january 5th

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I found this tattered receipt in a keepsake box of mine a few weeks ago and couldn’t figure out why, out of the 12 million Target stubs I acquire on a weekly basis, I had chosen to save just this one. Then I saw the date. January 5th, 2013. The last day I had spent with my Dad. It’s funny how you remember every single detail about a day, when you never even knew you’d want to.

I remember everything.

I remember Mom and Dad were coming down for a visit. I remember making chicken salad for lunch. I remember we ran out of mayonnaise, so the chicken salad ended up being a little dry, but Dad still ate two helpings worth. I remember I also made homemade ganache truffles for dessert. I remember we took a drive; went to Target, we needed a new DVD player for our entertainment system – and while we were there, I found one that was a bit out of our price range that fit every criteria we were looking for; I could tell Dad was struggling. Struggling, because I know had the circumstances been different, he would’ve bought that DVD player for us in a second. I remember stopping by our local skate park to see Dan on our way home. I remember finishing the night relaxing on the couch, watching Annie with Della, and Dad fell asleep like he often did when a movie was playing. I remember eating take-out pizza before they left for the evening; oh how we went back and forth between who would pay (later to find rolled up cash in my Pilot cup holder that next morning…)

You’d never think a receipt would bring back such a rush of emotions and memories as this receipt did. Memories that may not seem like anything extravagant or meaningful, but ones that will hold a very special place in my heart; always.

I don’t want to dwell on the day that is quickly approaching us… I don’t want to wallow in the harsh reality that my Dad died a year ago this coming Tuesday. I want to remember the good times. I want to cherish every possible recollection my mind can fathom. I want to grasp and hold tight onto every detail of January 5th, 2013, because that is a day that’s worth remembering.

Mom told me something recently that really pulled at my heartstrings and has been resonating with me lately… That we shouldn’t concentrate all this time we’re missing with Dad here on Earth, because the time we spend with him in Eternity is so much greater. There are few things that bring me comfort in this grieving process, and this is one of them.

I miss you, Dad.

Amy, xo.

fatherless father’s day

For my Dad’s 50th birthday this past December, my mom had all his closest family and friends send letters of memories they had with him – she then wrapped them all up for him to open on his birthday. Looking back, I am so thankful my mom did this because I got to tell my Dad how much he truly meant to me only weeks before we’d lose him forever. I never got to say goodbye, but he knew how much love I had for him and that I couldn’t have asked for a better Dad.

I’m missing him more than ever this morning, wishing I had one more chance to tell him how perfect he was in my eyes, but I’m finding comfort in this letter.

Dad LetterI love you, Dad. I can’t wait until the day we meet again and I’m able to give you the hug I wish I could give you today.

Amy, xo.

Introducing…

Benson JamesAs most of you already know, we welcomed our little man into our family a week ago today on Wednesday, April 24th, at 7:49PM. Benson James, or “Benny boy” as his big sister likes to call him, was a whopping 8 lbs. 4 oz., 20 inches long – much bigger than I was anticipating considering his sister was only 6 lbs., 18 inches. His size may be bigger, but he has so many characteristics of Della and will most definitely be another Daddy-look-a-like. Good thing that husband of mine is cute 😉

We’re all doing great and are adjusting to this family of four thing pretty easily – with the occasional bump in the road, of course.

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We’re so blessed to have this little guy in our life and I’m finding peace in the fact that he will carry on my Dad’s name (and his legacy.)

Amy, xo.

our last days as three…

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IMG_4261We’ve been soaking up as much time playing, relaxing, and indulging in greasy goodness (think: Chick fil A!) as we possibly can this past week. As my due date came and went, I knew we’d be (im)patiently waiting for our little man to join us, so I wanted to make sure we took full advantage of this beautiful weather and our last few days as a family of three.

Park dates, working on projects at the house outside, day trips to our favorite frozen custard spot while Daddy’s at work, afternoon naps snuggled up on the couch – whatever we can do to make these dwindling days as enjoyable and memorable as possible.

Della’s world is about to be completely changed, and though most of the time I find myself focusing on things like: She’ll feel like I don’t love her as much / She won’t feel as special / She’ll feel left out… I can’t help but snap out of it, and imagine her meeting her baby brother for the very first time. That is the moment I’m so anxiously waiting for!

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It’s been the best three years as a family of three I could ever ask for, but I’m ready for our family to finally be complete. We’re ready for you, Baby B!

Amy, xo.

blackened salmon bowl :: recipe

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P1060561I threw together a really simple and tasty dinner last night and wanted to share the recipe with my other foodie friends. I’m calling this a Blackened Salmon Bowl, because that’s because all it is… a bowl full of yummy blackened salmon and other tasty mexican inspired flavors.

I made a quick spice mix to rub over the salmon, pan fried it, and served it over layers of brown rice and black beans. I finished it off with a really simple mango and avocado salsa and it was the perfect combination of flavors and just the right amount of food to fill me up. (Bonus points: Dan liked it, too!)

Here’s what I did:
(2 servings)

For the salmon…
1 tablespoon curry
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch or two… or five (however spicy you like it!) of red pepper flakes

Mix these dry ingredients together and cover both sides of your 6 oz. portion of salmon with it – this piece of salmon was plenty for both Dan and I. Heat a nonstick skillet with EVOO and let it get pretty hot. Throw the salmon in the skillet and let the spices create a blackened coating on the exterior. Once one side is crispy, flip and repeat with the other side. After both sides have a nice crispy exterior, break up the salmon in the skillet and continue to cook just until the salmon is no longer translucent. Place pieces on a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

For the mango and avocado salsa…
1 ripe mango, diced
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
1/4 red onion, finely diced
juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper, to taste

Toss all of the above ingredients into a small bowl and refrigerate. You probably want to make this first so the flavors can mix together well. I made mine around lunch time so it had the afternoon to chill.

Now here’s the easiest part… Make about 2 cups (cooked) brown rice, whichever way you prefer, and use this as your first layer in the bowl. Warm up a can of black beans and then layer these on top of your rice. Next up is the salmon – evenly distribute your fish between two bowls, and then finally top with the mango and avocado salsa. You could also garnish with a little cilantro for added flavor, but I’ve never been a fan of the stuff so I didn’t use any.

And that’s it! So simple and such a filling, yet healthy weeknight dinner. You could even skip the pan-frying and try baking your salmon if you preferred.

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Amy, xo.

cheesy chicken + broccoli quinoa casserole :: recipe

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P1060431I wanted to try my hand at a gluten-free dinner last night, so I threw together this deliciously scrumptious cheesy chicken and broccoli quinoa casserole. Now don’t get me wrong, we won’t be giving up wheat anytime soon (this bread lover wouldn’t survive…) but! I figured a meal or two a week might help us (okay, me) get back on a more healthier track after all my pregnancy indulgences these last few months.

This recipe is so easy and can be made ahead of time or even frozen after it’s baked to have another night throughout the month.

Here’s what I did…

You’ll need:
2-3 chicken breasts; seasoned with salt, pepper, & EVOO; baked and cut into chunks
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa (I used golden)
pinch of salt
1 chicken bouillon cube (HerbOx is gluten-free)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch (Bob’s Red Mill is what I usually grab and it’s guaranteed gluten-free. If you don’t mind the added gluten, you can substitute flour here, too.)
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
2 heaping cooked broccoli, chopped
1/3 cup mix of grated parmesan cheese & extra shredded cheddar

What to do:
First, you’ll want to cook the chicken. Drizzle the chicken breasts with EVOO, salt, and pepper and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through. Once the chicken has been removed, preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease a 9×9 baking dish or a deep dish pie pan like I used, and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add the quinoa, bouillon cube, and pinch of salt (if needed.) Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for about 18-20 minutes, or until water is absorbed and the quinoa is a bit soft. You can fluff it with a fork if you’d like.

Next, melt the butter and whisk in cornstarch (or flour), cook for 30 seconds. Add onion and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes – stirring as needed until the onion is translucent. Slowly whisk in milk. Simmer for about 8 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar cheese, stirring until completely melted. You can add salt and pepper at this point if your cheese sauce needs a little more flavoring.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked quinoa, broccoli, and chicken together. Carefully pour the sauce over the mixture, stirring to coat. Transfer to your prepared baking dish and top with the grated mixture of parmesan and cheddar cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned.

I served ours with a side salad, and Dan and I both had seconds! (Oh! And we didn’t have to fight Della to finish her helping… always a bonus!) Needless to say, I think I’ll be adding this dish to our monthly dinner rotation.

Amy, xo.

clob-ber: (v.) to batter severely; strike heavily.

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Clobbered. That’s the word I’ve decided to use when describing the snowstorm we experienced yesterday.

We woke up to about 6 inches and it gradually accumulated to 2 feet by the end of the day! Beginning of March and this much snow?! Not quite what I was hoping for, but it looks like the temps are only supposed to increase from here – spring, I’m so ready for you! Now the question is… how long will it take for all this snow to melt??

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P1060409Snow March 2013

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P1060407Dan had the day off and Della had him out in the fresh powder before 8AM. They took one of my old sled’s down our back hill and she loved every minute of it.

We were also informed (via Twitter, of course!) that Al Roker would be making an appearance in our town of Front Royal since we were supposed to get hit the hardest. Of course I had to document our tiny claim to fame and snapped a shot of the TV screen 😉P1060401Amy, xo.

savoring these moments

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P1060318 B&Wdella jane: 34 months // baby belly: 33 weeks

Today as I left my bi-monthly OB appointment – soon to switch to weekly! – I realized how little time I have left with my little sidekick. It’s been just her and I, all day, everyday, for the past three years. Three years! In those years gone by we’ve shared a bond I can’t even begin to explain. This girl has given my life a purpose. A purpose I never knew could fill my heart with so much joy. She is my number one priority and a “job” that can never be replaced.

She’ll always be my first born. And my one and only daughter.

I get a lump in my throat just thinking about how the change of adding a baby to our lives will rock her world. I’m anxious for her to meet her baby brother and I know she’ll be the most caring and loving big sister, but I’m holding on ever so tightly to these last days of just her and I.P1060323

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