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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Penny for Your Thoughts - On Letting go of TV in My Life

I loved TV.  
I loved trashy TV.  
I could sit on the couch for days on end and marathon show after show.  
I followed reality TV stars on Social Media.  
I commented on their lives as if they know me to other people who watched these shows.
I lost sleep when I needed to know what is happening in the next episode of a show.  
I used TV as therapy when I didn't like what was going on in my own life.  
I used TV to calm me down when I was feeling stressed.
I looked up who is in relationships in Hollywood and read about their divorces and dark secrets.
I got bizarre pleasure out of Hollywood scandal.
I identified with characters style and clothing and began to think I need what they are wearing.
My life was deeply negatively affected by TV.
So I quit TV.
I stopped watching it constantly.
My anxiety level dropped almost instantly.
My sleep deepened immediately.
I wasn't constantly distracted by the screen.
I took that time back to spend with my people.
I took that time back to be with the Lord.
I took that time back to learn to be quiet.
I have no regrets.
It feels right.
I am more connected and present.

Bill and I decided that we weren't going to get rid of our television because we will still watch an occasional movie together or follow a big sporting event (and we definitely enjoyed watching Christmas movies during the holiday season).  However, the practice of turning the TV off has been huge for us.  We both feel like removing that noise and stimulation has made us more present and relaxed people.  I can only speak for myself when I say the health benefits alone were worthwhile to me.  My deeper sleep, my anxiety decrease and my grasp on reality (to be perfectly frank) have changed so drastically I feel there is no turning back.  To be honest though, like really honest, it was incredibly hard for me.  Way harder than it should have been.  I still fight urges I have to pick up the remote and watch nothing... for hours.  It's incredible how much time I spent parked on the couch just staring at the flashing screen.

I wanted to share this part of my life because I want people to know that television (and overall stimulation) can be effecting your health.  Here is a link to an article that scratches the surface of the damage that excessive screen time is doing.  I am choosing to limit television because I feel it is what is right for me and my family.  I am not crazy about this or legalistic.  If television is on at someone's house I will not ask them to turn it off.  I am not going to avoid bars with sports playing.  It's kind of like that 90/10 rule.  If you eat really healthy 90% of the time, when you indulge you will not feel as guilty, but also your body will be able to process it better... I am operating on a similar wave length in regard to this.

Next up? Social Media, Stress eating, and all my other unhealthy habits that need to be addressed. 
I am tired of numbing instead of dealing.
I need to clear out space to be present and focused.
I need to make time for what matters most to me.
I need to get comfortable with quiet and stillness.


A few more articles about how TV watching effects our health can be found here, here and here.
As always, do your own research!  Don't take my word for it, but do make an effort if you are feeling pulled toward this.  I should have done this a long time ago.  

Maybe this is a part of being in your 30s?  Re-evaluating the bad habits of your "youth".  But what if we teach our kids better habits by example?  Will their lives be fuller as a result?  Only one way to find out :)






Wednesday, December 27, 2017

At the Library - Favorite CookBooks of 2017

I love cookbooks.

Ask my husband, and he will tell you he is always laughing at me because I flip through them constantly.  I just love food - the smells, the tastes, the comfort it creates... it all just warms my heart deeply.  I love having people in my home for a meal.  I love being in other people's homes for a meal.  Ambiance around a dinner table cannot be replaced.

While I have acquired quite a few cookbooks over the past few years, these are the three I have used most in 2017.  Bill and I have decided to do meatless meals a few days a week and two of these books are vegetable centric (it also helps us get creative with what is coming out of the garden at any given time).

Image result for near and far cookbook

Heidi really brings it home with this travel inspired book - I feel like I can bring each location into my kitchen.  She does a great job of limiting recipes to not too many ingredients and dang it her food is so naturally pretty.  It just feels simple and elegant and attainable.  

My favorite recipes?  The Spring Carrots and White Beans and the Eggs in Purgatory... so so very good.

Image result for joy of cooking

What can I even say about the Joy of Cooking?  It is my go to and it feels like it has a recipe for almost anything.  I cannot even name all of dishes I have cooked out of this classic cookbook and I have to say if I were to only keep one of my books, this would absolutely be it.  This book has helped me grow as a cook and I have enjoyed digging into it immensely.

My favorite recipes?   The Dutch Babies and the pork Vinadaloo are up there.  Oh man, this book is just so much goodness in one place.  I have never made a bad meal out of this one.

Image result for dishing up the dirt cookbook

Bill and I followed Andrea Bemis on Instagram before she came out with her cookbook and it really blew our minds how simply she approached things.  She leaves skins on and never compromises the veggies for the sake of a pretty meal.  Because she is a farmer she has so much respect for what comes from the earth.  It's kind of an honor to know how a farmer prepares their food in a way, and we loved going on this journey with her and supporting her farm in this way!

My favorite recipes?  The beetza is KILLER and the pumpkin granola is all the good things.



What are your favorite cookbooks and your favorite recipes from them?



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Reagan's First Christmas

Just thought I would share some pictures from our first holiday season with our little lady :)  
She is such a sweetheart and we are truly blessed to call her ours.














Thursday, December 21, 2017

From Christmas Stress to Holiday Bliss

Despite my best efforts, Christmas has always been a time that brought some stress and anxiety into my life.  I want to get people the perfect presents that cost an amount in my mind that is acceptable (don't be cheap Ryan!), bring only homemade picture perfect food to parties (because everyone is documenting everything these days), make sure my house is always perfectly presentable, host tons of people, be presentable always and never miss a beat.  This year, I gave up the need to be perfect, and found so much freedom.

I did bring some homemade food to parties (because we like to cook), I did try to keep my house clean (for my own sanity), I did buy some gifts for people that they will really love (and I removed the monetary obligations I placed on myself for those gifts), we did host a handful of people (and had really quality time with them) and I embraced wearing sweat pants and cozying up to Christmas movies with my little family instead of running around and even said no to a couple of parties.  I did all the same things, but my spirit in them has changed.  I no longer do these things because I have to and I no longer purchase out of obligation.  I just took the pressure off, and what I found was that I was in control.  I had always been in control, I just let society rule how MY holidays were run.  No longer.

We decided to do the four gifts - "Something you Want, Something you Need, Something to Wear and Something to Read" this year and moving forward.  I am really excited to have this be the way our family approaches Christmas with Reagan as she grows up.  I want to be intentional about teaching her that the holidays are about family and quality time and traditions that we hold dear and celebrating the birth of our Lord and not about what she gets.  I am realizing how important it is to set a precedent with her and even this year, when she obviously has no idea what is going on, to make sure to start off how we want to move forward.  Not just for her, but for us too.  

Bill and I have everything we need.  We want for many things, but we don't need anything.  I want Reagan to know that we have everything we need.  I don't want her to adopt the consumer mentality of America.  I desperately want her to enjoy simplicity.  We have committed to scaling way back and not buying things unless we need them for the foreseeable future, and I have to admit it feels like a weight off my shoulders most days.  Some people think this is extreme, but I am finding it to be necessary to not clouding our lives with things.  We have gradually over the last year gotten rid of bags and bags and car loads of stuff... It's almost embarrassing how much stuff.  I am constantly reminded we have excess when others have nothing.  I want to plug into removing the mentality that I need what is trendy or popular or convenient.  

I heard a great line recently that felt like a new way for me to see things... "Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without."  That is how I am approaching this next season of life.  

As for the holidays, any gifts are bonuses, my value will be found in quiet moments with family and meals shared together remembering what is important and celebrating life together in such a way that we honor the Lord and the example he set.  

Thank you God for the gift of life and for this perspective change.  
I am so grateful for all I have.
Teach me how to be generous to others from my excess.

Friday, November 10, 2017

In the Kitchen - Pumpkin Chili

It's finally fall in Southern California and one of the first recipes I make every time the weather cools down is this pumpkin chili adapted from a Trader Joe's recipe linked below.  We change up the ingredients to what we consider to be the healthier versions (grass fed beef and coconut sugar are the main two, but also making sure to buy organic veggies is important to us), and the result is always a creamy delicious fall meal.

We top this with some locally produced Greek Yogurt and a handful of fresh cilantro.  

Guys... seriously... try this one!  
Its delicious and warming and so. frickin. easy.

Ingredients

3 lbs. grass fed ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 can organic pumpkin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 jar chipotle salsa
1 container tomato & roasted red pepper soup (4 cups)
2 cans pinto beans, drained
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
1 teaspoon cumin

Directions

In a large skillet, sauté onions and bell peppers in olive oil until onions are translucent and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. 

Add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. 

Add in ground beef and continue sautéing until turkey is browned. 

Drain excess oil, then transfer mixture to a large (4 quart or more) sauce pan. 

Stir in tomatoes, pumpkin, beans, corn and spices. 

Bring to a boil, stirring regularly. 

Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.


As usual, I failed at taking a picture, but that is all about to change!  I am hoping you will see a much more professional side to this blog very soon including a new header image and theme.  

When it pop's up will you let me know your thoughts?!  

Ok, happy weekend peeps!  


Original Recipe Found Here

Thursday, October 26, 2017

In the Garden - My Life as a Beginner Gardener


As I launch this new platform (Mrs. Roger's Neighborhood!) I want to give you insight into lots of different areas of my life, one of which would be our garden and all that it is.

I think the best way to learn to garden is to learn all you can through experts (books, videos, articles, etc...) then execute.  I had heard through many sources how important it is to trim off dead branches/leaves from plants in order to promote new growth, but I never actually did this.  I figured that the dead stuff would fall off on its own.  My husband had been doing his own research and found that in order to condition our soil in the backyard we needed ground cover, ideally mulch, for water retention and to bring nutrients back to the soil.  He covered our backyard (in a rather comical fashion) with mulch and we began to see it start to break down pretty quickly.  Our yard was so dry previously, but we also know the mulch takes time to condition the soil.  Patience is a virtue we are learning.

Recently, I noticed our tomato plants were not producing and that there was a ton of dead material on the plants.  I went through and removed as much as possible.  I pulled off dead leaves and trimmed off branches with no flowers or fruit on them.  Then Bill and I went out of town, and had a few people come over and water the garden.  Two weeks later, upon my return, imagine my surprise that it actually worked!  We had so much new growth in all kinds of different directions.  The combination of mulch to retain the water and trimming produced something magical.  It looks like we will get a second tomato harvest this year.  I wish I had pictures of before and after because it is pretty wild.  The above tomato is the biggest one we got all year and it hung alone on a plant that looked completely dead.  We will celebrate that tomatoes harvest and enjoy every last bit of it.

I could not help but in my mind draw the parallel to our lives.  We must trim away what is not serving us and leaching our energy and time in order to invest as best we can and provide the best fruit.  Sometimes the process is painful and long and requires multiple seasons of pruning, sometimes one quick snip can make all the difference.  I feel like this season of my life has required some pruning.  I've had to cut away a lot of what is not helping me to become who I want to be and what is taking my focus away from what really matters.  This process, for myself, has been long, but the reward is no longer struggling with anxiety and not over scheduling myself.  I am able to find rest and peace.  I am able to be more present and open with those around me and I have developed trust with the people in my circle.

And to think, all this came from some tomato plants.

Nature can teach us such incredible lessons if we just take the time to listen.





Monday, October 23, 2017

Other Neighborhoods - A B&B Night Together as a Family of 3

In between our time in New Jersey and Baltimore; Bill, Reagan and I took a night as a family of three and stayed at a B&B near Lancaster, PA.  Our time there was so sweet.  We bottlefed baby cows, checked out the massive milking operation, went through the chicken coop, got a tour from one of the dozens of kittens, greeted the goats and miniature horse and snuggled in our king sized bed and watched our favorite farming you tube show.













We were the only guests that night and didn't see anyone until we woke up in the morning for breakfast.  We got to enjoy the flurry of excitement that a working dairy farm holds.  Family and staff ate and lingered over coffee.  Cheesy potatoes, peach cobbler, fruit, bread, hot cocoa, super soft scrambled eggs, and so much laughter were being passed around.  People came and went discussing the plan for the day.  Rain softly fell outside.  Reagan happily took it all in.  The food pictured doesn't look like much, but everything was absolutely delicious (I just did a poor job taking pictures!).  

We loved every minute of our time there and the road trip that we got to take in between.  We felt refreshed when we arrived in Baltimore and more excited about our future life living on a farm (if we get our wish).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Other Neighborhoods - Our First Family Vacation


Before maternity leave wrapped up and I headed back to work, Bill and I went on our first family vacation.  We flew into Newark, New Jersey and headed to the Jersey shore where Bill's Aunt and Uncle have an incredible home in Ocean Grove.  I cannot believe this was my first visit to this wonderful little beach town.  A perfect mixture of bohemian and Victorian with a huge flea market to boot!  We spent a few days relaxing and then headed to their home inland soaking up the culture and hitting our favorite little cider stand right down the corner from their home.


After our time with Bill's side of the family we took a drive down to Baltimore for my Uncle Rob's wedding and to introduce Reagan to many more family members who had not yet met her.  The blissful reunion and introductions will be something I will not soon forget.  She met aunts and uncles and cousins, my best friend and her great grandmother.  We went to our favorite ice cream place, got time with precious friends and family, ate wonderful food together, had our first family dance (and Bill and Reagan's first father daughter dance), worked on a challenging puzzle and laughed so much.  It is hard to sum up our East Coast trips in words, but they are special and treasured and full of extraordinary moments.  

Every time we leave Baltimore we leave a piece of our hearts there, and this time was no different.  Our new niece was born just a few weeks after we left, and I cannot wait to get back so I can meet her and kiss her precious cheeks (I will introduce her on here sometime very soon).  Hoping to make that happen in February!  In the meantime, Facetime keeps us in touch with all these wonderful people and we are grateful for a world where distance is able to be crossed for special moments such as these.  



Monday, October 9, 2017

Special Newborn Moments Captured

When Bill and I found out we were having a baby back in September 2016, we opted to not find out the gender, and that ended up being a blissful surprise on the day of!  Our sweet baby daughter was born June 26, 2017 @ 5:02am weighing 7 pounds 7 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches long.  To be honest, labor and delivery was the most wild experience of my life.  I did not know what my body was capable of until that day.  I still cannot believe this tiny person grew inside of me and then was pushed out of me... yes, a little graphic, but seriously the most incredible thing I have been a part of.   The process is long, but the reward is the sweetest.

These pictures are my favorite from her first few weeks of life.  What an incredible honor to be able to be at home with her while she discovered the world and learned about life and what it holds.














To my sweet daughter:

Reagan Marie Rogers, you have changed my world forever.  What can I say to encompass my feelings?  I love you to my deepest depths and as soon as you appeared I could no longer imagine life without you.  You are everything to me and I find so much joy in just watching you breathe.  Thank you for making me a momma.  I am forever grateful and will always remember these days together so fondly.


Friday, October 6, 2017

A Penny for Your Thoughts: On Wrapping Up Maternity Leave

I have been on maternity leave for 3 months now, and these have been some of the greatest months of my life.  I truly and without a doubt cannot imagine my life without this little person and that honestly blows my mind.  I love her with every fiber of my being and wish I could just sit and stare at her every day of my life.  I will do a little back tracking and tell you more about life thus far, share lots of pictures and tell my birth story when time permits.  

When I think about the emotional, physical and mental journey the last few months have been, I am overwhelmed.  I am completely changed and feel like it's impossible to really explain becoming a parent.  It's incredible and wonderful and exhausting and exhilarating.  I just feel so fortunate (because blessed somehow is played out in today's culture) to get to call this sweet person my daughter.  I want for nothing and constantly remind myself that this is my life and I really am living it.  I spend so much time just staring at her sweet face.  Sigh, what a blissful 3 months it has been.

As my maternity leave comes to a close, I have some thoughts I wanted to share (and I thought I would use pictures of Reagan to show them), but please bear with me, because this post just kept getting longer and longer as my thoughts poured out - apparently I have a lot to say on the subject!
  

1. I'm Tired.  

This is a different type of exhaustion.  I have been tired before from staying up all night and working double shifts, but what I didn't consider is that my body is producing the food to feed my baby.  This is an exhaustion from the deepest parts of me, and our little Reagan sleeps through the night!  I can't imagine if she didn't!  I always felt like people were exaggerating or being dramatic about new parenting exhaustion, but I can now attest that being a mom is absolutely exhausting and I get it.  Isn't it funny how you always think it will be different for you?

Is this tiredness worth it?  
100% yes.  
That little person just holds your heart.  
It's really so surreal.


2. There is NOTHING Better Than Newborn Snuggles

Y'all...  How did I not know?!  
This must be a drug.  
I feel insane about wanting to snuggle this baby.  
I had no idea how incredible baby snuggles were because I have always been too afraid to hold other people's newborn babies.  But there is a special magic in a tiny person holding so tightly to you.  I mean, honestly, what an incredible honor to get this little person's trust and to assist them in finding rest.  There is just nothing like it.



3. Family is EVERYTHING

This one has taken be by surprise.  I hoped and prayed I would love our little one as much as I do, but I had no idea how much my family would love her.  It has been so incredible for me to have every member of my family reach out excitedly to hold her and realize how much she will be loved throughout her life by the people surrounding her and already is... it brings me to tears to think about.

Our West Coast family brought us meals and gifts and spent time in our home letting us nap and shower when Reagan first arrived.  They always told us we were doing a great job and really encouraged us to keep resting and pushing through the hard moments.  I always felt like we were doing so well and was so encouraged by visits.   I underestimated how much I needed that support.

My mom came to visit for a few weeks after Reagan was born and she cleaned and cooked and took care of me both emotionally and practically, and it just meant the world to me to have her in my home caring for me in that way.

Bill and I got to take Reagan on a vacation to the East Coast where the majority of my family is and she got to meet so many friends and family.  I was amazed how many people encouraged us and told us how sweet she is.  Sharing her with those people in those places was so special.  Introducing her to my brothers and sister in laws and niece and nephew was amazing.  She got to meet her great grandma Wecker as well, which was a moment I cherished.  Every single minute spent with them was special to me and I am so glad we took the trip before my maternity leave ended and while she is so little.



4. I'm Confused on the Baby Haterade

I guess I should have seen this one coming.  Just like before I got married people were referencing "the ball and chain" and saying I will never feel freedom again, so many people said I will never sleep again and how exhausting babies are.  So much negativity really got me thinking maybe I needed to be more worried than I was.  However, I fought the tendency towards anxiety and chose peace.  Well I am here to announce that marriage is wonderful and having a baby in our home has also been an incredible experience.  

When something is hard, people always focus on the tough parts.  If someone were to ask me about becoming a parent, I wouldn't even bring up the long nights and crazy crying fits - I would talk about the first time Reagan made real eye contact with me.  I would talk about how when she gains weight it feels like a personal victory because my body is producing the food that sustains her.  I would talk about how incredible it is to see her smile at me and how wonderful it is to watch her sleep peacefully.  I would tell anyone that becoming a parent has changed my life for the best and that what I have learned has helped me understand the Lord better and myself better.  It has given me new purpose and brought me great joy.



More on momma life coming soon... I will definitely be sharing my favorite parenting and pregnancy books thus far, although I haven't used most of what I learned yet :)  You guys... I also have SO many pictures.  Brace yo selves.