April 22, 2014

I'm writing this on the eve of my birthday, because I'm not sure if there will be time to stop and jot it down tomorrow. The night before my birthday I like to straighten the house, empty the kitchen sink, fold my clothes neatly, and generally do all the things. I think it's my attempt at a "perfect" day- where all the work is done the night before. :) Birthdays just make me want to get all my affairs in order. Speaking of which, I want to record where I'm at in life right now. A real diary entry. I like to do this every year and always hope I can think of things that I will look back on and laugh about someday. 

  • Right now I'm at the computer desk with a jar of almond butter and a banana. 
  • I'm wearing yoga pants and a zip-up hoodie because that's my uniform.
  • My hair is in a pony tail and it's the longest it's ever been! No bangs, and not really any layers. My toe nails are blue.
  • I just got done trimming Grant's neck and now he's finishing the rest of his haircut.
  • It's 8:49 and my son (3 months) and daughter (2.8 years) are sleeping. They are my job and my joy. Somedays, it's easy to forget one or the other.
  • I'm listening to a playlist that's a mix of Andy McKee, Nat King Cole, and the soundtrack from the movie Sabrina, but I've really been loving John Mayer's older albums lately.
  • Our computer is humming at the moment because we're importing a bunch of old home videos from my childhood.
  • Signs of aging: I went to Target and only shopped the kids' clothes. I take magnesium, talk about retirement funds and life insurance with my husband, and I need new bath towels. 
  • My birthday requests this year: coconut milk ice cream and a pair of jeans that fit me. Also, there will probably be a big bowl of guacamole while watching a movie with my favorite guy. 
  • Plans for the near future: buy/borrow a baby carrier, go to the dentist, hang some stuff on our walls (finally!), and support Grant through his upcoming eye surgery and the busy month of May. 
  • In the past year I think I've gotten better at: thawing meat in time for dinner. 
  • In the next year I want to get better at: trusting Him, not getting angry, not judging, world geography.
  • I feel rich when: the fridge is loaded with avocados, my husband is home and his evening is free, the silverware drawer is full of clean forks and spoons, the promises of God are proven faithful in our life.
  • Guilty pleasures: long showers, good typography, negative space, uninterrupted time to do creative things, British dramas, the dark chocolate lover's bar from Trader Joe's, Parks and Recreation, word games, coconut oil on everything, the Oscars. 
  • This is the latest picture of me. (Half of me, that is.) Casper and I took a nap together (which never happens) and I woke up first!
  • I'm currently reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker and loving it. I'm ready to start recycling and purging our house. 
  • I've started keeping a quote book and it's filling up fast. There's a lot of John Piper in it already. 
  • We don't have cable this year. And it's been great. How did we have time for it before?
  • I'm making this maple mustard chicken and these roasted Brussels sprouts for my birthday dinner.
  • We still only have one car -- the same car! It's been a blessing. 
  • About Time is my favorite recently-seen movie. 
  • We are planning on living and working at Camp Shetek again this summer! Actually, Grant will be the only one "on staff" this year, and I'll be full-time mom and wifey. 
  • And lastly, but certainly the most powerful thing to note: Jesus. He is keeping me, teaching me, loving me. He has been made more real to me in this year. I love Him better than I did before, because I see that I need Him more, and more and more. Everyday, I need Him more. Jesus, keep on making me grow up in You. Let this be a year of Your glory.   

Jeremiah 32:38-41 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

Happy, happy birthday to my twin sister Haley! She is my first friend and one of the greatest gifts in my life. I love every thing about this girl and am so grateful I get to do life with her.

April 21, 2014

"Are you having fun being a kid today?" -- this is what I'm trying to ask her daily, as a mental cue to myself to relax (for goodness' sake!) and stop expecting perfection. I was looking over my "No More Perfect Moms" notes again today and found this gem of conviction: "We can't stand the thought of them (our kids) being less than perfect. We jump into the picture to smooth their rough corners because we fear that anything less than perfect reflects poorly on us... Don't make it about you." Yes. That lesson is for me. // Hadley instagrams from the past couple weeks
April 17, 2014

from the beginning of April...

Look guys! No snow! It finally warmed up enough for us to go outside. Yay!
Welcome to the outside world, my son. I'm sorry you've been cooped up since birth. And I'm really sorry it's so brown and drab. Don't worry- it will either get greener or we'll get more snow. ;)
April 16, 2014

(here's one from a couple weeks ago, that I really want to remember and share with you guys)

Somehow I had time to read a book! Just finished this gem, took a ton of notes, and handed it off to my sis-in-law. My friend @maryclayre put it best: "This book has for sure changed my life. So freeing, so encouraging." Yes. Now go read it so we can talk about it! #checkyourlibrary #nomoreperfect
April 15, 2014
I like words. Words are one of my many love languages. But lately there isn't a predictable chunk of time for me to sit and spill words here on the blog. There's no rhythm to this spot right now, and I thrive on rhythm. 

But I can't keep waiting for a window of time to appear to restore a rhythm, because that's driving me crazy! I feel like my mind is constantly in queue. There's always a box on my mental to-do list that's left unchecked. Enough with that. Here's what I do have time for: a quick Instagram post while I'm sitting on the couch with my babies. So, in an attempt to create some flow and bolster the blog in between "real blog posts," I've decided I will start streaming in some of my daily photo posts from Instagram. They will be very short, just a picture and a caption, but they'll be undeniably real and meaningful (to me, at least). If you already follow me on Instagram (@summerharms), feel free to scroll past these insta-posts :)

I just accomplished this. Swaddling + nursing + ball bouncing + white noise = sleep!
My littlest love is 3 months old today. #caspersleeping #enjoyeverystage
April 8, 2014
You guys, I'm bursting. So much to say and share. My heart has been getting an overhaul lately and I'm dying to put it to words here. I think I may have to start a regular series on these heart issues, because Jesus keeps giving me new stuff to sort out. Also, Grant is the only adult I talk to on a normal day, so my word bank is just plain overflowing. But first, some news and some history..

Last year the Lord laid something on my heart: His promises. If you were reading my blog back then, you saw how He settled my focus. Everything I read seemed to point me back to His promises. I saw Him teaching me how vital and practical they are and I felt him pressing me to know them, claim them, and put them to use. I picked 50 of my favorites and made these cards as a tool to help me do this.

Over the last year, these little cards have been laying in my lap, washi taped to my mirror, flicked through at the table, and propped by our sink. They've been a tangible thing to help turn my mind toward the intangible, something I could physically touch and hold on to. They've been used in sickness, in times of joyful healing, during confusing and scary situations, while I was in labor with Casper, and in times when I was hurting for family members. But most of the time I use them simply because I need Jesus's help to get through the day and fight against sin and be a good mama to my babies. It is in these moments, when I humble myself before Him and see His Word at work, that's when these promises became my passion and big part of who I am. The cards are merely a tool, but they do help get these words down deep into my heart -- to a place where I know I can grab at them whenever I need them.

If you think the 50 Promises would be a helpful tool for you, too, you can hop over to my shop. I brought them back after a few months of maternity leave and they're shipping now! Just in time for spring and Mother's Day and babies and new mamas. (I have a lot of friends on the brink of labor -- can you tell where my mind is?!) We sent out the first spring batch yesterday. Huge thanks to all of you who already placed orders!

Love, Summer
April 7, 2014

It seems as if I'm in an easy-chicken-and-rice-dinner rut lately. But I'm in no hurry to get out of it. Throw a sauce together, pour it over some chicken, boil some rice, roast some veggies... this is my groove. And I'm loving it. Here's another yummy one that we've been liking lately. It's got a pinch of heat from red pepper flakes, tang from soy sauce and red wine vinegar, and just the right sweetness from a spoonful of real strawberry jam.

Strawberry Soy Chicken

6 chicken thighs
sea salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive or avocado oil
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or honey or maple syrup)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
optional: 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

Heat oven to 425º. Place chicken thighs in a single layer in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl or jar, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour the strawberry soy sauce over the chicken and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Slice the chicken and plate it, spooning over any extra sauce left in the pan. Serve over rice and, if you want, alongside some yummy garlicky roasted broccoli.

For garlicky roasted broccoli: Chop one head of broccoli into florets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with plenty of sea salt and minced garlic. Toss well and place in a single layer on a baking pan -- we find we get the best roasty results using our cast iron pan. Roast in a 425º oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until they are starting to get dark, crispy spots.

Sometimes I do this meal in the crock-pot, too. Super handy, but I think you do miss out on a little bit of the delicious caramelization that happens in a 425º oven. But if convenience is priority, then take this easy route. Just place the chicken (and chopped broccoli, if using) in first, then pour the sauce over everything and cook on low for 4-5 hours. At dinner time, all you have to do is make a pot of rice and everything's ready to go. Super nice.
April 2, 2014

Hi guys! I took a maternity break after Christmastime to prepare for and spend time with our new babe, but I'm gearing up to re-open the shop now! A new spring shipment of the 50 Promises card collection is on the way. Thanks to all of you who have sent me emails asking when they will be available again!! SOON. In fact, you can start placing orders today! They'll start shipping out sometime next week, I'm just waiting on a few more things to arrive, but I'll be processing any orders that come in starting today.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the interest and support I've gotten on this project. You guys. You're the best. Jesus loves to have us treasure and ponder and use His words, His invaluable promises. Thanks for doing this along with me.
March 31, 2014

Unloading a bit from my camera roll. Not as much blogging going on this past month, because my normal day is super full of the basics: making food for my family, washing clothes, teaching manners and just about everything else, and wiping little bottoms. But each week I find a pocket of time that wasn't there before to take a shower, read a bit, write a bit, bake, or something else that recharges me. And good news! Very, very soon the shop will be full of 50 Promises again!! Here's what we've been up to...

1 | Watching March cycle through. Melt, more snow... melt, more snow. We've been enjoying some blue skies, cold sun, and cookies & cream fields.
2 | Watching Casper grow! He weighed 13 pounds at 2 months, which is quite a bit bigger than his sister was. He's eleven weeks old now and wearing 6 month clothes.. speaking of which, H&M just delivered a bunch of goods to our house for a certain little boy!
3 | Sunday dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house at Camp Shetek.
4 | Enjoying daffodils and the bouncer lately. Both Grant and my mother-in-law brought me a bouquet of daffodils in the same week! It was crazy exciting.
5 | Long winters call for casseroles. I've been loving this one at least once a week. And sometimes I throw in carrots, mushrooms, or asparagus.
6 | Casper lights up when we smile at him and he's proficient in baby-speak now. He loves to talk and squeal back and forth with me. It's so fun and once we get started, I don't get anything else done for awhile!
7 | More daffodils :) And do you see that water color that says for baby Casper? I remember the morning Hadley painted that and I wrote "For Baby ___" because we had no idea who was inside me! Crazy.
8 | Hadley plays so great by herself these days. She loves to pretend cook- you will often find her making soup, pancakes, cutting apples, or carrying around a honey pot. She is also into her tiny farm animals, Minnie Mouse & Daisy, Easter eggs, and doing puzzles.
9 | Eating our breakfast at the toy box while baby brother naps. We are so thankful for farm eggs! And Hadley has discovered that she loves hot oatmeal for breakfast, too.
10 | Grant is deep into his schooling for acquiring his principal's license and now has also started his year-long internship. So, he's squeezing in a lot of extra hours of paper-writing and school business. Thank you for working so hard, Grant! The time he gets to spend just hanging out at home with us is so precious.
11 | A snow dump last Thursday, when our backyard looked like a real-life snow globe. Happily, we had rented Frozen the night before and were perfectly content to be inside and sing/dance along. Hadley is obsessed with a couple of the songs- and she's pretty sure she's singing all the words, too :)
12 | A few weeks ago Hadley and I started a new routine of cleaning up right after lunch and bringing a stack of books to the couch. We read together until her nap time and we both love it. I'm so excited that she's getting old enough to appreciate stories and waiting to turn pages!

Oh, and for fun, here's a few favorite posts from last March...
Juicy Orange Vanilla Cake (gluten and dairy free)
Erin's Thai Red Curry (we still eat this super often)
Heidi's Incredibly Yummy Pecan Tassies

And lastly, I leave you with such an easy lunch idea. The name is way fancier than it deserves. But, why not make it sound as wonderful as it tastes? :) I didn't use arborio rice, but I guess technically, "risotto" just means rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency, so I was pretty excited when I realized, wait, what I just made, that's risotto?! Yummy!

Sausage & Kale Risotto
(more of an idea, than a recipe with actual measuring, you guys don't mind do you?)

1/2 an onion, chopped
several stems of kale, cut away from the ribs and chiffonade 
1 cup chopped grass-fed beef sausage or pastured pork sausage (I used grass-fed beef hotdogs)
1 cup uncooked jasmine or basmati rice
3 cups (roughly) of chicken broth
sea salt to taste
optional: 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
coconut oil or ghee, to taste

To a soup pot add the chopped onion and sausage, kale, and rice. Pour in broth until everything is under about 1/4 inch of liquid, stir, and salt it well. Add mustard, if using. (I love the combo of mustard with the beef sausage.) Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and let simmer until kale is soft and rice is starting to get a bit creamy, about 25-35 minutes. Feel free to simmer longer, the more the flavors mingle the yummier it gets. Also, this dish just gets better as leftovers. Serve warm, with a big dab of coconut oil (or grass-fed butter, if you do dairy) on top.

March 25, 2014

Fajitas tonight!!! I love fajitas because they are easy and a little exciting. We don't have a Chipotle within 100 miles of us, so we have to try and keep our spirits up without it most of the time. We do our best. This meal isn't Chipotle, but the chicken sort of reminds us of the amazing stuff we usually put in our burritos there, and it has become one of Grant's favorites. Just rustle up some marinated chicken, cook it in a hot skillet with sliced onion and peppers, and throw everything in a corn tortilla with rice and beans. This is the marinade I've been using lately to make chicken for fajitas. It's crazy yummy, not to mention pretty.

Chicken Fajitas + Marinade

3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (they don't need to be thawed)
1 large onion, sliced
1 large green pepper, sliced
optional: sliced chili peppers, such as anaheim, poblano, or jalapeño

1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 teaspoons apple cider or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt (heaping)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano

Place chicken in a shallow glass dish. Add all marinade ingredients to a small jar, shake, and pour over chicken. Let marinate in the fridge overnight, or however much time you have before dinner (a few hours is fine). When you're ready to start cooking, pound chicken breasts very thin with a meat tenderizer. Cook in a hot cast iron skillet with plenty of sliced onion and peppers. Allow the chicken to get nicely browned before flipping and feel free to drizzle in the leftover marinade while cooking. Once the chicken is done and veggies are soft, transfer everything to a cutting board and slice. Or, simply grill the chicken, basting with the extra marinade as you go.

Serve in warm corn tortillas with some cilantro lime rice, guacamole, and black beans.

Keep this marinade in mind for some time- it sure comes in handy!



about this blog

Hello, I'm Summer. A people-loving introvert whose hope and life is in Jesus. His promises are my passion and my ministry is homelife. This blog is a place for me to write about everyday things. Especially food. My favorite thing to do is sit around a table, lingering over a long meal with good conversation. I live with my husband and our 2 littles. We like blizzards, thrifting, grammar, guacamole, cheerful hearts, nice manners, good movies, and making simple, real, nutrient-dense food.

"If Christ be anything, He must be everything."
-C.H. Spurgeon

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