Have Courage & Be KIND

This is going to be short, sweet, and to the point. One of my favorite movie quotes is actually from the 2015 Cinderella movie, as cheesy as that sounds. I love its goodness and its positivity. I love its message in a world of negativity. The world needs more kindness and less debate and division.

We all have different opinions. We all have different beliefs. But at the end of the day, we are all human beings.

Right now it seems like many people have courage, but are leaving kindness by the wayside.

So take a cheesy Disney character’s advice:

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May we have the courage to be kind in spite of our differences.

 

 

 

Keep Growing, But Can You Slow Down a Little?

Dear Elsie,

This weekend was your first birthday weekend. We love celebrating for more than just a day so that it lasts longer.

I already am feeling the emotions of a mother whose baby is growing up. That’s sounds melodramatic and all the moms out there with kids going off to college can laugh at me. But they’ve been here before. 

I look at you sitting on your dad’s lap not blowing out your candle because you don’t  know you’re  supposed to, and I see your little face changing from baby to toddler, the goofy stage; with two teeth showing in a picture; hair that’s starting to come in but not fully there yet; and the most beautiful sounds in place of words. That’s our one year old.

“Ba” for ball.

“Boo-a” for book.

“Da Da” It’s obvious.

And

“NaNaMaMa” It’s almost obvious.

My newborn is gone and you, this baby-toddler, are bee-lining for stairs and pots and pans and dog food and toilet paper and drawers to empty and everything you’re not supposed to. You’re  also the sweetest thing to enter our lives.

We love you, our Elsie Karen.

“Keep growing, but can you slow down a little?”

Love,

Mom and Dad

Defying Jim Gaffigan Using Kale: Call Me Zupas-THM

Using kale for my non-kale loving readers.

Jim Gaffigan says in his standup routines that kale is like bug spray; he looked at a can of bug spray and it said “made of kale.” He even talked about a lady who “snuck some kale” in a soup, and he wanted to throw the bowl at her.

In my unsophisticated opinion, he is right about kale being bitter, but that is until I was schooled on how to make it a decadent leaf in your salad. Thank you Zupas, my brother-in-law’s least favorite place to eat. Cover it with cilantro lime, olive oil, etc. and WA-LA! It’s digestible and down-right TASTY!

With this memory of that delectable protein, quinoa bowl over a bed of smothered kale, I asked Parker to pick up some kale from Costco on his way home. Once it was home, I remembered that I wasn’t Zupas. I had to re-create that salad using the raw material?

Challenge accepted.

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Challenge Accepted!

GREEK CHICKEN SALAD A LA KALE 

I have no picture because I ate every bite, but that’s a good sign right? (I hadn’t intended on posting this at the time obviously.) First I mixed the kale with romaine lettuce in a large mixing bowl. I added olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pretended I was working at Zupas. How’s the coverage? Good? -Check. Move it down the line.

I threw in diced red onion, feta cheese, and halved cherry tomatoes from Costco (they last the longest). What dressing you might ask? Just my favorite Tzatziki sauce, again from Costco. Somehow, I can’t have feta without wanting it.

Last, I added rotisserie chicken breast and squeezed lemon juice on top of it for good measure.

MM’ MM’Good! Experiment= Success!

Notes:

  • I buy my rotisserie chickens from Costco rather than Walmart because they are $3.00 cheaper; my mom does the same from Sam’s Club and she freezes extra ones since she lives so far from the store (it helps that she has an extra freezer). 
  • I also always keep rotisserie chicken on hand because it’s Elsie’s favorite food, and it’s already made and not processed. 
  • This was an S-meal for any THM eaters out there (THM is a diet I’m enjoying to get the baby fat off ).

Next up?

CHICKEN, RICE, & KALE SOUP

Someone warn Jim and buy me a shield because I made two soups this week using kale. Sneak attack Parker! I was sick with the world’s longest-lasting sinus infection with an added cough so I took my aunt’s suggestion and made Chicken, Rice, and Kale Soup.

How did this come to be?

I was making the soup by throwing chicken stock mixed with bouillon (because I only had one can of stock on hand), rotisserie chicken, and frozen, leftover parboiled rice into the pot. Then, I realized it looked ugly because it had no color, and who wants ugly soup? Not me.

In comes kale to the rescue! I remembered that I had the bag in the fridge from my Greek Chicken A La Kale Salad, so I threw it in! Presto! Better than Campbell’s or Progresso. And prettier too.

Note: THM E-Meal.

CURRIED LENTIL SOUP

I also added kale to my Curried Lentil Soup. Basically, this was a repeat soup story from above, so just re-read the above and then click this title for the recipe.

Don’t expect a picture though because lentils are ugly no matter how well they are cooked; they were even ugly at a gourmet Indian restaurant we visited a few years ago when I ordered them. They tasted divine though if you love Indian food. Don’t judge a book by its cover? I think lentils may have more license to complain.

Note: THM E-Meal.

Last in line?

TUSCAN CHICKEN WITH WHITE BEANS & KALE

I know what you’re thinking. Not another rotisserie chicken… But no, This time I sauteed chicken breasts using a non-stick spray and balsamic vinegar, removed them from pan, and set them aside to make the rest of the magic happen.

The basic description is sauteing diced onion and red pepper with minimal olive oil, throw in some cherry tomatoes, and at the end add some kale. Once tender, add in pizza sauce (less processed sugars), white beans, thyme, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Add the chicken back in to let it finish cooking in the Tuscan juices and then serve!

Note: THM E-Meal. 

So what did I discover? The results of the challenge are in!

KALE WINS!

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Even Baby Elsie loves it!

 

UPSIDES TO KALE

 

    • Kale lasts longer than lettuce or spinach, which is great for small families or garnishes.img_5977

 

  • It can be used in raw materials, sauteed for pan-fried dishes, or be “snuck” in soups to add a pop of color or to pretend you’re eating more veggies.

 

 

  • The downsides are below, but this time, we don’t care about the downsides because we don’t have to tell anyone that “green stuff” is kale. Anti-girl-food husbands, boyfriends, and children don’t need to know.

 

 

 

DOWNSIDES TO KALE 

 

    • I’m not sure that a couple of leafs per serving of soup actually counts as “more veggie.”

 

  • Jim Gaffigan disagrees with me.

 

 

 

WHAT PLEASANT EXPERIENCES OR HORROR STORIES HAVE YOU HAD USING KALE?

Please feel free to comment and share for a good cause. We have to cut kale some slack. 😉
Happy Eating!

Sarah @PlantFamilyCo

 

Tuscan Chicken with White Beans & Kale E-Meal

INGREDIENTS

  • Chicken Breasts Halves
  • Olive Oil (minimal amount)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Non-stick spray
  • Diced onion
  • Halved cherry tomatoes
  • Kale
  • 1/2 C Chicken stock
  • 2 cans of white cannellini beans
  • 1 jar of pizza sauce (the least amount of processed sugar you can find)
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Italian seasoning

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Spray large sauce pan.
  2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and then pan fry for 4 minutes on each side. Add minimal oil if needed to keep chicken from burning.
  3. Remove the chicken and set aside (it will not be cooked through yet, but will finish cooking later; this step add texture to your meal, yet allows it to stay moist when it finishes cooking during the simmering process later on).
  4. Add garlic, onion, carrot, thyme, and 1/2 C balsamic vinegar.
  5. Add kale and cook until wilted.
  6. Stir in the stock, pizza sauce, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning.
  7. Add chicken back in; cover; reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is done.
  8. Serve alone or on parboiled or brown rice.

NOTES

  • This was delicious! Parker and Elsie loved it!
  • THM E-Mealimg_5972

Curried Lentil Soup E-Meal

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 LB bag of lentils
  • Diced carrots
  • Sauteed yellow onion
  • Halved Cherry Tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Chicken and Beef Bouillon
  • Water
  • 1-2 TBS Olive Oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Garlic Powder
  • Garam Masala
  • Curry
  • Turmeric
  • Salt
  • Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Saute the onions in olive oil.
  2. Once the onions have softened, add the lentils and garlic.
  3. Add water and carrots and bring to a boil. (It helps to microwave the carrots for a little while first to speed up the softening process; select how long to microwave depending on your microwave’s strength.)
  4. Once the water is boiling, add the bouillon cubes. I use 6-8 cubes per large pot.
  5. Add the spices to taste; it takes a lot of curry powder and turmeric for my preference.
  6. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

NOTES:

  • I prefer eating soups the next day because I think the flavors settle better. I usually try to prepare soups a day ahead, but when you eat it the same day, it tastes great too.
  • I often eat this as a stand-alone soup or serve it over parboiled or brown rice.
  • THM E-Meal

Chicken, Rice, & Kale Soup E-Meal

INGREDIENTS

  • Chicken stock or bouillon
  • Water
  • Pulled rotisserie chicken
  • Pre-prepared parboiled rice
  • Boiled Carrots
  • Sauteed onions (if desired)
  • Fresh kale
  • Salt
  • Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large pot, bring the chicken stock or bouillon to a boil; add water. Notice I didn’t put the amount because to be perfectly transparent, I use what I have on hand and then add water to make up the difference. I prefer a 1:1 ratio of chicken stock to water.
  2. Throw in the chicken, rice, boiled carrots, sauteed onions, and kale.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Serve!

NOTES

  • I prefer eating soups the next day because I think the flavors settle better. I usually try to prepare soups a day ahead, but when you eat it the same day, it tastes great too.
  • Whenever I have leftover rice, I throw whatever isn’t eaten into the freezer for this type of cooking situation.
  • THM E-meal

 

Greek Chicken Salad a La Kale S-Meal

INGREDIENTSimg_5977

  • Kale
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Pulled rotisserie chicken breast
  • Feta Cheese
  • Halved Cherry Tomatoes
  • Diced Red Onion
  • Diced Cucumbers
  • Kalamata Olives (not on my salad!)
  • Sliced Almonds (if desired)
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive or coconut oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Greek Yogurt Tzatziki

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare the vegetables by dicing the onion, slicing the tomatoes, and washing and drying the lettuce (I use a salad spinner).
  2. Mix the lettuce and kale (bag from Costco or Walmart) in a large mixing bowl; pretend you’re at Zupas for extra fun…
  3. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste; I prefer a hearty amount for this one. Mix well until the lettuce and kale is covered.
  4. Next, place the lettuce and kale into your separate, single serving salad bowls; I learned this from my mother and grandmother. Because we like a heavy helping of all the salad toppings, we don’t mix them into the large mixing bowl with the lettuce/kale base; if I were to do that the best part of the salad would sink to the bottom and then you only get a good salad if your serving is plated last. (I call that the Olive Garden effect.)
  5. Add the chicken and squeeze lemon juice on top of it.
  6. Throw the tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, almonds, and feta onto the salad. Feta goes last because when you see feta, your brain gets excited! It needs to be the cherry on top in the Greek salad world.
  7. Sprinkle salt.
  8. Last, plop a dollop of Greek Yogurt Tzatiki on the top.

Note: S-Meal

 

 

 

Life Has Hit Us: In a Good Way of Course

Eight months or something like that. Eight months since I last posted.

This feels like my journals from when I was 8 years old. I would make a commitment to write in my journal every day with entries such as “we played dodge ball today in P.E. (the rest of the page blank) or “we had art today (the rest of the page blank). I would write for two to three days, and then the next page would say, “it’s been a year again since I wrote, but I’m really going to do it this time. Today we played dodge ball” (the rest of the page blank). I really liked dodge ball apparently.

Well, I make no commitment to write every day at this point. Not even every week. Not even every month. But I will tell you what the Plants have been doing the last while.

We’ve been on an adventure called The First Year as Parents: Mixed with Teaching, Away Rotations, and Lots of Driving To See Each Other.

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There has been The Office, books, and family to keep me company; for Parker, medical school interviews, which means lots of flying and a new hospital every four weeks.  He is loving Pediatrics! Meanwhile, Elsie is loving her teachers at daycare and is growing at what seems like lightning speed.

There have been diapers and baby food and learning to crawl and first words (more like sounds), and right now, she is pulling up and I’d wager walking within a month.

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She loves bath time and swinging. She swung for an hour on Election day, even starting to nod off once she was sleepy. So stinking cute!

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Last night she exerted her independent streak already by only eating on the condition she be allowed to feed herself.  When I would bring the spoon of pumpkin (trying to be festive here…), she would clamp her mouth tight and furrow her brow. “Yogurt bites or bust, thank you very much.”

This reads like a Christmas card or letter, but no matter. I wanted to write (for catharsis) and say we’re here! Trucking along. Both of us are counting down to Christmas because for one, who doesn’t love Christmas? And two, life will normalize a little and we can go back to living in the same spot, taking out one of the crazy variables.

I am so grateful for family and for the opportunities God blesses us with. Sometimes when life seems this hectic, we have to take it one day at a time, sometimes even one hour at a time, simplifying as best we can and prioritizing what matters most.  God has been taking care of us. The last few months have shown us that we really are in His hands.  On Instagram, I saw a quote which said, “the Savior has promised angels are on our left and on our right to bear us up, and he always keeps his word” (Eyring). That has definitely been true for us. We have had living angels and probably others helping us along.

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Just two weeks until Thanksgiving! “Just keep swimming.”

XoXo,

The Plants

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Newborn Photo Session!

These are long overdue! Elsie was under two months old when my friend at Tara Rhodes Photography took her newborn pictures the weekend of her baby blessing. Since I went back to work the following day, it’s been one learning curve of balancing work, home, and mom. I haven’t found time to post these here, but since school is out in a week, I was able to carve a little time tonight.

We love these pictures and are excited to share them finally! Thank you Tara for your beautiful work!

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We love our little girl! She’s growing like crazy! Just wait until our next post. Tomorrow she will be 4 months old. Thanks again Tara!

 

 

Introducing: Elsie Karen Plant

In full disclosure, I should tell you that the point of this blog post is to have a picture overload of Elsie Karen Plant, who graced the world on January 20, 2016.  Now in generations gone by, you were lucky to have a few baby photos.  Take Elsie’s grandpa for example.  I only know of a handful of pictures from his childhood.  That’s not because his mother didn’t love him, but because the accessibility of constant pictures wasn’t quite there.  Some could even argue that my generation (I’m 29) had less pictures, though I’m not a good example to support this since my mom has tons of pictures of my siblings and I. BUT! Back to the point.  Our daughter is a week old today, and we have so many pictures of her.  I should probably count them to prove my point and maybe I should have saved the deleted ones (which are few), but alas, why spend my time doing that when I can just show you!

Ready for the grand debut? Great! So is she!

Meet Elsie, born at 12:02 on January 20, 2016.

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12:02 pm… 1/20/2016… 8 LBS 12 Ounces… 21 1/2 Inches Long

 

Elsie was really comfortable in the womb, considering she came a week late and had to be pushed out with the help of medicine to induce me.  Parker and I went to the hospital on Tuesday night, expecting a long delivery process since we had heard that many women who are induced take a long time to actually progress through labor.

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However, once the medicine took, Elsie must have decided to come quickly, though she protested throughout the contractions by still kicking my right ribs.

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Even though this is a potentially awkward photo, look how excited Parker is!

Elsie stole our hearts from the beginning.  She met Mom and Dad, who both thought, “who does she look like??” Everyone who meets her says she looks like Dad.  I kept thinking and still am thinking, “how did something her size come out of me?” The miracle of life is an enigma to me.  How can something so “large” grow for nine months inside of me? And how did they get her precious and long body out of me? Everyone who has asked me how she is has received the same answer: “she is a perfect angel.”  IMG_2018

Now that she’s been here for a week, she is a perfect angel who cries sometimes.

She met many family members and some friends including Grammy Patty, Pop Pop Johnson, Uncle Joe, Aunt Harvey and Uncle Charles, and Grandma Harwood!

We stayed with Elsie in the hospital for two days and loved getting to know her.  She seemed like such a good baby! She learned slowly how to nurse, she slept well, she enjoyed skin to skin time.  It was a little haven I won’t forget, much like the day Parker and I got married.  In the moment it was a blur, but in retrospect, I see how many special memories and moments began right there.

Take a peek into some of those memories.

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Her first outfit, which she successfully peed through in her first night of life. 🙂

 

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We’re in love with her faces!
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This newborn-sized outfit will fit her for about another minute. Now that she’s almost up to birth weight a week later, her smallest outfits won’t fit her for long.  Good thing we didn’t buy much in the newborn size.  Something told us she wouldn’t be small for long. 🙂

Eventually, it was time to brave the snow storm and take our snow baby home.  The doctors and nurses were trying to get us to check out the day before so that we could get home.  I looked at Parker though, who is from the snowy land of Utah, and asked, “you can get us home right?” He of course said yes.  (Note: I’m not trying to minimize the risks of driving in inclement weather; we don’t live far from the hospital.) As new parents, we wanted to have as much time with the professional advice for the practical things that come up with caring for a newborn; it was nice to have nurses around to answer my endless questions.

I didn’t want to leave however until we had our first family picture taken.  It took a few tries.  The ones with her in the purple outfit crack me up.  Just chillin’.

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We did make it home safely, thankfully.  She made the trek from car seat to crib.  You can’t get cuter than this!

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When you can’t find a baby sign to put on the door, find a birthday sign and cut off “day.” Way to be flexible Grammy!

During week one at home, my camera kept going!

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She had her first sponge baths.  Grandma Karen is a baby bath whisperer; I am so glad she showed me her bath tricks because they work wonders at keeping Elsie calm during what could be a squalling session, as it is with the evil diaper and clothes changes.
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Don’t you just want to kiss that little face?

She looks like an angel when she sleeps.

When she is awake, we’re trying to figure out what she likes; it’s not for long, but sometimes she’s hard to settle.  Something about not being able to talk makes communication trickier (and remember that my experience is with teenagers, not infants). But, we’re learning her cues. Hopefully. 🙂

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We love to snuggle her; this is usually her favorite spot.

Elsie had her one week appointment at the doctors on 1/27/16.  And no, though she doesn’t have clothes on in the car seat picture, she did have clothes on in route.  We just had to change her diaper and get her ready to be weighed and measured. Of course five minutes after being changed and one minute after being weighed, she wet her diaper again.  Go Elsie!

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I was trying to get some of these faces while we were waiting.  She had some funny ones!

Overall, even in just a little over a week, our lives have taken a turn.  Adjustments are being made and this little girl is the center of the universe, obviously because she is our first child and we are brand new at figuring this out.  In Babywise, my baby Bible -just kidding about the bible part- the authors say something like you know your life has changed when you spend a lot of time talking about “what’s going in” and “what’s going out.” How true that is.  Also, I know my life has changed since I can’t stop taking pictures and am fighting the urge to over-post them.

 

One of my favorite things from our week with Elsie is the further testament of God’s existence and love for His children.  When I look at her and hold her, she is proof of His creative powers.  There is no way that it could be some grand co-incidence in how her life came to be.  Her little spirit entered a body that didn’t not happen by chance.  I know some may disagree with my beliefs, but when I hold her, I feel nearer to God and feel His blessings and presence in my life, in my family, and in our little girl’s countenance.

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In a children’s church hymn “My Heavenly Father Loves Me,” it says “He gave me my eyes that I might see the color of butterfly wings/ He gave me my ears that I might hear the magical sounds of things/ He gave me my mind, my life, my heart/ I thank Him reverently/ Of all His creations of which I’m apart/ Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.” How true those words are and how much they mean when we look at Elsie.

 

He gave her to us to nurture, guide, and protect, and we can only hope to live up to the task.

With excitement and nervousness,

Sarah and Parker 🙂