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Blackened Tilapia with Mango-Pineapple Salsa

TilapiawithSalsaY’all. We had such a fun spring break visiting family in Florida and oh wow– eating at all the restaurants. The city where I grew up has grown more and more into a fabulous foodie town, so when we visit we are torn between visiting our old favorites and trying new places. However, after a week of calorie splurge meals– it has been so good to get back to our normal eating plan. Enter protein shakes for breakfast and Lean protein for dinner!

When we are needing a nutritional jump-start, I always turn to fish or chicken and veggies. I love to find flavorful ways to make the same old protein interesting– and this Blackened Tilapia with Mango-Pineapple Salsa is definitely a favorite.

A few notes: If you have a cast-iron skillet, drag it out and use it to cook your fish– it makes a beautiful charred crust. Also, I used fresh pineapple because it was on sale– but you could certainly use frozen. I do use frozen Tilapia. Here is where you can find our favorite blackening seasoning for seafood– Louisiana Cajun Blackened Seasoning*  and I use it on just about everything fish related.

Blackened Tilapia with Mango-Pineapple Salsa

  • Tilapia Filets, thawed and rubbed with olive oil.
  • Cajun Blackened Seasoning, sprinkle generously on both sides of fish.
  • 1 cup of chopped Pineapple
  • Half a Large Red pepper, chopped
  • Half a Red Onion, chopped
  • Half a Poblano Pepper
  • 1 Mango, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from one lime
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tbs. EVOO to cook fish

To make Salsa–dice pineapple, mango, peppers and onion and add to bowl. Add cilantro and lime juice and then add Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat Cast Iron Skillet to Medium-High, Pour 1 tbs. Olive Oil into skillet. Once pan is hot, add fish filets but do not crowd the pan. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, until fish flakes easily with a fork and has nice crispy edges.

Top Tilapia with Pineapple Mango Salsa and enjoy! We have served this alongside salad or black beans and rice or even grilled vegetables.

 

 

*Amazon affiliate link.


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To the mom who hopes to survive today.

Dear Mom who has nothing on her mind today but keeping everyone alive,

There are seasons in life when the To-Do list is doable and the fridge stays full. The forms get turned in on time and the kids stay relatively happy, in their right minds and in clean clothes.

But,

There are also seasons in our lives where there is only one thing on the list. One thing for today, one thing for tomorrow– Survival. 

And that is ok. We have all been where you are today.

Rocking a newborn while resisting the urge to shush a toddler who hops excitedly around you both.

Feeling accomplished just because you brushed your teeth and made one side of the bed.

Changing sheets in the middle of the night, to change them again in two hours– or two minutes.

Graciously accepting an offer of takeout and knowing you haven’t even the strength to cook a frozen pizza.

Sitting collasped in a chair, watching your guy graciously help with the laundry and fighting the guilt with gratefulness. So much gratefulness.

Snuggled up with stair- stepped tiny humans all around you, heart and lap full to overflowing– for another episode of Daniel Tiger.

Feeding a little bundle of swaddled softness, with only baby noises and the 3am glow of Gilmore Girls to keep your heavy eyelids cracked open.

Standing in the kitchen with first babe strapped to your back, wondering if you even have enough hands for the 2nd babe growing in your belly. ( spoiler alert, you do have enough hands and there will be enough of you to go around when the time comes.)

Looking out as the sun sinks low and the street lights come on, feeling the pull of those dark baby blues on your little life as mom. Whether it’s your first or fifth rodeo, can I remind you? It gets better, I promise and you are not alone.

Watching pants get too short for skinny little growing legs and wishing you hadn’t wished the time away.

Hoping everyone will sleep just a little longer tonight and that we all make it through tomorrow as well.

One day at a time, sweet overwhelmed Mama. One day at a time is ALL you have. Don’t try to conquer the world today, do what you do best and be their mom in whatever capacity you can. Give yourself the grace to cue up the netflix, take a deep breath and smile– you’re living the dream. 

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On scowling at the mirror and who might be watching.

Your eyebrows feel funny.” She said.

I raised my index finger up and lightly touched them, feeling what she meant.

Ohhh, that’s my eyebrow gel. It keeps my eyebrows in place– so they don’t wave all over the place,” as I waved my fingers at her in over exaggeration and she giggled.

Her face grew serious and she put her pint-sized hands on either side of my face, “Mommy? You’re very pretty. But sometimes–

Uh-oh here it comes, I thought— the disclaimer that will probably point out the things I am painfully aware of. (Seriously, this is the same kid who pointed out that my rear end was almost as large as my 5 month pregnant belly when her sister was still growing in there. She is one of those honest types.)

I steeled myself for what was coming but she shook her head and continued, “Sometimes, I just like your face with nothing else on it. No makeup. Just skin.” 

Those green eyes, reflecting the light back to me– revealed that she meant every precious word. Unfortunately, I immediately remembered frowning into my bedroom mirror that morning. Paying close attention to every little thing that was anything but “very pretty,” in my mind. I don’t always do that– but the last six weeks I’ve been benched from my usual exercise and my eyes have been given that special fancy spring pollen treatment. It’s been way too much scrutiny and not nearly enough thanksgiving over here.

I ache at the thought of my daughters, one day frowning at the girl in the mirror and I am determined that they walk these halls in complete assurance of their God-made-ness. My heart follows behind them with a pitcher of kind words and truth spoken into their little hearts, hoping to top off their emotional cup at every turn.

And even in my desperate desire to always be the cup filler, I still miss it.

I see their eyes catch the light and the curves of their tiny heart-shaped faces. I savor their delicate grace like only their mother can, the one whose imperfect body was their first home.

Their upturned faces are more than I can handle in the way of breathtaking and all I can do is sigh and smile. But the way I SEE them? It’s familiar.

And in that moment, when my love for them takes every bit of swallowing back tears that I can muster– I remember that I see them in a bit of the same way that God sees me.

And I wish I saw myself regularly in that beautiful filter that comes from knowing what is true.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 

But there are still times when we do not feel wonderfully made, when we forget that He has made us in HIS image, when our souls do not know it very well at all. When I am blinded by what I think I see– maybe that is the very moment when I need to KNOW it very well. 

May we take a step back and notice the loving gaze of the One who made us with His own hands and makes no mistakes.

And perhaps we should also notice who is coming behind us– watching us and our reflection in the mirror. May they often see us smiling instead of scowling.

happygostuckey.com


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What I learned in March

March was something of a month of stripping away. When March began, I had high hopes and lofty goals. But, it took us a solid two weeks to not feel like we were perpetually jet-lagged due to the time change– (I know what are we, a bunch of newborn babies??!)

In March I didn’t write like I wanted to, read like I wanted to, get up early like I wanted to, or exercise like I wanted to. Life just happened and kept right on happening. But even in the absence of the rhythms we may hold dear, the days were still quite meaningful and often still very full of wonder.

In March I….

  • was given this piece of fancy footwear and the frustrating, “avoid the cardio for 6 weeks,” from a Doctor who cared very little that I would miss my 1 year anniversary of going from episodic-exercise-girl to can’t-wait-to-get-to-the-gym girl. She’s still in here somewhere, hanging out on the weight machines and counting down the days.
  • learned that I will always love Fairytales, especially Cinderella. We saw Cinderella about a week ago, and I LOVED every minute of it. Having only ever seen the animated version, there were so many elements of this story that came alive for me for the very first time. I appreciate Disney’s care with the story itself and how they told it in such an exquisite way. Go see it!!!!
  • I realized afresh that you absolutely, always need your parents. Something scary happened with one of our family members this week, (they are doing much better now!) and I immediately called my Mom & Dad. They listened as I gave them the emotional details and then I sat on my kitchen floor and listened to them. All at once I was seven years old again and looking for words of comfort. I’ll never outgrow that.

What I’m loving lately–

  • Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Fearless.  Okay. This blush is fantastic. Ever since Tiffany mentioned it, I have been wanting to give it a try– and it seriously does stay on that long! Many cosmetic products say 12 hr. or 18 hr. wear but what they mean is, “somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 minutes.” Not this one, it STAYS! And, you only need a tiny bit. And don’t let the “clay” part scare you, it goes on just like regular powder blush, but apparently it is solar-baked or something– I know, so FANCY, right?!!
  • StitchFix. Yes, I drank the Stitchfix kool-aid. IMG_3670I heard so many good things and it was time to test it out. Shopping is really only fun when you actually find what you’re looking for, right?

I am not super-picky, but I don’t enjoy spending all day looking for an item and striking out, especially if that whole time I’ve been trying to entertain kiddos and keep the little darlings from disappearing into multiple clothing racks.

So, I’m trying the online route. I have heard amazing reports from others who have used the Stitchfix service and this month I tried it for the first time! I’ll be honest, my first fix was slightly disappointing, but I did come away with the prettiest textured, grey cardigan and I cannot wait to wear it again!

What’s that? You want to see it? Hmmm… ok, here it is!

IMG_3700

I love how light and airy it is, perfect for all those warm days we are about to have. The quality far exceeded my expectations– even for a cardigan wearing girl like myself. (Sorry for the Squinty-Spring-Sunshine-Eyes)

Sadly, I sent everything else back because it wasn’t right for one reason or another. Okay, so “loving” may be a strong verb. But I have high hopes that this time next month, I’ll be loving it even more. I have heard the more feedback you give, the better your next fix will be. And I certainly did LOVE all the little touches Stitchfix provides. The cost is $20.00 per fix which applies as credit to whatever you buy and free shipping either way! Not to mention the sweet note from my stylist and the style suggestion cards they send. Such FUN.

IMG_3672 If you are at all interested in trying StitchFix, I recommend you give it a shot! You go online and fill out this extensive style profile that really helps them know “who” you are and what you like. Another thing I did was create a style Pinterest board, and then they get the link to it to assist them in knowing what I like. If you DO decide to try Stitchfix, will you consider using my referral code? Click HERE to hop over there! They give credit when we share the Stitchfix love with others. <3 Also, I definitely want to know if you have tried it in the past and what you thought!

Well that about wraps up my March! I’m linking up with Emily over at Chatting at the Sky and Leigh Kramer sharing what we learned and what we are in to! What about you? What did you learn this month?

Check out all my other “What I Learned” posts here.


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Real Moms Need Grace

I am often shocked by how much grace I need. How many new mercies I find myself requiring each and every single morning.

Especially as a mother. Way back when I wore purple yarn ribbons in my pigtails and unicorns on my sneakers, I wanted to be a mom. My mom practically has a Master’s degree in nurturing others. She served us all so well that she often fell asleep at red lights just to catch up on rest. She loved us all and loved us fervently. I saw what it meant to truly sacrifice for another and I wanted to be someone’s mother way back then.

And now, when I look into the little faces looking up at me, I cannot help but wish sometimes that I didn’t mess up so often. But more than I would ever want them to have a perfect mother, I want for them to have a REAL mother. To see that real moms love big and mess up sometimes.

One day, I hope they will be in my shoes– and when they look back as I often do, I pray that they will remember that in this imperfect house, we loved big and forgave much.

As they look at themselves, I pray that they give themselves the GRACE to know that love is risky and people are flawed.

And more than anything that we would want to teach the upturned faces that look up at us and follow close behind us, I pray that they see that REAL moms need grace.

Real moms can be tired and cranky and impatient and oh yeah– sinners in desperate DAILY need of a SAVIOR. 

And maybe just one day in the far off future, they will grow up to be real moms in need of grace too. I pray they grab hold of that grace from God’s own hand every day. That they never lose sight of the fact that grace is more than just something we need when we mess up, but it’s the lifeblood that keeps us daily in His service and always at His feet.

“Grace isn’t about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could never use them throughout all eternity and never come up empty. It’s when you finally realize that the other shoe isn’t going to drop, ever. It’s the moment you feel as precious and handmade as every star, when you feel, finally, at home for the very first time. Grace is when you stop keeping score and when you realize that God never was, that His game is a different one entirely.

–Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet

I’m back linking up with the Five Minute Friday Party Girls today! Check them out over here


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Growth in the Quiet Places, (or why I only need one shoe.)

Confession time: I am a terrible gardener.

That is not to say I don’t love plants and flowers– because I do. I love the idea of having produce and flowers at my fingertips year round– and I love a little trip to Lowe’s garden center as much as anyone… but that is usually as far as it goes. I forget my plants. I neglect to water them. I love them and take photos of them to plaster on Instagram like any mother earth would– and then I completely forget they even exist.

It’s Lorelai Gilmore and Skippy the Hamster all over again.

Until the plants die, and then I’m crushed and I curse the Georgia clay and the beautiful shade-producing trees in our backyard and then my sweet husband reminds me that they lived a half life of being dehydrated most of the time. Oops.

So this year I purposed to be different, starting with the hydrangeas in our front yard. So much so that I pinned thoughts on taking care of them. Quickly learning I needed to “winterize” them by pruning before the buds came in, I marched outside armed with my pruning shears and big fat plans to get them ready for spring. (Spoiler alert, hydrangeas have to be pruned way before winter is nearly over, so if you’re reaching for your own pruning shears– I have to break it to you– we both missed the boat this year.) 

As I approached my brown, spindly dead-looking hydrangeas, I was completely startled to see them bearing new buds. In a yard full of dry, dormant plants, and without any help from me– they were pushing forward to the next thing. These tiny buds of spring were startling to me and I thought about them for several days. Even now, they remind me that not only is Spring coming– and we can’t stop it even if we try.

New growth comes after these seasons of quiet, of rest, of space where it seems nothing is happening for crying out loud. 

And though I know I need rest, I want specific rest. I want rest in my way, in the manner and form that I think I need it. So often I think of rest as something I willingly choose and enjoy with a good book or a pedicure.

But sometimes rest is exactly the opposite of desirable.

Sometimes rest is that which puts us in a place that feels ten steps back.

Two weeks ago, I had the amazing honor of speaking to a group of women on the topic of rest, margin and whitespace. I told them something along the lines of, “Beware of not allowing yourself to rest– God knows you need it, and He just might give it to you.”

And then. Two days later I sat in an Orthopedist’s office as he gave me this:

IMG_3506

Stress Fracture. Hello, six week boot. I am not pleased to meet you.

And I pitched a royal fit. Not in his office because well, I have some decorum.

But after, and I’m somewhat ashamed to say that every day since then I’ve asked the question with all the whine of a petulant child, “REALLY? Why now?” 

Clearly, I don’t mind slowing down on my terms. Every afternoon around 2:30 I slow down with coffee and words. Each night around 10PM I slow down with Wild Orange Oil and a fluffy pillow. But slow down in such a way that makes me miss my favorite form of exercise for six weeks and leaves me hobbling eight steps behind my children like a frustrated female version of Downton Abbey’s John Bates? No, thank you. 

Le Sigh. But there is a purpose to this “rest time” and as much as I come into it kicking and screaming, I certainly do not wish to waste it.

If the budding Hydrangeas have taught me nothing else… I know that the quiet should not be underestimated– for growth is happening under the surface.

And that things happen when we embrace the rest. Embrace the empty-spaces. Embrace the time where it appears nothing is happening. 

And even though this lesson is one I have been learning way back when it was still last year,

I am choosing again, anew, to respect the process and soak it all in. 

 

What process are you soaking in today? Would love your thoughts. <3

 


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Prepping for Easter (and a book review!)

Growing up, my parents were always careful that Jesus and His resurrection were the focus of Easter. Sure, we had chocolate bunnies and new clothes for Sunday– but all of that was a far second to the beauty and hope of Easter. I remember sitting in church on Easter Sunday and staring down at my white lacy socked feet sticking straight out from the red pew and listening to the message filled with Salvation and Truth. Probably while also wondering if I could sneak a bite of bunny ears after church and before lunch. Easter has always been extra special to me, as I actually came to Christ as a result of a Easter Flannel Graph story. My sweet school teacher shared the story with us one morning the week before Easter Sunday. If you don’t know what a Flannel Graph is, I am very sorry to have just dated myself. 

Now as a parent, I face a different challenge when it comes to preparing our family for Easter and it isn’t Easter clothes and Reese’s Eggs. It’s Golf.

Where we live there’s a little sporting event every April, maybe you’ve heard of it– The Masters?

The Master’s is a HUGE honor for our town and we, as a city spend much of the year preparing our homes, lawns and businesses for that one week.

We even commonly rent our house out that week so that adds another element of preparation.

Most years, Easter falls very soon after Masters and therefore, Easter always seems to sneak up on us.

No matter what we plan to do in preparation of our hearts, the last few weeks prior it to find us running ragged and being far from home.

This year in particular, Easter Sunday will be the Sunday before the tournament begins– adding even more crazy!

So what do we do? Well, in a few words, we have to be much more Intentional as we prepare for Easter Sunday.

I am planning early and planning to take our “Easter” with us. That way wherever we are in the days leading up to and after Resurrection Sunday, we can have the tools we need to be purposeful in teaching our children and in preparing our own hearts. I am happy to have a few neat, creative tools to assist us in doing just that.

One thing we love are these Resurrection Eggs! They allow our girls to interact with the story, and the hands on learning is perfect for their age level.

I recently had the opportunity to snag a free copy of The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book by Kelly Pullen to review and I’m so glad I did.

This full-color book has story pages, color by number sheets, over 50 stickers and more activities to further teach the story of Easter. The book takes you step by step from when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem all the way to His ascension. The illustrations are typical of the Beginner’s Bible, colorful and happy. Though the pages are a bit glossy, they are rather thick, making it a great book for coloring. My kindergartener is perfectly content with this book for quite a while. What I love most about the sticker & activity book is that it is exactly on her reading and artistic level and as she enjoys the activities, she’s learning more Bible truth. 

I think this would make an excellent little gift to stick into a child’s Easter basket. It would also be the perfect thing to go ahead and pick up now as we look ahead to next month. There are many sweet spring books available and even a few quality books that focus on the true meaning of Easter, but this is the first interactive book I have seen. Its’ engaging and colorful pages have been poured over frequently in our house lately. Consider picking up one for the littles in your house!

I am appreciative for the opportunity to give my honest opinion of this book, thank you BookLook Blogger Team!

I was given a free copy of The Beginner’s Bible Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion. 

*All amazon links are affiliate links. 
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