November 27, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries

Today I have the honor of guest posting on Julie's blog, The Girl in the Red Shoes. From the moment I stumbled upon her series, The Breastfeeding Diaries, I knew I had to share my story. I'm so happy to be given this opportunity and I hope you'll take a minute to visit her blog and read about our breastfeeding journey.


November 25, 2013

Life as a SAHM- How I Spend "Me-Time"

As a mom, I appreciate any chance for "me-time" that I get. I never realized how precious quiet, silent moments are until now, when they are too far and too few in between. It's no secret that raising a child is hard work, and even harder when you are going at it alone sometimes. As many of you know, my husband is a first year resident, also known as the intern year, the year where you're at the bottom on the totem pole, overworked and overlooked. He works long hours, occasionally has weekends off, and misses bath and bedtime more times that I'd like. It takes it toll on both of us and there are many days that I want to plop myself down on the couch and wish for grandma to swoop in and take over for awhile but, sadly, I don't have that luxury.

So when I do have a quiet evening to myself or I'm not running around completing chores during nap time, I like to sit down and relax. Here's what you might find me doing...

1. Drinking Hot Chocolate! 


Now that the nights are colder, I love to curl up on the couch and sip some hot chocolate, with a peppermint candle burning nearby. Something about sipping on a cup of something hot is so soothing.

2. Taking a Bath


This is a new one for me. I'm usually a shower girl. I like to be in and out so I can do other things. But lately, I've found taking a warm bath to be like going on a mini vacation! I'll read a book, light a candle, and practically fall asleep. Hey Santa, if you're listening, I could use some new bubble bath and bath bombs! 

3. Reading 


I've always loved reading. As a kid I walked around the house with a book in front of my nose all the time. It's so much harder to read now, when I know there are so many other things I need to be doing or wanting to catch up on our DVR when my husband is home. But I love, love reading and I'm trying to find some new books to read so I can get back at it. Any recommendations? 

4. Blogging

I love this blog. I've come and gone away from this blog many times, but every time I come back, I remember how much I love keeping it. I love reading other blogs, I love commenting, receiving comments, thinking up blog posts, seeing what other moms are struggling with, and how they spend their days. It's such a great outlet and I have to say that I'm obsessed! 

5. Journaling 


I used to be very good at keeping journals. Now whenever I remember or want to document a special day, I'll get out my journal and write. It's such a nice way to reflect and be thankful for everything we have in our lives. My favorite part about journaling is flipping back through the pages and seeing how much has changed, especially about Miss A. I'm making a New Years resolution early- write in my journal weekly! 

Alright, moms, how do you spend your "me-time" when your lucky enough to get it? 

November 22, 2013

It's a Special Day!

Happy Friday! Today is a very happy day in our house. I opted out of Five on Friday today to dedicate this post to my husband, who turns the big 3-0 today! Happy Birthday babe!!


Last year his birthday fell on Thanksgiving, which tends to happen every couple of years. Miss A was four months old- still not sleeping through the night, still not eating solid foods, and still had not able to have her first taste of birthday cake!


It's hard to believe that at this time last year, we were traveling the east side of the country going on interviews. We had no idea where we were going to live, but we were so excited for the next chapter in our life. 


I can't wait until he comes home from work today to surprise him with his gifts and make his requested chocolate-on-chocolate birthday cake. You are the best husband I could have ever asked for, and father to our beautiful little girl. We love you so much. Miss A and I are so lucky to have you!! I can't believe we've celebrated thirteen birthdays together. Here's to many more! <3 p="">

November 21, 2013

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Yesterday I shared tips on how to have a stress-free Thanksgiving, if you're hosting. Today I'm sharing with you the recipes I've used every year, tired and true classics. I love not having to worry about trying out a recipe weeks before and stressing over it not turning out right the day of. I'm sure one year I'll get bored and toss them out, but for now, I'm sticking with these. 

Our Thanksgiving Menu


This turkey recipe is from Paula Dean. The first year I hosted Thanksgiving, I watched the Food Network every single day after work to prepare myself. I watched Paula make this turkey and knew I had to make it myself. She made it look so easy! And it is easy, once you've done it, you'll feel like a pro. There is only one thing I do differently than Paula- I brine my turkey overnight. The turkey goes into a liquid mixture of water, salt, pepper, rosemary, oregano, and basil and sits in the fridge until Turkey Day. I wash the turkey well and get to work on Paula's recipe. It's the most flavorful, moist turkey I've ever had!




These sweet potatoes are TO DIE for!! I just love them and look forward to making them every year, with marshmallows and all. Don't like marshmallows on your sweet potatoes? Leave them out, it won't affect the dish at all!



I like to change up the veggie side dish every year, but I usually stick with carrots or corn on the cob, in an effort to keep it easy, since everything else requires more work! As I mentioned yesterday, sometimes friends will be in charge of the veggie, and I'll leave it up to them!

Desserts

Deciding on what to make for dessert is always the hardest part for me! I want to bake all the things and I have a tough time narrowing down what to make for Thanksgiving. This year is no different. I still have no idea what I'm going to end up doing. I love having cheesecake on Thanksgiving, as it was a traditional dessert my mom made every year, but I also like having something unexpected, like cranberry bars, or even cookies, which I've done over the years. Since I'm not sure what I'll be making for this Thanksgiving, here are a few dessert recipes I've made in the past for you to check out.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cheesecake Bars

What are you looking forward to eating the most this year? Will you be cooking or baking?


November 20, 2013

5 Stress-free Thanksgiving Hosting Tips

This is going to be my fifth year hosting Thanksgiving. The first year we hosted Thanksgiving, our friends came up from Miami to spend the holiday with us in Michigan. We had NO clue what we were doing (which goes against tip #5, but we were fully prepared to order a pizza if it didn't go well!) none of us had ever made a turkey before. I was confident we could do it- my best friend and I (the men sat on the couch and played video games) gathered as much advice as we could and got to work.

It was the best Thanksgiving meal I've ever had. Since then I've been hooked. Thanksgiving is my holiday. I can't imagine NOT cooking the big meal and you know what- I love every minute of it. Sure, I get a little crazy at the end, barking out orders, running around the kitchen making sure everything makes it to the table piping HOT, shoving everyone out of my way. It's chaotic and crazy- but only at the end, I promise. Then I sit down, relax, and enjoy the meal.

After hosting for the past four years, I realized I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve. So, if you're hosting this year, I hope this helps!


1. Set the Table

This is a quick and easy tip. If you have a dining room that you don't use on a daily basis, set the table! You could set the table a week before if you like (which would mean tomorrow), giving you one less thing to worry about. Keep it simple; no one wants to crane their neck around a large flower arrangement or fear knocking over tall candles to grab more gravy. Scatter a few miniature pumpkins here and there, some pinecones, and small votives to set the scene.


2. Chicken Stock is Your Best Friend

Seriously, it is. I love watching Rachael Ray's talk show because she offers SO many tips throughout the whole month of November in preparation of Thanksgiving. Stock up on chicken stock! After you carve the turkey, taste a piece. Is it dry (I hope not!)? If it is, heat up some chicken stock in a small saucepan and pour it over the carved turkey slices. No one will know the difference, and your turkey will be moist and flavorful!

3. Get Help

From the store, from your husband, from whoever you're inviting over. Hosting Thanksgiving doesn't mean you have to do everything. Buy a gravy packet from the store. Order a pie from a bakery. And this is a tip within a tip- start early, like days before early! There are plenty of side dishes that can be made days in advance. After your Thanksgiving grocery haul, ask your husband to chop the onions, celery, apples, and carrots. All your veggies will be ready to go and they can hang out in the fridge for days. And, by all means, if your guests offer to bring something, say YES!

Thanksgiving 2012- our friends were in charge of the veggie side dishes

4. Clean Your Oven

During my second year hosting Thanksgiving, my oven started to smoke right before the turkey was about to go in. Talk about embarrassing! Something had fallen down below the night before and I had no idea. So, clean your oven- this is also something you can do up to a week before. Also, on the day of, make sure to put any sort of casserole on a baking sheet before it goes into the oven. That way, if it bubbles over, you won't have to worry about cleaning the oven before the next dish can go in!

5. Stick With What You Know

A tired and true rule whenever company is coming over- don't try out a new recipe! Stick with what you know. If you don't know how to make stuffing from scratch, don't do it, OR, try it out weeks before. You might need to try a recipe several times before you get it right or to your liking. This goes for desserts as well. I was thinking about making these cranberry blondies for this Thanksgiving and I've never made before. I tried it out yesterday and low and behold- the bake time wasn't working for me. That would've stressed me out on the big day! I'm glad I know now to bake it an extra ten minutes longer.


Hope this helps!

What are some of your tips to a stress-free Thanksgiving? I'd love to hear them!

November 19, 2013

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm always hesitant to use the words "the best" in regards to anything. The best book I've ever read, movie I've ever seen, meal I've ever had. But whenever someone uses the words "the best", I have to try it, see it, or read it for myself.

Unless you're my husband. He exaggerates about everything, as all those who know him would say. ;)

So, of course, when  I saw these cookies on The Novice Chef blog a few weeks back, I had to make them. We're all searching for that perfect chocolate chip cookie, and I'll happily eat batch after batch to find the one.


That food strike I told you about? Yeah. It happened after these cookies. That must tell you something, right?

I don't know if these were "the best", but yes, they were pretty dang good. Some of the best I've had in a long time. :) They're fat, puffy, soft, and full of the perfect amount of sweetness. I didn't touch the recipe at all and followed it to a T. Make sure you read about how to form each ball of dough, that's pretty important and the key to great looking chocolate chip cookies.


Source: The Novice Chef
Servings: 24

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons (1 stick plus 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 heaping cup milk chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract until lightly incorporated. Add the flour, in batches, mixing slowly until combined, then add the baking soda, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. 

Roll two heaping tablespoons of dough into a ball. Tear the ball in half and place the torn side down on the cookie sheet. Take the second half and place it on top of the first half (this is the what it will look like) -- leaving about two inches for spreading.

Bake for 10 minutes, until the edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and let cookies rest on baking sheet for 10 minutes. The cookies may not look cooked in the center, but they will finish cooking while cooling on the baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing. Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days (a slice of bread will keep them soft). 

November 18, 2013

Life as a SAHM- Weekend Edition

Sometimes it feels like I have two kids in the house. ;) Three if you count our dog. Over the weekend my husband picked up his pre-order of the PlayStation 4, an early birthday gift from his parents. He's been talking my ear off about the game system for weeks and about all the new games coming out for it. Needless to say, he was VERY excited Friday morning and spent pretty much the entire day on the couch. We played as a "family" with Miss A pausing to stop and stare at the screen and me giggling any time I made it to another level in this cute spaceship shooting game.


While the hubby played, I made us a huge salad with a hard boiled egg, bacon, tomatoes, chicken, cheese, and croutons. I love having a big salad for lunch! Miss A picked into the bowl and grabbed a piece of lettuce, which she took a bite of, decided she didn't like it, and put it back into the bowl. :) 


The two of us went outside a lot, enjoying the sudden spike in warm temperatures. She is trying to say the word "outside" and it's the cutest thing I've ever heard. That and the word "up". I absolutely love it!


Her favorite thing to do outside is pick up and pull off leaves. She also likes being in the front yard, not the back, and walking into the street! We live in a cul de sac, so it's very safe, but I do wish she'd spend more time in the backyard!


On Sunday I told the hubby we had to get out of the house and use our legs. Especially him! We stopped at Starbucks to take advantage of the bogo holiday drinks and I took an obligatory his and hers coffee picture. Our first red cups of the season. I got a peppermint mocha and it was like Christmas in a cup. Seriously! I think I'm going to have an addiction problem.


We're still dealing with a serious case of mommy-itis. Pick me up, hold me, let me eat on your lap, etc, etc. It is very cute and sweet, but sometimes mommy needs a break!


To end the weekend, I made the most delicious pot roast ever. I've never had a pot roast this good before. We were eating in silence, enjoying it, until Miss A started begging for more! Be on the lookout for the recipe, coming soon. 


How was your weekend? I'm getting ready to finalize my Thanksgiving menu this week and create a shopping list! I'm so excited to have my parents here next week. How will you be spending the holiday? Oh, and, in case you haven't entered yet, my giveaway is still going on, you have two days left to enter!

November 15, 2013

Five on Friday

We're halfway through November, which means one more week until my husband's birthday and Thanksgiving the week after that! I'm getting really excited about the next coming weeks. And especially for the month of December! As always, I'm linking up for Five on Friday today.

1. GroopDealz

Have you heard of GroopDealz? I love this site. Every day I get an email with over +10 items of awesome deals on jewelry, clothes, accessories, baby items, and things for the home. Recently there have been lots of cute holiday items.








2. Finding the Time to Exercise

I've never been a workout junkie. It takes A LOT for me to motivate myself to work out. Before I became a Mom I'd go to the gym and walk/jog on the treadmill. That got boring real fast. I took some yoga and Pilates classes here and there. Now that I am a Mom, it's even harder for me to find the time to exercise. Sure, we go on walks all the time, but I know it's not enough. So, yesterday, Miss A and I went to try out a Jazzercise class. It was SO much fun! I signed up afterwards for 10 classes and I can't wait for my next one. My poor babe though, it was her first time in any kind of child-care setting and she cried pretty much the whole time. :( Any tips?? If you're a Mom, how do you find the time to work out? 


3. Christmas Crafts

Are you crafty? I've tried my hand at some DIY crafts in the past. It's been a while since I've made anything! I'm feeling inspired by all Christmas crafts I've seen floating around Pinterest. 








This is, hands down, my favorite food pin on the week. Take a look at this PIE! I want to make it, but I'm afraid I'll end up eating it, by myself, in the pantry.


5. The Walking Dead

Last, but not least, the hubby and I are huge fans of The Walking Dead. We've watched since the beginning and it has never freaked me out as it does been lately! I can barely watch it without something covering my face. Last week I was hidden behind a blanket for most of the episode. I just can't take it! Do you watch it?


Before you go, I hope you'll take a moment to enter my giveaway. Happy Friday!

November 14, 2013

Hold The Bean- Giveaway!

I first heard about Hold The Bean on Colleen's blog, Meet the Sullivans. I thought the idea was genius and immediately asked Colleen where she got it. We have taken Miss A on many road trips- she's been all over the East coast, with her being as young as four months old! Every mom knows she must pack all sorts of things on a road trip, and you know what, these head bands will definitely be on my list. This would have been a huge help if I knew about them before. I used to roll up a blanket and tuck it on the side of her head whenever she'd fall asleep in the car. That didn't always work, as her head would fall forward sometimes. That can't be comfortable!

Nicole was so sweet and sent me two samples to try out at home. I mean, look at how cute they are? And they're SO soft.



If you win the giveaway, you will have the option of choosing any pattern that you see on her website. There are so many to choose from, I love the two she sent me!



The plan was to try these out on Miss A, however, she actually hasn't fallen asleep in the car for awhile now. They're super easy to use, and the strap is long enough to fit around my bulky car seat. I'll be keeping them in the car now for any long trips we might take.

I hope you'll take a moment to visit Hold the Bean. Good luck!

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents. Must have valid email address. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

November 13, 2013

What We Ate Wednesday- Sleep Deprivation Eats

Dare I say my picky eater of late is making a turn around? I don't want to jinx it, so that's all I'm going to say! Yesterday was a tough day around here. Miss A woke up several times throughout the night and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. She's not sick, not teething from what I can tell, but she was pretty upset every time she woke up. Is it too early for nightmares? I just don't know. She was awake for the day at 5:45am.

So, our schedule was completely thrown off. We had two breakfasts. Lots of snacks in between meals. And we stayed home because thankfully, she was tired, and took more naps than she usually does.


Breakfast: 7:00am

Not pictured. Too groggy and blurry-eyed to function. And it wasn't that appetizing anyway!

I ate: a bowl of cereal

Miss A: toast

Second Breakfast: 9:00 am

What does one do when they're up so early? I bake. Sleep deprivation makes me want to eat all the things.

I ate: a banana bread muffin with strawberries

Miss A: the same, devouring her muffin and eating all her strawberries (!!)


Lunch: 12:00pm

I ate: a turkey wrap with roasted red pepper spread, tomatoes, and cheese

Miss A: a turkey wrap with cheddar cheese


Snack: 3:00pm

I ate: homemade mozzarella sticks. Not the healthiest snack, I know. But as I said, sleep deprivation makes me want to EAT. Unhealthy things apparently. :( I also had more COFFEE. And some cookies, I'm sure.

Miss A: she ventured to the pantry a couple times before this, snacking on granola bars and crackers. Then she sat down and ate some watermelon and banana. 


Dinner: 6:30pm

I ate: sloppy joes with sweet potato wedges

Miss A: the same, except she ate the meat mixture, with no peppers or onions. I was surprised she liked it! It was a huge mess afterwards. ;)


In case you're wondering, Miss A did sleep through the night last night. Yay! I'll be a much happier mama today. Enjoy hump day!

November 12, 2013

Life as a SAHM- I'm a Cookie Monster!

Last week I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.


Little did I know they would be the cause of many, many tantrums. 

I always allow Miss A to have a piece, a bite, or a whole slice, of whatever I'm cooking/eating/baking. There was no exception with these cookies. Well, as soon as she ate one, this was her face.



Too cute, right! I know I know. BUT...what you don't know, is that since that day, Miss A has been a nightmare about food. Remember how I bragged grateful I was about her being such a good eater? Not in the last few days folks. Not anywhere close. That's what I get for opening my big fat mouth!

Never brag mothers, never brag.

This is what she'd rather eat instead of pasta, chicken, potatoes, rice, eggs, watermelon, vegetables, cheese....

COOKIES.


Case in point. This morning I prepared a healthy, nutritious meal of pumpkin oatmeal- one of her favorites, and received an outrageous cry and covering of the face. No Mom. I want cookies. To the pantry she goes. Grabs her box of banana cookies and chows down.


I've been dealing with this for days. She won't eat anything I've prepared for her, she wants to snack all day. I know it's some kind of phase. It is kind of funny, writing about it now. But it's also very frustrating for a mama who wants to get some vitamins and nutrition into her child!


Oh, and, I've also been dealing with this.


A MAJOR case of Mommy-itis. It's been pretty hard to get things done around here. Oh well. I'd better enjoy the extra hugs and cuddles now, before I blink and it's all I'll ever want again!