When you Feel like the Venus of Willendorf Here’s Three Steps

“I feel like the Venus of Willendorf”
“The what?”
“The Venus of Willendorf”
“What on earth is that?”
“Google it”

I thought about including the image but that would take away from the hype and fun of you discovering the Venus, for the first time, in all her google glory. If you already know what this art history nut is talking about we can cringe or share a sorroful chuckle together. The conversation above happened between my husband and me well over a year ago when our second daughter Sophia was a month old. I weighed less with my second pregnancy, but had shockingly less muscle mass. I really struggled to get back in shape, and to be honest, I still am. 

There are lots of post-pregnancy things people don’t warn you about that realists like me wish they would. No one warns you that you’ll feel like you have elephant skin where your tummy used to be.  The baby does’t arrive and make all well with what’s been happening to your stomach for nine months. The baby comes and joyfully distracts you. After your elephant skin has been around for a few weeks post delivery, and especially if you’re nursing, which could be a post all in itself, it’s easy to feel like the Venus of Willendorf. 

Ladies despite how its coming off, this post is meant to encourage, so bear with me. As Jim Gaffigan says:

“… truly, women are amazing. Think about it this way: a woman can grow a baby inside her body. Then a woman can deliver the baby through her body. Then, by some miracle, a woman can feed a baby with her body. When you compare that to the male’s contribution to life, it’s kind of embarrassing, really.” 

― Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat

Ladies when we have a baby whether its via cesarian, in a hospital, at home, with drugs or without, its amazing. Life is amazing and how our bodies were designed is amazing. There will be times when the majority of us will have Venus of Willendorf moments. The tummy is weird and the chest is in rare form but look at the reward. Children are a gift from the Lord and I’m sure you wouldn’t trade them (most days) for perfectly chiseled abs. 

As a person who has struggled for years with image and weight I understand. In moments where its tempting to stay in the sweats and the spit up t-shirt, fight for these three steps. Fight to get out of the rut. My mum does this well and I’m slowly catching on. Wink wink. 

  1. Freshen the makeup. Lift the lashes, conceal those under-eye, i’ve had no sleep, circles, blush the cheeks and pop on some lip gloss. Eyeliner and eyeshadow take me too long but if you can manage knock your socks off.  
  2. Rock a quick, messy bun, pony, or side braid. Everytime I see dry shampoo in the hair products aisle I chuckle. I’m a mom. The look people try to achieve with the dry shampoo I can achieve easily because sometimes getting a shower is harder than finding a three-legged ballerina, as John Candy would say. 
  3. Wear something that makes you feel pretty. We are not so expectedly expecting baby number three, and I still feel like I’m working off baby number two. Discouragement in the wardrobe department can be a daily reality. I recently traded several quarts of homemade ice cream for a kimono from the lovely lady behind The Firebrand Apparel. Colleen works magic with her fabric choices and does it all surrounded by two busy, sweet little boys. I know she’s had the same effect on other gals, but my kimono from her is the one thing that makes me feel pretty. I can wear it with almost anything, it flows beautifully, and it’s fuss-free.  Check out her site and get one ordered. You’ll be glad you did.   

There are days when you feel like you’re chained to the couch nursing a baby, or that your yoga pants are your only friend,  or you can’t remember when you last showered … you can make your own list but, I call these my Venus of Willendorf days. Take a moment. Take a breath. Freshen the makeup, rock a quick updo, and find that go-to look in your wardrobe that makes you feel pretty. You can face the day with new energy. Although your surroundings will likely go unchanged, you are blessed and your outlook just might be a bit brighter. 

Happy Venus of Willendorf Day Slaying!

    “I Hate Waiting”

    This post could also appropriately be titled The Never Ending Virus. This morning was the first time in five weeks that I was able to be a part of the worship and teaching service at our church. I cried through most of the songs and even though Sophia was not well enough to be in nursery we were at church and my lap view looked something like this … Precious. 

      

    I wish she could have been toodling around with her precious brood of friends in the nursery, but I don’t know that I’ve ever been so thankful to be at church. The body of Christ truly is or should be balm for the soul. As many of you know our Sophia has had a wicked virus for the past month which lead to over two pounds of weight loss, three weeks of throwing up and many trips to the doctors office. My children have never had pink eye, ear infections, strep, etc., but they sure know how to claim the viral illnesses. I often wish there was something they could take to make the misery go away but with viruses all you can do is wait. 

    “I hate waiting”

    … as a brilliant Spaniard once said. If you don’t know of which movie I speak I’ll get over it eventually. I think The Princess Bride has a brilliant quote for almost every life situation. If you haven’t seen it please do yourself a favor and do so. And don’t rent it – just buy it. It’s a classic. The book is pretty fabulous too if you need a novel adventure. 

    Sorry for the aside but waiting can often be discouraging. Sophia’s virus was so wearing. One of the most difficult things in parenting is watching your children be sick, knowing there’s very little you can do to help. This morning as she slept through church, with still a touch of fever, I was wondering what God was up to. Nothing surprises Him. He allowed her to be sick. Why? Someday I’ll know but for now I am trusting that He is at work trying to draw me near or further urging me to trust Him. Right now I am simply praising Him for this small respit and a chance to be outside our apartment, amongst people I love and treasure. I am thankful our eldest daughter is playing with her friends, whom she has missed so dearly. She has had her moments/afternoons/nights of trouble but her compassion towards her sister and her patience with having to be cooped up, due to Sophia’s illness, has been extraordinary. 

    As I write this I cannot help but think of a similar season of sickness we endured with our oldest, Izzy. She was not even a year when she got a virus that attacked her digestive system. There are certain verses I couldn’t get out of my head if I tried. II Corinthians 12:8 is one of those. 

    “… My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

    At least in the English translation I have, Paul uses the present tense here. If my hubby weren’t in the midst of finals I would ask him for help with the Greek but God’s grace “Is sufficient.” It’s not past tense. It doesn’t have an end date. It is ever present, ever available, and ever sufficient! My days look very different than the apostle Paul’s but we have Christ in common. Everyone who puts their hope and trust in the Lord has this promise. When we are weak He is strong. Have you trusted Him? I am always weak. On days when my heart reeks of things that are not pleasing . . . on days where I am not patient, loving, and kind to my husband and my daughters . . . I need the Lord and am thankful for His grace and forgiveness.  There have been many days of exhaustion, grumpiness and easy irritability recently, but praise God for forgiveness and the grace to endure.  

    What I did not know when I started writing this post is that Sophia’s string of illness would last six weeks. She ended up getting type B flu as well due to her immune system being so compromised. I know there are parents who endure months, seasons, years with sick children, and this gave me a small glimpse into what their lives are like. I cannot imagine the emotional and physical strain. Sophia’s illness made me think more purposefully about my surroundings and I would encourage y’all to do so as well. How can we serve and love our neighbors well? There is never a shortage of people who need help, encouragement, a meal, a loaf of fresh bread, a hand around the house, a break from their normal … the list is endless. Look around you this week and find a way to serve someone. I guarantee it will not be hard. 

       

    Here are two of my more recent favorite pictures. Glad to see a healthy Sophia and some joy in the eyes of my girls!

      
    Love y’all! 

    For the Love of Branches: Spring Update

    There is finally something Spring-ish up on the branches in our dining room.  With the help of my eldest daughter Izzy we added some life. She kept telling me the branches needed color and I quite agreed. We rummaged through my craft bin and ended up with a whimsical bird theme of sorts so without further ado: Spring Above the Wilson Table. 

      
      
    I would still love to see how you use tree branches inside your home so send some snaps! 

    Happy Spring Branching!

    Stock or Bone Broth or Bone Stock or …

    I love making ‘broth.’ Using chicken or turkey carcasses gets me all excited because I get to feel like a mad scientist for 24 hours and I even get to use cheese cloth for straining!

      

     I know I’m hopelessly rising within the ranks of nerddome but that is nothing new. Maybe just maybe someone out there can sympathize. I place a giant stock pot on our stove at least once a month and add leeks, carrots, a chicken or turkey carcass, whole black peppercorns, onions (with the skins), aromatics, etc., and let it simmer usually overnight. So what is it called? What is the difference between broth, stock,  bone broth, etc.? 

      

    I’m sure a lot of us frequently use recipes that call for chicken broth, stock or even beef or vegetable stock. Whenever a recipe I see calls for broth I always buy stock. Why? I feel like there’s more flavor action, and I feel like it’s superior in general. Can I back this up? No I cannot. Do I really know what the differences are? No I do not. Well that was two many ‘no I do nots’ for my liking so I decided to research. I scoured the web and read articles from licensed GAPS diet practitioners on biodynamic wellness.com, to the infamous Alton Brown, to an irritated author on the eater.com, finally landing on an article from Epicurios online, by Rhonda Boone, titled Stock, Broth and Bone Broth: What’s the Difference?

    For the article Boone scoured the web and consulted her former boss, Marco Canora, Executive Chef and owner of Hearth restaurant, in Manhattan’s East Village. In 2015 Canora became New York’s broth afficionado when he opened Brado, a take away window which sells broth exclusively by the ounce. According to Boone’s research and findings, heres’ a simple breakdown. 

    • Broth is water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and meat, and can include some bones. It is cooked for a short period of time, usually 45 minutes to 2 hours, then strained and seasoned. The goal of broth is to use a combination of ingredients to create a light, flavorful liquid that can be enjoyed on it’s own as a soup (or soup base along with other ingredients). Broth usually stays fluid when chilled.
    • Stock is water simmered with vegetables, aromatics, and animal bones, sometimes roasted, and sometimes with some meat still attached. It is cooked for a medium period of time, usually 4 to 6 hours, then strained. It is usually not seasoned at this stage. The goal of stock is to extract the collagen from the connective tissues and bones being simmered, which give stock its thick, gelatinous quality. When chilled, good stock should have the texture and jiggle of Jell-O. Stock is not served on its own; rather, it’s used to deglaze a pan, or as a base for a rich sauce or gravy. Stock is also a great binder to use instead of cream or butter, or used in a broth-like manner (just add some water to it).
    • Bone Broth is really a hybrid of broth and stock. The base is more stock-like, as it is usually made from roasted bones, but there can sometimes be some meat still attached. It is cooked for a long period of time, often more than 24 hours, and the goal is to not only extract the gelatin from the bones, but also release the nutritious minerals. It is then strained and seasoned to be enjoyed on its own, like broth.
    • Vegetable Broth and Stock are essentially the same thing, since no bones are incorporated in the process.”

    Hopefully this helps clarify some differences for you, as well as helps you understand your needs when it comes to recipes. For me it helped clarify what it is that I make exactly. haha. These days I can’t even go on Pinterest to escape hearing about broth benefits, the amazingness of kale, or even essential oils. Now before you bash me as a broth, kale, and oil hater, know I use all of the above … well I only own three oils and kale I’m getting used to (except kale chips. I will not succumb to the nastiness of kale chips). Tangent, I know, but like many other moms and parents, having children often changes your nutrition outlook. The thought of feeding them like you ate in college or having them continue some of your eating habits makes you twinge. 

    There are currently a great many health claims on broth  (bone broth specifically), as it seems to be one of the latest health trends. Are all the health claims true? Unlikely, but there are certain positive nutritional information facts you can’t ignore, and something you make at home from well-sourced ingredients is always better than reaching for something prepackaged. For Brodo their philosophy is a belief in meticulous attention to skimming and bringing  the maximum flavor and nutrients without emulsifying the fats and impurities. Do they believe in all the health claims of broth? According to Marco Canora,

    “We believe some of it. Mainly, we think our broth is delicious and believe deeply in the old world nutrition and comfort that comes in each cup.” 

    quote via brodo.co

    “We believe some of it.” Brodo’s philosophy and thought process is something I can get behind. So next time you cook a chicken or anything with the bone-in, don’t toss the carcass. Try making some broth or stock. Its a good way to get rid of leftover veggies and aromatics too. I always seem to have a couple stalks of celery and a few rogue carrots hiding out in the crisper, unused from a previous recipe.  I will enclose a warning however: making broth may prove addictive. Whether its as a result of the nutritional information,  money saved or superior taste, you may just be ruined for the store-bought stuff forever. 

      

    Here are a few great links to recipes if you need a starting point. 

    Chicken Stock from Ina Garten 

    Chicken Bone Broth from WellnessMomma.com 

    Beef Stock from Emeril Lagasse 

    Vegetable Stock from Martha Stewart. This page also has great storage instructions, tips and videos since its part of her Cooking School series

    Happy Broth-Stock-ing!

    *Note. I’m a busy mom and sometimes babysitting a stock pot of broth on the stove is unappealing or sometimes you just don’t have what you need on hand. Buy some. Just check out the ingredients and check the salt content. Salt can be a menace in store-bought broths. 

    The Face Only a Mother Could Love but hey, NO Soggy Bottom!

    In looking for a good word to describe the pie I made for Christmas dinner, I loved the sound of the word fugly. It was short, to the point, and was a catchy one-word descriptor. When I looked into it further and realized what it was short for, I just couldn’t use it. Oh dear! I spent entirely too much time attempting to find the perfect replacement when I realized my pie had the ‘face only a mother could love.’ It was patched up and the bottom barely came up the sides enough to crimp. It was a mess, hence the descriptor. 

     

    Last year my mom showed me how to make her pie crust. As I have mentioned in Hot Hands Make Not a Good Pastry Chef, and A Pumpkin Pie Day, me and butter-based delicate pastry do not get along well. I have hot hands and lack experience. I have tried to make pie crust three times and have never succeeded. This was the first baby that made it from pie crust to oven. It was ugly but it made it. It was my 2015 baking accomplishment. In the end the crust was flakey right on top but slightly tough. The filling however was good and no soggy bottom! Paul and Mary would have been proud at least on that score. If you enjoy baking and haven’t seen The Great British Baking Show you must. I love it because it’s informative and relaxing. The contestants are pleasant and kind. It isn’t stressful and backstabbing like the majority of our rubbish American reality food shows. Anywho that’s all for my across the pond plug but seriously watch it! 
    Even though my pie had the face only a mother could love, and even though the crust was a little tough, I was happy because it was more experience and it made me think of my mum. I hadn’t tried making a pie at Thanksgiving, in fact I forgot dessert all together! It was terrible. I didn’t even have homemade ice cream in the freezer! The ice cream lady didn’t have backup! Because of this wretched faux pas I was determined to have dessert with Christmas dinner. And not just any dessert – pie.

     

    My husband and I put our girls down for bed and dove in. It was a nice end to Christmas day but we didn’t stop there. We had it for breakfast the next day too! Fruit pies and pumpkin pies are the best for breakfast, especially with a cup of coffee. Wouldn’t you agree?

      

    Have you had any ‘face only a mother could love’ moments? I would love to hear them. Remember, just because the result is not aesthetically magnificent doesn’t mean it’s a failure. If anything it’s more experience notched in the belt. Let’s keep at it.  

    Happy pie making! 

    *Note: And yes you read correctly this was our Christmas pie. I thought about changing references and such so that you weren’t reading about Christmas in April but that wouldn’t have been honest. I’m simply sluggish in keeping up. So just picture the white Christmas you probably had and I will mourn our lack of snow, and we can make fruit pies together. . . In April! 

    Happy Spring Baking Y’all!

    The Noise Feared by Parents the World Over

    I will always remember Saturday morning, March 12, 2016. It’s 5am and for the first time, in the almost four years of raising littles, I heard the noise feared by parents the world over. It’s not isolated culturally. Every parent fears hearing their children throw up. For four blissful years Matt and I have witnessed countless viral infections, endured our eldest getting rotavirus between vaccinations, and have had many nights of lukewarm baths and oil rubbing to draw down fevers, but we had managed to avoid throw up. Well citizens the streak has been broken. Our adventurous sixteen-month-old blazed a new trail that I was satisfied to have go unblazed. 

    As Sophia was sitting pitifully in the bath tub to be de-throw-upped I had so many thoughts racing through my head. First, before I seem like a wretched parent, I felt extreme pity. She was a mess but still clinging to my arm and Mr. Bear, to whom she has become desperately attached, as of late. You can see his feet in the picture below.   

     

    My second, third, and fourth thoughts were much less sympathetic and ranked highly on the panic and practicality scale. I thought this list of thoughts might ring a few bells and help other moms giggle through the post traumatic mommy stress of the frequent days of sick littles. Let’s face it, sometimes you just have to chronicle things to help you laugh later. If we can’t laugh at a lot of what happens in parenting, we’re gonna be in trouble. I often find myself saying

    You just can’t make this stuff up…

    So without further ado, here you go. My panic and practical thoughts …

    It could be isolated right?

    She might have just eaten something funny.

    What did we eat yesterday?

    Did we eat the same things?

    Oh please Lord spare it going through the house! 

    It really could be isolated. 

    How much laundry money do I have on our card because wow, this is going to call for a lot of laundry. 

    Do I have gloves? No my left one tore. Ok I need gloves.

    I think I’m out of Lysol. 

    How will Soph do?
    We have to wash Mr. Bear.

    It really could be isolated. I think it’s isolated. 

    These are only a few and I would love to hear your add-ons, but when I finally got Sophia clean, redressed, and snuggling, I was thankful. All silliness aside, the journey of parenting is beautifully exhausting and we’re only at the start. I know that as our girls grow older, the problems will be larger and more complicated. In thinking about this I was thankful that all she needed was to be held close. I was thankful that could be my ‘job.’

    After I got my practical list of thoughts out there on the table in front of the Lord it was alright. The day was still challenging. There was a mammoth pile of laundry, much of which I didn’t want to touch with a ten foot poll. If my sweet momma hadn’t handmade the crib bedding I think I would have spared myself the dry heaving and just tossed that fitted sheet. Lots of things needed cleaning and sanitized, I was tired and had a child that I knew was going to need extra attention. Life doesn’t stop when littles get sick, you have to manage through more, but praise God He is faithful to give us the energy and strength we need. Sometimes I wish He would fill the energy and strength tank a little more heaping, but then my sinful self would have even more opportunity for feeling a bit too self-sufficient. 

    Well y’all it’s Monday night and honestly I wish I were still asleep from this morning, but let’s spur each other to lean on Christ and to encourage and uplift each other with what’s left of today. Don’t fail to reach out. Having friends who know where you’re at and can pray for you is such a treasure. Let’s not do today alone. 

    Happy Mondaying!

    Confessions of a Cauliflower Lover 

    I love cauliflower. Now that we have that out of the way let me tell you something about this cauliflower lover. Until a month or so ago I loved it in safe applications only. Like raw or raw with ranch (does that even count), or oven roasted in olive oil, or in this wickedly delicious potato soup my mum makes, but that was it. I would see adventurous recipes and just toodle right past. So I really wasn’t much of a cauliflower explorer I just knew I loved the taste of it. 

    When you see recipes for cauliflower pizza crust and faux cauliflower Alfredo sauce or caulirice do you roll your eyes and ignore? I used to as well, mainly because I love pizza and I love rice. My husband loves a good Alfredo sauce and sometimes when we have favorite thing change seems unfavorable, but y’all I’ve been won over and you should give it a try. 

      

     I still don’t have the courage mustered to present my hubby with a cauliflower pizza crust but we’re getting there. I made faux Alfredo sauce with noodles and sautéed broccoli this past week and he really liked it. We both agreed it needed Parmesan cheese but other than that it would be a sufficient replacement. It was beautifully creamy and had a luscious consistency. It also took the normal calorie count of an Alfredo sauce from 400 to 40 calories so hallelujah. 

      

    Can you tell its cauliflower? Sure. It’s not a magical replacement but it’s also not overpowering. With Parmesan cheese I’m guessing your detection of it would reduce even more significantly. Throw some grilled chicken on top and you have a special and easy dinner for your family or loved one. 

      

    Still scared? Don’t be. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t like it. Alright, fair enough, but since I’m a glass half-full person, what’s the best that could happen? You like it and now have the ability to swap one recipe for another that hits the spot, and is actually good for you – without tasting like it. Give it a try and tell me what you think. 

    Here’s the link to Pinch of Yum’s original recipe: Creamy Cauliflower Sauce. I added a minced shallot with the garlic as well as a tablespoon of ranch dressing (added it directly to the food processor) for a small herbal punch. In her comments Lindsey, the mastermind behind Pinch of Yum, said many of her readers really did like it with the Parmesan, so add a 1/4cup to the sauce when you blend it or just grate some atop. I don’t know about you but something about cozy Italian food, even if it’s faux cozy Italian food, demands grated cheese. 

    Happy Cauliflowering! 

    This mum loves Wellies