32 Weeks in Snowy Zagreb


Monday, January 23, 2017

I don't think I've done a pregnancy post since I first shared that we were expecting, and in my total pregnancy brain, I also don't think I've shared here that we're having a GIRL!!! We could not be more excited at the thought of two little girls and John Shea as their big brother. Cam and I both thought we were definitely having a boy.. I even bought hypothetical him a little outfit and had a bunch more saved once our doctor confirmed the sex. Whenever I asked the kids if they were having a little brother or sister they said sister every single time. From the mouth of babes! We should have listened to them:) They have been such gems throughout this pregnancy... When I ask Gracie, "where's the baby?" she pulls up her shirt and points at her own big belly! When I ask John Shea he smiles and gently pats my belly, gives a kiss or waves at it.

Look at that pout, ha! Daddy telling her she needs to keep her mittens on.

If it looks cold, it's because it is!! But I have never enjoyed Winter so much as this year-- we're all so excited for the sweet little girl arriving at the end of it!

Hope you all have a great week!

Zadar, Croatia


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Zadar is another beautiful ancient city on the Dalmatian Coast, about two hours north of Split. We love traveling in Dalmatia as a family during Winter and Spring. Many restaurants and hotels are closed and towns and cities are quiet, except for the normal everyday life of the people who call it home. And that's exactly what we love getting to experience, without any of the crazy crowds. It's also much warmer than Zagreb in the wintertime and such a treat!

If you love history (and coffee!) come to Zadar. It's like walking through a living museum. Here are the 10 things we enjoyed the most about it:

1. Walk and explore the small old city. It's pedestrian-only and doesn't take long. You will find beautiful churches, cafes everywhere and history dating back to the 4th century BC. On Saturday mornings, everyone is out slowly walking the main cobblestone street and leisurely sipping coffee in a cafe.

2. Visit the Zadar Cathedral, originally built in the 4th and 5th centuries and later finished in the 12th and 13th. There are multiple services on Sunday morning and each one seemed to be packed. The bells also played and played for what sounded like the entire morning - it was beautiful!

3. Walk along the harbor at sunset. Alfred Hitchcock famously said that the most beautiful sunsets in the world are in Zadar!

4. End your sunset walk at the Sea Organ. Sit and listen as the waves go in and out over the underground pipes, creating lovely and unique music. Our kids also loved running on the Solar Panel Light Show once it got dark.

5. The Zadar Market! It was only about a quarter full since this is wintertime, but we still took home dried figs, lemons, aged cheese from Pag Island, fresh parsley and crunchy pears. Gracie was so thrilled to be there! Ha!

6. Roman Forum. It's the largest on this side of the Adriatic, built between the 1st and 3rd centuries by Emperor Augustus. It's still very much at the center of the old city. The best part about it is there's no entrance, no part of the ruins that are off-limits, it's just a normal extension of the town with an outdoor cafe and little kids running through it.

7. Explore the many churches, narrow streets and ancient city walls with the mark of the lion.  One of John Shea's favorite things to do in any part of Croatia is go into churches, especially the Cathedral, and immediately sit down in a pew to take it all in for a few minutes. It is so very precious.

8. Eat at Restaurant Kaštel. Every meal we had here was amazing! Our favorites were the homemade pastas with fresh seafood, stuffed chicken, lamb from nearby Pag Island and the incredible wines made within a twenty minute radius.

9. We stayed at Hotel Bastion (out of season) and couldn't recommend it more! It's one of two hotels actually in the old city and made it so easy for us to explore by foot multiple times a day. My husband planned this trip and could not have picked a better spot.

10. Pick an outdoor cafe, in the Roman Forum, outside the Cathedral (this is where we chose!) or anywhere in the city and enjoy a cup of coffee with the rest of the town, as many times as you can during the day. Just relax and take your time. This is the number one thing to do in Zadar! :)

Coconut Cashew Soup with Butternut Squash & Buckwheat Pasta with Zucchini Pesto


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Today I have the honor to share two recipes from my friend Maddie's new cookbook! Mads and I grew up like sisters, our childhood homes just a few blocks from each other. We even shared our closets all through junior high and high school. And now I'm so proud of her for all of the hard work she's put into her book, The Anti Inflammatory Diet Cookbook: No Hassle 30-Minute Recipes to Reduce Inflammation.

If you have any issues with inflammation (or gluten, soy or dairy), all 130 of her recipes are aimed at naturally reducing that through yummy recipes. But after going through her lovely book, it will appeal to anyone who likes flavorful, fresh food that's quick to make.

Thank you so much, Maddie, for sharing a few recipes with us all! Huge congratulations on your cookbook coming out on January 24!


Don’t you love it when something delicious is good for you? Modern studies have
shown that fresh ginger contains an active constituent called gingerol that can
inhibit inflammatory compounds, among numerous other therapeutic properties.

2 tablespoons coconut oil
¾ cup toasted cashews
2 red chili peppers, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 white onion, diced
1½ tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled
and minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small butternut squash, halved,
peeled and diced
1 small Napa cabbage, roughly shredded
2 cups green beans, trimmed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mung bean sprouts
4 tablespoons toasted coconut shavings

1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the cashews and sauté for 2 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
2. Add the peppers, garlic, and onion, and sauté for 6 minutes. Then add the ginger and carrots, and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the carrots and squash begin to soften.
3. Stir in the cabbage, green beans, broth, coconut milk, and salt, season with pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the bean sprouts and coconut shavings.
4. Pour into soup bowls and serve immediately.

INGREDIENT TIP: Coconut contains a specific type of saturated fat called medium-chain triglycerides. These fatty acids are associated with lowering inflammation that causes joint pain,
muscle aches, and arthritis.

PER SERVING Calories: 340; Total Fat: 25g;
Saturated Fat: 20g; Cholesterol: 0mg;
Carbohydrates: 23g; Fiber: 5g; Protein: 7g


Traditionally, Italian pesto is made from basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. Outside of Italy, you’ll find pestos made from a variety of ingredients with different greens added. Feel free to mix and match based on your tastes or the contents of your refrigerator. Buckwheat adds complex carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fiber—a triple win for blood sugar and energy levels since they burn slower throughout the day for sustained energy.

1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves 
1 cup chopped zucchini (see Preparation Tip) 
1⁄4 cup shelled sunflower seeds, plus more for garnishing 
2 garlic cloves 
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
1⁄4 cup shredded raw Parmesan cheese 
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1⁄4 teaspoon salt 
Freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces buckwheat pasta 
Filtered water, for cooking the pasta

1. In a food processor (or blender), combine the basil, zucchini, sunflower seeds, garlic, and 1⁄4 cup of olive oil. Blend for 15 seconds.
2 . Add the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt, and season with pepper. Pulse to combine.
3. With the food processor (or blender) running, slowly pour in the remaining 1⁄4 cup of olive oil until all ingredients are well combined.

1. Cook the pasta according to the pack- age instructions.
2. Pour the desired amount of pesto over the pasta, garnish with sunflower seeds, and serve.

PREPARATION TIP: Squeezing out any water from the chopped zucchini can keep the pesto from getting mushy.

PER SERVING Calories: 548; Total Fat: 35g; Saturated Fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 5mg; Carbohydrates: 45g; Fiber: 3g; Protein: 10g

Photo Credit (in order): Natasa Mandic / Darren Muir / Tatjana Ristanic

John Shea Does, Vol. 4


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I love doing these posts because these little people we've been given to raise are so incredibly special and bring us a ton of joy - I always hope they'll bring a smile to your face, too.

Whenever we have olives (his favorite food after chocolate) he tosses one in his mouth, says, "MMMMM!" and happily skips around the room.

When I have to discipline him, he comes up to me looking very serious, cups my face with his hands and plops a big kiss on my lips.

John had just finished building a tower out of blocks when little sister came running over and destroyed his hard work. He raised his arms above his head and looked like he wanted to hit her so badly. Instead, he stayed in control with his arms back and belly bumped her! Cam and I could not stop laughing. I haven't seen him hit or push her in ages. He just gives her a good belly bump and gets on with life. 

Anytime Cam or I have to leave solo or someone has been over and it's time to leave, he goes downstairs too, stands at the front door window and waves and blows kisses. The other day we had a few police officers here (long story!) who were not terribly friendly. As they were pulling out of the driveway, he ran after them blowing kisses, with his little sidekick next to him doing the same. 

He's started to help around the house... for real. A few weeks ago when I got the vacuum out, he wanted to do it... and did! He vacuumed the entire downstairs for a solid half hour and actually did a great job. He even pulled out the garbage can from under the sink and vacuumed in there, too. Gracie follows behind him "cleaning" every surface with an unused diaper - ha. 

He still sings, all the time. The best is when he plays the piano, sings totally off key, and little sis sings off key with him. It's so hard for us to keep a straight face and clap for them without cracking up!

(Recently found this precious photo! Time goes so fast, doesn't it?)

More John Shea Does here, here, and here

Happy New Year & Winter Days in Zagreb


Monday, January 9, 2017

The hills around our house covered in frost before the snow came. It was beautiful!

Cam and John Shea planted carrots this summer and we're still harvesting them - they are delicious!

Happy belated New Year!!

Cam went back to class today for his final months of his Masters Program, but we got to have the past few weeks with him home and it was heaven. We've had such sweet, slow-paced family time - quality time with our kids before it's time to welcome a new baby (I'm 30 weeks already!) and quality time in our marriage. I am so thankful for that gift and all the gifts God has graciously given this past year! I have also been hard at work behind the scenes on a big project that I am so excited about and cannot wait to start sharing about it here... soon.

Thank you for reading my blog and for those of you who continue to write such encouraging emails and notes and have become friends. I hope and pray that this is a good and beautiful year for you all!

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