HI I’M AMBER!

Where Have I Been?

Recently, I’ve made one of the biggest moves of my life to Europe. I traveled over 14 hours with my three toddler children to get to this beautiful country which was one heck of a journey. I mentioned in my previous posts about my husband being in the military and Germany happened to be one of our first duty stations. We got pretty lucky. Lately, i’ve really been off my A game with posting. Between trying to get settled into my new home and still adjusting to this 6hour time difference I didnt realize how distracted I had gotten from my blog until my husband asked me “whens the last time you’ve made a post?”. Reminding me that I needed to stop being lazy and get with it!

I didn’t know where to begin again. I was lost. It was like I was on a roll one moment with so much inspiration and then the next i had writers block. I had no motivation and I realized I needed to change my enviornment or listen to some inspirational podcast or something. Good writing takes time. And i didnt want to just throw anything together and publish. I needed that push again. Writing takes great effort, the right intentions, time and figuring out the perfect words to begin your first sentence.

Have you ever got discouraged when doing something you love by just the process itself? Like, wow this is not getting to where I want fast enough. Or just seeing other successful bloggers in their prime and everything seems to just be going super slow for you? Thats the feeling I felt. I just needed to realize nothing comes easy and as long as I have a positive INTENTION blogging can bring me incredible opportunities which means to grow my blog organically and put genuine love into it. I have to embrace this time when possibly no one is reading it, and focus on the growth of myself as a blogger before focusing on the growth of the blog itself. My current mindset is to use this blog as my creative space and to do something I can enjoy.

I will, for sure, be posting at the most two times a week just depending on how much more interesting my life gets. The enviornment right now when it comes down to social media and blogging you feel like you have to do something a certain way, or write a certain way just to stand out. Things are so different now.. BUT I’m just navigating the waters and trying to figure out what feels right for me.

I think that is the key to successful blogging: doing what feels right for you.

Four Cheese Stuffed Shells With Spinach and Sausage.

Y’all! I can’t even begin to explain how ambrosial, appetizing, delectable, heavenly, luscious, savory these stuffed shells were. I’m over the top right now with my description of this dish but every time I make these I swear it gets 10x better. I think it’s because out of every food dish I cook these have got to be one that I enjoy making the most. The moistness of the cheeses that just melt into your mouth. UGH! I can’t wait for you to make this at home so lets get started for what you’ll need.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic (I prefer lots of garlic but adjust to your desire)
  • Kosher salt
  • Herbs de Provence (which is a mixture of dried herbs) 
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes broken into pieces
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 4 teaspoons tomato paste or water (if using water add two small chicken bouillon cubes)
  • sugar (pref I tablespoon)
  • 1 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 12-ounce box jumbo pasta shells
  • Italian sausage (or any meat of your preference)
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided

Note: In regards to seasonings I do not measure I eyeball and I know based off of which seasoning I use will determine how much I need. Be easy on the salt and pepper because you can always add more if it’s not enough but you cannot take away. Just a little tip. Use your desired preference.

Preparation: For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, basil, oregano and black pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce and paste, water and sugar, and stir well. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until thickened and fragrant, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pasta shells, and cook until al dente, 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally with a long-handled spoon to prevent the shells from sticking together. Drain and rinse under cold running water to suppress any further cooking of the shells.

In a medium skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring, until very soft, 6-7 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until browned. Add the spinach and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Add the spinach-sausage mixture, the extra-virgin olive oil, salt, the Herbs de Provence and pepper, and stir to combine thoroughly. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the spinach-ricotta filling into each cooked pasta shell. Place the filled shells in the prepared dish OVER some of the homemade sauce (so basically before you place in the pan pour a bed of the sauce into the sauce pan and then place your stuffed shells on top).

Pour tomato sauce over the filled shells and top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and chopped parsley or spinach. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving and ENJOY!

Please share some remixes to this stuffed shells recipe. I’ll love to hear them!

Motherhood Mantra

Meet Lon’dyn, Skylar and Cameron. I bet you can’t guess who’s the oldest out of my two girls? Leave the guesses below haha. Everyone and I mean literally everyone always stops to ask me “are your girls twins”?. I don’t even think they look anything alike but hey! Not twins but definitely 11 months apart. Yeah. I started off early. I was a young mother with no idea/knowledge on parenting but I manage to make them happy and that’s all that matters!

Which that leads me to say that parenting really throws me through a loop at times..whew! I mean, I really do have such a big support system now and I get a lot of Mommy time every other weekend just to recoup and catch up on to do things that I’m not able to do during the week. Moms, we all need a break. We need that mental & physical recharge.

I recently seen an Instagram post linked to Amy Poehler’s, book called “Yes Please” which made perfectly good sense on what it means to be a woman and a mother. It read…

I have many friends who have had natural childbirth. I applaud them. I have friends who have used doulas and birthing balls and pushed out babies in tubs and taxicabs. I have a friend who had two babies at home! In bed! Her name is Maya Rudolph! She is a goddamn baby champion and she pushed her cuties out Little House on the Prairie style!

Good for her! Not for me.

That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.

What a brilliant mantra, right? There are countless ways to be a good mother (and person), and we should trust our guts; we know that intellectually. Still, at certain moments, it can be hard not to sometimes compare yourself to others, and then doubt yourself or wonder if you’re at odds if you’re taking different paths. But in the end? “Good for her! Not for me.” I love it!

I haven’t yet read the whole book but has anyone read “Yes Please”? I found it on Amazon and that will be my next read once I am finished with my current one. Here’s the link to purchase the book! If you happen to finish before me please come back and comment to let me know how you enjoyed it! https://amzn.to/2KXctWb

Go to Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins.

Learn how to make moist and tender blueberry muffins at home! Loaded up with fresh blueberries, topped with coarse sugar and baked until golden brown, these are the perfect breakfast or morning snack! You can also use raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, make them triple berry, etc. Any berry will work for this recipe.

What you’ll need: 1 3/4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour 3/4 cup white sugar 1/2 tsp salt 2 tsp baking powder 3 ounces (6TBSP) vegetable oil 1 large egg, beaten 1/2 cup milk 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup fresh blueberries (or frozen, thawed first) coarse sugar for topping.

In a small bowl, combine milk and vinegar and set aside. (Alternatively, use 1/2 cup commercial buttermilk.) In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix well and add in blueberries and toss to coat. Add in milk and vinegar mixture, oil, egg and vanilla and mix just until incorporated. DO NOT OVER MIX! Mix only until no more dry ingredients remain. Let rest for 15 minutes. Prepare your muffin tin by greasing the tops (or entire cups if not using cupcake liners). Evenly divide batter into 8 muffin spots. Top with coarse sugar and bake in a preheated 450*F oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350*F and bake an additional 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly and then serve! Store in an airtight container. Makes 8 medium muffins.

*TIMES WILL VARY DEPENDING ON SIZE OF MUFFIN*

Garlic, Herb Butter Steak and Potatoes.

I think steak and potatoes are one of my favorite go to meals. I’m no chef but cooking is part of my lifestyle … just a bit. This garlic and herb butter steak will simply amaze you! Sometimes I even like it fried on the stove and finish it in the oven for that succulent taste but either way it’ll be just as bomb and this is just a quicker and easier method for those who would like to just pop it in the oven and let it do it’s thing!

There are many ways to determine where your steak is without cutting into it, but the surefire way is to use an https://amzn.to/2IBrp9p you can find those pretty cheap online or at your grocery store.

  • Rare: 115°F. Remove when it reaches 110°F.
  • Medium-Rare: 125°F. Remove when it reaches 120°F.
  • Medium: 135°F. Remove when it reaches 130°F.
  • Medium-Well: 140°F. Remove when it reaches 135°F.
  • Overcooked: 150°F. Remove when it reaches 145°F.

Ingredients used: 2 Thick cut New York strip Steak, kosher salt and pepper to taste, fresh thyme fresh parsley, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano and Herbs De Provence (for the freshly chopped herbs, I used 2 teaspoons each for the steak, and 1 teaspoon each for the potatoes) 5 tbsp butter for the Steak, 1 tbsp butter for the potatoes 3 cloves of garlic minced for the steak, 3 cloves garlic minced for the potatoes, 3 Large Gold potatoes or red skinned which I used above and 2 Tablespoon drizzled olive oil.

First season the steak generously with kosher salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence on both sides. Set aside. Then, go ahead and season your potatoes with the fresh thyme, fresh parsley, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano, kosher salt and pepper and drizzle some olive oil over them as well. Place the potatoes and steak into the cast iron skillet and place into the oven at 450 degrees for about an hour and then place on broil for 5minutes for that awesome crust!

Items used: https://amzn.to/2UD1d5I https://amzn.to/2V4aTVW https://amzn.to/2UlLPWe

NOTES:This cooking method can be applied to any cut of steak. Of course, cooking times will vary according to thickness of steak.

Separation During Basic Training And Ways to Help You Survive.

Life hit me hard when I found out that my husband would be leaving me for some time to start his military journey. I couldn’t actually grip the thought of being away from him for 4months at a time.4 MONTHS? Whew! We’ve never, and I mean never been apart from each other. We had our own apartment at the time so we weren’t hard to miss. Anything we ever done was as a family. I wasn’t ready and I didn’t want to be ready but I knew he was doing it for us. For a fresh start.

Loneliness is tough. Tough for regular people but especially tough for military families. Today I give you 6 tips on how I help handle my loneliness during this time of separation! Sometimes it is still difficult don’t get me wrong. However, these things help/helped me dramatically! Currently I am in the last phase of being away from him but with these simple tips you will be a little more at ease.

ONE // Don’t hibernate at home

Get out. Mingle with friends. Take a walk. Go grocery shopping. ANYTHING. Don’t waste precious moments coddling your pillow and watching lifetime movies all day. I mean that was me. I was so bored and drove myself nuts. I didn’t want to be around anyone, and even times I had the opportunity to I turned it down I was that sad. Enjoy some fresh air. Take the kids out and play with them. Listen, kids these days will make you laugh they are so humorous they’ll be sure to put a smile on your face. I know my girls did.

TWO // Read a good book

Nowadays there are so many good, interesting books out I could recommend so many and especially if you’re married. Ive always believed in bettering my relationship by reading and getting others advice about marriage and even if things are going great things could be doing even greater. Books stimulate your mind and gets your thoughts in the right place. When my husband went away I ordered two books, (well one that I sent to him for a gift and the other for myself) one called Women Who Run With the Wolves, and The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. Such good reads that will be sure to keep you tuned in and focused!

THREE // Write them… everyday

This may sound like a bit too much but your soldier is depending on letters everyday. While they’re gone getting worked to death whether its in the hot sun or freezing cold.. they need all of the uplifting words they can get from you. They need those words of encouragement from the ones they love. Remind them of how proud you are of them. Tell them about your day. Ask them to share things about their day as well. Send pictures of you and the kids (or not if you have none) and send affirmation quotes. It helps!

FOUR // Don’t count on phone calls

Don’t rely on getting a phone call. Assuming you won’t get a call and receiving one would be better than hoping for one and never getting it.

FIVE // Keep your phone close

Even though you might not get many calls or might have to wait a long time for them ..keep your phone close by at all times. Calls won’t be planned and I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve missed a phone call and would beat myself up about it. The moment they depend on are the moments when they can finally call to vent to you and share their experiences far with you.

SIX // Engage with other spouses/girlfriends

See if you can find other spouses or girlfriends who have someone in basic when you do. There might be a Facebook group you can join which I did which helped me deal with the process a little easier being you know someone else is going through the same exact thing. Perhaps, exchanging numbers and checking on eachother time after time.

SEVEN // Partake in some retail therapy

EIGHT// Time will fly

Before you know it you’ll be planning a trip to see him at graduation , and then he’ll be PCS to his first duty station. The time will go by so fast when you’re not counting down every second by every minute. You’ll just drive yourself nuts. Instead if you want to make it easier count down by weeks instead. I always told myself “one day at a time Amber”.

I say all of this to say that the first couple of weeks will be the hardest.. but it will all come to an end soon and you’ll be back reunited with your significant other in no time. Leave some things below that helped you cope with separation.

Let Go, and Move On

I don’t know a better way to display this title other than what it says. I bet some of you are wondering why I chose this photo for this specific blog post. This picture right here really signifies how I feel at this current moment. For once in my life I feel so free. I feel happy and at peace of all things. I removed bad toxins, and energy. I put my best foot forward and I realized my WORTH. That’s so important. Knowing your value. Whether that means to remove toxic relationships with friends or family.

I battled this for a very long time. I was so depressed, sad and just felt alone. Nothing made sense. Everyday I would feel like no one loved me. The friends I thought loved me and were in my corner never seemed to show that I was important. I would reach out and wouldn’t even get a response. Do you know how that could make a person feel? It’s like all of those years of building a connection was a complete waste. Important? I felt at no capacity. I was forgotten about in so many ways. My heart was broken, and I tried to display an apathetic feeling but I could’nt even fake it. I was hurt and it took a toll on me for a very long time where my energy reflected and my whole vibe and interaction was off. We need friends to ignite that part of our brain that makes us feel good. I needed that increase of belonging and purpose. A friend to help me cope with certain traumas.

I was feeling so bad for myself. It’s a sad reality that there are times we just have to let go, and move on. This goes for romantic partnerships, work situations, living conditions, and professional relationships. It’s that tough situation of balance between perseverance and self-preservation. Realize what’s important and what makes you happy. It gets difficult when you have to recognize when it’s just time to say goodbye. I’m a good person. With a pure heart. And sweet spirit. I deserve better. In every aspect. And you do as well!

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.