The Votes Are In

I fell asleep last night before the final numbers came in for the 2016 Presidential Election. I woke up sometime around 4:00 this morning to find that our new president is now Donald Trump. Somehow, I managed to fall back asleep for a few hours, but not without a persistent stomach ache.

I awoke this morning with a heavy heart, a churning stomach, and a sense of terror from head to toe. My initial reaction to this news was similar to what many others felt as well, I am sure. I was shocked. I was horrified. I felt disgusted. I wanted to hurl blame at midwesterners, at third party voters, at non voters, at “racists” and “bigots” and “sexists” and “predators” and “liars” and “ignorant assholes”. I felt angry. I felt betrayed.

But I only allowed these heated, angry, fiery thoughts to linger for a moment. I gave them just enough time to be really felt, and then I let them go. 

Because now is NOT the time for our rage or our blame or our fear to overtake or consume us. This broken country has NO more room for any kind of hate, especially with a man like Donald Trump now sitting in the White House. 

Now is the time for LOVE. Love wins, but only when we make certain that it does. Now it’s up to us to do everything within our power, everything within our beings, as individuals, to love our neighbors. It is not the time for us to wrap ourselves in an arbitrary identity of Democrat, Republican, or Independent. It is the time for us to open our arms to one another and wrap them around each other. For our friends, neighbors, acquaintances and even perfect strangers who now feel more scared, more marginalized, more unaccepted than ever – we must use our time, resources and selves to help them see and know that they ARE loved, they ARE accepted, and that we will do everything we can to protect them. This is our duty now. As believers, as non believers, as Christians, as Mormons, as Catholics, as Atheists, as Agnostics, as Buddhists, as majorities, as minorities, as privileged, as underprivileged, as gay, as straight, as transexual, as bisexual, as men and as women, as parents, as sons and daughters, as brothers and sisters; as human beings, it’s our time to shine.

It is okay to feel those negative feelings – we must allow ourselves to feel them. But we must let go of them, otherwise they will hold us captive. Let yourself be hurt, let yourself be angry, let yourself be disappointed, confused, afraid. But then channel those strong emotions and feelings into positive action. 

A darkness has settled in over this nation, for now, but let’s be the light that blows it away.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”      – Albus Dumbledore

“You are the light of the world.” – Matthew 5:14

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Another fall favorite of mine is a scrumptious loaf of fresh baked pumpkin bread. This recipe is super quick and easy to prepare, and the bread is perfectly spiced and delicious. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 (generous) c. granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 heaping t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 heaping t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1/3 c. plain Greek yogurt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard size loaf pan, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat to incorporate. Add Greek yogurt, vanilla extract and pumpkin; mix to combine.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, spices, salt and baking soda.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Pour prepared batter in loaf pan and spread evenly. Bake for 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool and enjoy.
Bon Appetit!

Our Pumpkin Patch Adventure

A few weekends ago, our little family ventured out to explore this great pumpkin patch that Shawn stumbled across on his way to an appointment one day. Our visit to Jaker’s in Springville was SO much fun! Nora got to run around in the sunshine, surrounded by other little ones, climbing on haystacks and getting lost in the corn maze.

Jaker’s is by far the coolest pumpkin patch I’ve ever experienced! At only $2 per person to get in (over 4 years old), it’s an incredible bargain. Besides a huge corn maze and giant haystacks, they also offer hayrides, an enormous corn pit and a darling petting zoo – all included with the price of admission! There were local vendors with sweet little booths and food trucks set up as well. We were so lucky to get to visit on a gorgeous, sunny fall afternoon and we had such a great time. If we’re still in Utah next year, I cannot wait to go back!

Nora did not care for the geese honks, not one bit.

Nora did not care for the geese honks, not one bit.

THE PIGS WERE MY FAVORITE OF ANYTHING EVER.

THE PIGS WERE MY FAVORITE OF ANYTHING EVER.

All the heart eyes!

All the heart eyes!

Yes, that is indeed a kangaroo.

Yes, that is indeed a kangaroo.

Furry little llama!

Furry little llama!

And she's off!

And she’s off!

October Favorites

So, technically, it’s November now (WHAT?), but I wanted to share some of my favorite things, activities, memories, etc from the month of October! I did lots of yummy cooking and baking this month, lots of self care, had lots of sweet family time and really just enjoyed myself this month. It was so beautiful outside as well! Icing on the cake. I really love October – it’s truly my favorite month all year!

SO gorgeous!

SO gorgeous!

I’m really enjoying Frank’s new look on this season of How to Get Away with Murder. Oh, and I’m really enjoying THIS SEASON! It’s definitely picked up from last season and I get so giddy to watch a new episode each week! Any other HTGAWM fans out there? No spoilers!

We’ve spent a lot of sweet family time together this month, especially during the weekends. As most of you know, we celebrate Harry Poctober every year by watching two Harry Potter movies each weekend during the month of October, and I make yummy meals to go with the movies. A few of the meals I made this year were chili, homemade pizza, pot roast with veggies, chorizo stuffed jalapenos, lots of baked goods (get my banana bread recipe here) and so much more!

Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake

Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake

Besides celebrating Harry Poctober together, we’ve also gotten to explore Utah Valley more this past month; walking around downtown Provo, visiting Jaker’s Pumpkin Patch in Springville, and more. It’s been so fun taking little adventures together as a family!

Gorgeous, historic downtown Provo!

Gorgeous, historic downtown Provo!

I'll be doing a full, fun post on our experience at Jaker's soon! It's such a neat little place!

I’ll be doing a full, fun post on our experience at Jaker’s soon! It’s such a neat little place!

I’ve made sure to continue to make some time for self care this month, especially since I’ve been under the weather for a good part of the month. I’ve done mud masks, detox masks, gel eyes masks (YUM) and have LOVED them all. Andalou Naturals makes some of my very favorite mud masks, Miss Spa makes my favorite detox mask, and these Gel Eye masks from Que Bella Beauty are incredible!

As I said before, October is my very favorite month and I am so sad to see it go! I feel like the rest of the year just flies by once October has come and gone. But I have enjoyed every minute of it and have so cherished making memories with my sweet little family. I hope you all had a wonderful October and here’s to an amazing November!

Rustic Margherita Pizza

Today I’m sharing one of my very favorite homemade pizza recipes with you! Who doesn’t love pizza, right? I know it’s easy to grab a frozen one while you’re in a rush at the grocery store, or pick up a few $5 Hot ‘N’ Readys from Little Caesars on the way home; been there, done that my friend! But let me just tell you, homemade pizza kicks take out pizza’s ass! It can be a much more nutritious meal since YOU are in control of the ingredients that go into the pie, and fresh ingredients have so much more color and flavor than fake or frozen or chemically altered. So really, it’s just the best. 

I’ve experimented with a few different homemade pizzas in the past; bbq chicken, spinach and artichoke, veggie pesto chicken and so on, but this margherita pizza is my all time favorite. It’s so simple – five ingredients total! It’s so colorful and so delicious, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. This is also a super fun meal to make and perfect on chilly fall weekends. So please enjoy the recipe below, and I hope you find yourself inspired to give homemade pizza a whirl soon!

Rustic Margherita Pizza: (feeds 2-4, depending on appetites)

Ingredients:

  • one pkg. Whole Foods housemade pizza dough (feel free to make your own dough! this is just what i prefer)
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese (i like to buy it pre-sliced)
  • 1 large tomato or 2 medium tomatoes, sliced thin (i prefer heriloom or beefsteak)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh basil leaves (very important, don’t get dried basil!)
    optional:
  • cornmeal
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • flour for rolling out the dough

I find it’s always very helpful to have my toppings prepped and ready to go before I start rolling out my dough. As for slicing the tomatoes, you don’t want to slice them so thin that they aren’t hearty when you bite into them, but also not so thick that they weigh down the dough.

When I make pizza, or anything that requires my rolling pin, I pull out my trusty enormous wooden cutting board. It’s HUGE, and gives me all the space I need for making a big flour mess and rolling out my dough. Because fresh dough is typically very sticky, I always sprinkle flour onto the cutting board and rub some on the rolling pin before rolling out the dough. I personally love the crunch of cornmeal in my pizza crust, so I always sprinkle that and mix in with the flour on the cutting board before rolling out the dough.

Once I’ve got the dough on the cutting board, I make sure it’s thoroughly coated in flour and cornmeal, and then I get down to business. I like to start by softly kneading the dough just a few times to limber it up, and then I stretch it a bit, being carefully not to pull it apart or create any holes. Now it’s time to roll out my dough! I never make round pizzas. I like ’em crooked and rectangular, plus, it’s just easier to roll out square crust on a square cutting board.

When you roll out your dough, you want to make sure not to stretch it too thin. Because margherita pizza calls for such juicy toppings (mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil), you want a solid crust that can hold up the weight without folding in on itself. I typically roll the dough out to approximately one inch thickness. Once I’m done prepping the dough, I carefully transfer it to the baking sheet. Now it’s time to add the toppings!

         I was multi-tasking! By the way, notice the flour all over my shirt? Aprons are helpful.

         I was multi-tasking! By the way, notice the flour all over my shirt? Aprons are helpful.

So we start by drizzling some EVOO onto the crust. As Rachael Ray says, “I just eyeball it there.” But, it’s very important to get it right – too much oil and your crust will be soggy, not enough and it will be too dry. I’d say no more than a tablespoon. Occasionally I like to mix it up and add a tiny bit of fresh garlic here as well. Your call! Next, I layer the cheese and then the tomatoes and finish by sprinkling the fresh basil and black pepper over the whole pie. There is no rhyme or reason to how you place your cheese or tomatoes, just try to keep the cheese beneath the tomatoes. I would love to say I just haphazardly drop the mozzarella and tomatoes wherever and that it turns out perfectly, but I need structure, so I place them strategically on the dough.

LOOK AT THOSE HEIRLOOM TOMATOES. Gah, so gorgeous.

LOOK AT THOSE HEIRLOOM TOMATOES. Gah, so gorgeous.

Also, can we talk about the scent of fresh basil leaves? Calgon take me away! So sweet and spicy and fresh. I could just sit and smell basil for hours.

Also, can we talk about the scent of fresh basil leaves? Calgon take me away! So sweet and spicy and fresh. I could just sit and smell basil for hours.

Look at that beautiful mesh of colors! Isn’t food stunning? Ugh, I love it so much. Now you’re ready to stick that baby in the oven and bake it to perfection. Your baking time can vary based on your crust preference. I like a crispier crust, so I bake mine a bit longer, and then leave it under the broiler on high for about one minute to get that nice crunchy edge on the mozzarella. 

And here you have your finished pizza pie! This pizza is so flavorful and SO YUM. I just know you’ll love it as much as I do! This beats take out any day, am I right?

Instructions:
Make sure your dough has been sitting out at room temperature for at least one hour before you roll it out.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Prep your toppings and set aside. Next, pull out your cutting board and sprinkle it with a few handfuls of flour and some cornmeal. Place the dough on the floured cutting board and lightly coat the dough in flour and cornmeal.

Gently knead the dough a few times to get it warmed up, and then stretch it out carefully, being sure not to tear it. Coat the rolling pin in flour and roll out your dough to desired shape and size.

Drizzle the EVOO onto the rolled out dough and then placed the sliced mozzarella evenly on the dough. Next, top the cheese and dough with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. Sprinkle the pie with fresh cracked black pepper.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is your desired texture, and the cheese has started to bubble. You also have the option of leaving the pizza under the broiler for a minute or two, on high, to get that nice cheese crisp.

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Photos by Shawn McEntyre

Our Family Creed

Shawn and I believe very strongly in a lot of things. We believe in good and love and compassion and kindness. We believe in truth and justice and adventure. We believe in being the best versions of ourselves so that we can live our best lives. And most importantly, we believe in God’s love and that it is unconditional and free to us all. Our goal and probably biggest privilege and responsibility is to pass these beliefs on to our daughter Nora so that she can go out and shine so bright into the world. So that she can be love to the world. We also believe that part of becoming our best selves is to seek physical, mental and spiritual health and well being by practicing self care and intuitive living.

I decided recently to sort of condense the core of these beliefs and practices into what we call our Family Creed. I’m extremely proud of this. I’m proud because I’ve finally arrived at these core beliefs and practices. I’m proud of myself for trusting my own heart, for trusting the Spirit, and of Shawn and me for building this foundation for our family to stand and grow on. I thought I’d like to share this with you all – it’s personal, vulnerable and pure gold. Thank you for letting me share this with you.

Home Spa Favorites

So, if you’ve been following my Insta Stories at all (I’m so obsessed, I love Stories!), then you know how much I love a great home spa night, and how important I think it is to make self care a priority. As a mom, wife, woman and human, it’s so important that we take some time every day, if possible, or as often as we can, to breathe and find some solace or a way to relax. Recharging is vital to not only our own physical and emotional health, but it really helps us to love our people better. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve taken some time to breathe and recharge and pamper myself a little, I’m more fun for Nora and more amorous for Shawn. True story.

My daily “me time” happens after Shawn gets home from work and before we put Nora to bed. It’s very simple; I take a shower! (I’m just not a bath person.) I always have fresh baby blue eucalyptus hanging from the shower head. The steam really brings out the delicious aroma of the eucalyptus, making it feel so luxurious and relaxing. I also always have a candle lit (currently using this one that smells like Anthro) and my favorite essential oils ready to dab on when I step out of the shower. Setting the stage for a great home spa is just as important as the products you use!

If I had to choose ten things or less to build a starter home spa, I would include:

  • fresh eucalyptus
  • candles
  • essential oils
  • facial masques
  • nail polish
  • moisturizers/lotions/body butters
  • body oils
  • body mists
  • facial/body scrubs
  • a lovely glass of wine

I wanted to share my very favorites from the above categories and hopefully inspire you to treat yourself to some well deserved pampering. 

 

These are the products I make a point to always have on hand. Body butter is Gold & Clover Face and Body Tallow, facial aromatherapeutic oil is Acure Organics Citrus Ginger Moroccan Argan Oil, essential oils are Aura Cacia Chill Pill and Tasmanian Lavender, and Lotus Wei Inner Peace Anointing Oil, ELF Lip Exfoliator, KALOS Triple Threat Detox Masque, and Origins Ginger Essence Sensuous Skin Mist.

I don’t always have time for a nice, long, luxurious shower every evening because life happens. Sometimes we need to run errands when Shawn gets home, or I use that block of time to prepare a more intricate meal. But I always have these products (or something very similar) sitting out where I can see them and use them, even after just a quick five minute shower. Every little bit helps!

Next, I’d like to talk about nail polish. I go through (short) seasons where I love having bare nails; typically during the summer. But there is nothing like a great mani/pedi, am I right? The thing is, a great mani/pedi costs money if you go to a professional, and sometimes there just isn’t room in the budget for that. So the solution? DIY! Now, I’m no mani/pedi expert. In fact, my idea of a home pedicure includes using a pumice stone in the shower, and then simply painting my toenails. The same goes for a home manicure, minus the pumice stone. But in my opinion, a great nail polish goes a long way in making me feel a little extra feminine and pampered.

                                                From Left to Right: Smokin' Hot, Forever Yummy, Topless & Barefoot, Bordeaux, Wicked

                                                From Left to Right: Smokin’ Hot, Forever Yummy, Topless & Barefoot, Bordeaux, Wicked

                      This is what happens when you don't include your toddler in a photoshoot. She finds a way to get involved somehow!

                      This is what happens when you don’t include your toddler in a photoshoot. She finds a way to get involved somehow!

So, clearly I’m an Essie girl. I love the quality of their polishes as well as the HUGE variety of colors they offer! My favorite for fall is Wicked, and I switch to Bordeaux or Forever Yummy around the holidays. I also really love Butter London nail polish. It’s a bit pricier than Essie, but definitely worth it, and you can buy it at Whole Foods! Always a bonus for me.

Lastly, and my very favorite part of a home spa night: facial masques! Nothing makes me feel more pampered and luxurious than slathering my face and neck with a great masque and sipping on a lovely glass of wine while my face soaks in the nutrients. ::sigh:: It’s so wonderful. I have a basket filled with various single use masques and I look forward to trying a new one each week! I typically save my masque nights for the weekend because it’s easier for me to soak in all the relaxation.

I pick up most of my single use masques from Target or Whole Foods. My favorite brands so far are Que Bella, Miss Spa, Shea Moisture, and Andalou Naturals. Obviously I love my KALOS Triple Threat Detox Masque as well, and I’m hoping to try some scrubs from Poppy & Pout soon!

Along with my basket full of masques, I keep a treasure trove of items from Birchbox that I’ve received in the past! Currently I don’t have a Birchbox subscription because it’s not in the budget, however, it is completely worth the cost (only $10/mo!) and I am so looking forward to being able to subscribe again. When you subscribe, they have you fill out a small personal profile in order to get a good sense of which beauty products you’d enjoy the most. They totally nail it! In fact, Birchbox is why I discovered KALOS in the first place!

Above are just a few examples of the great products I’ve received from Birchbox this year, including items from Dr. Hauschka, Real Chemistry, Tocca, Kiehl’s, and so much more! The only product in the above photo that is not from Birchbox is the EO Body Oil in Good Love. Shawn and I picked that up from Whole Foods and it’s amazing for massages, or just rubbing on your arms and legs when you get out of the shower. I even like to put it on my face in lieu of moisturizer most of the time!

I hope this post has helped you find some ideas or inspiration for your very own home spa night, and I really hope you take the time for self care and make it a priority! You deserve it. If you have any questions, feel free to email me through the Connect Page or leave a comment below! Happy Pampering!