i’m back!

Oh hey there!  I promise I did not leave or quit this little space of love.  Maybe we can just call it an nine month writing “sabbatical” leave instead?

How about I rewind back to the summer of 2015, in which, I let life get too busy, my priorities were all wrong, and I found myself in the middle of a fight between my heart and brain?  Enter tiny whispers of telling my heart to slow the heck down.  Guess who won that fight?  My heart.

So, for the past nine months I did exactly this.  I chose the three most important pieces of my life and put them at the top of my list: my health, family, and faith.  I realized I was not my best self if I could not eat healthy, exercise, and sleep right.  And, I quickly discovered I may screw up quite a few things in life, but my marriage and mamahood were not going to fall in that category.  Above all, without my faith and remembering to practice the phrase, “let go and let God,” I would literally be lost.  This meant putting everything else aside, and you know what?  It turned out to be the best nine months.  Because here is a little glimpse of what happened…

We spent every moment we could adventuring to the most beautiful parts of Kansas City.

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We made family date nights happen with our love bug.

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But, soaked up “just the two of us” nights as well.

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We seized the opportunity to travel to here…

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And here…

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We made memories.  And laughed a lot.  But, please do not be fooled.  We also battled with the terrible twos (is this why they invented wine?!), potty & big boy bed training, some nasty illnesses with our little love, and did I mention the tantrums?  Yet, I would not trade any of those memories for different ones.

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The most amazing of those nine months.  The day I took a pregnancy test and two pink lines showed up once again.  And, we suddenly became a party of five (including Pebs…NOT expecting twins!).  Our hearts have been even more full ever since that beautiful November day.

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Which led us to do this crazy thing Bryan and I have been dreaming about before Baby L came in the picture.  To take Noah man to Disneyworld for our last “three musketeers” vacation.  To say it was truly the best is an understatement.

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Here is the thing.  I have missed writing something fierce.  However, I do not regret taking time to enjoy the simple things in life like eating ice-cream on the couch with my husband, laying in the playroom and coloring with our ever so fast growing toddler, lunches with girlfriends, reading a good book, cooking Sunday dinners with Noah, and taking evening walks with no agenda.  Too often, we get caught up in what is expected of us in life.  We forget sometimes to cut ourselves that break.  To ease up.  And remember.  This life…it is messy, imperfect, and quite beautiful.

It is good to be back!

Shamim J. - Welcome back, Shefali! As always, I love reading your insightful posts! You write beautifully. Your little boy is so cute! And a hearty congratulations on baby #2! Take care. -Shamim

  

chinese fried rice + homemade ginger dressing

Chinese food.  It was an acquired love.  One that began at the ripe age of sixteen when my parents gave us one of the most eye-opening and memorable experiences: four weeks seeing the poorest, richest, and most fascinating parts of India.

The last time I visited India probably does not count since I was four and barely remember any part of this visit.  Other than I had to share the attention of my parents with my semi-new baby brother.  But, that story is for a different time.  Let me go ahead and paint a picture of the mindset I was in on the airplane ride to India.  I believe the exact question that came out of my mouth to my mum was, “When can I get a cell phone and a new car?”  No, “let’s discuss” or “how can I pitch in?”  Straight up, “when?”

I think when we stepped off the plane, I was hit with a burst of humidity, instant sweat, and a whopping 110 degree weather.  I should mention, I was in pants and a sweatshirt with no change of clothes.  I should also mention it was night time.  As in, it was the coolest part of the entire day.

The next day, I wore my most conservative outfit I had packed, a knee length, sleeveless dress.  My great-uncle, who we were staying at the time that I adored, gave me one look and stated I needed to change that moment to my mum.  Instantly, I missed home.  For the following four weeks, I made my way through India clothed in long sleeves and pants.  I may or may not have showered at least three times a day.

And, this, above, was my biggest complaint of our entire four weeks.  Missing home disappeared quickly as we saw places and met people who made my brother and I realize what mattered in life.

In India, everything is vibrant.  The people, they are loud.  They are animated.  They talk with their hands.  And, they speak beautifully.  The colors, well, this explain everything about the reason why my closet is filled with random prints and an insane amount of color.  My roots are the inspiration of my style.  The temples are probably some of the most intricate and marvelous pieces of architecture.  But, the food.  The food is everything in India.

I believe the first stop we ever made in India was at a street cart.  My dad insisted he have what is my most favorite Indian dish called pani puri.  At night.  See, food is a way of love.  It is a way for people in India to meet, tell stories of my parents, and laugh.  Watching the liveliness that took place when surrounded by food is still one of my fondest memories of that trip.

This is where the Chinese food comes in.  You see, from time to time, I had Chinese food.  I liked it.  But, never loved it.  Until this one evening when we were visiting my mum’s cousin and her new husband.  From the amount of food, you would have assumed it was a special night.  It was just a typical Saturday night.

They had food brought in and cooked from all over the city.  Indian sweet and ice-cream that my food loving heart explode.  Until this point, I had not a clue Chinese food would be found in India.  Let alone taste out of this world.  But, it did.  Oh my word, did it taste amazing.  The flavors mixed in with the Indian spices sent me to cloud nine followed by food coma.  From this point on, Chinese food was one in which I crave on a weekly basis.  But, not the take out kind.  The homemade with many spices kind.  That remind me of that typical Saturday night.

And, for those wondering.  The trip changed my utterly sixteen year old spoiled self within four weeks.  After seeing the most beautiful and rawest parts of India, I believe the first sentence I said to my mum on our way back to the states was, “Forget the cell phone and car.  I am so grateful for our life in the states.  And, the air conditioner.”

(I truly cannot wait for Bryan and Noah to experience the exquisite culture of India one day!)

With many thanks to my weekly Chinese cravings, I came across these two recipes that not only taste amazing but were approved by our two year old with a “yum” and a smile!

Enjoy.

Chinese Fried Rice (recipe and photo courtesy of sue lau of food.com)

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 drops of soy sauce
  • 3 drops of sesame oil
  • 8 ounces of cooked lean boneless pork or chicken chopped (if vegetarian, leave the meat out)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 cups of cold cooked rice
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups of bean spouts
  • 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok; add chopped onions and stir-fry until onions turn a nice brown color, about 8-10 minutes; remove from wok.
  2. Allow wok to cool slightly.
  3. Mix egg with 3 drops of soy and 3 drops of sesame oil; set aside
  4. Add 1/2 tbsp oil to wok, swirling to coat surfaces; add egg mixture; working quickly, swirl egg until egg sets against wok; when egg puffs, flip egg and cook other side briefly; remove from wok, and chop into small pieces.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok; add selected meat to wok, along with carrots, peas, and cooked onion; stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  6. Add rice, green onions, and bean sprouts, tossing to mix well; stir-fry for 3 minutes.
  7. Add 2 tbsp of light soy sauce and chopped egg to rice mixture and fold in; stir-fry for 1 minute more; serve.
  8. Set out additional soy sauce on the table, if desired.

Asian Ginger Dressing (recipe and photo courtesy of chef jeff of food.com)

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Ingredients:

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

  1. In a 1 pint glass jar or larger, combine the garlic, ginger, olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and water.
  2. Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake well.
  3. Remove lid, and heat jar in the microwave for 1 minute just to dissolve the honey.
  4. Let cool, and shake well before serving.
  5. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Now, I need to start researching some Indo Chinese recipes to try next…

  

the best kept secret in oregon

The concept of us.  It is one discussed plenty of times in a marriage.  Especially after becoming parents.  You worry.  Will we be us again?  Will we remember how to connect without the whirlwind of our beautiful life?  So, you do something crazy.  You book a weekend getaway.  Five days without your sweet tot.  No time outs.  No bedtime routines.  No changing diapers or yelling to not kiss your dog on the mouth.  Except this weekend getaway.  You have no idea what you are in for over the next few days.  Because it turns out, it was an absolute treat and your time together, it is one for the books.

Fast forward to June 18th, 2015…

Our destination: Willamette Valley, Oregon.  Otherwise known as one of the best kept secrets in the US and world.

We were driving down from Portland to our cottage in Amity, Oregon.  We never saw any of scenery or had any idea exactly where we landed.  That is until at exactly 7:30 am, we woke up to look out the window.  I believe we spent the next 30 minutes with our jaws hanging down from our mouth.

portland 02From that point forward, we vowed to one another to not take any part of this trip for granted.  And, this is exactly what we did.  We spent every second of our time in Oregon adventuring together and coming to the conclusion, we may be getting older, but we are so grateful to be growing together.  In the midst of parenthood and our crazy, beautiful life.

And, just for the record, I only cried twice about missing our little man and fluffy child.  Ok, three times.  Really it was…never mind.

Glimpses of our getaway to celebrate five truly wonderful years of us…

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Our sweet cottage that truly made us feel right at home.  Airbnb rocks!

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The views on the cottage’s property were breathtaking.

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He sure loves his grapes in any form.

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This guy.  I just love.

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Seriously.  The shops in the towns of Willamette Valley were adorable.

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The best gluten-free pizza I have ever had, wood-fired style at Red Hills Market.

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We decided to do a winery tour on bikes through one of the towns.

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His happy place.

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The trees in Oregon are just gorgeous.

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The wine label on this bottle is made out of wood!

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Anniversary dinner at the ever so amazing, Blue Goat, which was a farm-to-table restaurant and one of the best places I have ever dined at in the world.

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Where there is creme brûlée, there is one happy Shefy doing the shake.

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Sunset in Amity, Oregon.  Still takes my breath away.

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At this point, I have probably packed on a few pounds from devouring the amazing food.  My first gluten-free crepe at Perierra Creperie &c (a food truck!) since my diagnosis.

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We explored downtown Portland.  I believe my heart was complete.  Everywhere in downtown is filled to the brim with trees and the cutest shops.

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Taking it all in.

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Ending our getaway with delicious vino, a beautiful view, and mustache fun.

If ever in the area and you are gluten-free, be sure to check out Portland Monthly Mag filled with amazing suggestions including the spectacular Tasty n Alder (which left our bellies quite full and more in love with Portland).

Cheers to taking a chance which lead us to a memorable adventure!

  

he called it…dad.

What Makes a Dad

God took the strength of a mountain, 
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun, 
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature, 
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages, 
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring, 
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity, 
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so,

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He called it … Dad

-Brie Carter-

Wishing all the present, future, and hopeful fathers all around the world a day full of love.

Especially the special men in my life who are incredible role models to our Noah man and whom I love dearly. 

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Happy Father’s Day!

  

five years

We laugh.

We fight with passion.

We hold hands.

It makes me feel eighteen years old all over again.

Every time.

I kind of love it.

We adventure together.

Always and forever, babe.

We love Noah man.

And Pebbles.

And wine.

All a little too much.

Obsessed is more like it.

We rock out to Ace of Base.

And, I fall in love with you, deeper than before.

We are nerds.

I find it weirdly wonderful.

Feel free to keep talking about seismic loads.

On second hand, maybe not.

We bring balance to one another.

You, calm and logical.

Me, colorful and free.

Thank goodness for your calmness and logicalness.

Yes, I know logicalness is not a word.

We dream silly big.

We watch those dreams become a reality.

Each dream changing our life differently than we imagined.

We create in the kitchen.

And sometimes we get messy.

But, that is ok.

Because, it was worth it.

We are parents.

Did I mention I want four boys?

Just like you.

We are 1/4 of the way there.

Why did we wait so long to experience the beauty of this journey?

The journey of papa and mama.

We are goofy.

Which is why we work.

We pray.

Like crazy.

Those prayers have been our saving grace.

Although, different beliefs, we still come together with the same ending to our prayers.

We are best friends.

For better or worse.  For richer or poorer.  In sickness and in health.  Until death do us part.

It also helps during our “lover’s spats.”

We love.

It is the core of why we are us.

We face challenges.

More often than we like.

But, we are stronger.

So, thank you, God, for the challenges.

And, while I am at it…

Thank you for blessing me with my husband.

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(photo credit: kelly manno photography)

It has been the greatest five years of my life.

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(photo credit: sharaya mauck photography)

And, I wanted you to know…

Marrying you was the best decision I ever made. Hands down, babe.

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(photo credit: amanda devanae photography)

Happy Anniversary, my love.

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