Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Friday, September 26, 2014

tractors and ice cream

Dairy Store Employees/Students circa 1950s

Last week, we finally had a sunny day so Mike and I took the day off and took our kids on a road trip to Lincoln. I wanted to find the Backyard Farmer's garden. We never found it, but we did see the show's host! And we found lots of other cool stuff on East Campus.
First, we saw some signs directing us to a tractor museum. The Larsen Tractor Museum showcases antique tractors. It is in a very modest building, but the kids LOVED it. It's also a free will donation to enter. The staff was SUPER kind, too.
Then we got a free tour of Nebraska Horsepower Testing Site. I learned that Nebraska is the only place in the Western Hemisphere that tests ALL the tractors that are made here. It was a great tour given by a UNL student. This student then sent us to the Dairy Store. Did you know that UNL has a working dairy farm? And they make ICE CREAM and CHEESE with the milk??? I did not. And I went to school there. Needless to say, we all got ice cream. It was delicious. You can even watch them make the products!
We ended the day at a new park development (where I say the BYF host!) with an amazing Children's Garden.  It was a great end to a great day. Please check these places out. You won't regret it!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hello, Fall

Hello! It was a very busy Summer here. We sold out of all of our Weekly Bounty Boxes, had  a ton of play dates, went to fairs, learned how to swim, and more. Now Hendrix is in his final year at St. Patrick's in the pre-K program. I'm so thankful I didn't have to send him to kindergarten this year. My heart would of broke. Ha!
We continue to have huge harvests from the produce and the chickens are laying eggs daily (sometimes twice a day!!). Here are some pictures of what we have been up to these past few months:
Eggs from our chickens!

1st Husker Game!

Slow Roasted Tomatoes 
Last Picture of the kids with  Gretal who passed away in August.

Scallop Squash stuffed with corn, bacon, and eggs!

Birthday flowers from Hendrix. Chocolate Zucchini Cake.
The farmer's daughter ready for the County Fair.
Huge Scallop Squash!

We built a fairy garden!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

an open (love) letter to my daughter on her first birthday

In the hostipal

Meeting Hendrix for the first time.

Hendrix picked her Wild Violets while she napped.

The Farmer's Daughter

Summer Lovin'


9 months

Christmas Eve

Dear Baby Girl,
Today you are one. You're a May Day Baby celebrating her Golden Birthday. You are the joy of this family.  There are not enough words to describe the joy you bring to all of us. You are quite simply so happy being Violet Alice that you don't concern yourself with anything that would not bring you joy. We could all learn something from you in that regard.
It took you weeks after you were born to even really cry.  You took to nursing almost immediately.  You took 4 ounces of formula in your first couple hours on this planet. You slept through the night at 6 weeks.  Your father and I are pretty much speechless with how easy it is with you.  That is just your way. You toddle along in life. Pleased as peaches.  Unless someone looks at you or smiles at you. You are not fond of "strangers". At all. You are very fond of eating.  So you don't handle hunger well. But those things are easily remedied.
Every morning, I come in your room and you receive me with a giant smile.  And a hug to beat all hugs. Who knew a baby could give a bear hug. Throughout the day you will find me to give me a hug.  In all my days, I will cherish those hugs with everything I have.  You will never know how much I love those hugs. You are the cuddlebug I always dreamed of.
Hendrix and you are quite a pair.  No one can make you laugh like he does.  And no one is as concerned with your safety as he is.  I hope you always love each other this much.
In a year you have learned how to walk, nod your head yes, grown three teeth, sign "done", clap, and more.  You are starting to get on Hendrix's old Big Wheel and scoot it along.  Being outside and eating are probably your favorite things.  As well as, giving all your dollies and stuffed animals hugs.
I love, love, love, love, love having a daughter.  You make me a better mother and a better woman. Your easy way makes us a better family. This year has brought us more joy than we could of imagined. We cannot wait to get to know you more and watch you grow more and more.
We love you more than cheese and wine,
Mommy and Daddy

She's Golden!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

an open (love) letter to my son on his fifth birthday

Dear Baby Boy,
You're FIVE! Five! I have been completely avoiding thinking about it. Five feels like the end of an era to me.  No more babydom. We're out of clothes sized with a "T" after the number size. You are size 6 in the boys section. We're almost out of toddler sized shoes. You're a size 11 now.  You have long gave up your beloved dinosaur sippy cup that you drank your morning chocolate milk out of for years. You prefer an open Spiderman cup now. You've been a big brother for almost a year now. And, not to my surprise, you are the best big brother who ever lived.  Being a nurturer is your nature. What a lovely trait for you to have. It will get you a lot of good places in this life. I promise. Because with nurturing comes empathy and kindness.  You make this world better by being you.  You make me better by being you.
You make our family, my boy.  With your birth you made me a mother.  We all fell in love with each other.  We stuck by each other.  You make us a family where laughter happens everyday. Where laughing at ourselves is encouraged. You remind us to slow down and enjoy Family Movie Night.  You make us look up and admire the animal bones you find.  You help us listen as we listen to you giggle with Violet Alice. You are an intergal part of this family being human. Making mistakes.  Forgiving. Loving. Laughing. Sharing.  With your birth we learned that loving and being loved were the bread and butter of this life.
Your kindness, desire to stand up for others, sense of humor, and willingness to contribute continue to be your best characteristics.  Your father and I are constantly in awe of your kindness.  Your show of love, daily, to your sister is enough to melt my heart.  May you both always love each other this much.
Somedays I miss the afternoons where I would sing to you to get you to nap.  Other days I miss your pudgy fingers.  A lot of days I miss you being my baby.  Then you, with your sweet heart, tell me that you will always be my baby.  With the first child, parents tend to not stop and smell the roses enough.  I certainly did not.  Now I try to more. For instance, you recently learned about the planets in preschool.  You are now totally stoked about learning anything to do with outer space.  I absolutely love to hear you talk about things you are excited about.
Speaking of, this year you will be playing T-ball.  I am absolutely pumped to watch you play.  I could care less if you hit the ball or catch one.  I just want you to have fun with your friends.  I want you to enjoy yourself. You have been to known to be your own worst critic when you don't immediately succeed at something.  This year you have done a much better job, though.  And that makes me more proud than anything else.  Because if you try and try you will get better and then you will get really good. Ask anybody.
Five will bring lots of good things for you.  I just know it.  What an incredible five years it has been already.  For me, they have been the fastest, most love-filled, and fulfilling years of my life.  You continue to teach this family what life is really about and I have no doubt you will continue to do so. Happy Birthday,Hendrix.
With More Love Than I Knew Was Possible,

(letters for age 2, 3, and 4)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

mom's chicken and rice casserole revisted

To say that my mother wasn't much of a cook when I was growing up would be an understatement. She only made a few dishes and they were as follows...
  Shit On A Shingle (boil in the bag chipped beef poured on toast)
  Beef Stew (a can of UNDRAINED Veg-All mixed with ground beef)
  Hot Beef Sandwiches (can of brown gravy poured on toast-no beef or potatoes)
  Chicken and Rice Casserole (made off the Campbell's soup can)
She served Twinkies as breakfast or mixed cereals in one bowl.  Nothing like thinking you scored Fruit Loops for breakfast only to find soggy Corn Flakes four bites in.  The only fresh vegetable we ever had was potatoes.  Boiled.  You could smash it yourself at the table with butter. We always had bananas, though.  Or fruit cocktail. HA!
Her chicken and rice casserole was the only thing edible.  Most nights we just had TV dinners (Kid Cuisine, anyone??) or ate out.  We were regulars at Grandmother's and Julio's.  HOWEVER, despite this...I still crave that damn chicken and rice casserole.  Especially the one's she made where, just to be crazy, she added slices of American cheese.  The casserole wasn't even cooked properly half of the time.  Often, the Minute rice managed to be under-cooked, even though, it had spent a hour in the oven. I'm sure my brother does not crave it since she insisted on making it with Cream of Mushroom even though my brother abhors mushrooms.  He still does.
That all being said, I have never successfully recreated that culinary abomination. I have followed the directions on the back of the can, looked it up on All Recipes, everything.  She must of been doing something nuts. Or it as simple as, sometimes you cannot recreate the tastes of childhood.
On A Chef's Life, Vivian Howard made chicken and rice with her mother and admitted to her mother and viewers that her mom's was better.  Vivian is an extraordinary executive chef at Chef and The Farmer in North Carolina.  So I suppose if she has a hard time recreating her mother's dishes, so would I.
Recreating OTHER people's childhood dishes seems to be much easier.  Mike grew up eating these meatballs that had macaroni in them.  They were made in a sweet tomato sauce.  They are very similar to the DALS porcupine meatballs.  I finally made them.  They were delicious and just as Mike remembered them. so there you go.
I wonder what dishes my children will remember and crave when they fly the coop?  Will it be my Magic Macaroni & Cheese? Or Pasta with Bacon & Peas (pasta carbonara)? Who knows.  The point is all children remember something their mom or dad made them when they were growing up.  No matter how much or little their parents cooked.  Or how well.
This Mom's Chicken and Rice Casserole 
{I had a fierce craving last I made my own version.}
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken
1 can of cream of chicken
3 c. cooked rice
2 heads of broccoli, cut
Shredded Cheddar
Cook chicken in cream of chicken soup in Crockpot on high for 3 hours.  Remove chicken and chop up.  Put back in crockpot, add cooked rice, cheese, and broccoli.  Combine well.  Pour into greased 9x13 baking dish. Top with more cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

oven stew + skillet cookie

Me and Mike's anniversary was on Monday. We celebrated on Saturday night by having a delicious dinner at Lot 2 and checking out some the breweries in Benson. On Monday, I decided to make a Guinness Beef Stew for dinner. Beef Stew was one of the dishes we served at our wedding. Then I discovered we had drank all the Guinness. Whoops! So I decided to use red wine and try a few techniques out. I saw on an America's Test Kitchen episode where they made a stew in the oven and added the veggies later in the cooking time. Adding the veggies later prevents mushy veggies. They also omitted the browning of the meat.  Cooking in the oven imparts a roasted flavor. It combines a stew with the cooking technique of short ribs or pot roast, meaning you assemble it, stick in the oven and forget it. Perhaps you all heard of making a stew in the oven, but I have not. This is my kind of cooking.
Later in the afternoon, I had a massive craving for chocolate. But I had no butter softened or really all that much chocolate to bake with.  I recalled seeing a skillet cookie somewhere, but couldn't find the one I wanted. So I sort of made one up. It was so, so good. Mike thinks we should only make cookies this way. You make it and bake it inn the skillet. No soft butter needed. No dishes.
Oven Stew
1 Chuck Roast, cut into cubes, salt & peppered
1 onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive Oil
3/4 C of good red wine
4 C beef broth
1 heaping teaspoon of Italian seasoning
4 carrots, cut into chunks
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 container of mushrooms, 8 oz
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In dutch oven, heat olive oil and saute onion until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in seasoning. Cook 30 seconds. Pour in wine and scrape bits off of bottom of pan. Cook about 2 minutes. Pour in broth and add beef. Stick in oven with lid ajar. Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add veggies and cook for another hour or so. Until veggies are tender and meet is fork tender. Enjoy.

Skillet Cookie
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup of white sugar
1 t of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of chocolate chip
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an 8" oven safe skillet (I used cast iron), melt butter. Stir in sugars and vanilla. Remove from heat. When warm and not hot to the touch, add egg. Carefully, mix in dry ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips. The batter will be thick and somewhat difficult to work with, but stick with it. Spread evenly in pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges are golden. Serve warm. Enjoy.

Monday, January 13, 2014

farro with sausage and apples

Happy New Year! Turns out, transitioning from one to two children is more difficult than none to one. It has been for me, anyways. Ha! Also, time seems to be on fast forward with Violet Alice. She's already standing and cruising. That among other things explains my lack of posting.I'm still figuring out what to make of this space. I also received an email from a disgruntled reader while I was pregnant. It left a bad taste in my mouth and forced me to review how I handle criticism. I ended up deleting a post. Which I now regret. You can't make everyone happy. In the end, I decided that this space is mine and what I want to say, how I want to say it, and what I want to share is my business. And I like sharing. The Internet is awesome and it allows you to connect with way more awesome people than not.  People keep linking back,so I must be doing something right. For the most part, though, I've been spending time with my family. Which has been so, so great.  Also, in the end, this space is a record of my family's life and it gives me great joy.

There has also been a lack of Trader Joe's in my life until recently. Over the Holidays I took a job as a fragrance rep. It put me near TJ's. We have been reunited and it feels so good. Let's talk about the 10 minute farro packets. They also have bulgur and barley. I realize I am late to this party, but better late than never!! I bought the farro one and gave the recipe on the back a whirl. I have been trying to add more grains and variety to our dinner plate.  I like to have a protein, starch, and veg on the dinner plate.  So I have been trying to replace the usual starches (potatoes, rice, pasta) with different grains. This recipe was great, easy, and budget friendly. I estimate the whole thing cost about $10 to make. That is including the cabbage I served alongside.
Farro with Sausage and Apples
1 packet of farro from TJ's, prepared in broth according to package directions.
1 onion chopped
1 large apple, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 package of chicken sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
Olive Oil
In dutch oven, heat olive oil and saute onion, garlic, and apple until soft.  Add sausage and cook through. Stir in farro and season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm.  We had sauteed cabbage as a side. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Six Months of Two, Four, & Violet Alice

may 1, 2013 seems like a lifetime ago some days and most nights, when it is quiet and calm, it seems like yesterday.  violet alice was born in the early morning on may 1st.  it snowed that day.  the weather broke records. so did my daughter.  she always will. that's the kind of girl she is.
she let out one yell when they brought her into this world.  she never really cried until about two weeks later. she preferred to be snuggled quietly with me.  and, for the most part, she still does.  she slept through the night at 6 weeks.  then at about 5 months her lioness came alive and she was off of the sleeping for awhile.  now after battling bronchitis she is getting back into the swing of things.  nursing, co-sleeping, and baby wearing are her jam.  so, so different than her brother. strong will is also her jam. just like her brother.  crawling and sitting up all before six months. so not like her brother.  eating and loving all things food.  just like her brother.
peas, green beans, spinach, parsnips, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, strawberries, blueberries, apples, prunes, pears, bananas, rice cereal, oatmeal, and baby mummums have all graced those beautiful lips.

these two children of mine are so different from one another at one moment and then two peas in a pod the next.  their blue eyes show they are related and not much else. their love for one another is second to none.  mike and i will never forget watching hendrix in the rear view mirror on the car ride home from the hospital. hendrix just stared. awestruck. this was his person.  his life was complete with purpose.  he was a big brother.  it was as simple as that.  getting two siblings to like one another/coexist has never been easier.  when she started to move and be able to get at his things...he freaked out. with excitement that she could finally play with him.

the four of us started out as three for most of the time.  planting season and work kept mike away for the first several weeks.  then a choice to launch pf land clearing and focus on projects around the farm gave us some much needed time together. four has been an easy transition.
two was/is hard at times.  feeling pulled in multiple directions.  figuring out schedules.  doling out the proper amount of attention.  making everyone feel special and loved.  dealing with colds and stomach viruses that spread like wildfire.  volunteering at preschool.  helping babies cope with separation anxiety. throwing parties.  welcoming the holiday season.  it's all a juggling act.
i love them. these children of mine. this family.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chicken Taco Soup + Six Months

last night, we had our first annual halloween party.  it was so fun to see the kiddos in their halloween costumes and have our first hurrah as a family of four (even if violet was ms. crabbypants). violet alice will be six months this friday and i haven't even written about her, yet.  this has been the fastest six months of my life. soon i will share more about her, hendrix's love for her, my fascination with having a daughter, and all the wonderful changes our family has undergone.  to the readers that kept checking in...thanks for checking in and waiting while i got used to two kids. xo!
i made this soup yesterday and it turned out to be quite a hit with our guests. it's super simple and delicious.  also, the smore candy you see all over pinterest?? make it. now. so good.

chicken taco soup
2 - 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 c. chicken broth
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 bag of frozen corn
1/2 T cumin
1 t. minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste
combine ingredients in crockpot.  cook on low 8 - 10 hours.  shred chicken before serving.  serve with avocado, shredded cheddar, cilantro, limes, green onion, tortilla chips, and/or sour cream.

sneak peek of the cutest baby

Monday, March 11, 2013

an open (love) letter to my son on his fourth birthday



you are four today! four. four seems very old to your mother.  perhaps because i remember my fourth birthday.  it's the first birthday i remember.  i still remember the porcelain figurine of a little girl with the number 4 next to her that someone gave me.  four is a little kid.  there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  you are a little boy.  no longer a baby.  but, you see, you will always be my baby.  my heart.  the one who made me a mother.
people always seem to be in awe of babies, but i am here to tell you that the real awe comes in watching your children grow up and become real live, talking, opinionated individuals. watching you become a little boy has been the most awesome experience of my life.   your generosity, sincerity, thankfulness, curiosity, genuine concern for others and reflections on life blow me away everyday.  i am often humbled by the gift that i was given when i had you.  you are a better person than i could ever imagine to be.  you bring such joy into the lives of the people around you.
three was full of firsts for you.  soccer, preschool, field trips, new friends, amusement park rides, the loss of a pet, potty training, school pictures, visiting a sick grandma at the hospital, building a barn with your dad, and more.  three was also the most challenging for you and i. three is the time kids are becoming really aware of the world outside of their little family units. it has been a year of discovering what makes you tick.
you are a builder.  you are a scientist.  you are mechanically inclined.  you are an animal lover. you are your dad's best bud.  you are incredibly kind.  you are adaptable.  you are forgiving.  you are a cook.   you are charming.  you are the love of your grandma joann's life.  you are creative.  you are never lacking in imagination.  you, in a lot of ways, are still a momma's boy.  and thank god.
every time i write these letters, i cry.  i sit and cry over time flying, but mostly i cry over what a fantastic person you are and continue to become. here's the first letter i ever wrote to you, written a few days after we came home from the hospital:
The Day You Were Born. . .
Began long before Wednesday, March 11th 2009, 9:48 P.M.. On Tuesday, March 10 that 2:30 P.M. Aunt Theresa and I went to the doctor to have an ultrasound, I had been placed on bed rest the week prior for preeclampsia and they were monitoring my blood pressure and more importantly, you. The ultrasound went great, but my blood pressure continued to be high. So at 4:30 Dr. Tierney sent me across the hall to Labor & Delivery to begin the process of inducing labor. When I called your dad to tell him what was going on and to ask him to pick up my things from home on his way to the hospital he asked me, “Now?” – He was slightly in shock. The doctors began giving me medicine to start the process and continued to do so until 3 AM the next morning . . . not much was happening, but then contractions started. At 3 P.M. my water broke. You, however, were not responding to the Pitocin very well and my body was not progressing very quickly. Aunt Theresa and your dad were there the whole time. The feelings went from elation to exhaustion to anxiety to anticipation and back again. At 9:15 PM your father and I agreed with the doctors that a C-Section was the best and safest way to bring you into the world. I won’t lie. . .I was scared out of my mind . . .I had never had surgery, stitches, a broken bone, or stayed in the hospital for any length of time. The doctors and nurses were so wonderful and at 9:48 PM you were born. I saw what falling in love at first sight looks like when your father looked over the blue screen and saw you being taken out. All he kept saying was how beautiful you were. . .”Oh, sweetie, he’s so beautiful. He’s so beautiful.” Aunt Theresa and your father then spent the next hour watching the nurses work on you and clean you up while I got stitched up and recovered. I met you about an hour and half after you were born . . . my biggest disappointment in life is that I was not able to see you and hold you immediately. Hendrix, you are my greatest accomplishment ever and my greatest love. You have made me a better person and I hope to make you proud some day. I love you so very much.
(somehow i skipped your first birthday, but wrote one for your second and third birthdays. )
in a couple of months, your sister will arrive.  never once have i worried about what type of brother you will be. or how you will adjust.  everyday you tell me something you are going to do with your sister or are looking forward to about having a baby.  even your preschool teacher, mrs. adams, remarked how well she thought you were going to do with a new baby.  violet alice is very lucky to enter this world with you waiting to be her big brother.  i am even luckier to have you.
hendrix, you are my heart.  you always will be.  it has been my greatest joy to watch you grow up and i fall in love with you more everyday.
i love you,
your mommy

Monday, January 28, 2013

baby monitors + booster seats

a nursery in progress...

in one day, i got hendrix's new highback booster car seat and the baby's crib mattress and baby monitor in the mail.  it seems in a very short time, i have watched the baby who made me a mother become a little boy.  he'll be four in march.  i always get nostalgic this time of year when i start planning his birthday and walk around in shock that another year has passed us by. it's harder this year, though.  since, we're also planning to start all over again in may.  in may, we'll start the baby years again. for the last time.  it will also be hendrix's last birthday as the only show in town. the same day i got all those packages i started on the picture book project i have been wanting to do for awhile.  i have about 1000 pictures from the last four years that i am making photo books out for each year of hendrix.  all this nostalgia combined with the fact that i am having a girl therefore i have EXTRA hormones...made for a crying fit while hendrix was napping.  how the hell did this happen?  we've slid into a pretty good routine around here and somewhere along the way i have a boy who zips his own coat, is saving his allowance to buy a trailer for his baby sister's toy car, has parent teacher conferences this week, and tells me a good cooker everyday.  in the meantime, i have a baby doing acrobats inside me who will make me the mother of a daughter in about 4 months.  this business of mothering is no joke, folks.  it always seems after the hardest days...the days dealing with temper tantrums, no naps, and poop in the will then be reminded what wonderful creatures you have created.  you will read a story of kids growing up and away or look at baby pictures while you pull the baby stuff out for newest creature. what a magical time it is for me. for me to be a mother watching the chill, somewhat aloof baby become a sincere, kind boy. a boy who has made the process of transitioning into a mother a joy.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

february: month of meals

i'm sticking with my monthly meal planning.  it seems to really work for us and is super awesome on the days when i have no desire to cook.  it's much easier to throw something together when you already have a stocked kitchen and plan.  since, the baby is due at the beginning of may i have started working on my postpartum meal plan.  you know since when we brought hendrix home we had nothing to eat.  this time will be different, though, since we don't really have air conditioning in the kitchen and it can get quite warm already in may and june i am focusing on premade meals that don't require the oven.  you can check out some of my ideas on my pinterest board.  this month i am also testing or retesting a lot of these recipes to see how quick they really are, as well as, testing out some of the quick, premade freezer meals from costco and trader joe's that other folks have suggested.
1. crockpot shrimp + bacon corn chowder
2. italian chicken bake
3. spaghetti with costco meatballs
4. crockpot beef + broccoli
5. beef + scallion skewers with bok choy
6. zuppa toscana soup
7. crockpot asian pork + mushrooms
8. rueben bake
9. roasted veggie tacos
10. sour cream chicken enchiladas
11. crockpot salisbury steak with potatoes & veggies
12. stromboli
13. crockpot frank + beans with slaw
14. philly cheesesteak sandwiches on bretzel rolls
15. pot pies
16. pork schintzel with sour cream mashed potatoes and sweet + sour cabbage
17. beef + snow peas
18. fajitas
19. chicken cutlets with salad
20. sausage + latkes
21. sloppy joes
22. greek burgers with greek cous cous salad
23. mini meatloaves with taters and veggies
24. crockpot chili
25. crockpot stuffed peppers

chicken wrap
creamy kale salad
black bean + quinoa salad
salad with melty goat cheese crouton

cut veggies
bread with nut butter
bran muffins

Thursday, January 3, 2013

resolve to be good

so.  i am guessing we all have some sort of food resolutions going on in our head.  it is the new year, after all.  i don't really have one since i am pregnant and have been eating pretty well.  i've already gained less weight then when i was prego with hendrix.  the first time i really thought i was eating for two.  turns out, you're not.  so.  my only resolutions are to mentally list every night (or morning if i was too tired the night before to think)  what i am grateful for and what i did RIGHT that day.  as well as, to commit to completing something creative every month.  i know, as a mother and wife, i put myself on the back burner. a lot.  then i start to feel guilty or short tempered.  then it is a domino effect of bad decisions weather with my eating, sleep, money spending, or how i am talking to others.  so, i am going to try to be kinder to myself and to do things that bring me happiness.  i am confident that this will spill over into all the facets of life.  the first half of this year will be growing this baby.  the second half will be taking care of newborn and introducing a new person to our family of three. i am going to take easy on myself.  because you know what?  most of us are doing good.  there's nothing wrong with wanting be better, but sometimes "good enough" needs to be enough.
HOWEVER.  we all have some food battle we want to win.  mine is my battle with sugar.  i love it.  the good thing and the blessing in disguise is that this baby does not.  if i eat sweets, i get sick.  baby does not like.  hendrix loved sweets and still does. i pretty much lived on apple fritters and cherry pie when i was pregnant with him.  healthy, i know.  so, i thought i would share some yummy and pretty darn healthy recipes & ideas with ya'll.  as well as, a cake recipe.  because who can resist?

my new favorite salad.  cabbage, apple, and walnut salad.  we made out on NYE.

got clementines? make this cake.  it's actually not the most unhealthy cake.

take the 7 day challenge.  7 new recipes in 14 days.  jump start dinner and get out of the rut!

make $20 stretch and help folks with real food problems

start planning.  month of meals.

this is the next salad that i'm going to make out with.  i love salads that can hold their own in the fridge for a bit.

finally, breakfast tacos!  i crave protein like nobody's business with this baby.  i made these up earlier and have been eating them for breakfast, lunch, and snack time.

breakfast tacos
1 egg, scrambled
1 fajita size tortilla, whole wheat ot whatever your prefer
1 1/2 T. salsa
small handful of shredded cheddar
2 T. smashed black beans or refried beans
dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt
avocado or cilantro, optional
in toaster oven or microwave, melt cheese on tortilla.  fill with beans, eggs, salsa, and sour cream. enjoy! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

boredom busters

cloud dough

tis the season for stir crazy kiddos.  either it's too cold, windy, or rainy out or worse...the kids are sick AND the weather sucks. anyone knows that oftentimes when the kids are sick they are still mobile and extremely stir crazy.  which makes parents crazy. at least it makes me crazy.  enter my tried and true ways to bust boredom in the balls.  i'm sharing them with you today, but also recording them for i can look them up and implement them instead of having a meltdown.

cloud dough 
slightly messy, but worth it. store it on one of those "under the bed" storage containers. (found here)

fish for letters
fill the tub up and throw a bunch of those magnetic numbers or letters in it.  have your kid fish the letters or numbers out with a kid fishing pole that has a paperclip attached to the end of the line.  older kids can spell stuff out or practice math.  younger ones can identify the numbers or letters.

shaving cream
this cheap stuff is your friend.  in a tub, cover a toy in it and have your kid shoot water at it until they find their "prize".  OR put some on baking sheet and let them add color with those water tubes that come with flowers.  just dilute food coloring in some water.  then let them go to town.  very easy to clean up.

tub painting
strip the kids to their underoos.  cover the tub walls in paper and make some edible finger paint or just color some cool whip with food coloring.  let them create a masterpiece.  when they are done, remove the paper and start bath time. OR make your own bath paint by coloring shaving cream with food coloring and let them paint during bathtime.

rice game
fill a bowl up with uncooked rice and hide things like magnetic letters in it.  have the kid dig around until they find all the treasures. give them some smaller containers and let them transfer the rice from container to container.  keep it all contained on a large, rimmed baking sheet for easier clean up. (i used this one for all of hendrix's 2nd year so that i could get dinner made)

pompom game
find some unbreakable container with a lid and preferably clear.  cut a smaller hole in the lid.  give your kid some pompoms and have them stuff the pompoms in the container.  use different colors and sizes then have them practice colors and sizes.  (this was also great when hendrix was about 1 1/2 - 2 1/2)

balloon pong
things can escalate quickly but it gets a lot of energy out. see here for how to.

make granola or animal cookies
easy recipes for kids to help with and they freeze for up to 3 months.  granola recipe is here and animal cookie recipe is here.

clean up relay race
at my house, everything that is supposed to be upstairs is always (somehow) downstairs.  so i get a tub and set it by the bottom of the stairs.  i go through the downstairs and collect everything that needs to go back upstairs.  while i do it i have hendrix RUN the items to the box.  gets energy out.  sometimes he falls, but he loves it.

paper highway
tear off a big piece of kraft paper.  draw roads and a town on it.  give your kids some crayons and cars.  have them add to the town and go for a drive.

what are your boredom busters? let's all share so that we have some arsenal this winter and upcoming rainy (hopefully!!) spring.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

i love it when i'm clever

the bathroom in our house was a total afterthought.  like sometime in the late 50s, early 60s someone looked around and saw that EVERYONE else now had indoor plumbing and thought they should go along with the trend.  so they put up a wall on a porch and some drywall in the now "bathroom".  no insulation, though.  it is about 25 sq ft. with a full sized bathtub, sink, toilet, wall storage cabinet and a full sized water heater.  so, yeah.  it's kind of the bane of my existence in this house.  i love this house, but that bathroom. oh my god.  as you can imagine, there are no towel bars or places for towel bars, or wall space. so....after 3 years i have actually figured out a cute, easy option.  yes, it took me 3 years to be clever.
remember these from our wedding?

well, since i am not planning any dinner parties anytime soon. they are now cute, monogrammed towel hooks.

weird thing is...mike still used hendrix's towel this morning instead of getting a new towel.  why? boys are gross.  that's why.  new "systems" take awhile to take hold in our house. so, hendrix should have it down by yesterday and mike by next year. ha!
up next...turning an old door/entrance into a craft corner. sounds weird.  but it is going to be awesome.  let the nesting begin!!!  

Monday, December 10, 2012

feeling festive

this weekend we saw santa and got a christmas tree.  i even wrapped all the presents we have bought so far.  it's beginning to feel very festive around here.  now if only it would snow.
christmas will come a little earlier this year for our family.  my MIL is going to get to come home from the rehabilitation facility tomorrow and we have our ultrasound on thursday.  send us lots of positive energy and love for a nice, healthy, happy growing baby.  i am 19 weeks along now.

i got some cooking and prep done this weekend, too.  i made some granola, breadcrumbs, hard boiled eggs, and marinara.  i think i will start on holiday baking and homemade gifts this week since our christmas cards arrived last week.  what are you all making for the holidays?  i am going to do some of my hot cocoa mix, applesauce chocolate chip cake, granola, rosemary olive oil bread, and everyday bread with compound butter.  i don't have a giant list of i like to mix it up. i am also looking at doing some of these busy bags and this hand scrub for some folks.
i hope your weekend was grand and your week is even better...
if you are in the omaha or lincoln area and would like to make the holidays brighter for some families, consider donating soup or pop to PLaiD's 2nd annual holiday souper supper.  PLaiD will be providing soup, rolls, dessert, and drinks to sick kids, their families, and the staff that takes care of them on friday, december 20 at UNMC. check out PLaiD's website for more about what they do.  go here to sign up.

Monday, December 3, 2012

christmas countdown

i had many grand plans for a grand advent calendar this year.  then life got in the way and none of them came to fruition.  every year, as hendrix gets older, christmas gets more exciting around here.  kids make even the biggest scrooges (ahem, mike) get excited for christmas.  i love advent calendars because they help the kid countdown to christmas and they help me stay focused on what matters.  i always like to include special activities like: get a christmas tree, decorate cookies, or go ice skating in his calender.  then for the days when we can't quite DO something...he gets a special treat.
anyways, there i was standing in the kitchen at the end of november wondering how i was going to whip out a calendar quickly and cheaply...when i spotted hendrix's christmas stocking.  it has a calendar on it. ta-da! the christmas advent stocking!  so every day since saturday, i have been putting little treats in there.  he's really been loving it...and so have i.  the santa pez dispenser was a big hit yesterday. thursday is saint nick's day so i will putting a picture of a shoe in his stocking and telling him to check his shoes for a surprise. do you have an advent calendar in your house? how do you fill it?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

a month of meals

i've either entered the nesting phase or have WAY too much time on my hands.  however, i have read on quite a few blogs lately and talked with a few friends...apparently planning meals out and doing the shopping for a month of dinners is a money saver/time saver.  i already spend very little on groceries, but lately we have been going over our budget.  mostly, because with this pregnancy comes pregnancy brain, morning sickness, and "ohmygodiamsotired i can't even make a sandwich". it all leads to eating out more and/or prepackaged dinners bought at the last minute. both not all that delicious.
also, i think by not really planning out snacks and lunches and times that i can't bear to prepare food, i end up leaving myself with a kitchen with no back up plan.  supermom isn't making as many appearances these days. hence, the frozen pizza and ravioli on my grocery list.
so....i went down the road of crazy and planned a month of meals. feel free to poach any or all of these for your own planning purposes.
a few things... this plan took me about an hour to do.  i stuck with mostly staple dinners and threw a couple of new recipes in there. i typically have a pretty well stocked pantry so i just needed to replace a few items.  it may vary based on your pantry. the meat, frozen food, and pantry items will be purchased once this month.  some of the produce that keeps well, like carrots, potatoes, onions, and sugar snap peas, will be purchased once. the same with the dairy...some like shredded cheese i can buy once and freeze or some like buttermilk have a long shelf life. otherwise, i will (of course) be making small, short trips to the store weekly based on what perishables i need to stock up on. or telling mike to do it. finally, i  did 26 dinners instead of 31 to allow room for leftovers and the holidays.  also, i will be picking 4 - 6 dinners from the list weekly to make instead of planning every single night of the month. the bulk of my shopping is done at costco, aldi, and fareway.

here is the meal plan:

cut veggies + dip (ranch seasoning with yogurt)
quick bread gone healthy (check pinterest)
granola + yogurt
bean dip
hard boiled eggs
cottage cheese
smoothies (i just buy a bunch of cheap frozen fruit and wing it)
granola bars ( we love these nature valley brand protein bars they sell at costco)
goldfish crackers (i'm succumbing)

grilled cheese
noodles or cheese ravioli

whole wheat pancakes
french toast
eggs + breakfast meat
biscuits + gravy (clearly reserved for the weekend. i'm not that much of a fatty.)

1. crockpot chile colorado burritos with rice
2. chili rellano casserole
3. lasagna with salad
4. crockpot chili
5. crockpot beef stroganoff with salad
6. beef satay with ramen in peanut ginger sauce
7. baked sausages with apples, onions, and potatoes
8. italian sausage meatball sandwiches with salad
9. sloppy joes with baked fries and cut veggies
10. baked penne with salad
11. crockpot stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes
12. sausage, bean, and kale stew
13. (venison) steak salad with tomatoes, onion, and bleu cheese
14. tuna noodle casserole with salad
15. venison roast with mashed potatoes and roasted carrots
16. shepard's pie (with leftover roast & potatoes from #15)
17. crockpot korean ribs with rice and braised cabbage
18. baked sausages with colcannon + applesauce (use cabbage from #17 for colcannon)
19. greek burgers with pita, cukes, tomatoes, feta, and onion
20. sausages with latkes + applesauce
21. braised short ribs with polenta and roasted veg (christmas dinner?)
22. venison enchiladas with rice
23. crockpot chili
24. baked fried chicken drumsticks with rainbow salad
25. macaroni + cheese
26. black eyed peas with leeks and kielbasa and cornbread (new years eve)

so far, i have spent about $100 - 150 less than i typically would for the whole month. we shall see how the rest of the month goes...i will give updates.  also, let me know if you all try this or already do it.  i'd love to hear your thoughts.  so far, i really like having a fully stocked kitchen with all the ingredients to make over half of these meals. now if only we could get a massive snow storm...
check out january's month of meals plan and to read more about what i learned by planning dinner out for a whole month!

Monday, November 26, 2012

tilapia with mustard cream sauce

years ago, when mike and i first started dating i used to make him dinners that included fish or chicken. then i learned that he thinks fish or chicken are diet meat. he's a farm boy, what can i say? sure we still eat fish or chicken, but not as often as i'd like. most of the time it is red meat or vegetarian with a side of meat for mike. plus, nothing sounds less appetizing then chicken when you are pregnant.  fish, though, i crave and love when i am pregnant. i have been craving this recipe that was one of the first meals i ever made for mike.  back then i am sure i served it with something very expected like rice and asparagus.  this time i served it with roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts.  it was as delicious as i remember and so easy.  wonderful for this holiday season where we need something fast, easy, and healthy for dinner. sure it has cream in it, but it is a minimal amount so you won't die. also, last night i felt baby #2 move for the first time (and boy was it having a party!!) so perhaps we have another fish lover in this family. hendrix chose to dip his dinner in the sauce because that's what toddlers do...they dip their food.
tilapia with mustard cream sauce
4 tilapia fillets (or any similar white fish)
fresh thyme
3/4 c. of chicken broth
2 T. cream
2 T. Dijon mustard
heat olive oil in a skillet.  season fish with salt, pepper, and thyme.  cook fish for 1 minute each side in  heated skillet. add chicken broth and bring to a simmer for about 3 minutes. carefully remove fish and keep warm.  at this point you can add a bit of sliced mushrooms or chopped spinach if you like.  if you do then just cook until veg is cooked through. whisk in cream and mustard.  cook until warm, about 1 minute.  serve sauce over fish.