When the words get knocked out of you. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

It’s Tuesday! And that means the next installment in the ongoing Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing series. Chantel Brankshire and I both write for Kindred Grace and I’m excited to have her on the blog today.

Peruse previous posts in this series on the archives page!

Motherhood and Writing Chantel

Why do you write/blog?

Writing, for me, is how my heart processes. It’s my “language”. I write to remember where I’ve been, to encourage others, and to give honor to God for the great things He has done in my life.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

Well, I’ve been writing since I was six. I started my first blog over 10 years ago, though. It’s been quite the adventure.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

For a long time, I felt like I had the words knocked out of me. Not because of motherhood, necessarily, but because the sum of what was going on in my life was either so incredibly special, I didn’t know how to share it, or so painful and private for some of my family that I couldn’t talk about it. I felt like I lost my focus, and so…I just didn’t really write anything for a very long time. Recently, the words have come back again. It’s a good feeling.

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

I am not only a mother, a stay at home wife, and homemaker…but I also have my own business as a Virtual Assistant, working from home. I love what I do, but I’ll be very honest that between work, home duties, and keeping little hands busy and out of trouble, writing just doesn’t happen often. I have so many ideas, but little time or chance to get them out in a draft or onto a piece of paper. Unlike before, I don’t just finish my to-dos for the day and have a free hour or two to write.

For now, I just take each opportunity as it comes. If I have a good idea, I use my phone to jot down some notes for later. If I have an unexpected 20 minutes, and am not too tired to string words together sensibly, I go for it.

I’m learning, for me, that sometimes it’s more to just write than to have it just right before I hit publish.

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

I want to communicative joy, hope, and contentment in ordinary days. I want to encourage people to look for beauty in little things, and to realize the power of gratitude in their lives. I want them to see my life, not as perfect, but as crazy, but made beautiful by His grace.

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

I write because it’s in my blood. I write because I feel like God gave me words as a means of reaching and touching in ways I would never have an opportunity to do. Motherhood comes first, but I believe that in this new season of learning, just like every other season, there are a lot of things that can and should be written as I find my fears magnified, my patience tested, and my need for God even more real than ever before!

Chantel BrankshireChantel Brankshire is wife to her sweetheart, Scott and mommy to Charlotte. She loves words, barefoot summer days, growing a garden, and old books. She works from home as a Virtual Assistant and loves on her family as much as possible.

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Simple Blonde Granola

Blonde GranolaBut if you call me Anne, please call me Anne spelled with an E. “What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot. Oh it makes such a difference. It looks so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced, can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. (Anne of Green Gables)

I feel the same way about my hair color. B-l-o-n-d looks dreadful and brusque, but b-l-o-n-d-e looks so much more distinguished and elegant. Either way you spell it, blonde carries a heavy weight around on its pretty shoulders. Blonde has a reputation for being light, airy, and shallow. But we all know plenty exceptions to the blonde stereotype, right?

For example, this granola. It’s light. It’s easy. But this Blonde also has substance and flavor that goes beyond its small ingredient list and fair exterior.

Blonde GranolaBlonde Granola

Now, I’m a huge granola fan, and in no way against the CrunchyPecanPumpkinFlaxWhiteChocolatePeanutButterRaisin type of granola. However, for my daily granola habit, I needed to exercise some restraint. And when we went sugar-free, I made a handful of not-so-delicious granolas that prompted me to create an everyday granola of my own with no refined sugar and a whole lot of flavor. I stripped down my Gingerbread Granola to make this simple blonde version.

Blonde Granola

You won’t find spices or brown sugar vying for your taste bud’s attention (or making your granola the more traditional brunette). It’s just old-fashioned rolled oats and sliced almonds getting a simple wash of maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt before spending some time under the dryer (um, in the oven).

The result is a pure granola goodness.

Blonde Granola

Don’t skip out on the salt. It lends a kettle corn, sweet caramely quality to the granola that is positively addictive. I’ve been enjoying mine on homemade pumpkin yogurt.

Blonde Granola

Simple Blonde Granola
Print
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 5 cups
Ingredients
  • 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet (preferably one with sides) with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. In a large bowl combine oats, almonds, and salt.
  4. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together maple syrup and coconut oil. Continue stirring until coconut oil is melted and fully incorporated with syrup.
  5. Pour over oat mixture and mix until all dry ingredients are moistened.
  6. Spread moistened mixture on prepared pan.
  7. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring two or three times throughout the baking process.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

No Sugar September Resources

One of my top five strengths from Strengthsfinder (my favorite personality test) is input. I love collecting information and learning all there is to know about a topic of interest. No Sugar September has given me ample opportunity to stretch my input muscles as I searched for recipes and ideas that would help make eliminating white flour and refined sugar as enjoyable as possible.

Gearing up for No Sugar September was a lot of work. Tim and I didn’t have terrible eating habits, but we needed to rethink our meal staples and flush our cupboards to avoid temptation. Meal planning took extra effort, too. We’re 9 days in (we started a bit late), and the effort has been worth it, but I know the start-up work involved could dissuade someone from trying something like No Sugar September.

I know not everyone is an input nerd like me, so I wanted to share the resources that have been the most helpful thus far. I will be sharing some tips and my entire meal plan later this month, but here are some awesome resources to get you started and inspired!

Resources

Pinterest:

I knew we were doing No Sugar September for a month in advance, so I added an element of purpose to my Pinterest scrolling. Sometimes I searched for specific things (a whole wheat bread recipe sweetened with honey) and sometimes I just happened upon a recipe that met the NSS criteria (Healthy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt). I started a No Sugar September board to collect what I wanted to try. I also went back through my other food boards to cull recipes I was already interested in that were refined sugar and white flour free. There was a surprising abundance that were acceptable as-is or just needed a minor substitution.

Pinch of Yum:

Lindsay and Bjork are the reason Tim and I are even doing No Sugar September. Their 60 days of no sugar planted the seed and her blog has plenty of deliciousness that fits a sugar-selective diet. For example: No-Bake Mini Fruit Pizzas, Caramelized Banana Oat Muffins, and Cinnamon Whole Grain Power Pancakes.

Trina Holden:

She is both an inspiration and a recipe source. Her approach to real food is practical, encouraging, and full of grace. Reading Trina’s latest cookbook, Your Real Food Journey, made me believe that No Sugar September was actually possible. She was also the impetus for me making my own yogurt and incorporating healthy fats back into my diet.

Your Real Food Journey unravels the myth that real food is high maintenance. It’s the perfect real food primer full of useful information, tasty recipes, and genuine encouragement. Trina makes eating healthfully a fun, attainable adventure. Her approach is all about sustainable habits – really finding out how real food can work for you and your family, not the other way around. It’s a winner! Many of her recipes made their way into my meal plan and they have all been delicious. I’ve made her Peanut Butter Coconut Fudge three times already…

Maple Syrup Cookbook

Maple Syrup Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner:

Maple syrup and honey are the only two sweeteners (other than fruit) we are consuming for No Sugar September. We’re fortunate enough to have friends in NY who tap the trees on their property and make pure maple syrup. Needless to say, we have a steady supply of HQ maple syrup for all our No Sugar September needs. Other than topping pancakes and the occasional carrot glazing, I hadn’t really tested maple syrup’s culinary chops. This cookbook has been a goldmine of recipes and ideas for both sweet and savory applications of maple syrup. An added bonus that a good portion of the recipes were already No Sugar September approved. (The Maple Bran Muffins are killer!)

Pictured: Maple Pumpkin Cookies that were cakey and delicious.

Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals:

I have mentioned this cookbook several times here on the blog. It’s the source of the Low-fat Banana Bundt Cake and Cucumbers Vinaigrette I shared earlier this year and deserves the James Beard/Kitchen Aid Cookbook Award it won. While No Sugar September isn’t focused on being low fat, the recipes in this cookbook rely on whole foods to eliminate excess fat, which is definitely in line with NSS. It’s the kind of cookbook I’d like to work my way through one recipe at a time. You will find creative and simple ways to use beans, grains, and vegetables like the Southwestern Corn and Sweet Potato Soup and Black Bean Chilaquile. The Vanilla Cream is an amazing ice cream substitute poured over Shauna Niequist’s Blueberry Crisp.

 

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

It’s been five years since I read this book. I had moved to the San Luis Obispo area and was just discovering a whole new Crunchy Granola way of living. I was an observer of the acai bowls and falafel and hemp heart trends, not a partaker. A modern earth mothery acquaintance helped me plant tomatillos (that were VERY productive) and cherry tomatoes (that were mealy and gross) and introduced me to CSA boxes. She recommended Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I read it thinking, “I’m happy with my grocery store eggs, thank you very much.” Her family’s commitment to local/homegrown food was great for them, not for me. Now that I’ve embraced real food and would actually love to have a huge garden, I keep thinking back to this book. While Kingsolver and her family didn’t cut out sugar completely, their journey is endlessly inspiring.

What are your favorite real food resources?

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Taking a back seat. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

We’re continuing the Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing guest post series with Jennifer Jackson Linck. Join me in welcoming her to the blog! If you missed a week, check out the Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing Archives page. 

Motherhood and Writing Jennifer

Why do you write/blog?

I am a writer at heart! I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. I can’t not write. :)
However, the purpose of my blog is to bring hope to first-time mothers who aren’t quiet sure what they’ve gotten themselves in to.

I write about faith, motherhood, and adoption for the most part. Writing is my way to connect with God and share His love with others.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

I’ve been blogging since early 2010. I started blogging when we decided to adopt. It was my way of processing infertility and the crazy journey of adoption, while keeping others in the loop of our journey. Now I blog more to encourage others struggling with infertility, pursuing adoption or trying to figure this motherhood thing out.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

I am learning so much as a mother and it makes for good blog material. I get most of my ideas from the lessons God is teaching me through my toddler. I try really hard to be transparent and real on my blog. To let my readers know that motherhood is hard and it’s okay to have bad days. I never want anyone to read my blog and think I’m perfect – I’m far from it. But because of God’s grace, I’m able to start over and be the best mom I can be to Jackson.

I’ve also realized in the past year or so that I need to be more intentional and present with my son. Blogging can wait. Jackson won’t be this age forever. That’s why I have taken a step back from the blog this summer and have started blogging only when I feel like it. I was following a blog calendar/schedule and writing three times a week. I realized I needed a break. This break has left me room to have fun with my son and make memories that I will always cherish. I’m finding when I do write it’s better and I’m doing it because I want to, not because I have to.

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

Sometimes it’s a real challenge to balance blogging and motherhood. These days I write in-between dishes and dirty diapers. I usually write on the days Jackson is at Mother’s Day Out. Like I said earlier, blogging/writing has taken a back seat this summer and I’m trying to be more intentional with my son. There are many nights I write after Jackson goes to bed. I also find that I start blog posts in the notes section of my phone and finish them when I have more time to devote to it.

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

My blog exists to bring hope to first-time mother’s who aren’t quiet sure what they’ve gotten themselves into. I write to encourage women struggling with infertility and those who are traveling the long and expensive road to adoption.

I pray my words bring other’s closer to Jesus. I pray I am always transparent and real. I pray our story will always bring Him glory!

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

Writing has always been a way to share my faith. It’s the God-given talent I was born with and I believe I am to use it for God’s glory. Motherhood offers a lot of writing material and has also shown me how desperately I need Jesus. Motherhood is a refining process to make me more like Him.

“I’ve never loved so fiercely, been frustrated so easily, or needed Jesus so desperately.” (Quote from my ebook Trucks, Tantrums, & Trusting Him: Confessions of a Boy Mom)

Jennifer Jackson LinckJennifer loves to share how God answered her heart’s cry to be a mother and is passionate about adoption, orphan care, and encouraging others who are struggling with infertility.

A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Jennifer received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and spent several years working as a reporter for The Oklahoman. She’s the author of Bringing Home the Missing Linck: A Journey of Faith to Family and the ebook Trucks, Tantrums, & Trusting Him: Confessions of a Boy MomJennifer lives in Oklahoma with her husband, John, and their son Jackson.

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The throwback, the thriller, and the one I abandoned.

book reviews

I was a totally dropped the ball with book reviews this Summer, so here’s an overview of what I read during the past three months and what’s on my nightstand for this Fall.

I love Francine Rivers, and this was good, but wasn’t one of my favorites. (Mark of The Lion series is my favorite, in case you were wondering.) Rivers is an expert at crafting emotionally driven plots and characters. Bridge To Haven is no exception. A movie star is born, but only a few people know her real origins. Abra gets all she hopes for and burns every bridge she has to the people who love her in the process. It’s a classic redemption story, making the outcome a bit predictable. However, my mom rightfully pointed out that not everyone is familiar with Christ’s relentless love which Rivers is portraying with relationships within the story.

I wasn’t super familiar with Glennon or Momastery.com when I picked up her book. Glennon is a straight talker who doesn’t shy away from honesty when she addresses marriage, motherhood, or faith. I didn’t resonate with everything, but I bookmarked multiple chapters to chew on later. For more thoughts on this book, read my post about truth-telling and vulnerability.

If Anne AND Shauna recommend a book, it automatically goes on my to-read list. The Rosie Project was one of those books and I was thrilled to find it available at my library. I loved The Curious Incident of The Dead Dog in the Night-Time (if you haven’t read it and you liked The Rosie Project, put it on your list!) so was intrigued by another book written from the perspective of a person with Aspergers. The novel documents Don’s, who doesn’t know he’s on the Autism spectrum, quest for love. Warning: it’s a wee bit vulgar in parts. I’m excited about the sequel – The Rosie Effect – due out in December 2014.

I read a Patricia Cornwall novel in high school that forever ruined me on yellow houses and sleeping with a window open… Needless to say, I don’t do well with murder mysteries and such. I wouldn’t categorize Last Light as a murder mystery (despite there being both murder and mystery), but it is definitely in the thriller category. Even though I did get the wiggins a couple times while reading this book, the plot was captivating and thought provoking. Perfectly portrayed the real struggle between providing for your family and selflessly loving others when disaster strikes. Makes me wonder how I would react if something knocked out all power…

Surprised By Motherhood has been waiting on my reading back burner for awhile and I’m sorry I didn’t read it sooner. Though, come to think of it, had I read this right after James was born, the water works would not have stopped. Lisa-Jo documents her journey to motherhood in a heartwarming and poignant narrative that had me crying, laughing, and amening. For more about this book, read how I was surprised by motherhood.   

I discovered Tessa Afshar last year and have since gobbled up all her novels. She really is a gem in the Christian Fiction genre. In the Field of Grace retells the biblical narrative of Ruth. I love the artful and well-researched way Afshar builds the backstory of the characters. She weaves culture and emotion into the facts we have in the Bible. Her books are frequently on sale for Kindle, so keep an eye out. In fact, this one is only 4.99 right now! (as of 9/8/14)

Katherine Reay has skills! She writes emotionally driven novels with nods to Austen (and other great literature) without being straight up fan fiction. (Though there’s nothing wrong with a Mr. Darcy’s Diary or Lost in Austen, both of which are on my bookshelf next to Reay’s fantastic first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley.) Lizzy is a talented chef whose lost her food inspiration. Her sister, Jane, has cancer. Together, they have a messy sibling relationship that keeps getting more complicated. I love how Reay adds modern elements, like the importance of social media hype to new businesses in a timeless fashion.

I received an advanced copy of Lizzy and Jane for free from NetGalley. My glowing opinion is all my own. It comes out October 28th. In the meantime, pick up Dear Mr. Knightley.

When a student in our youth group mentioned she was in possession of the first installment of Christy and Todd, the married years, I couldn’t resist asking if I could borrow it. The Christy Miller series was a favorite in my pre-teen years. What young Christian girl in the nineties didn’t dream about meeting their dashing surfer boy with silver blue eyes and sandy blond hair? Despite the questionable impact of their love story on impressionable young hearts, I was still interested in what Christy and Todd were up to for old times sake. I was not surprised to discover Todd had become a youth pastor and that Aunt Marti was still her sassy self, but there were some decent truth nuggets hidden in the poorly edited narrative. The second installment comes out in a few months, and I will probably read it because sometimes you need to be reminded of yourself in junior high.

Tim and I read Death By Meeting out loud over the course of several road trips. Patrick Lencioni is known for explaining business principles through fable. And he’s good at it! The narrative was engaging – I actually wanted to know how the story turned out – and the ideas about effective communication and the structure of healthy meetings was applicable beyond the business world. I’ve been thinking about how the principles outlined in the book could be applied to a family setting to maximize communication, an area I’m always trying to work on.

And the book I abandoned? Drumroll, please…… Allegiant, the last of the Divergent triology by Veronica Roth. Divergent was good. Insurgent was okay. But I didn’t want to spend precious reading time on Allegiant. If you read the series, what did you think?

What’s on the nightstand for Fall? I’m in various point of these three books.

 

 

 

 

What else should I be reading?

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