wanderlove : the near & far life of a nashville mama
a blog by jessa anderson

Bright Cover 

Hey all! Happy Friday :)

Here's another cover video for your weekend viewing. Don't forget to "like" the video on YouTube and share on social media! Here's my acoustic version of Echosmith's "Bright":


Something in the Water Cover 

One of my goals for 2015 is to utilize my YouTube channel more. Jordan and I have been hard at work on some new videos, and I'm excited to present my very first cover song! Check out my version of Brooke Fraser's "Something in the Water". Spread the word by "liking" the video and sharing it on social media!


We're experiencing a few snow (more like ice) days here in Nashville, which is a rarity! Having grown up in Michigan, I don't mind a snow day or two, especially when we don't have any plans other than to hole up in our house and hang out. The laundry is done, the kids are happily watching old Christmas claymation movies, and I'm feeling inspired by this layer of winter white! While snow days in the south generally mean staying in the house at all costs, I know layering up for the cold is routine for plenty of you. When I know I'll be covered head to toe in cold-weather gear, I tend to stick to easy layers and minimal but eye-catching accessories. Here are a few of my snow day style picks!
It's odd to see most of the country getting pummeled with snow and ice, and yet our California friends seem to be enjoying a heat wave! How many of you are ready for Spring??

Experiencing Lent 

One of my goals for 2015 is to find ways to be more intentional with my time. Like most everyone, I have lots to do in a limited amount of time, and coffee only gets me so far! Along with caring for my husband and children, making sure the household is running smoothly, and my musical endeavors, I do my best to prioritize my physical and spiritual health, and to find time for personal passions and learning. Daily Scripture reading and prayer, near-daily exercise, and learning to play guitar are at the top of my priority list currently, and I find I do best with a plan and a bit of structure.

This year, I'm following a year-long chronological Bible reading plan, which has already been so helpful. I have been on the lookout for other ways to enrich my devotional time, and I was very intrigued to come across the Naptime Diaries Lent Devotional. I've never officially participated in Lent myself, but I have many friends who do, and I have a vivid childhood memory of learning about the concept at a friend's house when she explained she'd given up sugary treats as we pined for a box of Hostess something-or-others. In a culture that constantly inundates us with the message that our happiness and pleasure is the end-all, six weeks dedicated to growing in self-discipline sounds like a breath of fresh air. The past few years we've celebrated Advent as a season dedicated to preparing our hearts in anticipation of Christmas and the birth of Christ, and I'm looking forward to a similar season of preparation leading up to Easter. I ordered a copy of the Lent Devotional and thought I'd share in case anyone else is looking for an intentional way to celebrate Lent. I love that it's been created with such care, and with such a beautiful design. Order by 2/11 to get yours in time for the beginning of Lent on February 18th!

I'd love to know if you decide to order one, or if Lent is already meaningful to you in some way!

Feeding a crowd 

With the Superbowl only days away, I thought it might be an appropriate time to tackle the topic of feeding a crowd (sorry, bad pun. I couldn't help myself)! I'm pretty sure feeding people is one of my love languages. When we have guests, I feel compelled to feed them (usually dessert) and I'm always excited when we have the chance to host a gathering. Recently we had some of the volunteers from our church over for dinner to thank them for their leadership, and after some recipe hunting, I found a simple and extremely tasty way to feed a lot of people. I was only feeding about 10, but I overestimated and ended up with food for at least double that! Thankfully we were more than happy to eat (and share with more friends!) the leftovers. Here is my fool-proof party menu (with a few optional extras)!

APPETIZER: Chips & Homemade Salsa Fresca from Smitten Kitchen

I've been making my own guacamole for years, but I only recently started making salsa thanks to this insanely easy recipe! I originally found my way there through the smitten kitchen fajita recipe, which is another staple at our house.

MAIN COURSE: Slow Cooker Barbacoa from The Kitchn
I ended up using pork and chicken stock in my version, but I'm pretty sure that dirty socks would taste amazing if you follow the rest of the recipe correctly. Seriously, this stuff was amazing. I put as much meat as I could possibly fit in my slow cooker with the other ingredients and ended up using far less than the recommended amount of liquid. I also made this a second time with the meat frozen through and it was just as perfect, so I feel confident that this would be a hard one to mess up!

SIDE DISHES: Cilantro Lime Rice from Fit Foodie Finds & Mexican Black Beans from Food Network

Not a lot of explanation required for these things. Basically, I want my house to be Chipotle.

DESSERT: Our guests provided dessert (such a treat!), but wouldn't it be fun to go all out with something amazing like this Chocoflan from Scarletta Bakes?

EXTRAS: Rajas Poblanas from Bon Appetite & Homemade Guacamole

I made these Rajas Poblanas as a meat-free option, and they were delicious! Moderately spicy and very rich, most of us enjoyed them in addition to the Barbacoa, but they could definitely stand alone as a taco filling! It took me a bit longer than I'd anticipated to peel them (possibly because I was interrupted every 2.8 minutes by my children), but the end result got good reviews from everyone!

Homemade Guacamole is so quick and adds a lot to the meal, whether as an appetizer, side dish, or condiment. I've made a free printable of my go-to recipe, although the term "recipe" is rather generous considering I just throw it all into a bowl and mash it a few times!
So there you have it! I think next time I'll get crazy and try my hand at that Chocoflan..I'm getting hungry just looking at it!

I'd love to know what your go-to recipes are when you're feeding friends!