I broke my back.

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Or, my back broke me. Actually, it’s not really broken, but something is happening back there. Is a pinched nerve a real thing? Because that’s what it is. It was probably my basket-case-baby working me over yesterday. He’s all jacked up on baby ‘roids. Yeah, let’s blame him. He’s so cute that I’m not even mad about it though. I actually just hobbled into his room to cuddle him. I even picked him up, which is probably not a great move considering my current state. Totally worth it though.

Anyone else watching Blindspot? THAT was intense tonight. Grant and I argue about this show all the time. We’re arguing on the same side, and I’m not sure who we’re arguing against, but we argue nevertheless. I always get sucked into watching it- heck, I even stay up to watch it on purpose! But, why? It’s so predictable, everyone gets saved in a matter of hours, and the episodes are wrapped in the most beautiful little bows at the end. Whatever. I’ll be here- same time, same place next week. Who am I trying to kid?

Grant doesn’t want me to talk about this online, but he knows better. I’m at SAHM (stay-at-home-mom, for all you young kids who are out there doing whatever-the-heck you want), so this is my social interaction, for the most part. I process outwardly, so he can’t expect me to bottle this up and save it for never. Here it is: I had to take my precious, tiny, perfect, only baby to the ER yesterday because I thought he was having an allergic reaction to peanut butter. Whether or not he actually reacted is yet to be determined by a blood test. His little baby eyes got so swollen and bumpy, and it was the absolute scariest thing I’ve ever dealt with. I even cried a little. I’m not trying to make light of this on purpose, but this is the second stage of my processing: acting like it’s not a big deal and that it is now a joke. But, it’s still too soon for even me. Of course, I was allowing the worst possible scenarios to run rampant in my mind, so needless to say, I didn’t sleep much last night.

Can we talk about control? Isn’t it weird how we’re all “control freaks” and pretend like we have a tangible grip on life? Let me tell you (and me) something: we don’t. It’s the scariest place to be. But, it’s a necessary place to be. We need to acknowledge things like this so we don’t A) lie to ourselves, and B) leave things unsaid and undone because “we’ll always have more time for that”(which is lying to ourselves). Let’s not do that, friends. As I was lying awake last night mulling over the events of the day, this weird sense of peace washed over me and I began to pray. I just thanked God for my precious boy, the time we get with him, and that God picked me to be his mom. As a believer, I know that my (and Griff’s) days are numbered. Only God know what that number is, but that’s just to say that none of us were ever meant to live forever. I’m going to try to tie this blogpost up into a tiny, pretty little bow, even though I know life is RARELY like this:

Let’s get out from under fear and try to live abundantly. It’s a daunting task, but a worthy one. I want to do it. Let’s do it.

Also, another ending remark: Let’s NOT do this alone. If God wanted us to live alone, He would’ve just created one person, but He didn’t, so don’t believe the lies that you aren’t worthy of relationships or love. You totally are, and you need it to live.

I really didn’t want to make this a life lesson. I tried really hard not to, but it just happens. I’m sorry. Here’s a tip: Don’t buy one-ply toilet paper.

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Brutal honesty.

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Sometimes in life, you look all around you, and you just feel the need to say, “What The Hell?!” I know, “hell” in this context isn’t very “nice”, whatever that means, but you just need a curse word to emphasize what you’re really feeling at that moment every now and then. Sometimes, I even direct it in this way: “What the hell, God?” Yeah, I said it. And today, I mean it. I’m not mad necessarily. I’m not angry with God. I’m just really unsure of what’s going on around here, if anything. I’ve had a few of these moments in life, and looking back, sometimes I can see what He was doing, and others I’m still scratching my head about. 

Here’s some real, unadulterated context for you: I’m 25 years old, married to a high-school English teacher/soccer coach (score! literally), I live with my mother-in-law, all of my precious wedding gifts and pieces of a home that I own are boxed up/molding in the basement, I am without a college degree (though I am currently in school), and without a vision. I wouldn’t say I feel as hopeless as someone treading water in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight, but I would say I feel as frustrated as someone dropped off in a foreign country without a translator. As in, I could probably have enough know-how to find some food and maybe a place to lie my head down for a little while, but it would take quite a while to get my bearings and really thrive. Let me put it in clearer terms: I feel like my life comes as me day by day (as with every other human), but instead of being on a trail, I’m on a treadmill. I keep my nose to grindstone for a while, working away and trying to “do life” (I hate that phrase), and then I look up, and everything’s the same. Except that everything has changed. I’m still in the same position, but everything and everyone around me has shifted. 

With that said, I have to say that I know am very blessed. My husband loves me unconditionally, is quick to forgive, the first to support whatever dream wanders into my mind, and makes me laugh until my side splits. His mother loves me as one of her own, and has done so since day one. She opened her home to us during a difficult time, and has never expected anything in return. The family I came from thinks I’m smart and funny and worthy of their love. But, why do I feel like all I do is disappoint them? They tell me they’re proud, but I don’t believe them. Are they lying because they love me? Am I a bad person for thinking that or discounting how they feel, even if it is about me? Could I be anymore selfish? These questions plague me often, and I am overcome with guilt. It’s a vicious cycle, really. And very exhausting. 

Forgive me, I am hormonal, this is finals week, and I am tired. But, writing is my release, and so I must write. I think I believe that God has a plan for me. I hear faint whispers of His guiding sometimes, but for some reason, I can’t be satisfied. I try to read His word, but it’s like my heart is literally steering me away from it. Why can’t I want that? What am I afraid of finding there? I know exactly what I’m afraid of finding. I’m afraid of finding Me. And Him. I’ve heard my whole life that He loves me no matter what, and that I was created for a purpose, and blah blah blah… None of that holds meaning unless you can experience His powerful, consuming love, and it actually penetrates the very depths of your soul. I yearn for that feeling of brokenness and wholeness all at the same time. It’s like I know exactly what it’s supposed to feel like and what it’s supposed to do to me, but I’m always just a little too far…it’s a little too out of reach. And, I think I believe that it’s not up to me. He pursues me, and I’m supposed to accept? How? It’s the simplest and most complicated answer all at the same time. I long for that intimacy with the Heavenly Father, but I am standing in my own way. My own vanity, selfishness, pride, insecurities, fear, false sense of control…I could go on and on. I just want Him. I just want wholeness in the Father. I know that’s the missing piece, and I want it so badly. 

For now, I’ll put my nose back to the grindstone, love my family, make good grades, tidy up my living space, and keep going. I will be thankful for the good things in life, push myself to be better where I am weak or lacking, and pray for God to intercept my life with his love. It’s there, all around me. I see it in others’ faces, I read about it in books, and I feel it in nature. And maybe, one day, I’ll know what it feels like firsthand, and will be rendered speechless by the glory of it all.

Do people in college still carry backpacks??

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That’s just one of the many questions flying through my head as I lie down to go to bed lately. I start college (again) on Thursday, and to say I’m nervous would be like asking if the Ronald McDonald wants a BigMac. DUH! I’m freaking out. I feel like a fourteen-year-old trying to choose her first day of school outfit. Do I wear boots with a heel? Do I wear Converse? If I wear Converse, will people think I’m trying too hard to look like I’m not trying too hard?!?!?! Do or don’t people still carry backpacks in college!!! TELL ME!!!! Okay…sorry…. But, please, someone tell me.

Other than having miniature panic attacks every time someone asks when I start school, I’ve spent a lot of time in my kitchen lately. If you’ve read my blog before, you would know about my resolution. I’m surprised and pleased to say I have held true to it so far. Normally, by now I BEEN HAD jumped off that bandwagon! But, I have successfully cooked/baked something new everyday since January 1st. To keep up with my creations, check out my pinterest board called recipe-a-day//2014.

In my last blog post, I mentioned cooking a chicken in my crockpot. Let’s just say it was edible. For some reason, no matter what recipe or method I use, I cannot for the life of me cook a delicious and juicy chicken in the crockpot! They always seem really dry to me. I always think I’m over cooking them, but this last time I intentionally didn’t let the crockpot go as long as the recipe called for, and it STILL ended up dry!!! Someone, please shed some light on this really dim situation. I long to put a chicken in the crockpot before work and come home to a perfectly juicy and delectable chicken just ready and waiting to be eaten. Apparently at this time in my life, that is not in the cards.

Looks can be deceiving. This chicken LOOKS juicy, but alas, it is dry.

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Although the crockpot chicken did not pan out well, there have been quite a few successes in my baking endeavors lately. My friend Rebecca came over to catch up the other day, and while she was here, we made a Tres Leches Cake. Seriously, the best cake that’s ever entered my cake-hole. The cake itself has a little cinnamon in it, which really put it over the top for me, not to mention the three milks you pour over the cake as it’s just come out of the oven and the freshly whipped cream you top the entire cake with once it’s cooled. (I hope you’re drooling right now, because if you aren’t, I need to ask you to leave my blog. Your kind is not welcome here.) Needless to say, everyone that ate the cake loved the cake. If you are needing to take a dessert to Bible study, bunco, or the in-laws’, take this. You will no longer have enemies.

Although I didn’t take pictures of the delicious Tres Leches Cake, here is my favorite picture of Rebecca and me.

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I have to include this one to showcase how beautiful Rebecca is (and so she won’t disown me as her friend).

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I also tried my hand, and succeeded, at making a gluten-free cake. I have a friend who switched to a gluten-free lifestyle, and her birthday was Saturday, so she asked earlier in the week if I’d try to make her a cake. I accepted, but was quite nervous to step into this uncharted territory. I researched a couple different recipes, found one that seemed the most straight-forward, and headed to Publix. Side note, xantham gum is quite expensive, but I learned it’s necessary in gluten-free baking. Invest once, and you’ll have it for a long time. Back to the cake. Per my friend’s request, I made her a vanilla cake with blueberry compote filling and cream cheese frosting. The cake itself stressed me out a little, but I also made the blueberry compote and cream cheese frosting from scratch, and those two weren’t nearly as intensive as the cake. I even impressed myself a little by torting the cake (cutting the cake and filling it). I asked my friend to give me honest feedback about to cake so that if I needed to, I could improve. Well, she texted me and reported that the cake was delicious! I’m so happy I could do that for her, and was grateful for the learning experience! WHEW!

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Tonight, I’m trying my hand at a dairy-free chocolate banana nut bread. Once the verdict has been reached, I’ll share the recipe for that. For now, thanks for reading my ramblings and supporting me in these a’changin’ times. I’m doing my best to inject consistency into different facets of my life, and I appreciate you hopping on board with me. Until next time!!!

P.S. If you have any recipe suggestions of any kind, BRING ‘EM ON! 🙂

accidental resolution

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Apparently, I subconsciously made a New Year’s resolution and forgot to give myself the memo. I’ve cooked/baked something different everyday since January 1st. Since I’m now aware, I’m going to do my best to keep with that. I will not commit myself to making something EVERYDAY as I have been, but maybe 2-3 times a week. I love to cook and bake as it is, so this just gives me a chance to try a lot of new recipes and hone my techniques. I have been on Pinterest editing my “good eats.” board ever since I made the discovery of my new-found routine, so feel free to check the board out and give me suggestions. As for now, I’ll go ahead and catch you up on what I’ve made so far.

(By the way, now that I’ll be consciously making more new recipes, I promise to take better, more intentional pictures to post with the recipes. YAY!)

January 1: Devil’s Food Cake (from scratch) with Ganache (courtesy of foodnetwork.com) I made this for my dad’s birthday, and it was the richest, but not too sweet, chocolate cake and ganache everrrrr. And, it turned out really moist (say it, mooyyyssstttttt)!

No picture, we were too busy taking turns sticking our faces in it… 😦

January 2: Pan-Fried Ribeye with Bleu Onion Sauce (courtesy of thepioneerwoman.com) I made this to celebrate Grant’s first day of teaching, and he said, “It took my breff away.” Exactly as I had planned. Muahahaha! Ok…sorry.

Grant eating said ribeye:

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January 3: German Chocolate Cupcakes (courtesy of yourcupofcake.com) SERIOUSLY, my whole family’s (my side and Grant’s side) new favorite cupcakes. It seems I’ll be making these for every occasion from now on…and I’m fine with that.

A solitary, independent, stand-on-her-own kinda gal:

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January 4: Cinnamon Coffee Cake (courtesy of lastingredient.com) Every Sunday at work, we have a mini-smorgasbord of food, so I usually try to bake something. I made this the night before, and it seemed to be a hit. Although, the young guys at work always tell me everything I bring is either “da bomb” or “on point”, so I’ll take that as a good sign.

Two layers of nutty, cinnamon, sugary deliciousness hugging light, fluffy cake:

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January 5: Hershey’s Single-Serve Homemade Hot Chocolate (whew!) (courtesy of hersheys.com) Grant and I have been hunkering down for the arctic blast the past couple of days, so it’s only natural for us to want some hot chocolate, man! You could add a dash or two of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cayenne for a little variety. I added cinnamon and it warmed my soul, and I added cayenne and it lit my fire in all the right ways. Grant’s boring so he added nothing.

No picture…I promise I’ll be better!

January 6: Pistachio Saffron Meringue (courtesy of turmericnspice.com) My mom bought me a little vial of saffron for my birthday this year, so I’ve been looking for any opportunity to use it and I thought these interesting little things were just the ticket. They take 2 hours to bake at 225°, so I haven’t tasted them yet. As soon as I do, I’ll edit my post and letcha’ know!

***UPDATE: These little meringue cookies or whatever you want to call them are heaven in my mouth. Grant said it was like eating fancy astronaut ice-cream, and I agree. It’s the texture. They are crunchy yet light, delicately sweet, and the saltiness of the pistachios rounds it out perfectly. I think I’ll make these for a fancy party or something! YAY!

Before heading on the long, warm journey that awaits them in the oven:

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If you’ve made it this far, thanks. Seriously, you make all of my dreams come true. Sorry, that might’ve been too soon, but I’m not ashamed!!

Tomorrow, I’m making a Lemon Rosemary Garlic Whole Chicken in the CrockPot, so check back to see if that sinks or swims!

-CZMB

brinner. (or, brupper, depending on where you’re from.)

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It’s a beautiful little thing when one has breakfast for dinner (or supper. Only weirdos call it supper, though. I digress…) Tonight, my mom and I spent our Saturday evening making homemade pecan waffles and bacon for brinner. It TOTALLY hit the spot. If you haven’t had brinner lately, I urge you to do so as soon as humanly possible. Maybe not tomorrow though, I think someone said something about some snow. Anyway, brinner is probably one of my absolute favorite meals. It’s so very nostalgic. My mom, my brother, and I used to have brinner once a week when I was a kid. My mom use to let us pick out chocolate milk at the grocery store, being that it was a special occasion and all, and we used to all have a job in the kitchen. Bob would pour the milk (chocolate, duh.) and set the table, I would help mom with the bacon or waffles, and mom would fly solo on the egg-making; she definitely knows what she’s doing when it comes to some eggs.

Down the road, in the early days of being a wife, Grant and I made brinner PLENTY of times. It seriously makes you feel like a light-hearted eight-year-old. We would set our brand new little dining room table for two in our little one-bedroom apartment and gaze lovingly into each others’ eyes over banana waffles, over-easy eggs, and a glass of ice-cold milk. Those were the days. (I know, barf.)

Everyone has a meal or type of food that resonates with them in the same way that brinner gets straight to my heart. It brings back innocence, warmth, and comfort like few things in this world can. What’s yours?

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PECAN.WAFFLE. aka, key to my heart-belly. they’re one in the same.

“This next year will be your year!”

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My best friend Jessy wrote this to me in my 25th birthday card. And I believe her. My 25th birthday was a day that started with meeting my sweet friend Caitlin for coffee, spending the day with my look-alike friend Regina and her two boys, having dinner with my stepmom Julie, with whom I share my birthday, and my dad and younger brother Joe, and ended lying in bed next to the love of my life. The next day, my mom accompanied me to Sunset Grill in Nashville where we were driven around in a top-of-the-line Lincoln MKZ by an ex-racecar driver named Mario, then served a three course meal on the house! UMMM??!!!! Yes, it was amazing.

The following weekend was met by a HUGE surprise: my husband told me we had a 9pm reservation at an undisclosed location (which I already knew because no one, and I mean NO ONE, can surprise me, I tell ya!). I played along and acted excited, which I really was! He knows how much I love food and trying out upscale restaurants. Little did I know, however, that some of my dearest friends were all at the bar anticipating our arrival. We walked into the restaurant, turned to the left to head to the bar, and there they all sat! Okay, so I guess every now and then I can be surprised!

That was probably in the top 3 of best birthday dinners ever. Seriously! Great conversation, good wine, and exceptional farm-to-table cuisine. Definitely the key to my heart.

That wonderful celebration had my 25th year off to a hopeful start! I started a new job at an awesome vintage marketplace, had a great holiday season with my family, and got some cool presents to feed my addiction: cooking. In two weeks, I’ll go back to college in hopes of completing a degree in Marketing. I’d say I’m off to a great start. I’m hoping that praying, cooking, and blogging regularly will help keep me grounded and focused as I embark on this new journey. I appreciate and welcome any advice, encouragement, criticism, or whatever comment you’d like to make. Here’s to being 25 and soaking up every second!

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Coffee with Caitlin, both of us looking our best! 😉

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture with Regina, but Boone made sure to take a picture of me on my birthday. And then, of course, sweet Oliver just made googley eyes at me all day, and I let him.

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My stepmom, Julie. We both turned 25 on the same day!! 😉

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Mom and I pretending to be knowledgable in the ways of the high-class life. I’d say we passed.

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My precious Grant and I before walking into Lockeland Table for dinner…little did I know what (or who, I should say) was waiting inside!!!

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Some of my nearest and dearest, from left to right: Heyburn, Jessy, Jonathan, Tyler, Rebecca, and two other weirdos that ended up at our table. What an unforgettable meal and evening.