Anyone who knows me well knows I have a somewhat rocky relationship with cooking, but over this past year what once was a dreaded chore has started to become my newest creative outlet. These few resources have been the biggest contributors to my growing comfort in the kitchen:
Salt, Fat, Acid, & Heat: I’m not talking about the documentary series on Netflix (although that is wonderful), but Samin Nosrat’s book, which has been one of the most helpful tools I have picked up this year. Nosrat’s primary goal is not to merely deliver ingredients and recipes; instead, she is out to teach the very basic elements of cooking, equipping the reader with enough baseline knowledge to confidently make their own chef-worthy decisions in the kitchen.
Bon Appetite: This has mostly been for enjoyment, but Bon Appetite’s magazine is filled with not only with great recipe ideas and hacks but also incredible writing. They also have a great podcast and Youtube channel, which they often link together, so it’s fun to learn a recipe through several different mediums.
Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club: I couldn’t talk about my growth in cooking without mentioning Sara Forte and her cooking club, Sprouted Kitchen. Forte is a local mom in Orange County and an accomplished cookbook author who created a weekly meal planning subscription service. Her meals are healthy, delicious, complex, and attainable all at the same time. My family loves them, and it’s helped me really broaden my experience in the kitchen.
The primary place where I learn these days is through podcasts. There are so many favorites, but the following few stick out the most from this year:
Journeywomen: Hunter Beless is one of my favorite podcasters mostly because she doesn’t present herself as the expert but in her humility and curiosity finds the right people to discuss various topics pertaining to Christian life. Two of the episodes that had the most significant impact on me were Ep.57 Wisely Using Technology with Tony Reinke & Ep. 74: The Will of God with Jen Wilkin.
Coffee & Crumbs: A must for any of you moms out there. There are a million reasons I love this podcast but primarily it’s chock full of tangible takeaways, hilariously relatable stories, and honest expressions of what it’s like being in the trenches of motherhood. My favorites are any of their “This Is How We Do…” episodes, and I also really loved Ep. 69: Motherhood & Minimalism, Ep. 76: Being a Good Friend in Hard Seasons & their two part series on sex is great too.
Knowing Faith: This is helpful for anyone trying to grow in their knowledge of the scriptures. They handle topics with clarity and thoroughness. (Favorite Episodes: Ep. 30: How to Read Your Bible & Ep. 39: Humble Calvinism)
3. Reading for Enjoyment
Since college I’ve primarily used reading as an outlet for increasing my knowledge on a particular topic, but this year I’ve picked up books just for the pleasure of reading again. I’ve been introduced to some beautiful and fascinating stories along the way. My favorite this year was Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. Her story is both heartbreaking and humbling, and her storytelling skills are beautiful.
4. Analog Planner
I have been using this analog planner for two years now, and although my friends kind of poke fun at me for this, I swear by it. While writing on a calendar is somewhat of an obsolete practice by some, I have benefitted from it in a number of ways: 1) the act of writing out my plans lodges them in my memory (we have all heard the benefits of writing, but I can also nowpersonally attest to this), 2) I regularly and yearly review how I’ve been using my time. I use these colored post it notes to color code our activities and regularly do a mini self-assessment to glance over my calendar and assess how we are doing as a family, gauge how I’m doing personally, and consider what we could be eliminating or giving more of our time to. It’s not shown in the photo above, but I also try to use my planner to track my personal disciplines or habits that I’m trying to incorporate (exercise, Bible reading, sleep, etc) to help me better assess sources of burnout or increased energy. Here is how I color code our calendar:
Pink: Family Time/ Date Time
Orange: Important Appointments or Deadlines
Blue: Hosting at Home
Yellow: Going out, Events, Parties, Being with People, Etc.
Green: Birthdays, Holidays, Anniversaries, Etc.
5. Instagram for Learning
Many of us have a love/hate relationship with social media, and I can relate. Lately I’ve been trying to scale down who I’m giving my attention to. Rather than getting rid of social media altogether, I have been really benefitting from a few people who have been using their social feeds well. Here are a few of my favorites:
Phylicia Masonheimer: Masonheimer is a Bible teacher who primarily focuses on teaching her followers how to develop their spiritual muscles in biblical discernment. She encourages her readers to use God’s word to form opinions and engage in respectful dialogue with other believers. I don’t always agree with where she lands, but she models for me how to have a respectful and helpful dialogue with Christians across the entire theological spectrum by relying on God’s word as the primary source.
Ruth Chou Simons: Ruth is one of my favorite writers on Instagram. She is thoughtful, heartwarming, and honest in her posts. She doesn’t hide the tough stuff, but still loves to capture beauty and truth and holds those things in balance really well.
Valerie Woerner: I love Valerie because she is full of tips and encouragement in developing a healthy and consistent prayer life, organization hacks for the home, and random thoughts on productivity, motherhood, and life as a Christian.
Well-Watered Women: I’ve been following Well-watered women for quite some time now and it’s consistently been a space that encourages me to get in the Word regularly.
6. Best Purchases
Mooji Gel Ink Pens: This is totally nerdy but my husband and I are obsessed with these pens from Japan, and they have become the only pens we write with now.
Travel Makeup Case: This travel make up bag is my favorite because it keeps everything organized and easy to find.
Milk Frother: This milk frother has totally changed my experience with coffee at home. I rarely go out for coffee anymore because of it.
Phone Case: This phone case is top quality and was so cheap. It came with a screen protector as well.
Scripture Memory Cards: I learned of these from Hunter Beless from Journeywomen. I love that they’re affordable, easy to fit in a purse, and keep me in the habit of writing which helps with memory.
7. Bible Study Tools
There is nothing that drives me to my deepest joy than getting into God’s Word. Reading the Bible can be intimidating, but these tools have been immensely helpful to me:
Chronological Reading Plan: I love this reading plan so much because you read through the Bible according to the historical timeline of events. I have found this the most helpful as I seek to piece together the overall storyline of Scripture. A friend and I are committing to reading it together this year. Anyone want to join us?
Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament: This small devotional has been such a helpful tool to read alongside my normal Bible reading. I don’t usually follow it by date but more by where I am in the Bible. Nancy Guthrie does such an incredible job examining how all of scripture points to Jesus.
The Bible Project: The Bible Project has created animated videos for each book of the Bible that explain how the entire Bible is one unified story. I watch these whenever I’m feeling a little lost or confused of context of what I’m reading.
Abide Method From Risen Motherhood: Risen Motherhood offers a ton of great resources but I really appreciate these worksheets in particular. They are helpful in providing a simple structure for reading.
8. Best Purchases For Kids
Magna-tiles: My kids literally play with these every single day and they can keep at it for hours. I also loved this idea from @katieprouty to play with Magna-tiles on the metal garage door. P.S. Haddon definitely dressed himself for this photo.
Music: Be Held: Christy Knockles lullaby album is beautiful to listen to (and she also has an instrumental version). Journeywomen Kids Playlist: These songs are enjoyable for both me and the kids. Sing: Creation Songs by Ellie Holcomb is on repeat in our car and the kids love singing along.
Art for Kids Youtube Channel: Technically not a purchase, but a great free resource. Geneva loves to draw and since art classes are out of the budget right now this Youtube channel has been the next best thing. Although some of the drawings are a bit too advanced for her age there are a ton that she’s able to do and the ones she can’t she watches and learns or uses it as an inspiration point.