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My second born receives love through food.

God blessed me big time with that one, because we all know I love to cook, and having a child who feels special when he gets a special treat, well, that just makes me feel all special as well.

Lots of special going on here.

Especially with these little sandwiches of deliciousness.

I have spent a majority of my twenties pregnant, or nursing, and we all know how ravenous you can be when nursing, so I feel like the cravings just continue. Well, Trader Joes makes a killer chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich, and lets just say they may or may not have helped me survive my whole third pregnancy.

I mean seriously, those things are trouble, and I have the stretch marks to prove it.

Well, lets go back full circle now, shall we.

My son, who loves food, also loves to give me challenges for his birthday treats. Very rarely do we ever just have cake. It usually is some concoction that he has dreamed up, and this year it was a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich.

The heavens parted and I saw the light.

I couldn’t have been more proud of that suggestion, and I graciously obliged.

So please friends, make these right now and enjoy.

Oh, and a little word to the wise, you must use browned butter, even though I felt like a bad blogger for not putting that in the title because you know its all the rage right now, because really, it was already long enough;) but do it, and thank me later.

Enjoy.

icecream

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

Ingredients

1 1/2 Sticks Butter browned and cooled

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 Egg + 1 Egg Yolk

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

2 Cups Flour

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1 1/2 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

*sprinkle of sea salt for top of cookies

Vanilla Ice Cream mixed with extra chocolate chips

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brown butter and set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl combine all of your dry ingredients. In another mixing bowl thoroughly combine browned butter (and all the browned bits) and sugars. Once combined, add in egg and yolk and vanilla. Mix well.

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Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, then add in your chocolate chips. Place mixture in refrigerator for about five minutes to slightly firm up the dough. Using a generous tablespoon scoop dough and form balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Sprinkle ever so lightly with sear salt and bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned on top. You want cookies to still be soft so be sure not to over bake. Once cookies are done remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, find pairs of cookies that are about the same size and fill with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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I found that it is easier if ice cream is mixed with the chocolate chips instead of trying to roll in chocolate chips after. Immediately place in freezer to set. I would allow for them to freeze overnight just to be sure they are set but I am sure a few hours is ample time for them to set.

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//Cookie recipe adapted, photography is my own.

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My second born turned seven on Friday.If y’all haven’t noticed birthdays are like my most favorite thing ever. I love celebrating life, and any excuse to throw a party gets me excited. I very rarely take the easy route with parties, always creating elaborate themes and baking all the food from scratch. But right now, life is crazy. We are currently between homes which means about 90% of our things are in storage. We are also currently living with my parents, in a three bedroom house, with my family of six, plus the two of them, and not only that, but the day before we moved in, their roof got torn off from hurricane like winds in AZ. Yea, the odds are ever in our favor, right?! Well, with all those cards stacked against us I still wasn’t going to give up my party throwing ways. So, I had the elaborate party planned and was just going to make it happen no matter what.

The night before my son’s birthday the doorbell rang. It was my moms neighbor and she had eight tickets to the circus.

I just thought you all may want these.

The date on the tickets was September 12, his birthday.

I took that as a sign.

Give yourself some grace Ashley. 

Seriously.

So, I took my family plus a favorite buddy to pizza and the circus, and you know what, it was dubbed the greatest birthday every.

There was no theme, no presents, no pictures, no cake.

But there was conversation, and laughter, and Shirley temples, and cotton candy.

There were tigers, and golf cart rides, and dirt bikes, and clowns.

And that’s all that mattered.

The memories were made, my son smiled, and I didn’t kill myself trying to create the most Pinterest worthy party ever. Not only that but I got to see him, and smile with him, and talk to him. Now don’t get me wrong, I still love throwing a good party, but lesson learned, it’s not always the party that makes the birthday.

peyton77

My dearest, sweet boy.

You are seven today.

Seven.

You came into this world so quietly, and still continue to amaze us with your seriousness.

We always joked about how you were such a serious baby, quiet until almost three, but always taking in the world around you.

peyton78You continue to do that.

You are never one to just take someones word for it, you always question, always dig a little deeper, you care to know why something does what it does, and you don’t ever settle for the easy answer.

peyton71I remember writing in your baby book, my exact words were, you will do amazing things, something big, something huge, you my son are special.

You are special.

You are brilliant, smart, loving, God fearing, joyful, and simply just so amazing.

I love you my sweet boy, I love your spirit and your heart.

peyton72You exude joy to everyone around you and I am so lucky to be your Mom. I truly feel like you were given to me to teach me to be a better person. To teach me to look at life a little harder, to love Jesus a little more, and to smile as much as one possibly could.

peyton74I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to watch you grow sweet boy. I cannot wait to see the man you become, the amazing things that you will do, and the family of ten kids you will eventually have (according to you of course).

peyton75You have so many favorite friends, and you have so many favorite toys, you cherish each small thing that you are given. You have a hunger for Jesus and you love to read. Gymnastics and dancing are two of your most favorite things right now, and you are so dedicated and good at them. peyton76
You love television and you love games, but more importantly you love to learn. You could spend all day on your homework and not be in the slightest way upset. Your teachers love you and I love watching your mind grow and learn.

To my dearest boy, I love you, from here to the moon and back. I pray you continue to grow, that your thirst for truth never stop, that you never shy away from telling others about Jesus, or helping me be a better mom. I pray this year would be a truly special one, and that you know just how lucky we are to have you in our lives.

I love you sweet boy, forever.

peyton73

I have never been a dancer.

Like ever.

Back in high school whenever we had to dance for cheer I was always very strategically tucked back in the corner.

I was awkward and uncomfortable just trying as I could to fit in and not stand out too much. You know, just doing what was necessary to get by. Making sure I didn’t look different, and always worrying who was watching.

Steps and rhythm didn’t come easily to me, and still don’t. I am always invited to Zumba and I always very graciously decline, I can feel myself blushing as I type this, thinking about people seeing me stumble through the steps.

But today my audience was different.

The song came on, you know, the one that just makes you move no matter how bad you try not to.

Turn it up.

Now it was louder, the music was just making her move. She danced in her seat, swinging her hair, clapping her hands, not a care as to who may be watching her.

I turned it up a little louder, I looked back at her again, the sight of the girl who I always wish I could be, she stopped and smiled at me.

The music was still going strong, my insides wanting nothing more than to just move to the beat and leave my cares behind about who may see me.

But she saw me, and in that moment I let go…

and I danced.

I danced, and I smiled, and I sang, and I laughed.

We sat there at that light and we danced our little hearts out. We clapped and danced and didn’t care that every person at that stop light was watching. Because it’s all about those moments. The ones where we just live life in the exact place that we are in. Where we let go of the worries allowing the moment to consume us.

It’s funny how these little people teach us more about the person we want to be. They teach us more than I feel we could ever teach them.

And just because I know you guys wanna hear it and dance like no one is watching right now, here ya go, and know I am dancing along right there with ya.

ranch5

My biggest goal for this school year was to be more creative and intentional about packing lunches.

I am proud to say that so far I have been pretty darn successful, granted we are only a month into it, but its the little things people.

I have mentioned many times before about my second borns food allergies and the challenges we face with processed foods. One of the main things that I struggled with for awhile was condiments. Pretty much any and all condiments are overly processed and filled with every single thing he is allergic to.

After spending way too much money over the years on ranch dressing, which is a beloved childhood favorite, I decided to take a chance on making my own. What I found out very quickly was that it is so much more delicious and easy to make. Most of the ingredients you use can be found in your refrigerator and spice cabinet making this an incredibly inexpensive recipe to try. Much more inexpensive than buying the organic all natural ranch for sure.

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So, where I was going with the school lunch thing is this. Buy a container that has a bunch of little compartments. Spend what you may, but know I purchased mine at target for four dollars. I know they have all these fancy expensive ones that most bloggers swear by, but these work amazingly for us, and they are cheap enough that if your child forgets it you wont cry yourself to sleep at night.

The compartments make it more fun for them to eat, giving them a variety to choose from. And what I have found is that less truly is more. I give them smaller amounts but a bigger selection. Filling each compartment with fruits, veggies with a little ranch, proteins, and a treat. They almost always come home empty and I don’t have little kids begging for the gross cafeteria food. We will see if I can keep up with this as the year wears on, but I know right now we both are a little happier with lunches.

I hope my little snippet of school lunch wisdom has helped and please friends, enjoy.

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Homemade Ranch Dressing

|Ingredients|

1 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise

1/2 Cup Milk

1 Tablespoon White Vinegar

1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill chopped

1 Tablespoon Fresh Green Onions diced

1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

1/2 Tablespoon Onion Powder

1 Teaspoon Ground Mustard

1 Tablespoon Fresh Cracked Pepper

1/2 Tablespoon Salt

more salt and pepper to taste

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Homemade Ranch Dressing

Directions

In a small container add the vinegar to the milk, allowing it to thicken up while you prepare everything else. In a medium bowl combine the mayonnaise with all of the seasonings and stir to combine. Next, add in dill and green onions and combine well.

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Next add in the thickened milk and stir completely. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. Serve with cut up vegetables or your favorite salad. Store in an airtight container for about a week. Although I doubt it will last that long. Enjoy.

//original recipe and photos

rain2

 We saw the flashes of light before we heard the rumble of the thunder.

Teeth were brushed, pajamas on, sheets were pulled back, and goodnight’s were said.

But the rain. Oh the rain.

After the loud crashes from the thunder we heard the drops hit the roof.

There was no ease into the storm, it was as though the heavens had parted and the water ran down.

We peeked through the windows at the storm that was happening all around us, and then on a whim I just let go.

At first we just sat and watched under the patio.

Watched the water pouring off the roof and the dirt quickly turning to mud. We watched as puddles began to form all around us. Puddles that soon turned into small lakes that just screamed out to the little feet so patiently waiting to be set free.

Go.

They just looked at me as I said it, no one really registering the words that just escaped my mouth.

Go. Run. Be free.

Three simple commands and that was all that they needed. They exploded out into the yard as if they had been caged in their entire lives. They danced, they ran, they screamed, and they just oozed pure joy.

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They had no cares, nothing was holding them back. They looked up at the sky and let the rain pound against their faces. They splashed in the puddles that just moments ago were calling out to them. They covered themselves in grass and rain and mud and they ran.

…they ran and they laughed.

Oh the laughter. The laughter that can’t be forced. The laughter that sounds like music escaping the soul. Like Jesus himself is breathing life into those that hear it. Pure uninhibited joy escaped their bodies as they ran through the water

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The joy didn’t stop when the rain finally did. They continued for quite some time until I finally reigned them in. We cleaned up, tucked in, and kissed goodnight, only to have the laughter continue.

I will remember this forever…

Those words were spouted off between the beds. I sat and listened smiling deep inside my heart, because maybe just maybe this memory will be one that sticks out to them as the years go on, but what I watched last night, what I witnessed as they danced and splashed and kicked up the rain, that moment, that memory, that piece of my life will be one I take with me all the way to the moment when I get to thank my heavenly father for orchestrating the most beautiful sight I have seen in quite some time.

Sometimes the yes’ are worth it.

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Currently I am counting down the days until all my shows start.

I am an avid show watcher. Like seriously. I have my whole fall lineup and each night is filled with something.

I am super excited for this one, I mean Pharrell and Gwen Stefani, nothing is better.

And I cannot believe Parenthood is in its final season. Shedding a little tear already.

Currently, we are knee deep, well more like drowning, in the closing of our home. I mean seriously, it’s like they need everything short of your first born child to buy a home. Lord willing, by next week, I will be sharing the miraculous story covered in Gods fingerprints with you all. I mean seriously, he has orchestrated an amazing story with this home, cannot wait.

Currently I am spending my last week with a six year old. My sweet second born will be seven in a week. I cannot even believe it. And how a year has gone by since this post, that just proves to me how fast time goes.

Currently I am swaying more and more into the realm of food blogging. I am sort of loving it. And although I love sharing my heart with the world, a big part of my heart is in creating meals for my family. So, be on the look out for more recipes.

I am absolutely head over heels in love with this smell, and I am counting down the days until October, when it finally feels somewhat appropriate in AZ to transition to fall.

Currently I am using this book to help my struggling reader. I have heard amazing testimonies and I am prayerfully working my way through the lessons with him. I was impressed just while reading the intro because a lot of the areas he is struggling are common areas for kids to struggle in, and it’s all because of the way reading is taught to them in school. I will for sure let you know how our experience goes, because this is an area I so desperately want him to succeed in.

I am becoming a little obsessed with Pinterest these days. If you are looking for someone who posts an obscene amount of desserts and recipes then I am your gal. Seriously, I spend far to much time in the evening pinning away. I blame it on the fact that there isn’t much to do while trying to get two little kids to sleep who are desperately out of their sleeping routine.

And on that note, I would love any recommendations for Netflix shows. Because I have been binging on The Killing and only have two episodes left.

Thanks y’all.

photo source

quesadilla3

Cooking for my family is one of my favorite things to do. But just because I love it doesn’t mean that I don’t get tired of doing it. Sometimes, well a lot of the time, once the weekend hits I am done cooking. Not only that, but usually by that time my refrigerator is looking a bit bare.

I was standing and looking in the refrigerator trying to come up with a recipe for y’all when I saw the giant bag of green chiles my husband had bought a couple weekends ago while he was up at my sister in laws cabin. Her cabin is just a couple hours outside of New Mexico so we are blessed with getting roasted hatch green chilies by the bagful for cheap.

So, as I looked at the green chiles trying to dream up a recipe I thought why not share something that we make regularly in our home.

Quesadillas are easy, fast, and delicious, and you can make them in such a variety of different ways.

This is our favorite, at least for now, so please…

Enjoy and share with me some of your favorite ways to make them.

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Chicken and Green Chile Quesadillas

|Ingredients|

Flour tortillas

Grilled Chicken cubed*

1/2 Can Black Beans

1-2 Whole Green Chiles diced**

2 Cups Cheese shredded

3 Green Onions chopped

Sprinkle of Garlic Powder

Sprinkle of Cumin

Sour Cream optional

*Use whatever chicken you have readily available. I had leftover thigh meat from another night so I just used that.

**If you don’t have fresh green chiles you can purchase canned ones.

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Chicken and Green Chile Quesadillas

|Directions|

Prepare all ingredients. Begin warming a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Assemble quesadillas by first sprinkling a generous amount of cheese on one half of the tortilla. Follow by sprinkling green onions, chicken, green chiles, black beans, and then more cheese. Before folding tortilla season with garlic powder and cumin. Fold tortilla and place in warmed skillet.

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Once cheese starts melting flip quesadilla over to begin browning the other side. Once browned and cheese is melted remove from skillet and cut into thirds. Top with sour cream and a sprinkle of green onions. Enjoy immediately.

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/Original Recipe and Photography

5a529860b1d0595e382f9e35b5778ce3As Christians its easy for us to speak love, to share Christs love, and to spout off every Bible verse pertaining to it, but is that really love?

Is that something I am sharing because I care about a person more than myself?

Or am I just doing that to make myself look better?

Or feel better?

Or seem better?

As I look back at years prior I see that every part of me that thought I was loving was doing it for the wrong reason.

I was self righteous, condescending, and prideful.

I was the stereotypical christian, the one that is often portrayed in movies or television. The one who actually scared me away from church for most of my young adult life.

I imagine God looking down on who I was with a broken heart…

This is not what I meant for you. You are all the same. You all need me.

You my daughter, are no better.

But in my heart I truly thought I was.

That I was a little holier, had it all a little more put together, and was a little better.

Friends, it is humbling for me today to share this, and even if only two people read this, I still feel like this is what needs to be said to heal and grow my heart.

I don’t have it all together.

God has humbled me, lovingly.

He has began to break my heart for his people.

For his people who I as a christian thought needed his love the most, when most of the time those people loved better than I ever did.

I now see where I was and feel sad for those who crossed my path and felt inferior. For those who left my presence with a bitter taste in their mouth. And especially for those who came to me not knowing my Lord and savior but were turned away because of my actions.

Who am I?

I am a sinner, saved by grace.

My sin is inescapable but my sin is forgiven.

My sin is no better or worse than yours.

I no longer need to feel ashamed of the past but instead grow and learn from it.

But to those who crossed my path…to those who saw me at that point in life when I thought love was something to be a part of a checklist…

I am sorry.

My heart grieves for the hypocrisies I lived, the words that were whispered, and the looks that were given.

You see, I have finally learned that true love is an action, something that is shown to people, something that I cannot do on my own, something that cannot be perfected by me, or given by me, or even understood by me.

It is all found in him.

In his blood, in his hands, in his presence.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

source

cobbler5

I wish with all of my heart that I could be solely a food blogger.

I feel like its my niche, my safe and comfy spot.

But my problem isn’t figuring out how to develop lots of different and original recipes, my problem is finding the time to set-up and take all the pictures. That’s the area of my struggle. But my passion is definitely in developing and photographing food, so that is why I will continue to post as many recipes as often as my sweet busy schedule will allow.

And this recipe is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

I made it last month with my second born son. We were both craving something sweet and carb loaded and a cobbler was just what fit the bill.

So we made it, and ate it, and loved it.

I have been dreaming of this blueberry cobbler ever since.

The recipe that I followed that day asked for you to put some of the dough underneath the berries, but in the end it felt more like a blueberry muffin instead of a cobbler, so I tweaked the recipe and changed it to more suit my tastes and this one was born.

Y’all, go and buy all the berries and make all the cobbler.

We can always run later to burn off all the calories.

Enjoy.

cobbler2Blueberry Cobbler

|Ingredients|

1 1/2 Cups Flour*

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1 1/4 Tablespoon Baking Powder

3/4 Cups Sugar

1/2 Stick Butter chilled and grated

1 Egg

1/2 Cup Cream

Zest of one Lemon

4 Cups Blueberries

1/2 Cup Sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons flour

for the streusel topping

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/4 Cup Flour

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

4 Tablespoon Butter softened

*I used whole wheat flour which gave it a nuttier flavor, feel free to use whatever flour you have.

cobbler3Blueberry Cobbler

|Directions|

Prepare a baking dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium size bowl combine berries and the sugar that is mixed with flour. After combined set aside. In another bowl combine dry ingredients. Mix well. Once combined add in grated butter. Carefully mix together until crumbly. Next add in lemon zest, egg, and cream. Mix until just combined. Add blueberries to prepared baking dish and then drop dough over the berries. Next, mix together streusel topping and sprinkle over top of cobbler.

cobbler1Place in preheated oven and cook for approximately 40 minutes or until crust is completely cooked and lightly browned. Remove from oven and serve warm. Dust with powdered sugar or serve with homemade whipped cream.

cobbler4Be sure to follow along on pinterest for weekly recipes.

//Recipe adapted from here