August 31, 2013

Life as a SAHM

Miss A and I had a great week together. We had two playdates, shopped for new pajamas and groceries, and went on lots of walks. She is in between sizes right now, with her 12M pants too short and 18M ones too long. It was time to get new pajamas as I was rotating between two pairs! Old Navy had some really cute sets on clearance so we picked up some of those.


She is quite the pacifier hoarder these days. Oh boy, I bet it's going to be hard to break this habit when the time comes. If she sees one, she has to have it, and if she sees another, she has to have that one too! This one morning she took all four with her to have as breakfast companions. What's really funny is she likes to switch them out of her mouth, one at a time. I'm trying to hide them from her now and only give her one when she's really upset and for sleep. Another bad habit! How did it go when you took away the pacifier? Please tell me I'm not alone!




We love having play dates! In the first photo we met our friends for a frozen yogurt date. The girls loved it and had quite the sweet tooth. Later in the week we had a play date at our house. The mommies chatted while the girls climbed on top of each other and played in the ball pit.




Pulling up and standing are still her favorite things to do. I can't turn around or walk away anymore without her cruising on a piece of furniture, kitchen appliances, even the walls. She still likes to walk around the house holding one of our hands but she's building her confidence every day and I know she's going to take off real soon.

I don't have any pictures of it, but Miss A is waving and saying "bah" for "bye" and it is the cutest thing ever! Whenever we are up to see my husband off to work we go outside and wave to him as he pulls out of the driveway. Every time she sees a car driving away she waves and says "bah!" It's adorable. She has also figured out how to tell us if she's hungry by walking to the pantry and pointing at the door or to her highchair. It's amazing to see all these connections she's making!

Hope you have a great weekend!

August 30, 2013

Five on Friday

Happy Friday! As always, I'm linking up for Five on Friday today. 



1. It's Still Summertime! 


As much as I love Fall and all things pumpkin, I also LOVE summer. I was born and raised in Miami, FL, where it's summertime nearly all year round. While I don't miss the humidity, I do miss being able to jump in a pool or go to the beach whenever I want. Miss A and I are going to live up the final days of summer by going to the pool, taking walks, and wearing our sundresses until we feel a chill in the air! How adorable is this baby float by the way? It was a gift from my in-laws and we finally used it at the pool last week!

2. I Love "Me" Time 


Now that I'm a mom (I still say that like I'm a new mom, but sometimes I feel that way!), "me" time is short to come by. When the hubby is working late or has to go to bed early for a shift, I enjoy some "me" time. As you can see I like to watch chic flicks and pamper myself with my favorite hair product and lotions. Big plans I tell you. ;) I also like to read, catch up on blog posts, or talk to a friend. What do you like to do with your "me" time?

3. Sticking to Menu Planning


Now that I'm back to blogging, I've started menu planning again. I forgot how much fun it was. Yes, I said FUN. Especially when you're using a cute printable like this one. So why is menu planning fun? Well, 1. It saves the guessing game throughout the week of what to make for dinner, 2. I get the opportunity to look through magazines, my cookbooks, and blogs for inspiration and feast my eyes on good food, 3. I make my grocery list at the same time, completing two tasks in one, and 4. No one gets to bother me while I menu plan! If you haven't tried planning out your menu for the week, do it once, see how it goes. It's not set in stone, just because you write "Chicken Parmesan" for Monday doesn't mean you HAVE to make it Monday night. I swap my menu all the time based on what I'm in the mood for and how much time I have. Did I convince you yet? ;)

4. Comfy, Cozy Sweaters







Come every Fall and Winter, I search for new sweaters. I get bored of sweaters SO quickly. I don't know what it is about sweaters, you wear them a few times and it's time for a new one. I poured over my Alloy catalog when it came in the mail this week, practically drooling over their new sweaters. I want them ALL. 

5. Mini M&M's Chocolate Chip Cookies


There were lots of good treats from many of my favorite food blogs this week. These M&M cookies are so cheery and festive. I can't wait to make them! 

Have a great weekend!

August 28, 2013

What We Ate Wednesday

Today I'm participating in What I Ate Wednesday, a link up I've always wanted to try. I'm always looking for new ideas on what to eat, I get bored easily, especially with breakfast and lunch! I took a different take on it and decided to show you what Miss A and I ate one day. Here we go!



Breakfast: 8:15 am

I ate: frozen waffles with sliced bananas, granola, and honey

 Miss A: toast with applesauce and slices of banana (which she poked at and fed to the dog)




Morning snack: 10:30 am

Miss A: Strawberry yogurt and a couple of Mum Mum's
I ate: A Kashi cookie spread with peanut butter and a couple graham crackers dipped in peanut butter





Lunch: 12:30pm

 I ate: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a sliced apple (it was a peanut butter kind of day!)
 Miss A: A whole wheat tortilla ham and cheese melt



Afternoon Snack: 3:00pm

I ate: Greek yogurt with sliced bananas, granola, chocolate chips...and a swirl of peanut butter!
Miss A: toddler cookies and watermelon 




Dinner: 6:30pm

I ate: garlic roast chicken, rice pilaf, and cesar salad. So good!

Miss A: pieces of chicken and a few bites of rice, she usually eats whatever we're having for dinner



Happy Wednesday! What did you eat today?

August 27, 2013

Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie {Guest Post}

I'm so happy to have Colleen here today! She is also a SAHM to a beautiful little boy and I absolutely love her blog. I hope you take a minute to check her out! Take a look at this tasty treat she has for you today- apple season will be here before we know it! Thanks again Colleen!

Hi! I'm Colleen, author of my mommy lifestyle blog, Meet the Sullivans! I'm wife to Keith and mom to 1 1/2 year-old Owen. In a formerly life I was a Catholic school Kindergarten teacher, but for now I’m a stay-at-home mom.


When Christina asked me if I would be interested in sharing a recipe with you I jumped at the chance! Great recipes (just like a great meal!) are meant to be shared! The recipe I'm here to share today, Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie, is a tried and true recipe, and a staple in the Sullivan family. It is usually my husband's first pick when I ask for a dessert recipe suggestion from him. I've made it over 20 times and it is always a major crowd pleaser, AND the flavors perfect for Fall!


Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie
For a printer-friendly version click here. 

Makes 1 pie


Ingredients for Pie: 
1 pastry crust for a deep-dish pie 9-inch (I used store-bought)
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
6 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (I use Fuji or Galla apples)
1 recipe crumb topping (see below)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup caramel topping (the kind in the squeeze bottle works best) 

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup butter 

Directions for the Crumb Topping:
1. Stir together brown sugar,flour, rolled oats.
2. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until topping is like course crumbs. Set aside. 

Directions for the Pie:
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.
2. Add apple slices and gently toss until coated. (I used my mandoline on its thickest setting)
3. Transfer apple mixture to the pie shell (You can remove the store-bought pie shell from the aluminum pie plate and transfer it to a 9-inch pie plate of your own, but you do not have to.)
4. Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture.
5. Place pie on a cookie sheet so the drippings don't drop into your oven.
6. Cover edges of pie with aluminum foil.
7. Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 25 minutes. Then remove foil and put back in for another 25 to 30 minutes without foil.
8. Remove from oven. Sprinkle pie with chopped pecans then drizzle with caramel on top.
9. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy warm or at room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream for best results!

After I filled both pies with the apple mixture (and topped them with the crumb topping) I usually still have a bit of filling leftover. Instead of tossing it I fill ramekins with the leftovers and re-heat them the next night for dessert!

Recipe courtesy of Marsha Brooks, Good Morning America Apple Pie Contest 2001

If you'd like to see a few more of my recipes please take a minute and check out my Recipe Index!
 

Christina, thank you so much for allowing me to share this recipe with your readers today! I sure hope you all give it a try and that it becomes a staple in your home as well!

August 24, 2013

Life as a SAHM

I can't believe another week has gone by. Summer is coming to an end and I'm trying to enjoy every last minute of it. I guess after living in Michigan for the last four years, it feels like summer is never long enough. I swear I blinked I was wearing sweaters again. Ugh. This week we spent time on the deck, went on walks and lots of errands, and even took a trip to the museum of science, which has a great outdoor area. Don't leave me yet summer!

 

Miss A and I went on lots of errands this week. I never know what to expect from her. In one place she'll be great, taking it all in. In another she'll be screaming and reaching for something or want me to hold her. Here we are at Old Navy, waiting in line to return something. She was SO into her surroundings, wanting to grab, touch, and hold everything. Makes it kind of hard when you only have two hands! Why do I get the feeling I'm going to have that kid screaming for a toy on the way out of a store?

 

Ahhh I'm so not used to this!! Every time I turn around now she's pulled up onto something and standing! It's amazing, but a little scary! Guess who figured out how to take the locks off the kitchen cabinets!


Here's a look into real life as a SAHM! This is what my sink has looked like every day this week. Ain't nobody got time to wash when a baby wants to walk. If I didn't have a dishwasher, I'd be crying every night!


We went to the museum of life and science with another friend and her baby girl. We had so much fun. Miss A loved all the animals. Their outdoor area had donkeys, llamas, goats, even bears and wolves! We didn't get to see everything as it started raining. I can't wait to go back! I know she's going to love it more and more as she gets older. 

 

Cruising! She's gotten so good at it, she can get from one end of the couch to the other in seconds! More baby proofing has to get done stat. We're looking for covers for furniture corners, any recommendations? I found some at Target, but I'm afraid the sticky adhesive is going to leave behind some residue. 

 

She's determined to play with all her toys while standing up. This is definitely going to cause some back aches! Which reminds me, earlier in the week Miss A had a TERRIBLE night. She was awake from 11:00-3:00, crying on and off. I checked on her several times, didn't have a fever, she's not teething, didn't have a dirty diaper...I have NO idea what it was. :( Now I'm starting to think she could be sore, right? With all this exercise she's been getting lately, it's possible! She was fine the next night, thankfully. Breaks my heart when I can't figure out what's wrong, especially in the middle of the night.


See you next week! Happy weekend!

August 23, 2013

Five on Friday


Happy Friday! It's been a crazy, sleep-deprived, exciting week for us. You'll hear more about that tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some things I'm loving/obsessing over this week! Be sure to join the party!

1. Vera Bradley Baby Backpack

Earlier this week Vera Bradley was having a sale. I took a little look-see and saw these super cute baby backpacks. It's basically a diaper bag, except you're wearing it on your back! I don't know if I've been living under a rock but I thought this was genius. Too bad I don't have a legit reason to get one, my diaper bag is still in great shape! 

2. The Great Gatsby 


It's not that easy nowadays to go see a movie. We'd have to ask a friend to baby sit and coordinate schedules...so we have lots of movie nights at home after Miss A goes to bed. Recently we saw The Great Gatsby, which I was dying to see. There was so much press for this movie when it was coming out and hello, Leo is in it. That's right, we're on a first name basis. I love Leo and anything Leo is in I have to see. We were pleasantly surprised, it was really good!

3. Pumpkin Fluff Dip


Is it too soon for me to have a Halloween party and invite all of little Miss A's friends?? How fun is this pumpkin dip! Speaking of which, I have NO idea what she's going to be for Halloween this year. There are too many choices!

4. The Vampire Diaries 


I'm SO excited for Fall TV. One of my favorite shows is The Vampire Diaries. I read the series years ago, in middle school. As much as I love the show, the books are so much better. They couldn't have picked a better cast; Stefan, Elena (besides the fact that she's a brunette), and Damon play their characters perfectly. If you haven't read the books, you should. Are you a fan of The Vampire Diaries?

5. Books, books, books


If you follow me on Instagram, then you've seen me sharing some pictures of my daughter going through her books every night before bed. Last night she was looking through them and saying, "Ooooo." It was just too much. I can't handle the cuteness. I hope she continues to love books as she gets older!

August 22, 2013

Slow-Cooker Asian-Style Beef

I absolutely love my crock pot. I tell everyone I know to get one if they don't have one. Are you too busy or too exhausted to cook some nights? Looking for meals after having a baby? Not that good in the kitchen? Do you feel like you're out of ideas on what to make for dinner? Then, my friends, you need to invest in a crock pot!


I mean, look at what comes out of it! Tender, juicy meat. Every single time. I've made pulled pork, orange chicken, beef dip sandwiches, ribs...the list goes on and on. Next I've gotta try dessert. Didn't know you could make dessert in a crock pot? You certainly can! I'll share something with you soon!

So what we have here is some boneless beef chuck. Red peppers, teriyaki sauce, garlic, green onions and red pepper flakes are all you need to get started. I always cook whatever is in my crock pot on low. Everything seems to come out much better that way. After the 6 hours are up, you'll pour some toasted sesame dressing and cornstarch into the base to make a sauce. I paired mine with white rice and steamed peas. It was a winner in our house, even Miss A asked for seconds!

Source: Kraft
Servings: 4





4 green onions, chopped

2 tbsp oil

2 lbs boneless beef chuck or blade roast trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

2 red bell peppers, sliced into strips

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

2 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing (I used Kraft's)

2 cups frozen peas

1/2 cup cashews 
 
Chop onions and separate the white and green. Mince the garlic and slice the red peppers. Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the meat, cooking for 5 min- you just want to brown it for some flavor before you add it to the crockpot. Stir occasionally, making sure to get all sides. Add minced garlic at the last minute, stirring until fragrant. Stir in teriyaki sauce, bell peppers, crushed red pepper and white onion slices. Stir everything together and pour into the crock pot. 

Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. If you're going to make rice, start the rice with 30 minutes left of cooking. Steam your peas and add to the rice.
 
Mix the cornstarch and toasted sesame dressing in a bowl until blended. Add to the crock pot along with the cashews and stir. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Top with green onion slices.  

Link up at Kitchenspiration

August 20, 2013

5 Back-to-School Weeknight Meals

It's back-to-school time and as a former teacher, I know how busy the first week is. Getting back into a routine after a lazy summer is not always an easy thing to do! I picked out a few of my favorite quick and easy meals for you to get back into the swing of things. 

1. Black Bean and Goat Cheese Quesadillas 

So simple. It really doesn't get any easier than this. Black beans, goat cheese, jalapeno peppers, and a red onion are all you need for these quesadillas. They would make for a great lunch too! 


2. Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

I can assure you that this is definitely kid tested and kid approved. My daughter eats this up whenever I make it, which is great, since her tastes are constantly changing and evolving! She loves picking up the mini cheeseburgers and has tons of fun picking up pieces of pasta. All ages would love this and it makes for great leftovers!


3. Crispy Parmesan Sage Pork Chops

Another favorite in our house. Start them off on the stove and then transfer them to the oven to continue cooking. These pork chops have a crispy coating and I love the hint of sage and lemon. I've served them along side baked potatoes, green beans, and broccoli.


4. Crockpot Salsa Chicken

This has got to be my favorite crock pot recipe, hands down. I make it at least three times a month and it never fails to disappoint. You can get crazy and add all kinds of veggies on top- peppers, tomatoes, diced red onion, and black beans. 


5. Creamy Baked Ziti

I love baked ziti and this is my go-to recipe. I like to change it up often and use ground pork, Italian sausage, or ground beef. I also get crazy sometimes and make my own tomato sauce where I can hide veggies like zucchini and spinach. Serve along side a green side or garlic bread. Delicious!


August 17, 2013

Life as SAHM

This has been a very exciting and busy week for us. Miss A had two play dates, turned thirteen months old, had lots of time at home with Daddy, and, wait for it, she started walking!! Cheers, clap, clap, yayyy!!

She has been walking around the house while holding our hands for over a month now. Lately she has only been holding only one of our hands and her balance has greatly improved. She's a cruising expert, can walk holding on to walls, and is pulling up more than ever. But last night, after we went through her nightly ritual of emptying out alllll her books from her toy bins, she started to walk! What an amazing feeling. I'm one proud mama!

Here are some photos from this week.


Hubby was home during daylight hours this week. Here they are sharing a laugh early in the morning.


Miss A turning thirteen months old and eating a WHOLE pancake on her own.


Having a snack at the mall play area. She scooted all around holding onto her snack cup and refused to let it go until she had finished all her cheerios.


This was her first time visiting the play area. I was a little worried about all the bigger kids running around and not to mention all the germs (how often do they clean these places?) but she had so much fun.


As I mentioned, her nightly book ritual. She LOVES books right now, which makes me SO happy as I love books too. This is her favorite, a counting Pride and Prejudice book. She pulls it out for me to read every night!


I can't wait to see what next week brings.

August 16, 2013

Five on Friday


I'm linking up with some fabulous ladies for Five on Friday!

1. Breaking Bad


Breaking Bad is back! My husband as been watching from the beginning but I saw it for the first time last summer. He has been begging me to watch it for years and I never took the time to sit down and watch it. I had lots of time to kill, with waiting around for my daughter to be born and the school year having just ended. Needless to say, I was hooked!

2. The Place Behind the Pines


Okay, how did I not hear about this movie sooner? I'm a huge Ryan Gosling fan and will watch anything that he's starring in. But I don't remember this movie ever being advertised, never saw the trailer, nada. I recently watched this with my sister in laws and we were on the edge of our seats!! It was so good. Even my dad loved it, who is a VERY picky movie watcher, so much that he saw it twice. If you haven't seen it, you've gotta have a movie night this weekend!

3. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats 


I finished a book last week! It takes me quite a while to read a book in it's entirety these days. If the hubby is working nights I devote that time to reading, blogging, or catching up on trashy tv. It took me a few weeks to finish The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. It was good, a bit slow at times, but beautifully written. What have you read lately?

4. My New Favorite Breakfast


If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen me share this picture of my current breakfast obsession. Bananas have never been my fruit of choice. That is until recently. The last few weeks I've had toast, with peanut butter, honey, sliced bananas, and granola for breakfast at least three or four times a week. I don't know what's come over me. I love it! 

 5. Pumpkins, pumpkins, everywhere!


I love love summer. But I also love love fall and everything pumpkin. I stock pile at B&BW whenever their pumpkin line comes out and I went into my stash the other day to start using some pumpkin scented products. Omggg. I look forward to my shower every day now!