned positive, I immediately had dreams of spending my first Mother’s Day pregnant, and my second with my beautiful baby. Everything in me wished things were different, and I was still pregnant. But sadly that wasn’t the case.

I spent the morning watching the sunrise and writing a blog post. When my husband woke up he wished me a happy Mother’s Day. We got dressed and headed down to the continental breakfast that was being served downstairs. As we ate breakfast I messaged and wished all the moms I knew a happy Mother’s Day. I also received some very heart felt messages from my mom, friends and other family members.

That afternoon Charles and I headed back down to the beach. As a part of my mission to advocate for Angel Mommies, I decided to join in the Blue Mother’s Day Campaign. This is a campaign that brings awareness to all kinds of moms, whether their babies are here on earth or in Heaven. To show support this Mother’s Day I drew a blue heart on my hand in memory of my baby girl Mackenzie.


Mother’s Day Part 3

On the way home from the beach, Charles and I stopped by my parents house. We ate dinner with my parents and gave my Mom and Grandma Mother’s Day gifts. It was a bittersweet day, but I was thankful to celebrate it with my family. Before leaving my mom let me go into her flower garden and pick a few flowers to take home.

On the drive back home, I admired and appreciated the beautiful flowers that rested in the vase on my lap. I cherished their beauty and reminisced the day. I thought about how I celebrated Mother’s Day. I also reflected back to that January evening when I found out I was pregnant… and all the many memories that led me to this moment. As I reflected back I became overwhelmed with emotion. All of the feelings of this day had hit me and I sobbed on the way home. Rain hit the windows of the car, and it was as if God was crying with me. As I continued crying, I looked down at the flowers in my lap, and was simply amazed by what I saw. The beautiful flowers I had picked out of my Mother’s garden were now opening and blooming right before my eyes. In between tears I watched in amazement and pointed it out to Charles. Even through my grief and sadness of this day, I was still able to find a little joy. ❤️

How to Style a Bookshelf

I think bookshelves can be so pretty. It’s practically art when you take the time to decorate and organize pieces of your home. Here are a few tips I use to style a bookshelf

.

1. Don’t clutter your bookshelf with just books.

2. Add some decor such as a sign, a picture frame or even a faux plant.

3. Make your book placement intentional. Whether you organize your books alphabetically, by genre, or simply tallest to smallest, make it intentional. Don’t make it look like you just tossed them up there.

4. Add some sort of space for treasures or basic household items, such as a small box or 3 tier drawer.

5. Adding notebooks, paper and pens looks great too!

6. Finally, add something above your bookshelf that catches the eye, such as an inspiring quote, a clock or a piece of artwork.

And ta-da! You now have a stylish bookshelf!!!

My 6 Week Postpartum Appointment

At 6 weeks postpartum, I left my baby for the second time. The first time I left him to go grocery shopping for about an hour and a half. The second time I left for my 6 week postpartum appointment and my 2 hour glucose test.

On a chilly Tuesday morning, I went to the hospital and did my two hour glucose test. The drink was disgusting and I didn’t enjoy sitting in the waiting room for two hours. The entire time I texted friends, checked in on my baby as he was getting babysat by Grandma and Grandpa and thought about what I was going to have for breakfast the moment the test was completed.

Thankfully, my glucose test came back normal and I no longer had any form of diabetes. I then had an hour to kill before my OB appointment. I enjoyed a salad and sandwich at the nearby cafe and continued calling my mom to check on my baby. To my surprise he was doing great. He played, took a nap, and ate just fine. For a moment or two I was able to sigh with relief knowing he was being taken care of and I could take a moment to enjoy some time by myself.

At my 6 week postpartum appointment everything looked great. To my surprise, I had lost weight since giving birth. The scale showed that I now weighed 9lbs lighter than I did when I first got pregnant. I was put on birth control and made a plan to continue my anxiety meds. I was also told my abdominal muscles weren’t completely fused back to where they were pre-pregnancy and I needed to take it easy when it came to strenuous activity and working out.

After a long 4 hours I was finally able to see my baby. I missed him so much. It was a huge milestone for me to leave for a little while and trust others to take care of my baby, but I did it. ❤️

Kid’s Corner: Paper Plate Ice Skating

Do you have some busy bees in your home who seem to constantly be on the move? Do you feel like the walls are closing in when it’s raining or too cold to send the kids outside? Do you ever run out of ideas of indoor activities to try with your kids?

Well, here is a simple idea that your kids will love! This activity is perfect for kids ages 2-5! All you need is these two around the house items: Paper Plates and Markers.

First, give your child two paper plates. Explain to them that you are going to create ice skates! Provide your child with markers to decorate the plates. You can even include other art supplies such as stickers, paint, glitter glue, etc.

Once your child has finished decorating their skates (paper plates), then place the plates on the floor. Demonstrate for your child how to step and slide on the carpet while remaining on the paper plates.

Once your child has mastered sliding across the room while using their ice skates, throw on some music and let them go to town!

Organizing Our Laundry Room

Recently, in between feedings, naps, snuggles and baths; I decided to take some time in my laundry room and do a little organization.

In a one bedroom apartment we really don’t have a ton of space. However, I absolutely love having a washer and dryer in our apartment and not having to drag our laundry to a community laundry room.

Our laundry room is a mix of a storage room, pantry, baby boy’s closet, laundry room and furnace room.

Regardless we are thankful for what we have and I am so grateful I was able to take the time to organize it.

Reverse Bucket List: Things I Have Already Accomplished

As many of you know, I love bucket lists. I love setting goals and striving to accomplish them. I create at least two bucket lists a year, one around New Year’s and one at the beginning of summer. I thought this bucket list would be fun to write as it is reverse and a list of things that I have already accomplished.


Reverse Bucket List: Things I’ve already Accomplished

  1. Written, Illustrated and Published a Children’s book.
  2. Started a Blog.
  3. Moved 4 times.
  4. Graduated from College
  5. Have two Associates degrees
  6. Have a Bachelor’s degree
  7. Been published in a Magazine
  8. Started a Small Business
  9. Adopted a Cat.
  10. Given birth and had a Baby.
  11. Been a Lead Teacher to School Agers, Toddlers and 3 year olds.
  12. Made the Dean’s List at my college.
  13. Been in the Newspaper.
  14. Been on TV.
  15. Traveled outside the country to the Dominican Republic.
  16. Learned Spanish.
  17. Been to Disney World.
  18. Flown in a Plane.
  19. Eaten Sushi.
  20. Gone Scuba Driving.
  21. Gone Skinny Dipping.
  22. Shot a Gun.
  23. Had Surgery.
  24. Hiked 10 miles.
  25. Started a Garden.
  26. Cooked my own Thanksgiving dinner.
  27. Been in both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron at the same time.
  28. Been to and crossed the Mackinac Bridge.
  29. Pet a black bear cub.
  30. Been Downhill Skiing.
  31. Seen a Butterfly emerge from a cocoon.
  32. Eaten Frog Legs.
  33. Traveled across multiple states on a road trip.
  34. Been to Fort Bragg.
  35. Went on a Ferry and saw Dolphins.
  36. Bought a Car.
  37. Gotten my ears pierced.
  38. Dislocated a toe.
  39. Gotten Pregnant.
  40. Written a Memoir.
  41. Swam in the Ocean.
  42. Climbed Michigan Lake Shore Dunes.
  43. Seen a Bunny give Birth.
  44. Saved a Liter of Kittens.
  45. Had my Art in the Newspaper.
  46. Had my Art displayed in an Art Gallery.
  47. Fed Giraffes.
  48. Watched and earen Hibachi.
  49. Walked the downtown Christmas lights.
  50. Visit the Bean in Chicago.