January 31, 2014

Five on Friday- January Favorites

It's the end of January, thank goodness. Is it just me or did this month seem to drag on forever? It's probably because I'm this.close to losing my mind after feeling like a single mom most of the month. I'm SO ready for my husband's current rotation to be over so we can see more of him again and hopefully have TWO days off in a week to see him! So, for today's Five on Friday post (which is coming to you late, the mini me hasn't let me touch my laptop today!) I thought I'd share with you how I've been surviving with a few of my January favorites/necessities/obsessions.


If you know me, you know I love to be comfortable and cozy, especially during the winter months. I've been wearing Old Navy's Heart & Soul sweatshirt (which has long been sold out) all month long. It's easy to throw on and look put together with jeans or to stay comfy in at home with yoga pants, my second favorite thing to wear! I love any that have a cute fold over top!

I have very dry skin in the winter, especially my hands. There's a bottle of lotion next to every sink in the house so I can lotion up my hands after I wash them. My favorite one to use right now is Bath & Body Works Winter Candy Apple (also sold out) that I got for Christmas. It smells great and soothes my hands instantly.

I've also got to tell you about my love of pajamas. Since we don't go out very early in the morning (I hate the teen temperatures we've been having) you'll more than likely find me in my pajamas until 11:00. I love pajamas that have a cute print and own waaay to many pairs. I'm currently having problems keeping the drawer shut! And then there's coffee..I was never much of a coffee drinker until a few months ago and I'm still very picky. I'm a "cream coffee" girl and can't handle the taste of REAL coffee. I've had many cups lately to keep up with Miss A, and with all the teething pain we've gone through this month, I think I deserve a new mug to drink my coffee out of!

Happy weekend, be sure to come back next week for a look at our first snow day!

January 29, 2014

It's the Little Things

I loving sitting back and thinking about the little things that happen during the day. Especially if it's been a bad day, or a bad week. Like it has been here the past couple of days. :(  Miss A is still teething (I swear this girl takes FOREVER to get in new teeth) and she's crabby one day, happy the next, but no matter how she is during the day, she's not sleeping at night. Ugh. It's the worst. Anyway, I was so happy to stumble upon this link up, hosted by Words About Waverly and Sadie Sky Boutique, It's the Little Things. Being a SAHM can be the most wonderful job in the world, but it can also be the most challenging, and tiring job. Thinking about all the little things that happen make it all so worth it.

...Sitting outside with Miss A in the sun, on a 60 degree day in January

...Seeing the sun. I can't tell you what a blessing it is to live in North Carolina and not Michigan this time of year. All our friends are dealing with SO much snow!

...Running out to do an errand over the weekend, and getting home to hear "MAMA!" as Miss A runs to me for a hug

...Finishing a warm cup of coffee without having to reheat it once. It happened!

...Finding new books to read at the library. I checked out this, this, and this.

...Pulling Miss A in her bucket (it holds her stuffed animals) as she bursts into giggles

...Finding the perfect shade of gray to paint our old mirror

...Snuggling with my husband every night before bed

...Finding white flowers blooming around our deck, despite the cold temperatures

...Baking chocolate cake cookies together as a family

Those are the little things.

January 28, 2014

A Day in the Life

WI've never done a "day in the life" post before and thought I'd give it a try! This is what a typical day looks around here, the exciting life of a SAHM. :)


Miss A is up and ready to start the day. I'm usually already awake myself, savoring the last few minutes of laying in bed. Sometimes she'll hang out in her crib for awhile and other times she's shouting for me to come and get her.


Breakfast time. Today we're having waffles and strawberries.


I start cleaning up the kitchen, which involves unloading the dishes from the dishwasher and she loves to help, by handing me the silverware. Not pictured- first meltdown of the day when I told her "no" she could not pick up the glass plates!


She usually watches an episode of  Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I clean up the kitchen, start a load of laundry, or sweep the floor. If I finish up with all that before the episode is over, I'll start reading blogs and check my email. Once Mickey ends, we play downstairs for a little while (today she wanted to play in my lap) then eventually go upstairs so I can make the bed, slap on some makeup, get our clothes out for the day, and play in her room. If we're meeting friends, going to a playgroup, or story time, then we'd both get dressed for the day and head out. Otherwise, we take it easy, like this particular day.

10:30 am

Around 10:00-10:30 Miss A asks for a "nack". I'm usually hungry too and this is also when I like to drink my coffee! She munches on some strawberries and I have some yogurt with granola.

11:00 am 

It's time to get dressed! Miss A plays with my jewelry and nail polish as I get ready. Most days I can take my time as she's really good at entertaining herself in our bedroom. She absolutely LOVES wearing my jewelry and going through my makeup. Of course there are days I have to rush through if she wants to be picked up or leave the room.

11:30 am

This is when she USED to take a nap and I stubbornly try everyday in the hopes she will nap, to no avail. I'll walk back in after 5 minutes to this- her blanket, lullaby monkey, doll, and pacifiers on the floor. I lay her back down again in the hopes she'll fall asleep and run to do some other things while I can, depending on how long she can entertain herself in the crib.

12:00 pm

No nap! No surprise there. Oh well. It's time for lunch.

Miss A is having homemade mac and cheese, shredded chicken, and broccoli. I get around to making myself a salad. She has a pacifier because I've noticed a new tooth is coming in and she's suddenly being very whiny and clingy. We usually don't offer it to her during the day, except for this reason (or if she's sick). 

I'm having a salad with chopped chicken, tomatoes, almonds, and feta cheese. I try to eat it on the floor while she plays with toys but she ends up in my lap picking at the lettuce. 

PS- this is what my sink looks like by this time of the day! Please tell me I'm not alone. 

1:00 pm

Finally, it's time to leave the house! Now that Miss A's nap is much later in the day I try to get out before then to run errands, meet friends, have a play date, go to the park (when it's warmer out), etc. Today's errand is to Target (surprise surprise) to pick up baby wipes, tights for Miss A, toothpaste, and other assorted items that somehow manage to fall into my cart. How do they get there?

2:30 pm 

Back home and at last, it's nap time! Her nap can be anywhere from 2:30-3:00 and lasts for an hour to two hours. Lately it's only been about an hour, or they don't happen at all! I see many no-nap days in my future. :( If it looks like she's going to refuse a nap, we hop into the car and drive around until she falls asleep. This typically always works, but of course, I'd much rather be in the house where I can get things done. I take a book or magazine to read and we sit in the driveway until she wakes up! Today she thankfully falls asleep easily and I've got to fold a huge pile of laundry. I finish up an episode of Downton Abbey while doing so. I'll usually do other chores that are lingering- like clean the bathrooms, sweep the floor/mop, or anything else that doesn't make noise (vacuuming is out of the question!)

Once I'm finished I go upstairs into the guest room where my desk is. Yes, I still rip out magazine clippings and tape them to the wall like I'm thirteen years old. Eventually I'd like to hang a chalkboard above my desk and frame inspirational quotes/wall art. Anyway, I sit down to read my favorite blogs, pay bills, check my planner, and read emails. 

4:00 pm 

She's up! Still sleepy and groggy, so we cuddle on the couch for a little bit until she asks for another snack.

She has some toast with peanut butter and I check my menu plan to see what I'm making for dinner. I get everything out that I need and arrange it on the counter. Once she's done with her snack we play downstairs until my husband comes home! A treat- he usually gets home after 7:00 on this rotation. 

6:00 pm

I run to take a quick shower and then start dinner while they hang out together. 

6:45 pm 

Dinner is served! We're having creamy tuscan pasta. Miss A isn't much of a fan, so I reheat some of her lunch and offer her some fruit, which she gobbles up. 

7:00-8:00 pm

It's time for bath, pajamas, and a little playtime before bed. We read books, say night night to dada, and sing some songs before I lay her down for the night. She's usually in bed by 8:00. 

Once Miss A goes to bed the hubby and I finally get to have some time together. We catch up on our DVR and enjoy each other's company. Depending on when he has to get up the next day, I might stay up after him and watch one of my own shows that I don't watch with him (like Downton Abbey), read, or write a blog post. 

There you have it! I hope you've enjoyed reading about how our days go!

January 27, 2014

Sweet & Sour Chicken

We don't order take-out very often. If we do it's because I'm sick, or had a really bad day and can't muster up the energy to cook. Typically we order Chinese food if we want take-out and my favorite things to order are monogolian beef, sesame chicken, and sweet and sour chicken.

I've tried making monogolian beef at home a long time ago. It failed miserably! I do make fried rice at home (I didn't this time around) but that still needs work too. I came across this recipe for sweet and sour chicken on Mel's Kitchen Cafe and was amazed at how many people love it. I kind of feel like the last blogger on Earth to make it!

This did not disappoint! It was true to and I'd even say better than most take-out places that I've ever had. I loooooved it. When my husband got home I gave him all that was left after the mini me and I attacked it (which was still a lot, this makes plenty of leftovers) and he devoured it. Needless to say, this will definitely be added to our dinner rotation. Don't you love it when that happens- a recipe that is a true winner.

Source: Mel's Kitchen

For the Chicken
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

For the Sauce
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, cut the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Season the pieces with salt and pepper. Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Add
the chicken to the bag and seal, tossing to coat the chicken. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl. Dip the chicken pieces in the egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet (it's best to do this with tongs). Cook for 1-2 minutes and then flip each piece over to cook the other side until nicely golden but not all the way cooked through. Do this in batches until all the chicken is golden, transferring to the baking dish, making sure the chicken is in a single layer. 

Mix the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and pour it over the chicken in the baking dish. Bake for one hour, turning the chicken pieces over at least once, so they're all coated in the sauce. Serve over hot, steamed rice.

January 24, 2014

Five on Friday

It may seem like I've dropped the ball on blogging, and in many ways, that's true. I've had very little motivation this week, with teething shaking up our normally peaceful, happy days, and other distractions. But I promise to be back next week! As for today, it's Friday, and I've missed linking up for Five on Friday!

1. Decorating

I bought the painting from World Market that I mentioned seeing last week. I went back to the store after showing the hubby a picture of it and he really liked it. So we hung it up to see how it would look in our living room and we both love it! Now I'm on the hunt for the perfect throw pillows.

2. Snow!

It "snowed" earlier this week, which made me really excited! I love that I was able to sit back and watch it fall as the flakes were pretty big, just like I used to do in Michigan. There's something so magical about snow (at first anyway, after dealing with it for months before I slowly started to hate it). Miss A and I went outside so I could show it to her and she was not impressed! Haha, I never know what to expect from her.

3. Organizing Photos

I finally, FINALLY, but together a photo book of Miss A's newborn pictures. I've been meaning to do this for...oh, about a YEAR and have slacked so much on putting her photos together in albums. I think it's because we have too much! Anyway, I love how her book turned out from Shutterfly.

4. Where does the time go?

We've got Miss A's 18 month check up today and I'm not looking forward to it. I swear it feels like I'm the one getting the shots! I can't believe we're here- 18 months! I think the next appointment isn't until she's two years old. TWO! How is this happening so fast?

5. Chocolate Cake Cookies 

By far my favorite pin this week! I'm dying to make these, preferably with festive Valentine M&M's!

Happy Friday!

January 21, 2014

Valentine's Day Look- Date Night!

Back in the day, before we were parents, before we owned a house, had a mortgage, and student loans to pay, the hubby and I used to go out for date nights all the time. Only, we didn't call them "date nights" then, because they were easy to come by, and we didn't have to prepare and schedule them weeks months in advance. It's harder for us to go out now because:

1. We have a baby 
2.  We don't have family around
3. Husband's schedule is crazy

Needless to say, I miss having dates with my husband, and we could certainly use one. It's been months, five months, to be exact, since we've had one!

I thought it would be fun to put together a look that I would do if we were going out for Valentine's Day. I was flipping through Cosmopolitan's February issue while Miss A was napping yesterday and fell in love with their suggestions. Here are my top picks!

V-Day Look
dress / shoes / Eyeshadow / Makeup / Face mask / Nail polish

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Will you be going out to celebrate? Let me live vicariously through you and tell me all about it! ;)

January 17, 2014

Decorating Our Home

When we moved in to our house, we were coming from a two bedroom apartment. We didn't have a ton of furniture, decorative items, and wall art. I'm still trying to figure out what to do about this wall in our living room. There's a nail already there left behind from the previous owners, just waiting for us to hang something. 

I've thought about doing a gallery wall, hanging a pretty mirror, or finding a cool piece of art work. Yesterday I was at World Market and saw this beautiful canvas. 

What do you think? I'm really torn. For sure I would get rid of our toss pillows (I hate them anyway) and get a brighter, not-as-busy pattern. I love the gold painted birds, something about it speaks to me. 

I've started ordering some gallery-wrapped canvas prints, of all the important, special moments of our lives. This one is from Easy Canvas Prints and is one of my favorites from our maternity session. I loved ordering from Easy Canvas Prints, their website is very easy to use and I'm so happy with the result. The canvas is beautiful! If you'd like to purchase one of your own, Easy Canvas Prints is offering all This Woman Cooks! readers 50% all their canvas prints!

The other print is from our wedding day and I plan to order several more, along with photos from Miss A's newborn session and 1st birthday. 

Eventually I'd like to have all these photos upstairs, on this large, empty wall we have in the hallway. 

There's also the mantle to think about. We have a brown wooden mirror from our old apartment that could work above the mantle, but I'd have to get crafty and spray paint it black to match our mantle and other furniture.

Decorating a house isn't as easy as I thought it would be! So much time and effort to get it right. For now I'm focusing on creating our gallery wall and finishing up the living room. I'll be sure to share our progress as we go along.  

I received a product to review from Easy Canvas Prints, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own. For more custom print options, visit Build A Sign www.buildasign.com and Allied Shirts

January 15, 2014

Life as a SAHM- Sleep or Not to Sleep

Sometimes it feels that way, right? Teething, sickness, and being out of town, has taken a toll on Miss A. Since we've been back from Miami, naps are completely off schedule and wake ups in the middle of the night are happening waaaay to frequently.

So what's a Mama to do? I try to do my best, but honestly, sometimes I push aside the chores to tomorrow, I put my feet up during a nap (when and if they happen) and I tell myself it's only temporary. Eventually, hopefully, she will go back to normal. In the meantime, I may be going a little batty, and I'm so grateful for all my friends who receive phone calls and text messages from me daily. Thanks for putting up with me!

Let's move on to some fun topics! We've started "mommy school" after being inspired by Leah. We're working on identifying animals and the sounds they make. Yesterday we read all her books on animals, played with a puzzle, and attempted to do a craft with cotton balls and glue. Haha, that was interesting- the glue was much more entertaining and the cotton balls, well, they didn't stay on for very long!

I'm also so thrilled to be a part of a new playgroup with toddlers very close to Miss A's age. Hopefully we will continue to meet once a week and enjoy making some new friends. If there's nothing else a tired, sleep-deprived mom needs, it's other tired, sleep-deprived moms to share in her woes. Getting out of the house is also a major perk, especially with this dreary, rainy weather we've been having lately.

Miss A's obsession with Mickey and Minnie is no secret and everyone is buying and sending her all kinds of Mickey related clothes and toys. She carries this Minnie doll with her everywhere. Minnie's clothes, shoes, and bows snap on and off so you can change her outfit, which means that I'm replacing her bow 15363 times a day. It's so adorable, I can't hardly stand it.

Lots of new words have been added to her vocabulary: sit, Daisy (Daisy duck from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), hi, bye, night night, agua, outside, inside, mama, dada, sisi (Sandy, or dog), Minnie, Mickey, all done, out, book, baby, ball, car, eyes, nose and I'm sure there's many more that I'm forgetting right now, not to mention all the other words and commands she understands.

This is such a fun age, I can't believe she is 18 months old today. I feel like her "babyness" is slipping away and she's becoming more and more of a little girl every day. I usually don't get sad about this because I'm always excited to watch her change and grow, but lately I have been a little sad, knowing that I will miss these days so much. If only time could slow down and she could stay my baby longer!

January 13, 2014

Dinner Lately

Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan

I made this chicken parmesan from Cooking Light last week. It's a little better for you than traditional chicken parmesan- instead of using bread crumbs, you use panko, and the tomato sauce isn't weighed down by lots of salt and tastes like you've been slaving away on the stove all day. We both loved it, including the mini!

Rotisserie Chicken with Lemon Risotto 
& Bacon Brussel Sprouts 

Last Friday I wasn't in the mood to cook so Miss A and I made a last minute trip to the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken. As we were leaving I saw that arborio rice was on sale and picked some up, suddenly with a huge craving for some risotto! The only risotto I make is lemon risotto, a Rachael Ray recipe. Gah, it is SO good!! I could easily sit there and eat the whole pot.

I also grabbed some brussel sprouts while we were at the store to make a super easy and quick veggie side dish. I don't know why brussel sprouts get such a bad rep- they are delicious, if you make them correctly! I follow this recipe from Picky Palate, but I omit the extra toppings and I cook mine in bacon fat. ;) I fry up three slices of bacon in a skillet, remove the bacon, leave the drippings and add a tablespoon of olive oil, then I add the sprouts. Perfect every single time!

Classic Cheeseburgers 

My husband loves having burgers for dinner. Sometimes we have burgers once a week, especially if I'm looking for something easy to make. I make them pretty much the same every time- salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and spoonful of barbecue sauce go into the mix. I cook them on the stove top and top them with cheddar cheese, red onions, and lettuce. 

Baked Potato Soup 

This is my favorite baked potato soup recipe. I made it two months ago while my parents were visiting. My dad loves to eat soup when it's cold out, which means he doesn't eat it very often, seeing as it rarely gets chilly in Miami. He requested soup one day for lunch and I had this recipe from Skinnytaste pinned that I really wanted to try. I love that the recipe calls for a head of cauliflower, so it's easy not to feel bad about eating this soup! Crispy bacon and cheddar cheese are a must for toppings!