I'm a pretty healthy human. I exercise, try to incorporate self-care into my daily routine and I have my healthy recipes to get me through the week, but despite all of my best efforts I still find myself wishing that a like-minded mom would just hand me her grocery list and tell me what to cook and what activities to do with my kid that week. Well, ask and you shall receive. Our interview today is with the founder of Nurture, Alexandria Smith. Not only does Alexandria share her go-to recipes for the week, but she is offering all of our readers a FREE month of nurture just for stopping by!
(Sullivan is wearinga Utility Suit in Raw Canvas)
Name / # of Kids (names & ages) / Job(s)
Alexandria (Alex) Smith / we have three kids, Daphne 8, Sullivan 5, and Marigold Sunshine is 2. I’m a photographer, doula, and the creator of Nurture.
Do you have a morning routine or something you practice that helps you to set the tone for the day?
I’ve realized that if I don’t practice my morning routine diligently, my patience runs thin earlier in the day, I’m a bit grouchy, and the whole day feels like a bit of a frazzled surface living fog… so yes, yes I do have a morning routine : ). I wake up before the kids, when the sun is still just a glowing ember nestled below the horizon, a blue cast blanketing the autumnal chill. I head outside for a prayer-filled run… perhaps a gentle jog would be a more accurate description though, and I let the newness of the day wash over me. It just feels like this big wonderful opportunity is underfoot when I greet the morning just as it appears, and that kind of awareness really brings a sense of gratitude and intention to my day.
After my run, I tiptoe around the still sleeping house, opening windows to let in that deliciously chilly morning air, I put music on ( I love soft mornings and hollow coves stations on Spotify), I start a cup of coffee, and diffuse oils. As the kids wake up and make their way into the living room, it’s just a really gentle way to welcome them into the day.
Please share 1-2 rituals in detail that have helped you personally throughout motherhood. How often or when do you practice each?
About a year ago, I began writing once a month journal entries. Just a page in a little notebook, but filled with details and emotions that would afford me a visit back to that month whenever read. It’s so simple, and accessible for me, but it has offered me a way to create an emotional, tangible memory… the ones I am forever in search of during this fleeting season. Alongside these journal entries, I include a few photo prints (either I print iPhone photos through the drugstore or I use my instax), and I’ve found that this simple ritual has brought me so much peace, because it ensures that my memories with my children are kept safe and clear. Even if they grow foggy in my mind, I can remember them with fresh clarity each time I read an entry and stare wistfully at the photographs. I will also be bringing this ritual to life by adding a photography tip and writing prompt to the monthly nurture bundles starting in October!
Please share 1-2 rituals in detail that you practice with your kids.
There are two rituals I do with the kids each and every day… we make time to be outside, to explore and connect through nature, and we make time to prepare a meal together. My son is an avid bug enthusiast and will spend hours crouched down at the base of one of our giant mulberry trees, gently exploring every crinkle and crack within its great trunk, in search of insects seeking refuge. When I join him in this task, even for just a few minutes, I can feel the tie between us grow stronger. My oldest daughter has a powerfully creative mind. She dances and sings at the top of her lungs when we venture outside, the flora her audience, and I am the leader of her cheering section. The littlest, Marigold Sunshine, immediately upon venturing outdoors, just wants me to wear her as I tend to this and that, her own way of strengthening our emotional connection through physical touch.
And then we also prepare a meal together, daily. The kids use their safety knives to chop veggies or add ingredients to a sauce, whatever it is, it’s a simple way for me to say, I value your presence in my life, you are worthy and more than enough, and I’m just so happy you’re here. We talk and listen to music, and it’s just another really simple but beautiful way to connect with my kids.
Can you tell us more about your company Nurture and what inspired you to start the business?
Yes! So nurture is my monthly offering, to create opportunities for more time and more connection with your loved ones. I’ve been in that place of busy, where I forgot the significance of slowness, the value of intention and presence, because I was caught up with other less important things. I was left feeling depleted and disconnected. I realized that when I took time every day, to acknowledge and appreciate the simple gifts in my life, that really cultivated a gratitude and awareness of the significance in my own journey, one that didn’t need to look like anyone else’s to hold value. And I realized that the most beautiful way to notice these small but significant everyday gifts, was to follow the lead of my children. The more present I became with them, the more intention spread throughout all facets of my life, and the more gratitude I held for all of it. This awareness and desire to bloom where I had been planted, is such a huge part of what I offer through Nurture.
This season with young kids is so fleeting, yet we only have one shot to create this really hugely important childhood for them. Making time and space to nurture life-long connections with my kids, teaching them the overwhelming importance of empathy and kindness, and to create a feeling of belonging that resides deep inside their hearts, is my own daily goal as a mother, but also my goal through providing Nurture for other mamas who feel this desire as well… to provide a way for mothers to have more time for, and more connection with themselves and their family’s.
Finding healthy snacks that don't have a ton of packaging is always really hard for me. Can you share your favorite snack to make during the week?
Oh yes, we have a few healthy snacks we always keep on hand! We always have a mason jar (or two) full of almond butter bars in the freezer...recipe shared on Noble last week! I love having a big glass container of sliced veggies like bell peppers, sugar snap peas, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes from the garden, and some blanched asparagus. The kids help chop, and all of the vegetable odds and ends are fed to our laying hens. Then I make a yummy dip with garlic aoli veganaise, some fresh lemon juice, and lots of fresh dill and chives, and I keep that in a glass container along with the veggies, for easy snacking and zero waste! And one more healthy snack we love having on hand, is a chicken salad I posted on the nurture blog a couple of weeks ago. Basically I cook organic chicken breasts in the oven or crockpot, shred that along with some veganaise, dijon mustard, some grapes from our garden, slivered almonds, diced red onion, and lots of fresh dill and chives. I keep it in a glass container in the fridge and we pull it out for an easy snack or lunch, scooped up with crackers, or piled high on avocado toast!
Do you have any easy meals that you make every week? If so, please share the recipe!
The nurture meal plans are something I follow myself, because it truly does make our day run smoother, and affords me more time for connection with my family. We have a few different diets in our household; I’m dairy-free, and I don’t eat red meat, my son and youngest daughter are also dairy free, and my husband is a hungry meat-eater, so the nurture recipes are all adaptable to fit each family’s needs. Here are three recipes from the meal plans that my family always loves:
white bean and kale soup with broccoli pesto + sourdough (make extra and freeze for an easy meal!)
-2 boxes of chicken or veggie stock
-2 cans white beans
-2 cans petite diced tomatoes
-1 bag shredded carrots
-bunch of kale
-bag of frozen broccoli florets
-small piece of pecorino romano (it’s a sheeps milk cheese for this sensitive to dairy!)
-big bunch of basil
-your favorite loaf of sourdough bread (always best from a local bakery if you can swing it!)
Cook down your garlic and diced onion, and add about ¾ of the bag of shredded carrots, chopped zucchini, and about 4 chopped celery stocks. Add drained beans, and tomatoes with juice. Season liberally with pepper, and garlic salt, and add stock. Then add the leafy part of the kale and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes then add lid and reduce to low to simmer for an hour or so.
As that cooks, make the broccoli pesto. Add steamed florets ( I just steam in the microwave), into a food processor with the basil, pecorino (break into chunks), two cloves of garlic, juice of two lemons, salt and pepper. Mix in food processor and drizzle olive oil as you do. Once incorporated, place in two glass jars, one for the fridge, and once for the freezer.
To serve, ladle in your soup, and plop a big dollop of broccoli pesto on top to be mixed into the soup. Always alongside a crusty piece of sourdough slathered in butter!
*Make sure to save a large mason jar of soup + a jar of broccoli sauce for the freezer for another meal
** for little hands: kids can help dump cans of beans and tomatoes into the soup, and can also chop celery and remove kale from the stems.
***options: add crumbled sausage for added protein
Almond butter noodles with veggies and shrimp
-peeled, deveined, tail off raw shrimp
-1 yellow onion
-1 red bell pepper
-1 yellow bell pepper
- 2 heaping tablespoons almond butter
-2 tablespoons coconut sugar
-2 tablespoons sesame oil
-1/4 cup coconut aminos or soy sauce
-1 pkg brown rice noodles
-cilantro and lime for garnish
Sautee garlic and olive oil with chopped onion and shrimp or chicken. Add red and yellow bell pepper, and zucchini. While that cooks, mix almond butter, coconut sugar, sesame oil, and coconut aminos (or soy sauce) and microwave briefly if you need to thin it out at all. Pour this sauce over the sautéed veggies and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook your brown rice noodles according to the instructions (only takes 5 mins), and toss in the veggie shrimp/sauce mixture. Serve with chopped cilantro and fresh squeeze of lime
*for little hands: kids can help chop all of the veggies and mix the sauce together
Shredded beef quesadillas + smoothies
-1-1.5 pounds beef chuck roast
-1 yellow onion diced
-1 can diced tomatoes
-packet of Mexican seasoning of your liking (or I buy the mexican seasoning blend from the bulk bins at Sprout’s or whole foods)
-cheese ( I use a sheep’s milk cheese like manchego for those of us who are sensitive to cow’s milk)
Place garlic, chopped onion, beef, seasoning, lime juice, chilis (with juice) and tomatoes (with juice) in the crock pot and cook on low for 8-9hours. Once it’s cooked thoroughly, it should shred easily with two forks. For the quesadillas, spoon cooked, shredded beef onto a tortilla, cover with cheese, top with another tortilla and cook in oil in a skillet until cheese is melty! For smoothie, add OJ, almond milk, frozen peaches, banana, avocado, and a little honey and blend together!
*for little hands: kids can help assemble the quesadillas and also add all the ingredients for the smoothie!
*options: I leave the beef out to make vegetarian, and use sheep’s milk cheese for cow milk intolerance.
Have you always lived on a farm? Can you tell us more about your decision to live on a farm and how it plays into raising your kids?
My dad was an almond farmer, so I grew up playing on this same property we live on now. It was such a sweet part of my own childhood. However, as I grew up, and became a mom myself, I began to lose touch with the person I was supposed to be, and fell victim to comparison and the “supposed tos” of life. We lived in a big new home in town, and I was hustling to keep up with the life I thought I was supposed to be living, because that’s what others were doing. So when the little farm next to my dad’s ranch went up for sale, the deep yearning in my heart to leave all of this behind for a double wide mobile home and this expanse of earth, left me feeling incredibly confused. However the call to this slower life, this modest potential farm with its quirky little home, was stronger than anything I had ever felt before; we were meant to leave the city, the busy, the “supposed tos” behind us… we were meant to live here. Thankfully my husband agreed, and here we are, five years later, the reason for my yearning to come to this place, has become very clear, and I’m grateful everyday for this life that chose me.
It’s been such a gift as we raise our children here. We have an abundant organic garden that provides daily snacks for the kids, and also a place of reflection and prayer for me, as I dig my hands into the soil, nurturing new life, pruning away the bits that are no longer cultivating growth. We have many residents that need daily tending and care, the dog and cat, bunnies, chickens, horses, and sometimes cows and pigs (also planning for a sheep and her baby this fall). Teaching the kids to care and provide for our animals, facilitates the teachings for how to care for and treat others. The farm also provides a really sweet slowness to our days. We have chores to complete, we have life to nurture, and in doing so, we are able to connect more with ourselves and with one another.
Did you always know you were going to homeschool your babes? Can you tell us more about that decision and how you find the resources to come up with such creative lesson plans? Can you share one of your favorite homeschool activities?
I really did. I taught high school English at my alma mater for 6 years before having my oldest, Daphne, and even before she was born, I knew once she came into the world, I would quit teaching other’s children, to instead teach my own at home. It was a decision I knew was right for our family from the very beginning. I just craved time with my children, time I knew I wouldn’t have once they started school, and I didn’t want to give that up. I truly feel that every parent does what’s right for their child and family in terms of how they decide to educate, and for us, homeschool was right. I’m able to really get to know my kids daily, to individualize their education, to foster that which excites them. I’m able to weave in lessons that surpass math and language arts, lessons that really encourage them to find out what makes their heart’s beat, and to nurture those talents and passions.
I really love letting nature and literature be our guides through much of our conversations throughout our day. Because we aren’t in a traditional setting, our schooling continues long after our daily lessons end.
Some of my favorite books for creative, nature based lessons are:
The Waldorf Book of Poetry
Seven Times the Sun
Nature Anatomy and Farm Anatomy
Play the Forest School Way
Big Book of Bugs
Animalium and Botanicum
One of our favorite homeschool activities is going on a nature walk, gathering treasures, offerings from the earth, and coming back home to explore them, look at them under the microscope, draw them, label them, describe them, and write poetry about them. For me, this is just a really beautiful lesson in appreciating the simple gifts in our daily lives. The ones that if we aren’t intentional about acknowledging, can go unnoticed underfoot. This is a lesson I want my kids to bring into their lives as they grow… to remember that is doesn’t have to be big and flashy to warrant deep appreciation.
We also love reading aloud as a family. The kids all snuggle up around me and we get lost inside magic lands of imagination. Setting aside time for nothingness, to dream and imagine, is something I will always make time for within our days, because I want them to know the value in dreaming.
As a mom who homeschools, how do you find time for yourself?
Creating the content for nurture each month is honestly something I look forward to. It’s something that so fully lives in my heart, in my daily life, that curating these monthly bundles where I get to share my heart, is such a gift to me, and really feels like a therapeutic moment for myself. I work for an hour or so midday while the baby naps and the older kids read or listen to audiobooks, and then sometimes again at night once the house is sleeping. My morning run, and daily work in the garden, also gives me time to recharge, ground myself and refocus my intentions. I know this season with young children is only a season, and once it’s past, I will have all the time to myself that I want, and I know I will long for the days I couldn’t even find a moment alone to brush my teeth.
Favorite items from the shop right now and why?
Oh my goodness such a hard question because I honestly love it all! The Hansel from Basel leggings have been a favorite of mine for the past couple of years because they’re so versatile… can be worn with a dress, romper, or another favorite… the Misha and Puff popcorn sweater! I also love all of the Patagonia baby in the shop! I love pieces that I know will stand the test of time and are neutral enough to be passed down through all my kids! The utility suit is also so wonderful because my son throws his on over whatever he is wearing, and heads outside to explore… it’s like this really amazing coverall piece that also has big pockets for treasures like worms and toads : ).
Where can we find you or learn more about you and Nurture?
You can find me sharing my motherhood musings and heart, on instagram, at @lovedaphnemae. To learn more about nurture and to join our community, you can visit www.nurturemotherhood.com! I also wanted to sneak in a special offer for you as a wonderful Noble Carriage patron… ENTER CODE: NURTUREFORYOU at checkout, and you’ll receive the September bundle free!