Fall Recipes to Keep You Cozy

With snow on the ground & the leaves all long gone, it seems like we’ve made the abrupt transition to winter here in the upper Midwest. Of course, I’m mourning the fact that my favorite season is always so short lived, but I’m trying to make the most of it and take this time to get a head start on the holidays ahead. One of my favorite things to do as soon as the weather cools off is bust out the crockpot and baking sheets as I pull out some of my favorite recipes that are the perfect warm up this time of year.

Cookies, bread, chili, pie….anything and everything pumpkin is always my first choice, but I’ve had to adapt a few things for my non-pumpkin loving husband. Though he will happily admit to loving my pumpkin chocolate chip cookies ;)

So with the change of seasons out in full force, I wanted to take some time to share some of the best tried & true recipes that I love….and a few new ones I’ve ventured to try this fall. With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away (say what?!) these are the perfect treats to bring to share with the whole fam.

First up, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies….I’d be really doing you all a disservice if I didn’t mention these. I’ve been making these for the past three years and they are always a hit.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, combine first four ingredients; set aside. In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter. Add egg, vanilla and pumpkin; beat well. Gradually mix in flour mixture on low speed of mixer. Stir in LOTS of chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on wire racks & try to not eat them ALL in one day.

Next, for you chili lovers, Five Ingredient Sweet Potato Turkey Chili. This was basically all I ate when I lived in Seattle. It’s the perfect thick chili to dish up on a drizzly day.

Five Ingredient Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

1.5 lbs. ground turkey
3-4 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 can of black beans
1 can of corn
1 cup of quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups water
Spices to taste! (I like cayenne, paprika, cumin, salt & pepper!)

Brown your turkey in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in your seasoning of choice to add some extra flavor. One browned. remove from pan & set aside.

In the same pan, add sweet potatoes and spices, browning slightly. Add water and broth. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes (until your sweet potatoes are soft!) *Optional: Using either an immersion blender or transferring your liquid to a blender, puree the sweet potatoes until they reach your desired consistency. This makes a nice, thick & creamy base, but I’ve made it just leaving the sweet potatoes in chunks because, #lazy and it’s been just as good.

Add sweet potato mixture back to your soup pot, mix in turkey, black beans, corn & cooked quinoa. Add additional spices to taste, simmer & enjoy!

Two words, Homemade Bread. Oh my word, why have I not made this sooner?! Yes, it can seem intimidating, but it’s really pretty simple. Four ingredients, no kneading and very much husband approved. Shoutout to my mama for sending me this recipe!

No Knead Bread

3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour, more for dusting (I love King Arthur flour!)
1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
1 5/8 cups of water

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast & salt. Add 1 5/8 cups of water, stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy & sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 12-18 hours at room temperature.

Dough is ready when surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour your surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or your hands, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, place dough on towel and dust with more flour. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with finger.

About a half an hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6 to 8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, pyrex, enamel or ceramic) in oven as it heats. (To be totally honest, I definitely used a ceramic pie pan….with no lid because it was all I had! It worked, but I think cast iron would be a whole lot better.) When dough is ready, carefully remove your heated pot from the oven. Turn your dough into the pan and shake a few times until the dough is evenly distributed. It may look like a hot mess, but it’s ok! It will even out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15-30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on rack & enjoy! I promise this loaf won’t last long!

Hopefully these recipes will get you through the long, chilly days of winter just like they do for me! If there’s one thing I’ve learned after my first winter in North Dakota (which most locals called “mild” UM WHAT….excuse me? I don’t think -30 qualifies as mild) it’s that you’ve got to have some kind of hobby to help get you through the many months of winter up North. And while I love the outdoors and would much rather be outside, the weather out here doesn’t really provide the best environment for outdoor activities….so to the kitchen I go!

Sending love from up North,

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Why I Ditched My Capsule Wardrobe

Remember that little “experiment” I did last fall? Yeah, so….it really didn’t go too well, let’s just say I didn’t exactly finish my challenge. But in all seriousness, over the last (almost) year since that wild-haired idea, I’ve found a much better way to do things. And thank the LORD because I’m pretty sure everyone is kind of tired of hearing about the whole “capsule wardrobe” thing.

After a few years of trying to figure out this whole “capsule” project, I had a realization that it just really didn’t work for me.

At first, I felt a little defeated…I mean, I’d spent what felt like an eternity trying to weed my closet down to an irrationally small number of pieces. But y’all…..I just love cute shoes and flowy dresses and pretty blouses too much. And in reality, I had to come to grips with the fact that a capsule wardrobe just didn’t really fit with my lifestyle. I mean heck, I’ve lived in four states over the past three years….all with very different climates, I’m now 20 weeks pregnant and literally expanding every single day and I’ve realized, I really like variety….so the whole “one size fits all” approach didn’t really apply to me. Now don’t get me wrong, the capsule wardrobe is an amazing concept and if you’re doing it….you go girl. Seriously. But to put it simply, it just doesn’t work for me.

The trouble was that I was continually getting rid of stuff because it didn’t quite work but then after a few months, I was realizing that ‘oh shoot, I might actually now need those snow boots, because I’m going to be living in North Dakota….woops.’ So ultimately, this lead to me constantly spending wayyyy more money than I needed to, just to simply replace stuff that I had already gotten rid of.

I was buying stuff that I realized really wasn’t my style.

So, over the past year, I’ve been really intentional about honing in on my personal style and picking out things because I absolutely love them, not because they seemed like they would go with everything. I mean sure, there’s something to be said about versatility (I’m all for it) but what I ended up with was a closest full of black skinny jeans and striped black tees. Which was perfect when I lived in Seattle….I mean, that’s basically the uniform out there, but it really wasn’t me. So I dumped about 90% of my black clothing and started the transition to clothes in colors and styles that I knew I would really love to wear and that I wouldn’t get bored with in a few months. (Easier said than done.)

Now, this process is far from over….I still have some items in my closet that I don’t absolutely love but just can’t bring myself to get rid of them until I’ve found the right replacement, but I have confidence that I’ll get there…eventually.

Anyway, don’t take this as a big ‘ol bash session of the capsule wardrobe. I know plenty of gals who have done it and love it. But simply put, it’s just not for everyone. So instead, I’ve adopted the habit to pursue a more intentional approach to my closet. But what does this look like? I’ll lay it out for ya….

  • Set a budget. Any other budget life gals out there? But really, this helps a ton. Sure, some months I might splurge a little bit and go over budget on an item (sorry hubs!) but I’m working on then adjusting for the following month and reigning it in. But simply the act of having a set dollar amount that I know I can spend guilt free each month lets me pick and choose the items I want or need and then it allows me to be intentional with that money.
  • Aim for quality over quantity. I’d much rather have a closet full of of a few things that I absolutely love than a full closet just for the sake of having a full closet. Oftentimes, this means spending a little more of my hard earned cash — but in the long run, it’s so worth it to have pieces that are well made and won’t go out of style in the next few months. Some of my favorite places for these staple pieces are Madewell, J Crew & Anthropologie.
  • Have grace for yourself. Sure, in a perfect world I would never find myself in the Target clearance aisle….but this is real life y’all and those clearance racks look pretty amazing at times.
  • Get rid of the stuff you don’t need! I constantly find myself curating my closet; figuring out what I need to fill the gaps or what needs to be donated because it’s just not being worn. My husband calls it obsessive, I call it order. I mean really, why would I keep the jeans that haven’t fit for two years? Make peace and donate ’em! Someone else will be stoked when the strike gold at the local thrift store.
  • Keep a list of wants & needs. I keep two lists on my phone. One is the essential items or the “needs.” Think, new bra, socks, a white tee…those things that we can only hold off on buying for so long. My second list typically consists of more of the “wants” sure I might need a new pair of skinny jeans, but I’m not going to go naked without them. Hence, it goes on the want list. This list helps me be reminded to save those precious $$ when I’m out and about and spot something I just “have to have” but probably is completely impractical. Going back to my lists helps me remember what it is I’m saving for and why I should just put that white dress (that’s almost identical to the one I have back at home) back on the rack.
  • Dress for the life you actually have. I know that age old saying “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” which….does have some validity to it in a professional setting, but it also leaves us with closets full of items that just don’t fit into our current day to day. It would be really easy for me to channel my inner California girl and buy shorts and tank tops and sundresses 24/7 but in reality, I live in North Dakota. It’s sticky and hot in the summer and straight up frigid in the winter…without a lot of in-between. So I essentially have my two closets for these extreme seasons. Annnd, I work in pretty casual environments, so I don’t need a zillion pairs of heels & blazers.

Well, that’s about it friends. Pretty simple…pretty straightforward, but not too rigid. I think it’s so easy to get sucked into any trend — be it the “buy nothing” concept or the liketoknowit “buy everything I see on Instagram” but really, we should all aim for balance and give ourselves grace when we realize that balance is pretty dang hard to achieve. So tell me, how do you shop?? Are you a minimalist, buying only the absolute necessities?? Or do you crave change and find yourself walking out of a local boutique each week with something new?

Sending love from up North,

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Coming Soon….

Now that we’re almost halfway through this little babe cookin’ (seriously, how the heck has it already been 19 weeks?!) I figured it might just be time to hop back on the blogging game and give a little life update. So in case you didn’t know, the hubs & I are having a BABY. Yep, sweet little Baby Cristy will be here in the beginning of March and we are just simply overjoyed by this little miracle that is quickly taking over our hearts.

Before even getting married, we’d really prayed that the Lord would give us just at least a year to become established in our marriage as just the two of us before we brought a baby into the mix. It was a trying but sweet, sweet year full of so much growth, love and joy to finally be together, in the same place after years of long distance. Well a year in, we decided to take the leap and see if it was the right time. Which, realistically, the right time never really exists, but God was so good to us and has blessed us abundantly with this pregnancy and the timing of it all is really just a representation of God’s goodness and sweetness through it all. Sure, I could’ve done without the all day nausea I experienced (and sometimes still experience from time to time) but if that’s about the worst we’ve had to deal with so far, I’d say we’re in good shape.

Baby C has been healthy with a strong, little heartbeat at every doctors appointment and this soon-to-be mama is feeling pretty darn good as well. Though some days it still just doesn’t feel real yet! Besides my expanding waistline and the occasional backache, I’d say life seems pretty normal most days…other than the fact that the countdown to meeting this little babe is ticking away way faster than I ever could have imagined.

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. It’s something I’ve realized over the past few years with even more intensity as I’ve often found it hard to find passion in my work and found so much more joy in serving and loving my family….(I mean who doesn’t?!) But really, you can’t quite tell people at job interviews that your dream job is to be a mom, not that there is ANYTHING wrong with that, but I’ve just gotten some funny looks in the past. But really, I can’t think of a better title out there (besides Mrs. Cristy — because that’s a pretty awesome one, too.)

So as I sit here making to-do lists, adding the cutest little baby things to our registry and counting down the days until we meet our little one, I’m just overwhelmed with a deep sense of gratitude that Josh and I get this opportunity to experience this miracle of growing a baby. And seriously y’all, it is nothing short of a miracle….I mean growing a baby is no joke. The fact that this tiny little person grows from the size of something nearly microscopic to a full on baby in only nine months is CRAZY. God really designed this whole thing in such an awe-inspiring way and I’m purely amazed by it all every time I find myself thinking about it.

Week 19

Due Date: March 10th

Baby C is as big as a: Mango

The Bump: Pretty sure it’s at least 80% food baby in most pictures, but it’s starting to pop a little!

Feeling: Really good! My new pregnancy pillow is proving to be a lifesaver for my sleep. (File this under….things I never though’t I’d say…ha!)

Craving: Hot Barbecue Wings from BW’s (seriously, ask Josh….)

Food Aversions: Still so grossed out by broccoli.

Wearing: Anything and everything loose & flowy and officially not wearing any pre-pregnancy jeans. (Thank you Jesus for Madewell maternity jeans. Amen.)

Buying: A new mattress — HALLELUJAH.

Working on: Baby C’s registry! And holy moly…..there are waaaaay too many choices out there.

Looking forward to: Nursery shopping in a few weeks & finding out if Baby C is a boy or a girl on November 8th!

That’s all for now sweet friends! Sending love from up North,

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Never Say Never

[No, this is not an ode to the Justin Bieber. (But really….what happened to the Biebs?) Anyway, honestly, when I first started writing this post….I thought I was going to be writing about all of the joys of the first year of marriage and life in North Dakota. Heck, I don’t even know if any of this makes sense or if my title is even relevant….#wordvomit. But it’s funny how sometimes God just takes over and pushes our hearts and words in a different, but better direction. Plus….it was time I shared a little bit more about why I’ve been basically MIA from this blog for so long. So here’s to hoping you find a little sliver of hope & encouragement here.]It’s pretty amazing all that can happen in a year.  A little over a year ago,  I was packing up my little apartment in Seattle, planning the last-minute details of a wedding, finalizing dress fittings and preparing for my world to be completely overturned (in the best way) by all of the things that were about to change; my last name, my zip code & my heart. Now, as I sit at home in my cozy apartment just outside Fargo, North Dakota….I can’t help but realize that really nothing about my life looks the same as it used to. And y’all, that’s a great thing. Some days, it’s a hard thing, but really most days, it’s a wonderful, incredible, amazing thing.

If you would’ve told me four years ago that I’d be living in North Dakota, married, with a husband in grad school, I would have likely had a big ‘ol laugh in your face. As a West Coast girl through and through the thought of living in the Midwest would have just seemed straight up laughable. But if you’ve followed along this crazy journey I’ve been on over the last few years, you might remember that so far, I’ve lived in every single place I ever said I wouldn’t ever live in. Yep. Back to Washington? Check. Montana? Check. North Dakota? Check and check. I’ve started to really realize that it’s a pretty dangerous thing for me to use the word “never.”

But that’s the BEST part…God has used all of my “no’s  and turned them into “yes’s” and used them in a profound way to deeply impact my life and grow me as a person. Has it always felt good? Nope, nope & nope. But has it been worth it? Yes, always yes.

But that’s the thing about being obedient to the calling on our lives, sometimes it just hurts. And friends, I’m here to tell you that is so okay. In fact it’s more than okay. In the past year, I’ve learned so much about sacrifice, commitment and walking into, and through moments that were uncomfortable just by being obedient (sometimes begrudgingly) with my actions. It can be so easy to walk away when things get hard, or pack up your bags and move along when life gets boring. I’ve been there. I’ve been that girl that craved change and movement. Luckily, God used my missteps to write a beautiful story, but not without struggle. This year, though life was like one big tidal wave of change, in the middle of it all, it wasn’t always the change that I desired. But God kept me, He guided me, He rooted me in something greater than circumstances, people, places or things.I’ll be honest with you, this year has been no walk in the park. It’s been trying, humbling, frustrating and just plain hard at times. It’s been sleepless nights, buckets of tears, loneliness & hard times. (Stick with me….the light is coming.) So why do I share this? Because friends, it is so, so, so easy to think that everyone else has it all together when we feel like we’re crumbling inside. It’s so easy to look at other people’s lives and spin up a story about how much better things are for them. (Been there, done that.) But most of the time, this is never the reality of it all.

I spent a lot of this year feeling so stupid for struggling. This was supposed to be the best year of my life! Newlywed! Finally in the same place as the one I love! Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing year full of such sweet moments, but dangit, it was wayyyyy harder than I ever could have anticipated.

I like to think that I’m a strong person, but this year, I never felt weaker. And honestly, part of this was marriage. It humbled me to a place of realizing that I couldn’t be so independent anymore and it brought me to my knees after realizing just how imperfect and weak I truly am. Whewwww, they sure don’t mention all that stuff in premarital counseling. Or maybe they did? (I’m working on that whole”listening better” thing….just ask my very sweet & very patient husband.Friends, I share all of this and I hope it doesn’t make me sound like a Debby Downer. That is so far from what I’m after here. I love my husband deeply, I cherish this life that I am blessed with and I am so, so grateful for everything I have. But I’ve just gotta be real with y’all….life is tough! And I hope if nothing else, this encourages you that it’s okay to sometimes feel stuck in the difficult, trying and hard moments. It’s okay to struggle through life and feel just so imperfect. Because ya know what?

You are perfectly imperfect and that is just the way God intended us all to be.

Without these difficult moments, I think we’d all be walking around completely self-sufficient, totally self-reliant and without even the slightest understanding of our need for Jesus. I think it can be so easy to coast through life feeling like we don’t desperately need Jesus, but it’s reality that slaps us into shape and makes us remember “oh hey, I need a savior like big time.” It’s those low moments that go undocumented on social media that push us into the arms of a good and loving Father.

I think that all of these changes in life over the last year pushed me out of a place of what had become self-sufficiency and into a place of realizing my major need for Jesus. Because without realizing that need, acknowledging it & walking into it with faith….life is kind of meaningless. (Disagree?? Check out Ecclesiastes & that might just change your mind. Solomon drops some serious truth bombs in there. Just make sure you read the whole book less you feel a bit discouraged after.)

Sweet, sweet friends. I pray that you would walk into whatever road is ahead of you, be it a road of deep suffering and struggle, or a road of great joy, a road of change and uncertainty, or a road of complete and utter surrender because God knows what He is doing.

So stay in your lane and walk into the calling you have received! I know it’s hard sometimes, but I promise, it is so, so worth it.Sending love from up North,

All photos by Cottonwood Road Photography

Dress is from American Eagle

The Perfect Balance of Raw & Refined

Husbands and dads are seriously so hard to shop for. Or maybe, it’s just my husband and my dad. Seriously though, I never know what to get them when it comes time to find a gift. When I was little, I was all about the DIY gifting….I mean, I think my dad might still have the makeshift glitter golfball “snow-globe” I made him when I was nine. (You saved that….right pops?) Anyway, as I’ve gotten older and my DIY projects have taken a backseat, it’s been a fun challenge to look for gifts that are both functional and unique while not being too trendy or techy.

When JORD offered to send me over one of their men’s watches to review, I jumped at the opportunity. My dad had just mentioned his watch was about to bite the dust and being that my husband just isn’t much of a watch guy, I figured it would make the perfect belated birthday/early Father’s Day present for my dad. And, my dad was a builder for 25+ years, so I knew the rugged yet refined look of the watch would appeal to him.

I admit, I was pretty darn skeptical when I first heard of a watch made out of wood. I mean, furniture and houses are made out of wood, but a watch? After carefully reviewing the different options, we settled on the Dover in Olive & Acacia, a beautiful blend of light and dark wood with stunning details on the watch face. A quick wrist measurement and pops’ wood watch was on its way to North Dakota.

After only a few days, I picked up the watch at the post office and was just absolutely floored by the craftsmanship of this watch….maybe I could just size the band down and my dear-old-dad would forget that I was ever supposed to send it to him?? Nah. I’ll just add it to my Christmas list for next year….

Before we wrapped things up and shipped this beauty off to southern California, my husband and I headed out to show this sweet, little watch around North Dakota and though he probably wouldn’t admit it, the stunning mix of raw material and refined style almost turned my husband into a watch guy. As for pops, he’s lovin’ it and probably already has a watch tan from his new favorite accessory.

Want to win $100 to spend on your very own JORD watch?!

Head over to https://www.woodwatches.com/g/lillycristy for a chance to win! And, as an added bonus everyone who enters gets $25 off their purchase. Say what!? Contest closes on April 23 at 11:59pm so hop to it!

Thank you JORD for sponsoring this post. I received free product in exchange for writing a review on my blog. All opinions expressed are my own. 

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