Apple Chicken Sausage and Turkey Hot Dog Sheet Pan Dinner

Ever since the dawn of Pinterest I have wanted to master a sheet pan dinner. It was the greatest idea… mostly because in theory there’d only be one dish to clean afterwards. Alas, I never found a sheet pan recipe that cooked everything right. Or I was just too weirded out by the idea of putting raw chicken next to raw broccoli to give it a try.

Many years have passed, and I’ve gotten pretty good at roasting lots of vegetables on one pan for dinner. So, recently I thought I’d give the sheet pan dinner another shot. I started out with fully cooked cajun andouille sausage, but while I was cutting it up I realized it would be way too spicy for my toddlers’ palettes. Not wanting to make them something completely different for dinner, I grabbed some hot dogs (regular all beef) out of the fridge and cut them up.

It was ok. But, the kids weren’t crazy about it, and I didn’t want to eat all that sausage again the next day for left overs. However, I wasn’t willing to give up on the sheet pan dinner, and I felt like I was onto something with the hot dogs for the kids and a “grown up” sausage for the hubs and myself.

Cue round two, which yielded a dinner that both children (ages 2 and 3) asked for second servings of after they gobbled up their first. And I am already looking forward to having the left overs tomorrow. So here it is:

Apple Chicken Sausage & Turkey Hot Dog Sheet Pan Dinner

Ingredients:

  • Apple Chicken Sausage Links (4 pack)
  • Turkey Hot Dogs (4 pack)
  • Sweet Potatoes (2 small / medium)
  • Broccoli Crowns (2 medium / large)
  • Olive Oil
  • Chili Powder (1-2 tsp)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1 inch wedges. Then toss in olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder. (This is a good spot to let your kids help you! Even my two year old can shake the chili powder on top of the sweet potatoes.) Arrange sweet potatoes on sheet pan in single layer and pop into oven. Set timer for 15 minutes.
  • Cut sausage links and turkey hot dogs into bite size pieces (about 6-7 pieces per link/hot dog). Once cut, remove sheet pan from oven. (Don’t worry, your timer probably hasn’t gone off yet. That’s okay.) Flip sweet potatoes and move them into center of the pan to make room on each side of them to add your sausage/hot dogs. Add sausage and hot dogs on single layer on either side of your sweet potatoes. Pop into oven.
  • Rinse your broccoli and cut into florets.
  • Once the timer goes off (you’re still in that first 15 minute window), remove sheet pan and flip everything. Put into oven for another 15 minutes.
  • At 15 minutes, remove and flip again. This time, add in broccoli. I nestled the broccoli florets in wherever I could find room for them to lay directly on the pan. This way they’ll end up being mixed in evenly throughout the pan, but most likely they’ll be mostly near the sausage and hot dog pieces.
  • Put in oven for 10 minutes.
  • At 10 minutes, remove pan. Flip everything again and serve.

I served this with biscuits and honey. And y’all, it was soooo good. The kids were even gobbling up the broccoli.

This will probably be our new Monday night dinner. It was so good, and it didn’t feel heavy. Plus knowing my kiddos were going to bed with full tummies of good food was a huge plus.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Travel Diaries: San Antonio Re-cap

Pardon the water spots on the mirror.

Hey friends! So, summer showed up! (insert laughing emoji) This dress was my momiform last summer, and I wasn’t disappointed at all when I found it while pulling out all of our summer clothes last week before we took a long weekend trip to San Antonio.

We had the sweetest time there visiting with our family and celebrating my great-grandmother who turned 100 this past Sunday.

We decided to try a couple new things this trip; one being we stayed at a VRBO instead of hotel. My parents generously rented a house for them, our little crew, and my two siblings to stay in (so 6 adults total + 2 toddlers) just around the corner from my grandparents’ (where all of the festivities would be). David and I are completely sold on using VRBO or Air BNB for long weekends going forward- no more hotels. Having a fenced in back yard to stick the kids in was such a blessing (for all affected parties) after our 9 hour car ride. Plus we didn’t have to worry about kids waking up at all hours of the night or coming back to the hotel for naps right when house keeping was in the middle of changing bed sheets.

We also explored the San Antonio Aquarium, which was something none of us had ever done before. It was a great little spot for toddlers since they have so many hands-on exhibits. I would highly recommend it IF you have an hour that you need to fill, and you don’t really want to be outside. I was able to get a Groupon for our tickets, which significantly reduced the price, so check them out before you buy tickets, and don’t plan on spending a whole day there (it only takes 1-2 hours to experience everything) or go on a Friday like we did (aka field trip day aka lots of little crowds).

The kids have talked about the exhibits with the birds and alpacas since we got home as well as a fiesty little tortoise who almost crawled out of his exhibit.

But what’s been really special is all the talking they’ve done about their cousins and family members who they got to spend time with while we were at my great-grandma’s birthday party. My brother (pictured above) mentioned how special, and rare, it was to have a day where everyone (except for two family members who were down with a stomach bug) could come together and genuinely enjoy each others company for an entire day. Not to mention how rare it is to celebrate someone becoming 100 years old!

On our drive home, I kept thinking about his comment. The truth is family gatherings with toddlers are a little overwhelming for us right now. We enjoy seeing family and being with them, but we’re never able to 100% focus on a conversation or even stay the whole time. We usually have to skip out for a bit for naps and most places aren’t 100% toddler proof. (Am I the only one who is terrified someone is going to give my two year old a grape while I’m not looking?) And you’re going to have toddler meltdowns at some point on a trip, so odds are one could very well go down right smack dab in the middle of the family gathering.

So, I wanted to encourage the other mamas (and dads) who know the feeling. I know you’re out there, because many of my friends fall into our boat too. “Is it really even worth it?” is a question I hear posed a lot when it comes to bringing toddlers to social gatherings.

We’re super privileged to have family who GETS IT. Aunts and uncles and cousins who help, grandparents who say when we have to leave early, “It’s ok! Go. Take care of your family.” But that still doesn’t remove all the overwhelmingness that manages to creep in before and during the gathering.

My dad encouraged me a couple months ago to tackle social gatherings (and trips in general) with a man-to-man offensive strategy. I take one kid; David takes another. Sometimes, we have to switch, and sometimes we have to tag another family member to cover for us for a minute. But, we’re still on the same team with the same goal. We usually remind each other what the goal is too before we walk into the gathering. (e.g. We’re here to celebrate Mammaw.) It helps me stay focused and not get so overwhelmed, AND it helps limit directing our frustrations towards each other.

We’re not perfect parents. We don’t have this parenting thing down pat, but this strategy (along with respectful communication) did help a lot at my great-grandma’s birthday party, and we plan to use it from now on while we’re in this stage of life with littles who need so much of our attention.

Some social situations aren’t going to be conducive with toddlers. They’re just not, and it’s 100% ok to skip out. But other things, like great-grandma’s 100th birthday party, are non-negotiable. We’re going to be there no matter what, and I’m grateful for a new tool in the toolbox to limit my anxiety while we’re there. That way, when it’s over, my kids aren’t the only one with fond memories of the occasion.

Do you have a strategy you implement in large social gatherings with your little kids? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay


ThirdLove Review

This is kind of weird writing a post like this, on a blog like this, but here’s the thing… my heart for this place when I started out on this Ave&Jay journey was to encourage and reach women in whatever stage of life they’re in. And no matter how old or young, a woman’s body image almost always needs some encouragement.

The other day my husband snapped a pic of me making a green tea latte, and when I looked at the pictures, I realized how bad off my body image situation was. I looked at the pictures he’d taken and immediately deleted all of them. There’s more than a dozen extra pounds on me right now, my abs are no where near as flat as they should be, and my thighs are making the thought of white pants after Easter unappealing. But, when I looked at that picture what actually stood out first to me was the situation I had my girls in: another sports bra. A cheap one. It was offering some support, yes, but that was the only positive thing going for it, and it didn’t make up for all the bad it was doing for my appearance.

I made a comment to my mom shortly thereafter about how I only had one “real bra,” which I had been measured for and purchased in my first trimester of pregnancy with my now 3.5 year old. So since then I’d carried to full-term and nursed, for at least a 1yr each, two babies. My body was a yo-yo: pregnant (gain 50lbs), nurse for a year (loose 50 lbs), pregnant (gain 50 lbs), nurse for a year (loose 30 lbs), and here we are almost a year after THAT.

My mother, learning of my situation, insisted, as only a mother can, that I go and buy myself a new bra.

But how? But when? But where would I go with two toddlers in toe??? To be measured by someone who probably doesn’t even know what they’re doing? To spend MORE MONEY on something??? … No. Not going to happen.

Cue ThirdLove. I’d filled out their questionnaire 9 months ago, but since I rarely ever wore the one real bra I had, I didn’t really know how to answer the questions. So I just guessed and assumed the best answer. I knew when the results came that I definitely wasn’t the size they suggested. So, I closed my laptop and made do.

This time around I was prepared with that old bra in hand and answered honestly. No guessing. No, “well, if I answer this way then…” Nope. Just straight up answers. When the results came in, I knew they were right.

I ordered the style of bra ThirdLove suggested for me in the size they suggested, and when the box came in the mail, I looked like a school girl on Christmas morning getting her first pair of pierced earrings.

When I put that bra on, I didn’t want to take it off! It fit better than any other bra I’d ever put on in my entire life. I put a t-shirt on over it and smiled BIG. I looked MUCH better than I had in that picture my hubby had taken. I immediately went to my t-shirt drawer that houses all the old bras in it, dug around for them, and threw them out. Then I ordered another style on the “you might like” list in a different color.

It came in, but after a day of trying to break it in, it still didn’t feel right. I couldn’t believe it when that evening a ThirdLove stylist texted me to see how I was liking my purchases. A few texts back and forth, she had a free exchange all set up for me and a pre-paid return label in my email’s inbox. Y’all, that’s service!!

I’m in the skincare/glamour business, and I’ve seen the power a positive body image gives a woman when she finally finds a foundation that matches or a skincare line that clears up her acne. Well, the same is true for a well-fitting, form-flattering bra!

As I started gushing to a few of my girlfriends about my new discovery with ThirdLove, I found out I wasn’t alone. Almost every other woman I talked to was living in one or two “regular,” ill-fitting bras or mostly poorly supportive sports bras.

So, that’s why I’m sharing my discovery here on a blog that’s about transparent, faith-filled living in every season.

Transparent: Uh, if you don’t know me that well, I was appropriately given a the gag award of “The Nun” during my sorority days. I am the epitome of modest. Showing you pictures of bras I purchased is nearly making me hyperventilate.

Faith-filled: No. But, I will use this section to say, our identity should not be placed in our body image. Our joy should not come from what we look like. Those two things are in and from Jesus. Identity and joy are different than finding yourself being frustrated with not being able to find a comfortable bra that does what your boobs need it to do. So, don’t read this post the wrong way. If you have a great-fitting comfortable bra that you can wear under whatever outfit it is you’d like to wear to church on Sunday, out to dinner Saturday night, all day at work during the week, and while you walk the dog, congratulations! Most of us don’t.

Every Season: Absolutely. No matter what season of life a woman is in, she’s balancing it all: every relationship from marriage to motherhood to best friends to coworkers to family members to her Maker, jobs (she’s most likely got multiple sources of income), finances and budgets (do you know how much time it takes to coupon?), some semblance of self-care, physical fitness (heart disease is real y’all; get your cardio in), etc. Every woman can use every bit of encouragement to take the few minutes it took me with ThirdLove to not only get myself into a comfortable bra, but one that does what it should, and helps me feel better about my appearance on top of that.

So, if you’re in the “I need a new bra” camp, Hi, you’re not alone. Go check these people out. I’m fairly confident they’ll help you find the best one for you.

PS They donate bras to homeless women so they can have this basic necessity met too. Seriously, check ’em out. They’re pretty cool.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Matcha Latte Recipe

Any other matcha lovers out there? If you’ve been with me for a while, you know I’m such a matcha fan I even have a green tea muffin recipe that calls for it. For the past couple weeks, I’ve been steadily working on decreasing my daily coffee intake. But, I still have days where I need and want that coffee-pick-me-up. Cue matcha! But how? I make a great muffin with it, but could I make a better-than-a-coffee-shop latte out of it?

I’m happy to report I did!

And it’s easier than you may think.

I like my matcha lattes hot and cold, so here’s how I make it both ways.

HOT Matcha Latte

Ingredients:

  • 1 T hot water
  • 1-1.5 t matcha powder (based on how strong of a matcha flavor you want, I use 1 t)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 pump Monin organic vanilla syrup

Directions:

  • Mix hot water and matcha powder in cup you will drink from
  • Steam almond milk (I microwaved mine for 1.5 min)
  • Use frother if desired to whip almond milk.
  • Pour milk over matcha mixture.
  • Add vanilla syrup.
  • Stir.
  • Enjoy! 

ICED Matcha Latte

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 t matcha powder (but if you want a stronger matcha flavor, use 1.5 t of powder)
  • 1 pump Monin organic vanilla syrup
  • desired amount of ice

Directions:

  • Mix almond milk, matcha powder, and syrup in cup you will drink from with whisk or frother.
  • Once mixed well, use frother to foam up the top of your milk.
  • Add desired amount of ice.
  • Enjoy!

Not sure where to get matcha from? Back in the day it was nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find. Now thanks to Amazon, it’s literally at your finger tips.

The little can I get from Kroger. The packet I get from Amazon.

So, now I make green tea muffins and green tea lattes, and I’m considering working on a cookie recipe. Unless you already have one, then I’d love to see it!

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Easter Preparations

My kids recently started attending a Mother’s Day Out program TOGETHER, which means for the first time since becoming a mother I have a three hour window each week (that is not a nap/nighttime sleep window) where I can _________ (fill in the blank). Today I find myself at a local coffee shop enjoying this… BY MYSELF.

Iced Thai Latte + Carrot Cake

I love my kids, and I am incredibly grateful that I get to be at home with them. Do not get me wrong. But I’m also grateful for this quiet time when I can focus completely on work / continuing education hours / an adult conversation with a friend / etc.

Focusing, these days, requires some major intentionality on my part.

With Easter around the corner and my 3-year old now old enough to understand more about our Savior and the day He defeated death, I wanted to prepare for Easter intentionally. I wanted to get ready for Easter in the same way that we prepare for Christmas: with decorations and festivities and clothing and story reading and movie watching. But even more so, I wanted to prepare our hearts for the day, not just prepare a bunch of themed activities.

So, the first step I took was deleting all of the social media apps on my phone on Ash Wednesday. With the massive distraction that social media can bring removed, my chances for intentionality got a lot better.

Next we decorated our Easter tree.

I love how the colors of the eggs pop on the tree before the buds start blooming!

Then we hung our eggs in the kitchen.

Sparkle Easter eggs from the light fixture in our eat-in are my kids’ favorite decoration- probably because we spend so much time each day around our kitchen table.

We pulled out all of the Easter books (a couple we keep out all year, but the rest go into a box with the Easter decorations).

We’ve decorated Easter-themed sugar cookies (which came out of a kit from Walmart).

We’ve been watching everything we have about Moses and the Exodus. This includes The Price of Egypt (available on Netflix) and the Superbook episode Let My People Go (available for free on Prime Video).

And, David and I are preparing to celebrate a Christian Seder meal with our kids on Passover. (This year it is the day before Easter). My family began to celebrate Passover in this way when I was a teenager. In so doing, I began to understand the continuity of the Gospel throughout the Bible in a way I never had before. I purchased this book on Amazon, and we will use it as a loose script for our Christian Seder.*

I’ll be honest. Some of this has been kind of hard for me. We’re not shy in saying that we’re very protective of the content our children are exposed to. When my 3-yr old looked at a picture of Jesus on the cross in one of her Easter books and asked me what the red stuff on his hands was, I paused, but then I answered her.

I’m a hands on learner, so it’s natural for me to give my children activities to help them understand something. Things like baking croissants with marshmallows in them and dying Easter eggs… I learn best when my hands are working. My children both appear to be auditory learners, which is why we’ll still be intentional in talking and listening while we engage in our Easter festivities.

Preparing for anything these days is a lot work, but preparing for Easter has been such a joy this year. Nothing has been elaborate. Everything has been on our children’s developmental levels.

Our hope and prayer is that when Easter Sunday comes, our children awake not just to filled Easter baskets (which yes, we will do), but with excitement and an understanding that today is the day we CELEBRATE that Jesus is alive. We pray that seeds are planted in tangible ways for them to understand His sacrifice and why it was necessary and so incredibly perfect.

Wherever you are in your preparations for Easter, whether for your family or just for yourself, I encourage you to be intentional too.

Do you have an Easter preparation activity that you do every year? Or that you plan to do this year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

*I am not endorsing this book by sharing it here on the blog. I am merely sharing it as a resource since that’s how David and I are utilizing it- as a resource. We grew up in a church that recognized the Christian Seder. My family celebrated it, as I mentioned above. But, we needed a resource to reference for prepared and sharing this special meal on our own. We chose this one because it focuses on presenting the Christian Seder to a child.

Status: Off Social Media

Hey there friends. Long time no see! I promised you I’d post here since I’m off social media for lent. So, again, hey there!

Frequently asked questions on the subject (being off of social media):

  1. Lindsay, I didn’t know you were Catholic. Or, are you? – Nope. Not Catholic. I’m a non-denominational Christ-follower. But there have been many years when I’ve chosen to give up something up for these several weeks to help prepare my heart for Easter by reminding me of either sacrifice or in this year’s case reminding me of the greatest connection / relationship of all time.
  2. Will you stay off of social media forever now? You say you’re really enjoying it, but I miss your posts! – I’m praying about it, because yes, these few weeks of being “disconnected” have been a very positive experience. And to be completely honest, I think I’d really like for God to tell me “YES, close every social media account you have.” But He hasn’t yet. If He does, I will.
  3. I don’t know if I could make it without social media. I mean, it’s my connection to everything. You’re a work-from-home mom; you don’t feel that way? – Yes, in many ways I do. I was very surprised at how isolated I felt in the first couple weeks. Especially during stretches when I was “trapped” at home with a sick kiddo. But, it was in these moments that I remembered two things: 1. there are other ways to connect with people other than social media (even when you’re trapped at home with a sick toddler), 2. I have an ever-present companion with me, the Holy Spirit, and a Maker who desires quality time with me.

A couple things I’ve really enjoyed about being off social media:

  1. I don’t feel the need to keep up with the Jones’. Or to explain myself. Or to be vulnerable at all times.
  2. My kids only see me on my phone when it’s work related, or I can’t remember the words to an old Shirley Temple song and must consult Google.
  3. I’m more productive. We as a family are more productive. David and I even built a brick paver patio off of our back deck last weekend.

A couple things I’ve missed:

  1. I don’t take near as many pictures now. I used to take pictures just for Stories all the time. Now that I’m not thinking about posting to Stories, I’m not taking as many pictures.
  2. Current events. The other day I had what I can only describe as a craving for current news. I ashamedly only know what’s going on in the world if David tells me about it or it is mentioned on my instagram feed. I even stopped and looked at the front page of a newspaper in Walmart the other day (the headline was of relevant interest to me). I couldn’t remember the last time I touched a newspaper.
  3. Connecting with my friends from afar who I pretty much only connect with these days through Instagram. Is it sad that that’s how we communicate? Not at all. Because of Instagram I get to correspond with people I knew when I was a KID who I would probably never have reconnected with without social media. I love that I get to see what they’re up to and that they get to see what I’m up to. I LOVE IT. I also love the encouragement that happens, especially between my other mamas-with-littles friends. You know that saying, “It takes a village,” well boy does it. But in more ways than just helping carrying diaper bags and kids and sharing diaper wipes and germ-x and just caring for children. We mamas (and dads) need STRONG, wise counsel and encouragement. We need to know other people feel the same thoughts we do. (And you know I could take a long tangent about mental health right here, but I’ll keep it brief. If that mama is also dealing with any kind of anxiety or depression [postpartum or not], this is even more important, and I literally believe breaking the bondage that isolation brings saves lives.) As my mom always says on the topic of social media, especially when I’m ready to switch to a flip-phone and leave the entire social media space forever, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

I have a few upcoming posts in mind that I will be publishing within the next couple weeks. I’ll be sharing…

  • Some ways we’re intentionally using this time to prepare for Easter (and Passover)
  • My new recipe for a Matcha Latte (including an iced version)
  • A re-cap/reflexion post of our upcoming trip to Texas.

So, stay tuned. And I’d love to know if you’re also off social media for lent (or any other reason) and what your biggest take-away from the experience has been.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Shying Away from the Fence

Hey all! Kristina here. It’s been a minute since I popped in, but I wanted to share what I was feeling today.

I wanted to tell you about my Lou and how she helped me realize a great little nugget of truth today. She is a feisty, soon-to-be 6 year old bagle hound. Right now she is on probation from our backyard, as you can see from her leash in the image below. 

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Lou, refusing to look at me because she’s embarrassed about her leash.

We have new neighbors and with those new neighbors came two very large dogs. At first, one of them was particularly aggressive against our adjoining fence when our dogs were outside. We chose to live in a city closely near people, so this doesn’t bother me since he is contained in his own yard. 

However, Lou has become TERRIFIED of this dog. He’s about three times her size, but not to sound cliché, he’s all bark and no bite. Instead of just shying away from the fence when she has to pass by to get to the grassy area of our yard, she has started retaliating anytime he comes near her… even though there’s a privacy fence. 

Now, if you have never heard the thunder in the voice of a hound, you probably wouldn’t know that they don’t bark. It’s long, incredibly loud bay. Basically, it’s like a horn blowing. Repeatedly. Without warning.

Needless to say, for the past couple of weeks, I have gone as far as running outside barefoot in the snow to prevent her from waking up the entire neighborhood at 7 a.m… or midnight…. It seems only to happen at very inconvenient times. Every single time she comes back in the house she is SO proud of her accomplishment. She looks at me, wagging her tail like, “Did ya see that?? I told the big doggo off for being mean to me, mawm.” 

Lou has NO idea that her baying does her absolutely no good. The big dog simply doesn’t care what Lou has to say, and he’s going to go about his business. It’s his yard and that side of the fence is his fence. Even though her intentions are to protect her own yard, Lou gets in trouble for baying while the other dog is virtually unaffected. 

I think this is so relatable when you think about the world of social media. This morning I woke up to less than desirable comments plastered on my newsfeed, and my initial reaction was to retaliate. It wasn’t even my post. In fact, it wasn’t even a friend of mine, but I still wanted to give them a piece of my mind because I felt I knew more to the story than what was being told. My initial reaction was to protect, to tell them off for being mean. Maybe even “bay” at them a little bit. Emotions are good like that.

Luckily, I was able to calm myself down, finish my coffee, and take my dogs out without saying anything. It wasn’t until I was coming up the steps to our completely fenced in backyard that I realized that I knew exactly how Lou feels. This is her yard… her life.  She should be able to protect it. But at the same time, does the other dog’s barks truly have any affect on her? 

Nah. She gets to come back in her nice, warm home to people and other critters that love her and care for her. The other dog has zero control over her life, but sometimes it’s hard for her to see past that. Again, emotions are good like that.

You know what happens when I walk outside with Lou on a leash? Not only does she stay quiet, but the other dog does as well. He’s simply bored now that there’s no ammunition coming from Lou. She has guidance.

My guidance when it comes to social media just happens to be a scripture. I probably say way more than I should, but I’m pretty good at not needlessly fighting for a virtual battle I can’t win. According to the New Living Translation, Psalm 21:23 says, “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Wow… That one line is so straightforward, right? Stay on my side of the fence. Good stuff!

I would like to point out that there are times when you should absolutely speak up, especially if someone is being hurt or bullied. However, if it’s not one of those situations

loudogblog

Lou & Kristina while visiting a Rocky Mountain mining town.

or it doesn’t directly impact our everyday life, perhaps it would be easier on our mental health if we could just let people bark. It’s not easy, but if you find a good leash and practice shying away from the fence, you’ll be able to control the amount of stress allowed into your mind… To move on and go about your life.

I truly hope that someone else can helped by thoughts as much as I have today. Until next time, friends!

xoxo,

Kristina