The Day I Ate, and Enjoyed, Brussels Sprouts

Meet my childhood nemesis:

The brussels sprout

I can remember the times my mom made them during my childhood and it was all I could do not to GAG my way out of the dining room.  Serious drama.

Somehow, much to my surprise and dismay, this disastrous vegetable seems to have made a comeback over the past few years.  I hear friends and family stating how they "looove" them and cook them "sooooo" many different ways and how they are their "faaaaavorite" {obvious exaggeration I say}.  I still kind of turn up my nose to it all but admit I am intrigued.

So as I usually do in these situations: I use my husband as a guinea pig.  And as we both love kale, and kale salad, when I saw this recipe on Pinterest I knew it was how we must try this infamous tiny cabbage.


There are no other words.  I think the brussels and I have taken the first tiny baby step toward reconciliation and I sense the possibility of a long and happy future together.  I would love to try some sort of roasting technique with them next, as that is hands down my favorite way to prepare vegetables.  But for now I am sold on this salad and will be adding it to our regular rotation and I encourage you to as well!  Amazing.

Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad

- 2 T lemon juice
- 1 T dijon mustard
- 1 t minced shallot or onion
- 1 minced garlic clove
- pinch of kosher salt
- pinch black pepper
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 c thinly sliced kale leaves
- 1 lb brussels sprouts, finely shredded
- 3-4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
- 1/4 c roasted almonds, chopped
- 1/2 c parmesan cheese

Combine first seven ingredients, through evoo, in a small bowl and whisk to combine.  In a larger bowl combine the remaining ingredients.  Toss with dressing and serve. {Serves 3-4}

This would be perfect for entertaining.  It's relatively simple but the flavors are complex = party in your mouth.

I served it with a stuffed pork tenderloin that I will also be sharing the recipe for soon!

recipe based off this


Catching Up


I can't believe the lapses between posts these days/years ;).  I have dreams of what this space is/should/could be, but for now it will remain a place I hop in and out of every now and then!

School is back and we are fully immersed in schedules and after school activities and very few naps.  It's a good thing third children just seem to be born as "troopers" because we really haven't given ours a choice - he is two and a half and probably takes one to two naps a week.  If he was suffering because of it I would be fearful and stressed, but he is not.  He gets a bit whiny some days more than others, but for the love the child is two and proud of it!

Jacob is talking up a storm and taking all of Emory's funny little play-on-words and expressions as his own.  It's hilarious.  He has finally stopped saying "pink and purple is my faaaaavrite colahs" and can honestly tell you blue is his favorite now {and praise the Lord he can actually identify it! He had the hardest time with blue-green-red distinction and if he hadn't been able to group items of the same color together we would have sworn he was color blind.}.

"Momma yook my princess face!"

He is a ham and is the only child who doesn't clam up and cross his/her arms when I ask him to dance or sing with me.  This family does a lot of loud obnoxious singing and dancing, usually in the kitchen, and we expect our offspring to do the same.  Jacob is a natural.  I am a proud mom.

Emory is four on Sunday {I am writing this on Wednesday, but by the time I actually get this posted I might have to go back and say she already TURNED four on Sunday...ha!}.  It will be her first large friend party in the backyard and she was incredibly specific on what she wanted: pink, purple, painting, a purple sparkle pony, and a chocolate cake with chocolate chips and chocolate icing.  The girls speaks a me language.  I am praying it doesn't rain but honestly weather happens and I'm sure the four year olds will be none the wiser.  I love childish innocence :)

The sass train that was the past couple years of Ms. Emory Ruth seems to have slowed to a comfortable crawl.  She still is a spitfire but in a manageable and endearing way.  She is incredibly expressive and encouraging.  She can make you feel like you are loved more than anyone else in the word by her and that you are the "very best" and "most wonderful" and everything you do is "so great."  It's her gift for sure.  She is obsessed with her new pink room {post to come!} and had zero trouble moving out of her brothers room, after insisting for weeks she did NOT want to have her own room AT ALL.  She has not looked back and can be found any given afternoon dragging more and more things she considers "hers" and "girly" out of the other rooms of the house and into hers.

She is enjoying pre k 3 and especially gymnastics and ballet.  She makes friends very easily and considers about five different girls her "very best friends I ever had."  She loves to talk.  A LOT.

Bennett is continuing to be my best helper and very grown up six year old.  First grade has brought incredible improvements in handwriting and reading.  I love seeing his competitive drive to read as many books as he can each night - his school does an excellent job of encouraging reading with their first graders - prizes are of course involved.  We were afraid the boy did not possess a competitive bone in his body so the fact that it is blossoming in school as well as other sports is fun to watch.  He appears to be an overachiever when it comes to homework and schoolwork in general - never wants to use a homework pass and always does more work than the teacher asks him to.  I never even suggested this type of behavior and I'm not sure it will last {maybe it's just the start of a new year and something new} but I will surely encourage it!  I am so proud of him.

On the other hand he has quite the attitude at times and we have had to work with him on "respecting your parents" in front of other children.  He is usually too busy trying to make other kids laugh than listen to what we are telling him to do/not do.  He is definitely the "class clown," chatterbox type which is foreign to me.  In public he likes to act like he is so grown up and doesn't want to show much affection to me in particular, {but he still holds my hand without blinking!:)}, but at home I am thankful he still curls up in my lap every morning when he wakes up and freely hands out hugs and kisses.

when he found the "one in a million" yellow bead amongst the blue at the Exploreum

He still would give the coat off his back and the M&M out of his hand to anyone who might want it - whether they ask or not.  He is extremely selfless, generous, and insightful.  He keeps us honest for sure.

Our days are generally lived in the car - to and from school or BSF, carpool, gymnastics, tennis, ballet, etc etc.  My little bit of "down time" in the afternoon does not exist anymore and it has taken me a few weeks to adjust.  I am generally a go-go-go person and I have realized I still need some calm time at some point of the day to stay sane.  I just can't fill it all up and expect to still be a good version of myself.  It has taken much prayer and intentional ordering of my hours and days but I have found that when I cut out the chaff and save up the wheat, my days as a whole seem much more enjoyable and fulfilling.  There is so much chaff in our lives!  It can be overwhelming.  {a.k.a. social media}.

My husband reminded me that life is also better when I cook regularly {we go on hiatuses at times :)} so I have also started back with that and, instead of stressing out my evenings, it again actually makes the evening times more enjoyable as we all take the time to sit down for a meal together.  Another good intentional time I cherish with my favorite people.

My continual prayer is that I keep getting rid of the fillers in my life and just live out the good stuff.  My phone is down more and my ears are open - true I might need noise canceling headphones at my house on a daily basis {hello all three of my children talk at the same time all. the. time.} - but when my phone is down and my attention is more focused, my children are more individually engaged and the jabbering decreases a degree or two.

The sun is slowly moving to the Southern sky and the morning light through my eastern facing windows is reflecting it.  It is my favorite time of year and my pillows are ready.  My house might not be, {side effect of switching around four rooms in our house}, but my pillows ARE.

War Eagle and Happy Fall!


RECIPE :: Homemade Healthy Fruit Snacks

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Did I mention they ACTUALLY TASTE GOOD?

Cause they do!

I made my first batch of these earlier this summer and while, on first bite, they tasted "good"...after we continued through the batch they just got a little...nasty - I figured out it was the raspberries mixed in with the strawberries and the gelatin didn't smoothly dissolve as much as desired.  I knew there was potential here and the idea inspired me so I wanted to wait until the recipe was spot on before I shared it.

So here you go!

First, you need to order gelatin:

Here is where I purchased it.
These kinds of "health" foods don't freak me out like I know they do to some people, so if you would like to read up about it before purchasing here is some good information HERE.

And here is my amended recipe:

2 1/2 - 3 cups strawberries {I used frozen, could definitely use fresh}
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c orange juice
2 T honey
1/2 c gelatin

Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and orange juice in a saucepan with high sides.  Simmer until fruit is soft.  Add 2 T honey.

Remove from heat.
Using immersion blender, blend mixture until smooth.

Let mixture cool for around 5 minutes.

Slowly, very slowly, add gelatin a little at a time, whisking to completely incorporate.
** This is a very important step: the powder must be added slowly, in small batches, and whisked the entire time to make sure it is smooth **

Once all the gelatin is incorporated pour into 9x13 dish {or fun little molds} and let chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Cut into little squares and enjoy!

You can store at room temperature but we prefer them chilled :)

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Notes:  Next time I will try blueberries or blueberries + strawberries.  I do NOT recommend blackberries or raspberries, as the bitterness and seeds don't give very good results.  Also, I have tried it with just OJ and prefer it with the lemon juice and OJ mixture.  It doesn't have to be exact on the ratios.  Just make sure there is 1/2 cup of the juice, however you want to mix it.  You can also pour mixture into a blender to combine vs using an immersion blender.  If you use the hand held kind just make sure the saucepan has high enough sides that you don't spray hot red dots all over your kitchen {been there done that}.


Change is Good

And good things change.
And that's OK!

DSC_0951 copy
{Fourth of July in Orange Beach, 2012}

Almost a year ago when my parents sold their house in Orange Beach Alabama my sisters and I basically thought it was Armageddon.  {Because mostly it WAS}.  All the memories we had made over the past 25 years, all the memories we planned on making over the next 25 years, just done. {cue: violins}

I live in a weekday city, surrounded by weekend towns.  Meaning during certain seasons, the whole city nearly clears out.  During the summer everyone visits the beach or bay, during the winter the guys go hunting.  It's not a blanket statement, but it sure was what we grew up doing {we beached it January through December, there was no season for us}.

We started off this summer deciding we would try something new, something that never made sense when we "locally" had a beach place to frequent, and ventured over to an area only a couple hours away - the mystical land of "30-A" - and discovered it really is all it's cracked up to be!

{See post HERE}

My family has always been huge on family trips and since my youngest sister and her husband live in Houston TX, we need excuses like these to get them down here to visit every now and then :).

Stephen and the kids and I were extremely excited to go back to Rosemary, this time for a week and with a lot of built in play mates.

This second visit was just as wonderful as the first, with lots of pool hopping, bike riding, cooking, eating, laughing, and RESTING.  That is one marvelously good thing about taking a week long vacation {something Stephen and I had never done before, besides our pre-kids trip to Italy in 2007} is that you actually are there for enough days to chill out, relax, and enjoy the "vacation" part of it.  Stephen and I are active, go-getting type of vacationers...we like exercise and outdoors and moving and taking it all in.  And this week long trip allowed us to do all of that, but also take it easy, relax, nap, sleep in, not worry about the next "activity."  I'm not sure our schedules will afford us week-long vacations on a yearly basis, {at least not Stephen's}, but I can so appreciate the long lasting effects of hitting the "reset" button and leaving everything "busy" and "important" behind, to nurture and rest in what truly IS most important.
Breakfast of champions + Chimas
 after the first pool morning - naps were a regular for this little lady
 we love our Wells
and cheese balls

 Competitive bike riding - on single speed rented cruisers - at 3 in the afternoon.  It's how we roll.

 this is what family photos are all about

 creepster Rachel bombing our pic

Somebody get this girl a bike - she was OBSESSED.
 splash pad behind our townhouse

 every time the water went off Wells would ball his fists and scream "Wahhhh-weeeee!"

 the only time of day our kids like the sandy beach
 Jacob is so possessive of his "little" cousin :)

 finding seashells with Mimi and Doc, our gracious and generous hosts

 photo creds for above and below: my sister Erin {xoxo thank you so much!}

 {kids do not smile on cue}

 a.l.w.a.y.s. wearing his sun-gasses

all materials published on this blog
© by Natalie at create.live.design, 2007-2012