An Open Letter to My Unborn Child

This is Bethany here, and I wrote this letter to my son, Oliver.

I start the third trimester of my pregnancy next week! My husband, Denver, and I (that’s our family above) are so excited for him to arrive. This is a sentiment close to my heart, and I welcome you to peek inside our little family.

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Oliver,

As I sit down to write this letter, I’m overwhelmed with the thought that you have been in my tummy for almost 7 months. Even though there are times when you knock the wind out of me, my heart swells with so many wonderful emotions. When I found out I was having you, I was so surprised and happy! Even though I was excited, I was also a little bit scared.

My mind was abuzz with thoughts. Had I taken care of myself when I didn’t know that you were inside of me? Would daddy and I have to move, make more money, and would we be able to shuffle our busy lives to make enough time for you? As I looked at the positive pregnancy test, I realized that all of these little questions could be wrapped up into one heavy one. Would daddy and I really make good parents?

With these questions looming, I still had to do one important thing — tell the love of my life that we made you!

When I told your daddy that we are having you, he hugged me and cried. He was so surprised and so beautifully happy! This is one of our favorite days. What a special memory you made for us, Oliver. We made an appointment to see the doctor. You know, the guy you’re always shy around! As the doctor was searching for you in my tummy, all of those scary questions started flooding back.

Then we saw you.

You were nothing but a white speck in a sea of black. As small as you were, we saw the flash of your precious heartbeat. Oh my son, I will never forget that moment. Do you know what I found out? You are a strong and perfectly healthy baby. This made me realize that the love we already have for you overshadows all the worry! God is so good to remind us of how blessed we are to have you in our lives.

I want you to know a few things about your daddy. As soon as he found out about you, he started praying for you every day. I am always so grateful for how much he does for us. Daddy and I work really hard so that we can have a happy home, but daddy works especially hard. Aren’t you proud of him? He brings us food when we are hungry, and he even eats ice cream before bed because he thinks it helps you! That’s your silly daddy. He kisses you goodnight, and he waits by my side to feel you kick and roll.

He held my hand so tight when we went to a big check up to see how you’re growing. On this day, God gave us peace about you. Your daddy lit up when he saw your face and features in 3D for the first time! You were just 22 weeks old! He thinks you have my nose, and when you wake up from a comfortable sleep, I think you scrunch up your forehead just like he does! We got your picture taken, and he took it to the office and showed all his coworkers. He’s already so proud of you.

Most of all, I want you to know how much your daddy and I love and respect each other. In fact, we love each other so much that we asked God to bring you into our lives! When God said yes, He let us learn so much about you.

This is what we know about you so far — You like to roll around my tummy at work and hide away when we visit the doctor. You love it when I rest, and when I sing and play my guitar. The only time I feel you take naps is when I exercise! I even know a few things you don’t like. You don’t like spicy food at all. Don’t worry, your daddy doesn’t like it either. You must not like it when I try and bend over to tie my shoes or paint my toenails, because you stick your little feet in my ribs when I try. It makes me grunt and laugh. You sure are a stinker. You’re so active, and I love it when you circle around my tummy and play.

Do you want to know my favorite thing about you? You’re so sweet and loving to us! When I am sad, you dance around. When I am tired, you kick me and remind me that you’re there for me. And when daddy and I are overwhelmed with how busy we are, we pull out the pictures of your face and you remind us to slow down and to count our blessings. Thank you for all of that, little one!

Although your room isn’t all the way put together yet, and we aren’t rolling in a big pile of money, all that really matters is the love and time we share together as a family. We have to wait a little bit longer to share this time together. You’re due to be here very soon after Christmas! Don’t worry little one. Whenever you decide to come, we will make your day so special. I know right now you think somersaults are fun, but you should see all of the wonderful and colorful things of the world! Your dad and I like to draw, play music, hike around, and see friends. Some people have told us that we can’t do these things when you get here. But we will find a way to make our own special and fun memories with you by our side. We can’t wait to share all of this with you!

Oliver, whenever this day arrives, I want you to know the world you’re coming into. Not everyone in this world has peace in their hearts, and this world can be a scary place. Despite all of that, know that God is always holding you in His hands. I have a few important promises I’m making to you. I want you to remember them when the world seems too much to bear.

I promise to show you love and understanding. I promise to guide you when you’re unsure of what to do, and I promise to listen to what you have to say. I can also promise you that I will make mistakes. Some days will be hard, and on those days you might not like me very much. So when those days come (and they will come), know I still love you because you are my son.

Do you know how I can promise you this? You have already helped us know a kind of love we never knew we could feel.

We still have so much to learn about you, but we can’t do this until we meet you face to face! All of your cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents are so excited to see you too! Some of your little cousins have been practicing your name. So be sure you answer to the name of “Obbaler” when you come out so that you don’t hurt their feelings.

Daddy and I are ready for the sleepless nights and for our world to be turned upside down. Because that means that you have arrived.

I can’t wait to meet you, son.

Mom

Thank you so much for reading! I enjoyed opening up my heart to my son, and to you as well. You can follow our family journey on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet.

-Bethany

Whole 30 Approved Sweet Potato Toast

How would you like a Whole30 sweet potato toast or two?

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Hello Oak and Earthers. So nice to meet you! I’m Lyndi, and I work with the wonderful Shelby who invited me to stop by and say hi.

Hi.

Like any good guest, I thought it only proper I bring along a treat or two. It had to be extra special since this is an extra special site. Their photos and stories are inspiring, aren’t they? And… to be honest… a little bit intimidating. I follow their Instagram feed religiously and swoon over the gorgeous photos and the mood that is set. No way could I just bring you a bowl of eggs or a regular old cup of java.

No way. Today I wanted to do something extra special for you and for the Oak and Earth gals.

So, two things.

One, have you heard about the sweet potato toast craze? I’m seeing it all over the internet. Which really means Pinterest.

Two, did you know that the Oak and Earth gals are going #whole30 this month?

If you have been intrigued by either of these two areas, I can help with the first one. And I can actually help with the second one since these recipes for sweet potato toasts are both #whole30 compliant.

Please help me in deciding which one tastes better. I am at a loss. They are both over-the-top INSANELY DELICIOUS and I may or may not have taken bites back and forth trying to decide. Help, please?

sweet potato toast - sweet (c)nwafoodie

Sweet??

SWEET POTATO TOAST = SWEET STYLE

Makes 2 slices

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 10 pistachios, coarsely crushed
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • ½ teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • ½ banana
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt flakes

Instructions

  1. Cut sweet potato ¼” thick. If you go with a large sweet potato, you will have enough slices for both this sweet version and the savory version.
  2. Bake sweet potato in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Toast the sweet potatoes in a toaster oven or toaster on next to highest level to brown the toast.
  4. Remove cardamom shell and crush seeds to a medium-fine consistency and set aside.sweet potato toast - cardamon crush
  5. Remove toast from oven and butter two slices with coconut oil.
  6. Spread almond butter over toast.
  7. Slice banana and place on almond butter.
  8. Sprinkle toast with cinnamon, cardamom, pistachios, and sea salt flakes.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

sweet potato toast - savory (c)nwafoodie

Or Savory???

SWEET POTATO TOAST = SAVORY STYLE

Makes 2 slices

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 avocado
  • lime juice
  • ½ garlic, minced
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • pinch of dried cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • pinch of sea salt flakes

Instructions:

  1. Cut sweet potato ¼” thick. If you go with a large sweet potato, you will have enough slices for both this sweet version and the savory version.
  2. Bake sweet potato in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Toast the sweet potatoes in a toaster oven or toaster on next to highest level to brown the toast.
  4. Remove the meat from the avocado and mash coarsely with a fork.
  5. Remove toast from oven and spread avocado mash.
  6. Lightly sprinkle lime juice and evenly spread out minced garlic over avocado.
  7. Sprinkle toast with cumin and cilantro.
  8. Drizzle olive oil over toast and top with crushed pepper and sea salt flakes.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

So what do you think? Sweet or Savory? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Eat well, my friends.

Lyndi Fultz

 

Arkansas Women Blogger member Lyndi Fultz writes about living and eating well inspired by life in beautiful Northwest Arkansas at nwafoodie. Much of her blogging inspiration comes from this gem of a place, which she refers to as the proverbial land of milk-and-honey. She doesn’t think you have to live in the big city to be a foodie. All you have to do is explore your own backyard. Light-hearted and approachable, nwafoodie is conversational with a healthy and simplistic approach to eating well. You can also find her on Instagram.

 

http://nwafoodie.com

 

Down and Dirty Guide to: Essential Oils

A Beginners Guide To-

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Hello friends! Today I want to talk to you about essential oils.

About a year and a half ago, I became interested in learning more about essential oils after listening to several friends and acquaintances rave about them. What were they? Why was I just now hearing about them? Were they just a fad? Why would I want to incorporate them in my life? Were they hippy mumbo jumbo?

I set out on a quest to discover all of these things, and like any normal human, I turned to Google for answers. I immediately realized it was going to be very difficult to discern fact from fiction and to get the answers I was looking for about oils. There is just so much (often contradictory) info out there. I longed for a simple, broken-down, absolute beginner’s guide to oils.

And so a year and a half later, I’m writing one.

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and health-care practices, as well as in aromatherapy. They are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds found in plants. Some come from the seeds, others come from the flowers, roots, bark, etc. They are extracted through various methods, such as steam distillation and cold pressing, and in this potent form are much more powerful than the plants from which they were extracted.

Put simply – essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts.

When I say they have “long been used…” I mean LONG. Although essential oils have only gained more popularity in the Western world recently, oils have been in use since (at least) the times of ancient Egypt. Essential oils were also popular in ancient Greece, Rome, and China. There is even mention of essential oils in the Bible.

So now that you have a basic understanding of what essential oils are. . .

WHY ESSENTIAL OILS?

I know what you’re thinking; if essential oils have been around for so long, why have they only become popular in the West recently?

I think it is fair to say that in the past decade there has been a definite push toward a more natural, toxin-free, and sustainable lifestyle. Being derived from plants, essential oils definitely fall into this category.

Oils are reputed to be a natural remedy for many common ailments such as headaches, inflammation, viruses, bacterial infection, skin issues, and much more, as well as boosting the immune system, digestive system, respiratory system, and more.

You can also clean with essential oils, and they smell amazing when diffused (more on this below!)

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HOW DO I USE ESSENTIAL OILS?

Now that we’ve covered the what and the why, how should you use essential oils starting out?

Some of the first oils I bought were:

  • lavender
  • lemon
  • rosemary
  • tea tree
  • eucalyptus

I had done a little research, and it seemed that these oils were used frequently in different recipes that caught my interest. When I say “recipes,” I simply mean combining different oils to suite different purposes. You can diffuse your oils, blend them with together for topical application, use them in steam inhalation, or put them to use in homemade face wash or cleaning products! There are so many possibilities.

After personally testing many different recipes, here are some of my favorite blends that I make in 10mL roller bottles. Other than diffusing, this is how I most often use my oils, and I would not hesitate in recommending these to beginners. When making these concoctions, you will need a carrier oil, which will vary based on what you are using it for and personal preference. For more on carrier oils, try here.

Headache/Pain Relief Roller

  • 10 drops copaiba
  • 10 drops panaway (blend)
  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 10 drops lavender
  • top up with carrier oil

Roll this on wherever the pain is. (You could also make this in a cream with coconut oil as the carrier oil – I love coconut oil.)

Seasonal Relief/Immunity Roller

  • 5 drops thieves (blend)
  • 10 drops lavender
  • 10 drops lemon
  • 10 drops peppermint
  • 5 drops R.C. (blend)
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • top up with carrier oil

Roll this on over your sinuses, on your chest, or on your feet for sweet relief.

Skin Blemish/Wound Salve/Anti-Aging

  • 5 drops lemon or purification (blend) or tea tree or copaiba*
  • 5 drops lavender
  • 5 drops frankincense
  • top up with carrier oil

If it has to do with your skin, this is your best friend. I’ve rolled this on everything from wrinkles to bug bites to scratches to blemishes. (* – I use a couple drops of each)

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Finally, I think my favorite use for essential oils is diffusing. Some of my personal favorite combinations are:

  1. Lavender + Cedarwood + Citrus — for sleeping
  2. Purification (blend) — for making my space smell enticingly clean and odor free
  3. R.C. (blend) — for breathing easily
  4. Tea Tree + Eucalyptus + Peppermint — for calming and focus
  5. Thieves (blend) + R.C. (blend) — for combating a cold/sinus congestion

One of the great thing about oils is that as you learn more about them, you begin to understand how they compliment one another, and what works and doesn’t work for you.

And there you have it! My down-and-dirty, absolute beginner’s guide to essential oils.

If you have questions, comments, essential oil recipes/uses, or anything else, please comment below! I would love to hear from you! (Even and especially if it is to correct me or make this post better!)

Keep up with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest and find me on Snapchat at shelby.briley!

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Photo by: Jeff Rose

As always, live healthy, and love hard!

-Shelby


Further reading:

The New American Herbal – Stephen Orr

Herbs; An A-Z Guide Gardening, Cooking & Health – Reader’s Digest

hello oils.

 

 

 

Amazing Avocado Chicken Salad

Hey, reader! It’s Tera here this week on the blog. I was inspired recently by one of my favorite go-to recipe sites (Six Sister’s Stuff) when they shared their avocado chicken salad. Being a devoted lover of all things avocado, I of course had to try this recipe for myself…immediately. I’m all about delicious and healthy food that is simple to make, that my family loves to eat, and that I can feel good before and after eating it. Oh, and everything avocado. I’m all about that, too. I tried out the recipe, and with some of my own tweaks to it, I wanted to share my rendition of the avocado chicken salad because it’s so delicious and seriously takes about 5 minutes to whip up!

If you keep up with our page, you may have seen the news that I am expecting our second baby in September! For a little lifestyle update, baby and I are doing well, and I am already nearly halfway through my pregnancy! Aside from some mild discomfort, I have my energy back since my first trimester, and I’m feelin’ good! We recently found out that we are having another GIRL, and we are so excited! Little Norah is especially excited for baby sister to get here, and she’s been telling us from the beginning that it was indeed a sister.

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We’re pretty eager to meet her! Much like my first pregnancy, my appetite has increased a bunch these last couple of weeks, and I’ve been trying to keep healthy snacks around the house, along with some meals that are healthy and easy to prepare. Fortunately for me, my daughter (and husband) both love avocado, so anytime I make a batch of this stuff up, it’s gone in no time. What’s that you say? A healthy meal that my finicky toddler LOVES to eat? Obviously, you can count me in every time!

Let’s eat, shall we?

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I made this avocado chicken salad today for lunch–and seriously, I can’t get over how easy this is to prepare. The avocado is used in lieu of mayonnaise, so it makes for a super healthy and guilt free meal! (I apologize in advance for my poor photo quality; I used my iPhone to take these pictures)! Here’s what I did to tweak this original recipe to make it my own, and I think it turned out yummy!

Here’s what you need: *This makes about 4 servings

-2 cups of (cooked) shredded chicken (I usually use rotisserie because I love the flavor)*

-1 avocado, rinsed, pitted and scoop out the pulp

-3/4 cup diced up apple

-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

-1-1 1/2 tablespoon(s) of lime juice

-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

-salt and pepper, to taste

ps. Here’s a crazy fact about me: I do not like cilantro. I know. Crazy. The original recipe (linked above) has cilantro, and if you love it, it would be a great addition!

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Feta makes it betta! (And, croissants of course).

In a medium sized bowl, add the chicken, apples, walnuts and avocado, and using a fork, mash the ingredients all together until the avocado totally coats them. Then, add the garlic powder, salt and pepper, and lime juice and blend all of these into the salad. It tastes the best when you can refrigerate it for a while after making it, but if you’re ready to eat it right away, like for me today, it tastes yummy at room temperature too!

Would you believe me if I told you that was it?! Because, it is! So fresh, and delicious! My family loves eating this salad on a croissant bun, but you could also add a scoop of it to your favorite spring salad and get some extra fruits and greens in your meal! It tastes great either way. The salad should keep for a day or two in the fridge if you seal it air tight, and the added lime juice is meant for both flavor, and also to help the avocado keep its color for a while longer.

Voila! I will be making this chicken salad all spring/summer long. And in case you are doubting the toddler approval of this meal, here is proof that my 2 year old picky pants loves to eat it as much as I do!

What are some of your favorite avocado recipes? I am always looking for fun ways to incorporate even more avocado into my life, because you know, avocado. Happy weekend wishes to our readers! Follow our social media pages to get updates and stay in the loop with our blog happenings!

Peace, love, and avocado,

-Tera, xo

 

HERBventure is Out There: Starting an Indoor Herb Garden

Hello, readers. It’s Bethany here on Oak and Earth today, and I’m so excited to be writing during a time as wonderful as this—Spring.

Being 25 years old, I’ve been living in various apartments and duplexes for about seven years now. While I am completely enamored by the idea of owning my own home, I don’t hate living in an apartment or duplex either! I mean, simple spaces, low utility bills, convenient amenities at your fingertips etc., there’s really a lot to love. But there’s one thing that is always keeping my apartment from having that homey vibe I long for—not having my own garden! When I was little, Spring time meant dirt on my knees, tilling the soil, and eating grapes with my mom as we showered the garden bed with colorful flowers. I even grew my own corn! I miss this so much. If I were to walk outside of my place right now and grow a little garden, the lawn service would mow over it in five minutes flat. Not ideal.

As I have spent years sulking because I can’t grow a full garden, I had never thought about growing one indoors! Thank you, Pinterest, for giving me gardening hope. Instead of waiting for that perfect little starter home, I decided to start one right in my little duplex window sill! I love cooking with fresh herbs, especially in the spring and summer, so I have been thrilled at the thought of my own little indoor herb garden.

Herb2Below, I have listed some questions that I found to be helpful while starting this process:

Purchasing
»
What herbs will I use regularly?
»How many herbs am I comfortable starting out with?
»How obtainable are these herbs for beginners?
»Where can I purchase these herbs and my gardening tools?
»What kind of container will I need for proper growth?

Care
»
How much light do they need?
»Do I have the proper windows for this light? (South facing)
»What type of soil will I need?
»How often do I water them?

Harvesting
»
How will I know when to harvest?
»How do I prep them for cooking?

I found many sites and blogs that answered many of these questions and more, but here are a few sites that I found particularly helpful in my research:

← H E R B V E N T U R E →

I have never planted herbs before, so this herb-venture is completely new to me, and I am fully aware that I could kill them. Whether they thrive or die, I thought we could go on this journey together!

Choosing My Herbs

Prior to purchasing my herbs, I did a lot of thorough research. Besides the links above, I also asked my girls of Oak and Earth about their experiences! We all have been in a planting mood lately, so it’s been really fun chatting about what works and what doesn’t. Instead of starting from seeds, which can be very challenging, I decided to get the herbs from the garden section at Lowe’s. I chose to plant Italian Oregano, Spearmint, and Cilantro. Cilantro in my fresh salsa, mint in that refreshing Mojito, and oregano in a tossed summer pasta? That’s the goal! If you’re not sure what herbs to start with, both of the sites I linked above give a great list of herbs that are able to thrive indoors!

Potting My Herbs

Finding the proper pots is imperative to growth, and I wanted to make sure mine had a good draining hole (be sure to read up on this). They’re going to be a part of your home, so you also want to make sure they fit your style profile! There are a ton of ideas for different potting, shelving, and re-purposing indoor plants on Pinterest. Should they do well, I’m excited to try some of them. I wanted to keep it simple to start out, so I decided to paint my own terracotta pots! Painting them allows you to add your personal touch, and it made for a really fun project. I really love how they turned out, and they fit perfectly in my South facing window.

As I watered them today, I was wondering what their story will be this summer. Do they flourish? Do they die? Do they almost die but I swoop in to nurse them back to health? My hope is that they flourish enough to harvest! I have eaten my home grown corn on the cob as a child, and I am more than excited to cook with my fresh herbs as an adult. Either way, I am just giddy at the thought of taking care of my little herb babies.

Come summer, I’ll be sure to do an updated post about my herbs (dead or alive). I really hope that this gives you fellow apartment-living folk some great ideas! If you enjoyed reading this, you might also want to check out Shelby’s beginners guide to planting succulents here. Please feel free to keep up with our stories a little bit easier by following us on social media! You can follow me on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet. If you like the “Let Your Love Grow Tall” banner in the background of my photos, I got it from our friend Sarah’s shop @PinAndThreadCo. You should definitely check her out, she has some adorable home decor! We have a lot of fun Spring-themed posts in store, so be sure to keep visiting Oak and Earth! In a home big or small, gardening is for all. Thanks for reading!

Happy Spring!

-Bethany

 

Chasing Our Purpose

 

 

For me, and I feel for many of you who might be reading this, knowing our purpose and feeling like we are fulfilling that purpose can be something of a struggle. There are many days when I am sitting at home with my daughter, that I let my mind wander to all of the things I think God may have for my future: my purpose. My dream of running a children’s bookstore (I blame Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks for this), my passion for women’s ministry, my love for writing…I wonder if someday, one of these dreams will be where my purpose is fulfilled. I wonder if the plan God had made for me even before I was born will come to be in another 10 years from now, 15 years, 5?

I believe that while these may all be great things, there is a danger in waiting around for our moment. It is a skewed perspective and mind set to think that the purpose God has called us to is something that we work toward, and then one day we’ve arrived. I’m not saying that God doesn’t want or allow our dreams to come to fruition, or that if we work hard at something, we won’t be blessed with the fruits of our harvest! What I feel the danger is, is going about our day to day feeling as if there is no real purpose if it isn’t our ultimate purpose, and consequently, often times finding a lack of joy in our lives–especially when we are in a season that is less than joyful.

It’s easy to get in this rut! I’ve been there, many times, and I have to remind myself that there is such a meaningful purpose in every season I go through. As a stay at home mom, the schedule can feel a bit mundane at times, the days can feel doubly long at times, and it can be totally exhausting. Though Norah brings my heart so much joy and I truly love being able to stay home with her, these are the times when it is easy to feel like I am not doing enough; that maybe God has another hat for me to add to my collection (as if I’d really have the time). I lose sight of the great importance my purpose today holds with being a mother, even and especially in the mundane.

Sometimes, if we haven’t landed our dream job, or we’re working our way through college and are unsure about our major, or we haven’t met the one, or we’re a stay at home parent, we can get caught up in this rut. We compare our lives to a standard in our own heads, and when it doesn’t measure up, we start to wonder what our purpose really is. “What am I really supposed to be doing? When will I feel unstuck?”

Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb. All the days ordained for me were recorded in your scroll before one of them came into existence.” Psalm 139:16 (NET)

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When my flesh is tempted to feel this way, this verse reminds me that not one of my days here on earth is unknown to the Lord. That God created every hour of my life with a purpose. I may never have a distinct moment of arrival for my purpose, because my purpose is stitched into each new day, and in every season of life I am in. Sometimes His purpose for me may be a waiting period, so He can stretch my faith and grow me before He unveils a plan with greater responsibility. Sometimes it’s to teach me, sometimes it is to let my heart heal, sometimes it’s to take me out of my comfort zone, sometimes it’s a time of preparation of my mind and spirit- (the list could go on).

I truly believe that God’s purpose for us today (yes, even in that place we feel is a rut) is just as important and imperative as His purpose for us tomorrow and the next day. There is purpose and reason for every circumstance! Whether we are waiting for a new job opportunity, or whether we are discovering our passions and chucking our way through school (one all-nighter at a time), or whether we’re at home with our little ones, where the days can seem so long at times–there is purpose. Shifting our focus from “chasing our purpose” to making God our purpose and our center, wherever we are at, allows us to see how He’s using each season to teach us and prepare us for the next season. Waiting for our “arrival” to our life’s purpose is a never-ending road; you’ve arrived already! Live out each day knowing that God has distinct purpose and importance within it!

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31 (ESV)

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Peace and Love!

-Tera, xo

 

Easy Lower Body Workout Routine for Pregnancy

If you missed my last post, I shared exciting news that I am expecting our second baby in September! We were so thrilled and a little surprised when we discovered the news back in January when I thought I had come down with a stomach bug and ended up with a positive stick!

Though my husband and I had been talking about getting pregnant in the near future, one of my goals for myself beforehand was to get my body back in shape! Having had a busy summer and fall with moving and then settling in, and then moving again, and settling in, my workout routine had fallen by the wayside. We got pregnant sooner than expected (funny how that happens), and though I didn’t hit my main goal of running another half marathon before pregnancy, I was able to start back up a good routine to get my body feeling good and enjoying the sweat and burn! Fitness is something that I am passionate about and something I plan to incorporate into my pregnancy now, but preparing your body before getting pregnant will help you maintain a good routine after becoming pregnant!

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While I enjoy fitness, this pregnancy has really kicked my booty harder than my workouts have been lately! I feel like I may be turning a corner, but the exhaustion and the nausea have been real. It could be partly that it comes with the territory of having a toddler in full toddler-mode, and also growing a human being inside of me, but my lack of energy as of late speaks for the lack of motivation to hit the gym regularly! Sometimes Mama just wants to stay home and eat a s’mores pop tart. I’ll admit, one pop tart was consumed during the making of this post.

All this leads to my main point. Though I haven’t had as much energy these last few weeks to hit the gym more than a couple times a week, I can be motivated with a short, easy workout in my own home! I mean, come on. Bra, no bra? Real workout pants, pajama pants? No one knows! You’re able to burn some calories and feel great afterward regardless of what you’re wearing or how dirty your hair may be, and for me, that’s for many days the more realistic alternative!

I decided to pull some of my favorite exercises for my butt and legs (and core!) and create a short, 10 minute workout that is safe (in most cases) for all trimesters during pregnancy, and also, I believe, a great workout for moms to get back in the groove post-pregnancy! Ten minutes may not seem like a lot, but trust me…I’ve done this routine myself, and you definitely feel a good burn! The other great thing about this simple workout is that you don’t need much more space than the size of your own home! Scoot a couch back a few inches, crank some music, and you’re good to go!  If you’re feeling ambitious, repeat the steps one or two more times and make a 10 minute workout a good 30 minute one! Ready?!

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Cardio

Start your workout with some cardio to get your heart pumping and start burning those calories! You’ll continue burning calories throughout the workout once you stimulate your body and get it pumping!

  1. Butt Kicks- 45 seconds   This is a really simple step and if you haven’t done them before, it’s basically like jogging in place, only make sure to bring your foot all the way up to your butt. Go at a steady pace, but always listen to your body!
  2. Knee Highs- 45 seconds   This is another simple exercise to get your blood pumping. Holding your hands out, lift one knee and bring it up to your parallel hand, then switch and bring your other knee up to its parallel hand. Again, keep a steady pace with this to get your heartrate going!
  3. Lateral Shuffle-45 seconds   With this exercise, bend your knees and keep your core balanced and upright. Shuffle a few steps to your right, then shuffle a few steps to the left, and repeat for the 45 seconds. The more swiftly you do this move, the more you will feel it!
*Stay in tune with your body and never push yourself farther than what you are comfortable with!*
–water break–

Standing Exercises

These exercises will focus on your butt and thighs and most can be done *optional with weights! It’s a great way to add an extra challenge and also throw some arm muscle toning in too.
  1. Standing Lunges- 1 minute (weights optional)   For this exercise, you should be very careful to keep good form to avoid injury. The bigger the belly, the more you need to make sure your body is in good balance! Keeping your spine straight throughout the duration, step back with your right foot about 2-3 feet. You can keep your hands down to your sides, or hold some 2 or 5lb. weights like I did above. Lift your back foot so that your toe makes contact with the floor and your heel is off the floor. Then, bend both knees (the goal is for both knees to hit a 90 degree angle). Make sure your right knee doesn’t bend over the right toe line. Hold for about 5 seconds, and then repeat the steps with the other side.
  2. Squats- 1 minute (weights optional)   I LOVE doing squats! It’s an exercise you’ll feel today and tomorrow. The best way I can describe doing a squat is to first set your feet about shoulder width apart. You can hold your belly to help you balance, or hold onto some weights like I’ve shown above. Keeping your core centered, spine straight, and butt back as you go down, squat down and act as if you are going to sit in a chair, and slowly come back up. Keep your butt tight as you do these for best results. If you choose to use the weights, a great way to incorporate them as you squat is to do a punching movement each time you are squatted down (squat, right punch, left punch, back up). You can sort of see the movements I used in the above picture!
  3. Plie Squats- 1 minute/ Pulse- 30 seconds   This is an alternate style of squat that is very effective and again, gives you a burn right away that lingers a day or two! Set your feet about a shoulder’s width apart, this time with your feet pointed out (think of a ballerina). Hold on to your belly if it helps you stay balanced, and keeping your thighs and butt tight and core centered, squat down and slowly come back up. After your minute is up, go into your squatted position and slightly bounce up and down in a “pulsing” motion. Don’t come all the way back up when doing this; the goal is to stay squatted and lightly bounce, keeping thighs and butt tight. Feel the burn!
  4. Wall Sit- 45 seconds   For this, find a flat wall (easy enough to do!) and stand with your back against the wall and your feet about shoulder’s width apart. then, keeping your back straight, go into a sitting position (really just like you are sitting in a chair). Make sure your knees do not go over your toes. You can hold the baby belly, or keep your hands in your lap as you “sit.”

–water break–

Sitting Exercises

For these, it’s helpful to have a mat for some cushion, though not necessary! They will also focus on core strength, which is so beneficial during and after pregnancy when our muscles are totally shot!

  1. Arm and Leg Raises- 1 1/2 minutes   Start on all fours, and slowly lift one leg, and the opposite arm (like in one of the pics above). Make sure to keep your butt tight as you lift your leg back. Then, slowly come back down and repeat the opposite arm and leg. Keep your butt tight while you do these, but this will also help your core and arms! As you get further into your pregnancy, it may not be safe to raise your arm while doing this exercise. If it is uncomfortable for you, keep both arms down and use the same lift and tuck movements with your legs like normal. You’ll still get the burn in your glutes and core strengthening without the risk of losing your balance.
  2. Side Leg Lifts- 1 minute + 20 second circular movements per leg   Lay on your side and stabilize yourself with your arm (like shown in above pic). If your belly is bigger, make sure your whole side is flat on your mat. Slowly raise one leg up as high as you can, and bring it back down. After about 30 or so seconds on one side, add in 10 seconds of small forward circular movements, and 10 seconds of small backward circular movements. To do this, raise your leg just about 6 inches, and with your foot, make forward (or backward) circular movements. Repeat with your other leg.

–water break–

*Try repeating the whole work out for double or triple the muscle and calorie burn if you’re body is feeling good!

I was so excited to formulate this routine and share with you all, as a way to encourage you to keep you feeling and looking great during your pregnancy, and also to hold me accountable to keep at it throughout my own pregnancy! Obviously, our goal during pregnancy should never be “weight loss,” or doing some major body sculpting; rather, it’s to maintain a healthy weight, keep those muscles toned, and feel amazing during these 9 months. It’s so beneficial for mom and baby to exercise and keep moving! Whether you’re in tip-top shape, or a very early beginner, you can do these simple workouts at your own pace and time! Only have energy for half the time? Cut it down in half and start there! Any effort is a great start, and your body will thank you for it!

*I do want to state that it is always safe and a good idea to check with your doctor before any type of exercise during pregnancy. In most cases, you’ll get the okay, but for some with complications there may be restrictions and limits to what you should and shouldn’t do!*

I hope I gave you a great lower body workout that will keep your butt and thighs feeling tight and looking hot during and after your pregnancy! What are some of your favorite workouts that are safe for pregnancy?! I would love to hear what you all do to stay moving! If you don’t follow Oak and Earth on Instagram yet, we have created a new page (@OakandEarth) that you can follow! I also have my personal Instagram @terapianalto that you can follow and stay up to date on blog happenings. Plus, now you can find us on our Facebook page (Oak and Earth)!

Can’t wait to see how you all enjoy the workout! Here are the steps, without the how-to’s:

butt kicks (45 seconds)

knee highs (45 seconds)

lateral shuffle (45 seconds)

standing lunges (1 minute)

squats (1 minute)

plie squats (1 minute)/pulse (30 seconds)

wall sits (45 seconds)

arm and leg raises (1 1/2 minutes)

side leg lifts (1 minute per side with 20 second circular movements per side)

*Repeat if you want a good sweat!!

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Peace-

Tera, xo

15 Healthy Snack Food Alternatives

Greetings! It’s Bethany here on the blog today.

With New Years resolutions in full swing, I am sure many people are already struggling to keep one of the most common resolutions: eating healthy. I have decided to discuss the Achilles heel of any of my attempts to healthy eating —snacks. If I am exercising and eating healthy meals, why does a little snack matter? Snacks can  account for many of our calories throughout the day, and some days snack calories can surpass calories from our meals! In the past, I have tried cutting out snacks entirely. Not only is this not necessarily a healthy choice, but I failed miserably.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I had decided to cut out anything that wasn’t extremely healthy. On day five, I could feel my will power fading. I went to bed pretty hungry, but I decided to “sleep it off”. The next morning, I woke up feeling full! What a miracle. Sleeping it off had worked! Except it totally hadn’t.

When I went to turn off my alarm, I had some peculiar observations – my hands were sticky with a powdery orange resin. Then I saw it. The empty family sized Cheeto bag I had purchased before my health plans. When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I noticed a single shameful Cheeto stuck to my back. Not only is this not a sanitary way to sleep, but I had no idea how this even happened!

After this incident, I officially believe three things:

1. Sleep eating is a real thing.

2. You need to listen to your body. Don’t completely deny yourself of enjoying your food.

3. There has to be a way to be healthy and not compromise taste.

Whether you’re a working individual or a stay-at-home parent, unhealthy options are all around us! In my office, there is a full candy dish within arm’s reach, a snack machine right outside my door, and a free birthday cake for [insert coworker name here]. Since the Cheeto incident of 2014, I realized that I don’t have the will power to cut out every wonderfully tasting snack food available to me.

What’s the good news?

I have compiled a list of snack foods that have helped alleviate my cravings without completely compromising my health goals. In other words, the snacks can stay! In fact, I have found that these snacks in particular energize me throughout the day.  If you find yourself overthinking what you’re eating all the time, step back and make sure enjoying your food!

This list is not to completely cut out food you enjoy, but to equip you with some healthier options if you so choose! Eating some healthier options throughout the week also leaves some room for special treats (ice cream or lattes with friends etc.)  You can always try substituting out one or two snacks for the healthier version and go from there.

I made sure to try all of these snacks myself to ensure that they are easy to access, obtainable for busy individuals like myself, and tasty.

We are starting off this list with three healthy snack recipes that I recently made for the first time. I am really excited to add these three recipes to my collection. Let’s take a look!

1. Chilled Greek Yogurt Dipped Fruit

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This snack is great for your sweet tooth cravings. I’m surprised I have never made this sweet treat before now, but I was in love as soon as I tasted it. I am excited about all of the options with this snack. You can choose your desired fruit as well as your desired Greek yogurt. I used what I had on hand this day: a granny smith green apple and light berry Greek yogurt. I would suggest apples with plain Greek yogurt and local honey!

For this recipe, I simply sliced my apples, dipped them in Greek yogurt, and I chilled them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Chilling the yogurt onto the fruit is optional, but I suggest this for added dimension in texture. It’s also a lot less messy this way, and makes them easier to eat on the go!

Why Greek Yogurt? Find out HERE.

2. Baked Zucchini Chips

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As a person who is constantly craving chips, zucchini chips are a great alternative to the ones I would normally turn to. I was really excited to try this recipe, and for good reason. They turned out to be DELICIOUS. Since the baking time for these chips is two hours, I prep these at night and store them in an air tight container for next day use. The recipe was really simple to follow, and I’m incredibly happy to have found a chip alternative that I really enjoy!

You can find this recipe HERE. (Check out her awesome food blog while you’re at it.)

I like zucchini cooked many ways. It’s a side item to my meals several times a week. My next zucchini venture is try zucchini fries! You also might enjoy hearing about what nutritional value zucchini provides HERE.

3. Poached Egg on Wheat Toast (with optional avocado spread)

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While this recipe is not as travel friendly as my other options, I couldn’t resist adding a snack that contains eggs. Poached eggs are a great addition to your health plan. I pair mine with wheat toast so that I can have the complementary textures of crispy and soft. I would also suggest smearing on some slices of fresh avocado!

Poaching eggs can be a little fickle without a poacher. I learned how to poach eggs on the internet, and they turn out pretty great! To learn how to poach an egg, check out these simple instructions by one of my favorite chefs HERE. If you’re a visual learner, I have  found that the method in this video works as well: HERE.

Sometimes eating healthier is easier when you understand why you should eat certain foods. To hear some of the benefits of poached eggs, check out this article HERE.

List Continued:

The rest of this list is a compilation of my favorite snacks that I have made in the past or keep on hand. There is a mix of sweet, savory, soft, and crunchy. This allows some variation and a full pallet experience:

4. Hummus with Celery or Carrots

5. Air Popped Popcorn

6. Whole Grain Cereal

7. Dark Chocolate (in moderation)

8. Whole Grain Crackers with Laughing Cow Cheese

9. Almonds

10. Dried Fruit

11. Sliced Cucumber  in Vinaigrette (soak overnight)

12. Edamame with Sea Salt

13. Kale Chips

14. Wheat Toast with Blueberries, and Light Cream Cheese (or Greek Yogurt)

15. Air Popped Popcorn with Dark Chocolate ChipI hope you enjoyed my list of healthy snack foods!

Please let us know if you try any of these recipes! I would love to see how you put your own personal preferences into these snack options. What are some of your favorites that didn’t make this list? I’m always looking to expand my repertoire. While I love these healthy options, I believe that food should be a great experience. So have fun with it, and don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet, and hashtag your blog experiences with #OakAndEarthBlog. We would love to hear from you!

Have an incredible week!

-Bethany

 

 

Don’t ‘BEE’ Miserable During Spring: The Magic of Bee Pollen and Green Things

Spring can be the best and the worst for me personally, in so many ways. Springtime brings both a sense of renewal as well as (unfortunately), a seriously case of the sneezies.

But let’s begin with the praise of primavera, shall we?

REASONS THAT SPRING IS THE HONEY TO MY OATMEAL:

1) All Things Green.

I don’t know about you, but the bare branches and turtle necks start to wear on my soul near the end of March and the first sprouts of green grass or leaves on the trees appear like a breath of fresh air to thaw my winter blues! I’m convinced that velvety green grass underneath your feet can improve your mood, no matter how sour a day.

2) FLOWERS and more FLOWERS

Peonies, daisies, daffodils, even dandelions. (So what if they are a weed.) I love them all. Flowers may hold no practical or vital function to humans, yet they do SO much. They are a life boat for the existence of bees and plant life. Not to mention each type of flower is different. Can you just take a moment and think about how cool it is that flowers exist? God was the perfect scientist, chemist, and mathematician when he created the world, but was he not also the most exquisite artist? Flowers are so visually wonderful to the human senses that they seem to trigger an emotional response of pleasure as well. (Not to mention they smell fantastic.) And I choose to believe the last bit was added in just for us.

3) Vegging Out

Spring is the perfect time to start your garden, and you don’t have to be jack and the bean stock for something magic to occur! Whether you have a green thumb and start from the seed or prefer to by the plants to place in your garden plot, April and May are the two prime months for revving up your garden for a summer bounty. According to Saveur’s Spring Produce guide (which I’m only slightly obsessed with) here are a few of the veggies that are seasonal in Spring:

-Spinach, Asparagus, Arugula, Morels, Peas, Leeks, Radishes and Rhubarb.

All of the above are delicious in salads, sauteed, or even a rhubarb pie (or two, or three.) So get groovy with some dirt therapy and get that garden going!

And now…..

REASON THAT SPRING MAKES MY EYES FEEL LIKE AN ITCHY WOOL SWEATER AND MY NOSE ERUPT LIKE A VERY UNFLATTERING VOLCANO:

1) ALLERGIES. (A.K.A. The Bane of My Existence.)

According to the Asthma and Allergy foundation of America, over 45 million Americans are affected by Seasonal Allergies. YIKES!

Whether it be grass, flowers, or just being out in the fresh air, it seems as though the very things that make spring so lovely have an alter-ego evil side.

But Alas, Never Fear for BEE POLLEN Is Here!

Bee pollen, the yellow and unassuming substance created by honeybees turns out to be one of the most amazing, nutritious, and itchy-eye saving productions on earth! Who knew? The bees seem to have one-upped us on this one.

Although it may seem crazy to ingest a substance such as bee pollen, don’t worry, it’s totally amazing (and you should totally jump on the pollen train as quickly as your car can make it to the local co-op.)

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Shelby, discussing the benefits of bee pollen with the vendor at our local Dogwood Festival

REASONS WHY POLLEN IS THE BEES-KNEES:

(Information sourced from MindBodyGreen)

1) Taking a daily dose of bee pollen can help build immunity in your system to certain allergies!

2) Pollen is a nutrient (A.K.A. it’s great for you) packed with vitamins, antioxidants and protein.

3) It’s perfect sprinkled in most foods/smoothies and creates an added sprinkle of gorgeous color. (All you need is a spoonful!)

If this allergy season is getting to you as much is it is affecting me, I urge and plead for you to give a daily dose of bee pollen a try.

If possible, buy local pollen from your town or cities’ co-op, grocery store, or farmer’s market. That goes for honey too! (I snagged my pollen and honey this year from a local Arkansas beekeeper.)

HOW I BECAME POLLEN-IZED:

I have now been taking my daily dose of pollen for two weeks and these are the results that I have noticed:

WEEK 1: moderate decrease in itchy-eyes and frequency of sneezing.

WEEK 2- considerably decreased itchy-eyes, sneezing, and reduced irritation.                I’m not buzzing you on this one!!!!  I’m convinced of the power and I hope that this has at least peaked your interest and that you may even give it a try!                    Remember it just takes a spoonful day 🙂    If you do try it, please let me know your own comments/thoughts/results!               Get your daily dose of golden goodness so you can get outside and enjoy the beauty of all things green.

–Christiana

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Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=33

Food Matters: http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/10-amazing-health-benefits-of-bee-pollen

MindBodyGreen: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12765/how-bee-pollen-could-cure-your-allergies.html

Saveur: http://www.saveur.com/