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Friday Food For Thought

Holly

marketfriends BLOGI want to say thank you... to each of you that has sent a note of encouragement or made a purchase since the new shop launch. It has helped curb my fear of putting myself and my work out there for all to see. These past few months have taught me a lot about not boxing myself in and being open to new ideas. I've learned that trying something new is (almost) always a good idea. I didn't know I could draw/illustrate until this summer. I literally thought I couldn't do it, and so I have simply never tried! I always skipped drawing classes out of intimidation. But, oh how I've missed out on so much by not trying. It was like breathing new air creating all the little illustrations for my shop - including my personal favorites, our Market Friends. I've felt something missing in my work for some time, and I'm slowing discovering it as I embrace new territory. Illustrating and designing offer an avenue to create color palettes, to add a cohesive interest to my entire body of work and to push past comfort zones. I believe this is only the beginning so long as I don't grow lazy or fearful to keep pursuing new boundaries. If you're thinking of trying something new, I encourage you to go do it! There will be plenty of mishaps along the way, that I can assure you of. But it will be worth it, if only for the process. Here's to pushing past boundaries and trying something new. Enjoy the weekend! xo

Food for Thought to Explore over the Weekend:  A toddler nutrition guide that's easy to understand

Since I don't have my own French cottage to renovate, I'll vicariously live through this one!

Do you think we're sending our kids to school too early

I'm thankful it's becoming more common to share about miscarriage 

I've made this chicken tortilla soup twice in the past two weeks! The secret: don't skip a thing

A great weekend art project for the kids if it's rainy or too cold to get out

Did you hear? It's good news to have a strong-willed child

And, lastly, be sure to check out all of our market friends and read their story in the shop!

Hello 30s! + an Adoption Update

Holly

30th Birthday and an Adoption UpdateHappy Saturday, friends! I know I haven’t posted in a little while. I’ve intentionally stepped away from my computer during ‘work hours’ as much as possible to focus on designing and creating. I’m hoping to have an updated website with new pieces and products to share with all of you soon! In other news, I celebrated my 30th birthday this past week. Hello new decade! To be honest, it doesn’t feel all that different. Maybe its because I was in bed by 10pm that night;) But truly, I welcome this new decade with hope and anticipation. My 20s offered so much. They made me a wife, a mother, and a friend to many I love so dearly. I got married when I was a baby-bird at 23! I wouldn't change that for anything. We have been through a lot of changes, but we've weathered them together and have finally found our groove to carry us on for years to come. We've moved from Nashville to New Orleans to Baton Rouge to Jordan to Tel Aviv and now to Houston. I've had to kiss my hoarding tendencies goodbye! Throw in other lessons along the way: mostly learning how to release expectations, be less selfish, take myself less seriously and find reasons to give thanks every single day. And now here I sit, a few days into this new decade, with a hopeful heart as we settle into a home in a new city (where we think we'll actually be for several years;). I look forward to all this is to come. 30s...I welcome you with open arms!30th Birthday and an Adoption Update "Happy Birthday, Ma!" Remy always calls me Ma:) He picked out the chocolate cake!

I also wanted to share an adoption update for those who have been wondering. It is going…slowly but surely. We had a few setbacks in August, but it was made very obvious that we needed to wait before moving forward at that time. Looking back, I'm thankful things had to be put on hold. I didnt want to get to the point where we could potentially be matched with a birth mother only to say we aren't financially ready to move forward. My heart felt conflicted because I know there are birth mothers out there who need families to say 'yes' to their babies. I recently found out that some African American birth mothers are turned away from agencies simply because they don't have families open to transracial adoption. Crazy, right? There is a huge need for families open to babies of ethnic minority, and in such cases, the entire process typically moves much faster than normal. That can be exciting and overwhelming. It's exciting to think that you could be matched sooner than later. Let's be honest, I've been ready for another baby for a couple of years now! But, regardless of how ready you are and how open your family is, it still comes with a cost. The cost of a local adoption is quite expensive, around $30,000. You have to be prepared to pay that price in full by the time your baby is placed in your home. That's where it gets overwhelming, very quickly. Honestly, it seems like the system is somewhat broken and that costs shouldn't be so high, especially when there is a need for families wanting a baby regardless of race or specifications. But the reality is, everyone that goes through the adoption process carries the burden of that price tag along with it. Part of the reason I haven't updated recently is because it feels awkward to talk about the financial side of adoption; however, it is a huge part of the process and not really something that should be left out of the conversation. I also think it helps to shed light on the reality of domestic adoption costs. I don't know about you, but before we got into this, I had no idea it was so expensive. I'll admit, there are times I say to myself, "This is crazy. There's no way we can save this much money." But I know without a doubt we are called to adopt so we are slowly and steadily moving forward. We have rescheduled our home study for mid-October. This means we could potentially be matched with a birth mother before the new year, but of course, it does not guarantee anything. We still have a long way to go in being fully funded for our adoption. That is where we are focusing our efforts right now! If you or anyone you know may be interested in helping us bring home little baby Everett, you can visit my shop by clicking the link at the top of this page. Every single purchase goes directly toward our adoption fund. We were also sweetly surprised by some very dear friends that created a YouCaring page to help support us in this journey. You can find out more about that here. Above all, thank you for listening (well, reading, really;) and being a part of this journey with us. We couldn't do it without you. 

Holiday Mini Sessions

Holly

Holiday Photo Sessions in Baton Rouge and New OrleansHey Baton Rouge and New Orleans, I'm coming for you! I've had several past clients ask if I will be doing sessions this year, and I'm happy to say yes! It's a bit earlier than our normal schedule, but the perfect time nonetheless to photograph your sweet families before the holidays get chaotic. The cost includes printing rights and there are no hidden/additional fees. I look forward to seeing you and your growing families. xo, Holly

Spaces are limited. Email holly@maisoneverett.com to reserve your spot.

Friday FUN + Food for Thought

Holly

Friday FUN + Food for Thought on Maison Everett BlogHappy Friday, friends. We decided to extend our stay in Nashville one more week. No complaints here - because we are in the final stretch. By this time next week, Greg will be finished taking the TX Bar and law school will officially be OVER. Done and done! It feels like ages ago that we made it to the halfway mark. The last 3 years of life have been full for our little family: full and chaotic and adventurous and exhausting....but always beautiful. I am feeling gratitude for all of it. I've been rereading my original Friday Favorites posts like this one and this one that I started when Greg was in his first year of law school and Remy was a bitty babe. They mean more to me now than I realized they would. In one of them I wrote, "when our day-to-days seem monotonous and routine, this project pushes me to think bigger..." To think bigger about the work I'm creating, the life I'm living, the love I'm giving to those around me. Sometimes routine and monotony is exactly what I need to do those things best. So here's to another week of taking each day as it comes, and celebrating the victories however big or small. Squeeze your loved ones and enjoy the weekend. xo

Food for Thought to Explore over the Weekend:  Katrin Korfmann is the genius behind those photographs above.

Are we trying to teach our kids too much too soon?

The passion, wisdom and work of Peitro Zito (in gorgeous short film form)

Should More Women Give Birth Outside the Hospital?

This may be old news to some of you J Crew lovers, but if not...meet Mayhem

Real Food for the win! 

What it's like living with kids on the island of Saba

And lastly, my good friend is the genius behind ANKR. I've had the opportunity to work from their office this week and witness the hard work+energy that surrounds the day-to-day of a start up. I can't wait to see what happens with this company. Just remember, you heard about it here first! 

Selecting an Adoption Agency

Holly

Selecting an Adoption Agency You’ve recently announced your plans to adopt. Family and friends are thrilled for your growing family! You’re experiencing the joy and anticipation of new life. But at the same time, there’s work to do. Friends start asking details about your plans: So how does this work? Are you adopting domestically? Internationally? Do you want a boy or girl? Do you even get to choose? Before you know it, you’re more overwhelmed than excited. You realize how much you have to consider to even begin the process. You have to decide what you are open to as a family (age, race, gender, special needs, etc). You have to consider the birth mother’s relationship. Are you open to foster-to-adopt? Do you want to adopt from another state? Another country? Are you using an adoption agency? How do you select the right one for your family? How do you know which one to trust?  So many things to consider and decisions to make! These decisions are very personal, and only you and your family will know what's best for your situation. But that doesn't mean you have to navigate it alone. The adoption community is an incredible resource. After announcing our plans to adopt, I had friends (and friends-of-friends) share how adoption has been a part of their personal story. They expressed support and a desire to give advice and wisdom. I welcomed whatever they wanted to offer! I also reached out to a few people that I didn’t personally know but had read their stories of growing their families through adoption. I asked if they were willing to share any information pertaining to the early phases of the process or if they had an agency to recommend. All of the responses were so helpful, and I was able to use them as a launching pad in selecting our adoption agency. 

For us personally, our desire is to grow our family and meet the need that exists for people to adopt. We decided early on to adopt domestically and that we're open to a baby of any race & gender (and even multiples, which my husband is convinced we are going to get:)  So moving forward with that information, I called 5 different local agencies that had all been recommended to me personally. I also talked with an adoption consultant (they work with various agencies nationally). After several phone conversations, there was one agency that seemed a good fit for us. A friend was in the adoption process and recommended this particular agency to me. She loved their emphasis on relationship and their focus on caring for the birth mother...and I did, too! We filled out the initial paperwork, and then a few weeks later, attended an orientation. Orientations are fairly common practice for local adoptions. It gives prospective adoptive families the chance to learn how a particular agency works, what the entire process will be like, their relationship and commitment to birth mothers, and much more. It is also a great opportunity to ask questions and get referrals from other families who have worked with them. After our orientation, we knew that was the agency for us!

Selecting an agency can seem overwhelming. If you're in that phase of the adoption process, I encourage you to reach out to friends or family members that have adopted or were adopted themselves. Even if they can't directly help, they may put you in touch with someone who can. You can also reach out to bloggers or others online sharing their adoption stories. More often than not, they have been where you are now; they know this journey can be overwhelming and have a desire to help. Once you have a list of resources, take your time considering your options. Ask a lot of questions and look for red flags. Attend an orientation if you have the option. Compare costs and get a breakdown of where those costs are going. And, remember, you aren't alone! Don't be afraid to ask others for help.

Here are a few resources that may be helpful in selecting an adoption agency:   3-step approach & on keeping perspective

6 big questions to ask

Q & A with another adoptive mama  How to choose the perfect adoption agency

Adoption consultants connect prospective families with a network of several agencies throughout the US. Here are two that I have heard good reviews from personally: Christian Adoption Consultants & Faithful Adoption Consultants

If you are in Houston (or surrounding area), this is our agency. We are really excited to be working with them! I'm happy to answer any questions or put you in touch with families who have already adopted through them.  This agency also came highly recommended to us. They work with families in Texas, Louisiana and Missouri.

Friday Fun + Food for Thought

Holly

Summer Fun Inspiration on Maison Everett BlogHappy Friday! We've been in Nashville all week while Greg is back home studying away (he takes the bar in under two weeks...so close to being completely finished with law school)! I've taken advantage of a babysitter and spent as much time possible creating new ideas for Maison Everett Shop and working on our adoption paperwork. The paperwork is no joke, but I really don't mind it at all. In some way, I feel like it reminds me that we are excepting. I may not be pregnant, but we may have a baby in the next 9 months. That's crazy! So anything that helps get me into that mindset I gladly welcome...be it paperwork, or name books;) Anyway, what are your plans for the weekend? Whatever you and your crew are up to, I hope it's a good one!  Food for Thought to Explore over the Weekend:  Incredible story of a Jewish man who fled Nazis and now helping Christians flee ISIS writing assignment that could change your life

Are you a coffee drinker? Good news for you!  12 Empowering Children's Books for Little Girl's Bookshelves

Can't afford organic all the time? Consider focusing on the Dirty Dozen: here's the list for 2015 

"Sprinkle a little nonsense into the work you do." Have a Toddler? Some insight into the tantrums they throw On Planned Parenthood, Mother and Child, and Justice for All

And lastly, how gorgeous are the colors in those images above? They are so rich and full of life, so naturally they inspire me and I wanted to share. Credits:  top, leftright

Healthy Summer Party Treats

Holly

This past weekend we celebrated Remy's 3rd birthday! It was the first year that he really understood, which made it all the more fun to celebrate our sweet boy. We had a small party for him with close friends on Saturday afternoon. We had cake + ice cream (of course!), and since it's peach + tomato season, I made my favorite peach salsa along with some other treats for our guests to enjoy. I created a round up of healthy & delicious treats to help me decide what to make...Healthy Summer Party Treats You can find links to all the yummy ideas in the post I shared for Super Healthy Kids. If you have a summer birthday or celebration coming up, you may want to go check it out! 

Friday Fun + Food for Thought

Holly

It's hard to believe it is already July. I hope your week was a good one. Did you hear the news about the 'unlikely ballerina' Misty Copeland becoming the first African American principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre? I can't stop reading interviews and learning more about her story. She's an inspiration to us all! 

What are your July 4th plans? We are going to a neighborhood parade and playing outside as much as possible. I'll also be gathering ideas for Remy's birthday party that is next weekend! I can hardly believe he'll be 3 in a few days. Last year on his actual birthday, we made pancakes for breakfast, and then I snuck balloons in over his crib during nap-time... Birthday Traditions on Maison Everett Blog Birthday Traditions on Maison Everett Blog I'm planning to do the same again this year! I like the idea of making these our birthday traditions. Do you have anything special you do for your little ones on their birthdays?

Food for Thought to Explore over the Weekend:  My favorite interview about Copeland, her upbringing & how she got to where she is as a dancer.

Make this cake for the 4th! 

A psychological trick that could help you stop procrastinating? Sign me up, please!

The sweetest story of childhood sweethearts married for 75 years who died in each other's arms.

This made me think twice about why I post on social media.

And, finally, everything you wanted to know about gardening in the form of diagrams.

Enjoy the weekend, Holly

Summer Pops with Seasonal Produce

Holly

Sweet summertime. There are so many reasons to love you. Yes, it is hot. But the weather is perfect for enabling some of our favorite foods to grow. And because it is hot, we crave frozen treats, which can be a great way to enjoy all that summer produce!  Remy is finally old enough to get excited about homemade pops, and oh how he loves them. He wakes up asking if he can have one! Making your own popsicles is easy and fun, and it's a perfect activity for little hands to help. Here is a round-up of summer pops using seasonal produce + minimal ingredients that all sound absolutely delicious: Summer Pops made with Seasonal Produce

Pictured clockwise from top left:  Frozen Strawberry Bars Cucumber, Apple, Mint & Lime Pops Vanilla Peach Pops Honeydew Mint Ice Pops Balsamic Roasted Cherry + Mascarpone Popsicles Blueberry Lime Froyo Pops

Not pictured, but sound equally delicious: Watermelon Lime Hibiscus Fruit Ice Pops Dairy Free Strawberry Banana Pops Cucumber Agave Mint Pops (sub honey for the agave)  Jamie Oliver's Yogurt Pops (sub whole fat for non-fat yogurt; we're all about whole foods over here!)

Aren't they all beautiful? I love the colors and those combinations sound scrumpitous! If you don't have any pop molds, we picked up these from WholeFoods but these also have great reviews, and you can use the traditional wooden sticks to make yours homemade pops. Have fun!

Friday Fun + Food for Thought

Holly

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you've had a good week. A friend of mine sent this video to our friend crew earlier in the week, and we all loved it! What do you think? Which decade is your favorite? I want the jumper from the 70s to wear everyday!

What are you up to this weekend? We don't have any crazy plans other than getting a few plants in the garden outside. I was completely inspired on a recent trip to New Orleans when I saw this gorgeous balcony overflowing with potted plants...  Potted Plant Garden Inspiration on Maison Everett Blog Honestly, I've been debating whether or not to begin a garden at our new home. I'm somewhat exhausted with starting a garden only to have to leave it a couple of years later. But then...that gorgeous balcony! And pots that are transportable. What a simple, yet brilliant idea. My plan is to start small and hopefully build a little potted garden full of herbs, flowers (edible + beautiful), and veggies as the seasons allow. Have you had any luck with potted gardens? Let me know!

Food for Thought to Explore over the Weekend:  She grows it, he cooks it. We hear so much about simple living these days. What are your thoughts on celebrating the art of clutter?

Healthy eating habits for kids + why they support better health

A Summer Cottage in Sweden that I love (& happen to know the owner who is equally as lovely). 

Vera Wang, on When to Walk Away

And lastly, I pin lots of gorgeous images and inspiration In The Garden. If you have a board for the garden as well, please share your link in the comments below! 

Enjoy the weekend, Holly

video credit: A Stitch in Time: Style Through the Years by Glam Editor at Mode

The Baby Periodicals :: Charlie

Holly

Maison Everett Newborn PhotographyThis was my first newborn session since returning from our year overseas, and it was an absolute honor to photograph this beautiful family. Sweet baby Charlie was given to them by the gift of adoption last week. His mama has been one of my biggest encouragers as I navigate our adoption journey, and I'm so thankful I could do something for her in return for all she's done for me.Welcome to the world, Charlie. You have the best mama and daddy in the world, and are loved by more people than you can imagine.

How our Adoption Story Begins

Holly

How our Adoption Story Begins | Maison EverettWe've had several friends asking us a great question since announcing our adoption news: How did we know we were called to adopt, and why now? I mentioned that Greg and I have always thought adoption would be something we do as family. We know there is a need for it, and it is something we strongly believe in. I imagined that I would have 3 or so babies biologically, and then we would adopt (big family, I know;). When we attempted to start growing our family again over the past year and a half, things didn't happen as easily as the first go round. We experienced two pregnancies, and unfortunately, both of them ended in miscarriage. The first one never felt fully 'right', so it didn't surprise me. It was earlier on, and I had a sense of peace that it happened for a reason. The second, however, was a different situation.  Right away, I felt very pregnant. Greg and I were so excited! Remy would say constantly, "Mama, you have a baby in der?" Oh, how my mama heart melted. Just like I knew Remy was a boy from early on, I just knew this baby was a little girl. I journaled my thoughts a week before our ultrasound: "...I'm just so thankful. My body is exhausted, and I've felt more nauseous this go round but the signs reassure me that baby is growing strong. We praise you, Lord, for the gift of life. For carrying us through and allowing us to experience the many emotions that children bring to us, and that you use to grow us. I'll have my appointment with Dr. Dickerson a week from Monday and look forward to seeing a healthy heartbeat, God willing." I felt confident and allowed myself to be excited despite our previous loss. Little did I know, that excitement would take a turn on the morning of my ultrasound. I waited patiently on the table for the tech to come back in the room. She was the same one I saw for our previous miscarriage, and I almost mentioned my excitement to her, knowing things were different this time. She started looking around, and right away I saw our baby on the screen. A sigh of relief fell over me. There, my baby is there. Growing right where she is supposed to be. The tech's words to follow still haunt me. She couldn't find the heart beat. I asked her to keep looking, and she did, but there was no blood or oxygen flowing anywhere. She said based on the baby's size, it appears the heart stopped beating about a day or two before. So there I was, all alone, being told that I had life inside me, but that it was no longer living. How is that even possible? Greg was halfway across the world in Tel Aviv, and I was in Louisiana without a way to reach him for several hours. I went in the next morning to have a d&c, and then just like that, I was supposed to carry on. No longer pregnant. Only empty. I felt empty. Our Doctor confirmed she was a girl, and that she had trisomy 13, a chromosomal disorder rarely viable with life outside the womb. While that news helped begin the closure process, there was a dark cloud that loomed over me. I returned to our life in Tel Aviv, but was cold and distant, particularly from Greg. I knew he couldn't fully understand everything I physically went through in the loss of our baby, and for whatever reason I blamed him for that. It wasn't until I had nothing left to cling to that I slowly began to let go of the pain. 

For those who haven't battled with miscarriages or infertility, it may be hard to understand. But, in the chance you have felt the same way, I share this part of my story to let you know that you don't struggle alone. I honestly believe that it was in the depths of that despair where the Lord started to change my heart. To trust that despite the sorrow and the loss, that He is good. There is purpose in all of this. I had been too focused on what I thought my life should look like that I didn't see all the goodness He was providing. There was so much beauty amidst the brokenness. Over time, my heart grew less bitter. As a family, we started ending each day in prayer, giving thanks for specific things that day (we still do this now). As the list began to grow, I started seeing how God's plan is better than anything I could plan for myself. My prayers slowly shifted from 'my will be done, to Thy will be done." My heart began to know peace again. 

In the months to follow, the idea of adoption kept popping up in my mind. I started reading stories about adoptive families and questioning why I was so interested in it. We were trying to get pregnant, and I desired as much. I brought my thoughts up with Greg, and adoption soon became a regular topic of conversation for us. We would ask each other honest questions like, "Do you think you can love another baby as much as you love Remy?" "Are we prepared for how this will change our family?" "Now?" "Are you sure you're on board with this?"  In all the questioning and thought processing, there wasn't really any area that we disagreed on. It's almost as if the decision was made for us. Of course...we are called to adopt! And while our story begins from a place of loss, we don't look at this decision as second best or "Plan B." I believe it was the loss that made me let go of control. I wasn't able to decide how or when our babies were going to come into our family.  So I started to let go, and let the Lord guide us. Through conversation and prayer, we arrived to our decision together...to begin this journey of excitement and unknown, but one we confidently pursue because we can trust Him. And trust in Him we do. How Our Adoption Story Begins | Maison Everett Blog

Homemade Mint Lemonade

Holly

Homemade Mint LemonadeThis is one of those recipes that will forever remind me of a certain place and time. Freshly squeezed mint lemonade is on almost every menu regardless of where you eat in Israel. While we were living in Tel Aviv, I tried my hand at making our own version. It is a great recipe for little hands to help in the kitchen.   Homemade Mint Lemonade by Maison Everett Mint Infused Ice Cubes The ingredients are straightforward without any processed sugar or artificial flavors. We added mint leaves to create mint-infused iced cubes! That was Remy's favorite job. Homemade Mint Lemonade by Maison Everett I just picked up popsicle molds from the store, and I'm planning to use our lemonade in them this weekend. They will make the perfect frozen treat now that summertime is in full swing! You can find my recipe here on Super Healthy Kids. If you haven't visited their website, I highly recommend it. They are an incredible resource for healthy, fun food options for little ones, and I'm honored to be a monthly contributor to their blog. 

SHOP SALE!

Holly

Sweet friends, first I want to say thank you...to each of you who have reached out to us since announcing our adoption plans. It's been the most uplifting weekend for our family knowing we have the support and encouragement from so many of you. As I mentioned before, we don't go into this process lightly so we need all the support we can get. 

Secondly, I want to let you know that Maison Everett Shop is having the biggest sale to date: ALL APPAREL IS 30% OFF, and once it's gone, it's gone! The video above was created for our launch last summer, and it still brings the biggest smile to my face. We are making way for new products, and I'm excited about what's to come for the shop. I feel as though my heart is in it even more now because, well, we have a baby to bring home! All shop sales will be helping us grow our family through adoption,  and a portion of all sales will go to another family going through the adoption process as well. You can get to there by clicking on the SHOP navigation link above.

Wishing you all a great start to this new week. xo, Holly

We Have Some News...

Holly

Maison Everett Adoption AnnouncementIt's been awhile, I know! Nearly two months have passed since we boarded our flight home from Tel Aviv. There's been so much going on that I haven't had time to sit and write. But now that we are more settled, I have some really exciting news I've been wanting to share with you...Maison Everett Adoption Announcement And we couldn't be more excited about it! Greg and I used to talk about adoption when we were dating and always knew it would be part of our story - just not this soon. After experiencing two losses over the last year, we individually started to consider adoption as a way to grow our family. Short conversations turned into longer ones, and before we knew it we were both on the same page with all of it. It's truly been incredible to see the way the Lord has prepared our hearts both individually and as a family. While we remain hopeful that I will birth more babies one day, we agree that if adoption is going to be part of our story, there is no reason to wait until we are finished having biological children. And so our adoption journey begins! 

We are in the beginning phases right now, which mainly consists of talking with adoption consultants and starting to work on our profile book. It will be a long journey over the next several months...in some ways, I imagine, similar to pregnancy! I know it will be emotional and trying, and we don't enter it lightly. We trust in the Lord's goodness and His plans. I've been really encouraged by other blogs where adoptive mamas have shared their stories, so I will try to do the same. Thank you to everyone who has already shared their excitement with us - we appreciate the prayers and support more than you know! 

A Walk Through The Garden of Gethsemane

Holly

The Garden of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, IsraelThen Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me...The Garden of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Israel ...And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:36-46 The Garden of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Israel The Garden of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Israel I stood upon the foot of the Mount of Olives, and made my way through the garden, the very one where Jesus was betrayed and arrested. There eight olive trees stand, tall and strong. They are said to be the silent witnesses of Jesus' prayer and suffering the evening before His crucifixion. I was fixated on their roots and trunks. Thinking how small they must have been when Jesus sat near them, heavy burdened with a sorrowful soul, even to death. I found myself dwelling upon the words He prayed that night in the garden. I couldn't help but think of how often my prayers are incomplete. It is easy for me to recognize The Lord's faithfulness when he answers prayers, heals wounds, performs miracles - when He takes our cup from us so that we suffer no more. But that wasn't the case for Jesus. He doesn't get his miracle. Rather, he is betrayed by a friend and sentenced to death. He carries the weight of the very cross he will hang from while life slowly drips from his being. He enters in to the depths of sorrow instead of being given a chance to escape them. What would have happened had the Lord answered Jesus' plea to take his cup from him? My mind has never thought so intently on how powerful this is. Jesus had to die so that He could rise. He had to suffer so that redemption could be made full. And in doing so, he knows what it is like for his people when they, too, don't get their miracle. It is in the midst of sorrow, darkness, and death that The Lord redeems his people. Our Savior comes as a result of saying "not as I will, but as you will". Oh, the hope that brings to my spirit. May we look to the Cross not ending our prayers with our pleas, but with hearts that desire Thy will be done over our own. 

Baby FoodE

Holly

Baby FoodE, Homemade Baby FoodWhile working on the research for The Colors of the Market, I came across a new favorite resource: Baby FoodE. Have you visited their website before? It is simple, sweet, and full of natural colors and recipes for making baby's first foods.Baby FoodE, Homemade Baby Food Their information is broken into understandable categories, and the photos are straightforward yet lovely. If you are starting to navigate the baby food phase this is a great resource that will answer most of your questions, I imagine! They even have a selection of toddler recipes that the entire family would enjoy like Zesty Avocado + Edamame Dip. Venture over and check it out! 

The Beloved Pomegranate

Holly

pomegranate blog001I had never purchased a pomegranate before moving to the Middle East. They don't grow in Louisiana (that I know of) and they are always super expensive at the grocery so I usually pass them by. But when we got to Amman, they were everywhere and surprisingly cheap! It makes sense because the pomegranate has been cultivated in the Mediterranean region since Biblical times. It's actually one of the oldest fruits recorded in history, included in various ancient texts and works of art. When you walk the streets of Jordan and Israel you'll pass juice stands that offer freshly squeezed pomegranate juice along with the more common orange and grapefruit options. Whether eating the seeds (more properly known as 'arils') or drinking the juice, I can understand why it is such a beloved fruit. Not only is it perfectly tart and delicious but it offers incredible nutrients for your body. Let's take a closer look at the pomegranate... pomegranate blog002

NUTRITION OVERVIEW:  Pomegranates are a great source of vitamin c, vitamin k, dietary fiber, and folate. They also contain polyphenols, chemical compounds that are powerful antioxidants linked to reduced risks of heart disease and cancer. It is this component that has made them quite popular for research in recent years. Although not enough studies have been done on the pomegranate specifically, we do know their vitamins and nutrients alone make them valuable for our overall health. Detailed nutritional information can be found here

AT THE MARKET:  Pomegranates are in season during the winter months. They are picked ripe so the fruit is ready to eat when you buy it. You want to choose one that feels heavy for its size with soft, leathery skin that gives slightly. Avoid any shriveled skin. It is ideal to find them at your local farmers market if they grow where you live. If that isn't an option, speciality grocery stores usually have them in stock or at the very least they will have pomegranate juice, which is a good alternative to the fruit itself. Just be sure to read your labels and buy 100% juice!

IN YOUR KITCHEN:  Whole fruits can be kept at room temperature for up to one week or refrigerated for at least one month (some sources claim up to two months).  If the seeds have been removed, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

PRESERVING:  A great way to stock up on this tart treat for warmer months is by freezing the seeds. They will keep up to 6 months in a airtight bag. Simply remove seeds from pomegranate, place on a cookie sheet and leave out to dry. Once dried put them into an airtight bag and pop into the freezer. Quick and easy!

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INTRODUCING TO BABIES: A baby can have freshly squeezed pomegranate juice around 8 months of age. It should not include additional sweeteners and should be limited to a small amount. In my personal opinion, I would wait until around 1 year before introducing it. Breastmilk (or formula) is the best source for liquids before then. Plus, the nutrients found in pomegranates are also found in other vegetables (like tomatoes) that will contain less sugar.  If you want to give the juice a try, here is a great resource for making homemade pomegranate juice. A toddler can have the seeds around 2+ years of age, or once you know he is capable of chewing them properly. They can be a choking hazard for young children so you should never leave your child alone while eating them. But they can also be a really fun food to eat! Which leads me to the next point...

INVOLVING YOUR LITTLE SOUS-CHEF: *Pomegranates have become one of our favorite snacks! After nap, we'll sit on our outside patio, put on some jazz (it's a favorite around here) and slowly eat our way through fresh pieces of pomegranate. My son loves to pick out the seeds and enjoys eating the fruits of his labor. Oh, and be sure to remove any clothes you don't want stained because the juice will do just that;) *Test out the "Seedy Situation" science experiment if your kids are a little older.  *Create a Bible Land Food Display to teach little ones about the various foods mentioned in the Bible and gain an appreciation for cultural history. Yummy food + history lesson = win!  *Use pomegranates as a way to get your kids to try other new foods. For example, I included a handful of arils on a kale&quinoa salad for dinner last night, and my son at his entire plate! I've found this to be a great way to get him to try foods he otherwise wouldn't.

RECIPES + IDEAS: First things first: how do we remove all of those seeds (hundreds are found in just one pomegranate)? I've tried this method and  this method, and they both work great to remove them as easily as possible. Once removed, you can eat them plain or sprinkle on top of almost anything: yogurt, salads, ice cream, oatmeal, you name it! If you want to mix them into a recipe here are some that look delicious for both adults and littles alike... Pomegranate White Chocolate Scones Crispy Kale, Butternut Squash & Pomegranate Pizza (umm...yes please!) Dark Chocolate & Pomegranate Bark Tu B’Shvat Tart Pomegranate Sangria (not kid friendly, but this one is for you mama b/c it looks too good;)

I’ve also been pinning other recipes and ideas if you want to join me over there! Have you tried pomegranates before? Does your little one like the sweet-tartness? Let us know your thoughts on the beloved pomegranate! 

*A note on introducing solids to babies: The AAP recommends  “exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complimentary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”

**Any information or opinions provided in this post are based on my own research and is not meant to be used as medical advise or in lieu of treatment from a doctor. Please consult your primary physician and/or pediatrician for what is best for you and your baby. 

Edible Flowers

Holly

Edible FlowersHi all! How was the weekend? My little sister had her baby on Saturday...the most beautiful, dark haired, 6 lb 6oz of sweet precious baby-ness...my new niece, Avery! While I am sad to be so far away, I'm thankful for technology because it makes me feel like I've barely missed out. Except that I want to scoop her into my arms and cuddle her all day long. I'll get to do just that in a little over a month when we officially head back to the states. Speaking of which, I can hardly believe our season abroad is coming to a close. I'm getting into 'go' mode with all the things I need to accomplish for our move back home: plane tickets, packing, shopping for a car, scheduling the movers to get our things to Houston (we already found a home that I'm really excited about!), switching from international cell phone plans, etc. etc. I feel like I have one foot in and one foot out, which is always a bit unsettling and makes it harder to enjoy the days we have left. So in an effort to fully appreciate this final month in Tel Aviv, you may hear from me less. We'll never get this time again as a family, and I want to fully embrace it, spending less time behind the computer. I'll continue our Colors of the Market series and there may always be a fun post if I have something I just can't wait to share with you...like edible flowers, of course! I couldn't let spring pass us by without this post. I've never thought to include flowers in a recipe but I'm determined try them out. And maybe even plant a few once we get into our new home. It'd be a great project to do with little ones over Easter break! Here are a few resources to get started if you're interested in growing, cooking or eating edible flowers:  Edible Flowers Your Guide to Edible Flowers (the chart above + descriptions of each) Edible Flowers: Grow it! Eat it! Flowers Your Kids Can Pick and Eat Edible Beauties And the credits + recipes for the images at the top:  popsicles / salad / cake / cookies

Have you ever cooked with or eaten edible flowers? Let us know your favorites that we should try! Enjoy the day. xo