Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Lockdown

I like that feeling of a fresh start. Clean slate. Another chance. It's like stepping out of the shower all nice and clean. The new year has that power of bringing on motivation, new potential and inspiration.

I wrote about my 2012 plans. I'm really excited to start on them. We used December to spoil ourselves, and over indulge. It's time to get back on track. Get in control. So we are going on lockdown. I mean it. Everything. Money, eating, tv time etc. It's time to turn our focus to living simply and humbly. To slowing down and soaking in these special times with our growing family.

It feels good to be in control, have self control and set goals and reach them. From setting a budget and sticking to it and working on other financial goals to eating healthier, exercising and building family memories, 2012 is sure to be a great year.

Spoiling yourself is nice sometimes but the happy feelings are fleeting. Putting in hard work, making good decisions and seeing the results of your sacrifices is much more rewarding. I'm totally ready to bring in the new year. What are you doing to make 2012 better than 2011? Any resolutions?

Operation Big Boy Bed- Week 2

Week 2 went smoothly. At bed time. Not nap time. We were on vacation this week and I was so nervous to have to put Evan down for a nap each day. For the first few days, he threw a fit at nap time, crying and ultimately falling asleep on the ground for no more than 40 minutes. It was tough. Then around Wednesday he accepted that it was nap time and played in his room for a bit before falling asleep on the floor. He really only napped in his bed twice this week. Yet, I decided not to be picky. Sleep is sleep.

Bed time got easier this week. He only fusses for a minute before finally laying down for the night. I still was feeling guilty that he would fuss/cry/be upset so I tried something new last night and it works! When he gets out of bed to protest at the baby gate, I go to him and walk him back to bed, telling him it's night-night time and he needs to stay in bed. He lays down, I kiss him and walk out. He does it again and I repeat the steps. Then...he falls asleep, no fussing! I don't like for him to fall asleep feeling sad or upset, so this is important to me. It's worked 2 nights in a row so I will keep this routine up. Even if I have to walk him back to his bed 20 times! Originally I was just letting him cry and then he would eventually go back to bed. I didn't feel comfortable with this so changing it up helped us both.

We did have an incident this week. I left the baby gate open because I eventually want to do away with it once Evan understands that he needs to stay in bed. I wanted him to be able to come out when he awoke in the morning. I wanted to see what he would do. So, Wednesday morning he wakes up. At 4:00 am. He discovered the gate was open and came to our room. He stood quietly in the doorway then turned and left. I went to get him and bring him back to bed with us. He laid there and I thought he would fall back to sleep. He did. An hour and a half later....he was tossing and turning, kicking, playing, crawling around...oh dear. Yeah that can't happen again. It was my fault. I was too lazy to put him back in bed and didn't want to make him upset so early in the morning. I know now, he won't learn unless I put him back in bed. Oh, these parenting lessons are fun aren't they?

On to week 3!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Life Lesson

I recently had a close family member tell me that this blog is stupid and that I sound stupid in my posts. It stung at first, but I had to remind myself that I don't write this blog for her, I write it for myself. I write to have a creative outlet as well as to have a way to record memories and notes for myself and my family. I also have family half way across the country, so this blog is a fun way to keep them up to date on our lives. Lastly, I have hopes that I can help someone the way that other blogs help me both in information and entertainment.

Over the years this family member has tried to cut my confidence and tear me down. I've allowed this to happen, until now. 2012 is the year I say "No." No to negativity, no to mean people and no to mean words. This life lesson is so important because without it, you let people control you. They control your actions and feelings. I say, "No more."

I share this because I'm sure there are people out there that are concerned about the opinions of others. Don't let the naysayers, no matter how close they are to you, keep you from doing what you love. Move passed them and walk on your own path. I think this can be said about most areas in life like career choices, parenting choices and even partner choice. If I continued to let my choices be dictated by the opinions of others, I would be forever unhappy and frozen in confusion.

So I welcome 2012 with fresh eyes and ears that are blind and deaf to mean people and mean words. This is the year I stand up for me!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday Scoop- Christmas Edition

It's Christmas! Here is the latest edition of the Sunday Scoop:
1) Today is Christmas and it was a lovely yet challenging day. Evan liked his presents and had a blast in his new tent. He loves to test my patience, though. We fought for 2 hours about taking a nap in his big boy bed. Dad swooped in a gave him a pacifier. Not cool. Swooping in is not cool. So, we'll go through this again tomorrow. Fun.

2) Treated myself to Origins Lavender and Vanilla body soufflé. Ah, it makes the days frustrations a distant memory. For real.

3) Get to know your neighbors. It's nice to be able to ask someone if they have nutmeg so you don't have to run out to the store. It's also nice when they give you tamales and Christmas cookies. It also helps when they've been down the road of toddler hood and can give you tips.

4) I have the week off from work. I made a 20 item list of things to get done. One thing I did not add: Relax and enjoy the time off of work. Instead I created work for myself. So, I'm scratching the list and going with the flow. I work too hard to spend my vacation working....

5) I'm eating cereal. It's 10:00 at night. I love it. I think I'll go for a 2nd helping. It's the healthy kind anyway.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pregnancy Update

So, I haven't talked much about my pregnancy. Yes, I am going to use the excuse that my toddler, full time job and typical house duties keep me really busy. I forget to take pictures weekly. I mean to but I don't always get around to it. It's terrible I know. So, I thought I'd do a little update.

I am 29 weeks today. This time around has gone super fast. It's been fairly the same as the first time around. Sick and exhausted in the 1st trimester, my energy returned in the 2nd and now that I'm in my 3rd trimester, I'm slowing down and feeling large. My energy is starting to dwindle and I get winded easily. 

This time around I started showing quickly. I was in maternity clothes by 12 weeks! I also failed my glucose test.....I have to do the 3 hour test next week. I'm bummed about that. Yet, I think it's all my fault. I have been indulging in the sweets of the holiday season and eating very little in the way of vegetables. I also haven't been able to walk nightly the way I did with Evan. We get home and time never allows for us to have a stroll. The light goes down early and it's cold. I try and do some yoga poses daily to keep flexible though. I am experiencing leg cramps again! They are terrible charlie horses that wake me in the middle of the night. I get them at least 3 times a week. I also had some high blood pressure, that was stress related, which was a bit scary. 
I felt the baby move at around 16 weeks and now he dances up a storm. He does most of his moving during the day and seems to sleep at night. Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll be born with a sleep- at- night- and- awake- during- the- day schedule.

Picking up Evan has become increasingly hard and getting kicked in the belly during diaper changes hasn't been fun. Lifting Evan into shopping carts has been hard, too. Feeling exhausted doesn't leave a lot of energy for playing, so I've been feeling guilty.

Last night I was cramping and having a lot of pressure. I thought I might have the baby, it hurt so bad! The pain and pressure would only subside if I laid on my right side. Today I am doing much better. He has a lot of growing to do before he makes his debut, so he needs to stay in there a bit longer! The doc says I need to rest and drink a lot of water, both of which I am not very good at.

We did pick a name but, to keep some mystery, we are not telling until his birthday.

I feel lucky that I've been able to grow a baby plus handle all the requirements of daily life. It's been tough and tiring but we are surviving. I've felt overwhelmed at times, wondering how I'll make it with 2 kids and working and chores and budgets and all the other fun of adult life.

Just like the first time around, we'll make it work. I'm really excited to have 2 boys who can grow up to be friends. I know I'm in for a wild ride but it's sure to be fun and full of hugs, kisses and dirty finger prints!

Operation Big Boy Bed- 1 Week

So, Evan has been sleeping in his toddler bed for a week now. He's done such a great job. The lingering issue is the crying as soon as we leave the room. It's down to a couple minutes, though, so it's not too bad.

Dad has super powers. I wasn't feeling well the other night and he did the entire bed time routine, even putting him down. I listened for the cries as John left his room and...nothing. He even stayed in bed. What?! How did he do it? I was amazed and even jealous. So, it's me then...maybe I linger too long.

All in all, I've learned so much about my little dude and I am so proud of him for being adaptable. Now, when baby #2 is ready for the crib, it'll be free to use and a distant memory for Evan.

Yay for taking the plunge and facing my fears and friends with great tips!

Here's the whole saga here, here, here and here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Hi. I'm just a little blogger in this big blog world. I have my tiny corner here in the blogoshpere. I'm here just writing about my thoughts, goals, interests and mama-hood. I write for me, as a creative outlet and a way to document memories. I'm not out for perfection, I'm out to have fun and share.

I want to say thank you to those that have stopped by and/or subscribed. Thank you for reading my words. My hopes for 2012 is that I'll get a couple of comments. That would be delightful! Even if I don't, I'll still be here, sharing and exlporing my love of writing, food and family.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Operation Big Boy Bed- Night 4

He did a great job again! The crying is down to just a couple minutes. I kiss him good night and walk out of the room and he runs to the gate to protest but then it's back to bed. He played for about 20 minutes though. I went in to check on him and he had fallen asleep on the floor by his I moved him and he stayed in bed the rest of the night. He woke up about 5:00 but then quickly went back to sleep. I'm about to go wake him up for the day.

He's done so well. This experience has taught me to give him more credit. He is adaptable. It's okay for him to be upset and feel out-of-sorts. That's part of life and I don't think I should completely shield him from those feelings. Yet, he got over them quickly and has moved on. I should never have underestimated his ability to adjust to the change. Ah, these parenting lessons are purposeful aren't they?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday Scoop

I thought I'd do a little something new. Another way to be creative. I want to do a weekly tidbit called the Sunday Scoop. It'll be a handful of things floating in my head, happenings, silly stories, dirt or things I love like blogs, articles, pics and pins or other items. Other blogs do similar things like Wordless Wednesday or I Love Lists Friday or Five Fact Fridays. This is my way of having a little fun and adding variety as well as recording my random thoughts. I thought I'd keep the list to 5 thoughts so I don't overwhelm and so I don't get overwhelmed. I picked Sunday because I actually have the energy Sunday evenings to put something together. The other nights are questionable.

Okay, so here's the first installation of the Sunday Scoop. Oooo that sounds like a good name for an ice cream shop...

1) This is the first year I've made Christmas cards (by made I mean created online and ordered through Tiny Prints of course). I actually got them out on time. This is really wierd for me. I am usually a huge procrastinator to the point where I've sent my Dad a Father's day card 6 months late.....Funny thing is I got that trait from my Dad.

2) Whenever I hear Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, I instantly think of the movie Home Alone. Man, I'm getting old. It's like 20 years old!

3) I'm utterly in love with a new fragrance I treated myself to. Coach Poppy. It's lovely. Fresh and floral. I can't stop smelling my arm. I want to bathe in it.

4) I turned the data off on my iphone. I can access the internet on wi-fi but that's it. I don't miss it! It saves me money on the bill and keeps me from checking facebook in traffic. I work all day on a computer and I have one at home so if I need to get online, I can. I'm totally happy with my decision. I really only checked the weather and stocks before anyways...

5) Whenever I need a laugh I read something at this blog. She and her family are hilarious! Something funny is always happening at her zoo of kids and pets. I love it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Operation Big Boy Bed- Night 3

He's doing great!

He was upset for about 10 minutes then played for a bit in his bed and finally fell asleep for the night. I didn't hear from him again until I had to wake him up! I'm so proud of my big guy.

The only issue is the initial "good night" when we leave the room. We use the gate because he's still too young to follow directions and stay in bed. I try to stay in the room with him for a bit. Lights off and glow seahorse on. I try and pat his back to cue him in to the fact that it's night night time. He thinks it's a game though! He jumps around and rolls all over the bed and makes his doggie bark. I eventually have to leave the room because we don't make any progress and he gets upset. He cries at the gate for a few minutes and heads back to bed. It breaks my heart to hear him cry but I can't let him control the situation by coming back right away.

He'll continue to play in his bed for up to 40 minutes! Now, this is after our bedtime routine of bath and reading. He suddenly gets this burst of energy that is hard to simmer down. I really hope that the initial crying stops soon because my heart can't take it. I don't want him to go to bed feeling sad or lonely. I know he's okay though because I can hear him playing in bed before he finally konks out. He makes his doggie bark and makes silly sounds. He's a riot.

Some friends are also doing the transition to a toddler bed or big boy bed and it's so nice to know I'm not alone in it. Parenting is hard enough and then you throw in these parental enforced changes like bed transitions or bottle phase outs or pre-school enrollments and things just get tough for us morally, emotionally and mentally. Having a support team behind you like friends and family to urge us and encourage us is so helpful especially when they've been down the road before.

Thanks everyone!

Operation Big Boy Bed- Night 2

It went really well. I can't rave enough about my kid and his ability to adapt. He was upset for about 10 minutes, went back to his bed and went to sleep. I didn't hear a peep from him until 7:30 this morning! I am so proud of him. I didn't want to expect that night 2 would be as good as night 1 so I just kept thinking we could be up all night. I was pleasantly surprised. He didn't even fall out of bed. I'm surprised because he moves a lot.

He woke up at 7:30 and I heard him playing. I didn't go in right away, I waited until he called for us. It bought me and extra 30 minutes of rest. When he did call out, I went and made a big deal out of him sleeping so well in his big boy bed. Again, he was all smiles.

Naps.'s a different thing. Yesterday he went down late in the day and had no trouble. Dad laid him in his bed covered him and walked out. He fell right to sleep for an hour and a half. Today though...well, I'm listening to him cry, I've tried a few times to go in and lay him down and pat his back but as soon as I leave he gets upset. It's been about 20 minutes and he's still putting up a fight. Can't win 'em all I suppose.

I'm still so happy that this transition is going well. The crib will be a distant memory for Evan when baby #2 starts to use it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Operation Big Boy Bed- Night 1

It's about 9:00. Evan cried for 10 minutes then fell asleep in his new toddler bed. Slept of for 45 minutes and is crying again. I patted his back and he went to sleep but as soon as I left the room he was at it again. This is going to be a long night.

We decided to start the transition now because we don't want to buy another crib or try to transition after the baby is here. I don't want to spark up any jealousy or possessive issues or make things harder than they need to be. We got Evan a toddler bed from Amazon since I wasn't pleased with the crappy choices in the store. It's a great frame and matches our current furniture, too. We had to buy another crib mattress since that's what fits the toddler bed but the bed holds up to 50 pounds so he can use it for a while.

I'm hoping things won't be awful for too long since he is good at taking naps on his mat at school. We had to use a gate on his bedroom door. I had a terrible nightmare that Evan came out of his room in the middle of the night and the dogs mistook him for an intruder. It was a sign. It'll prevent the dogs from going in to his room and bugging him. Also, I can picture Evan getting up before us and playing in the cat box. Not cool. Plus, since he is too young to follow directions well (stay in your room) this will help him understand that night-night time means you stay in your room.

I'm hoping by Monday night, things will settle down. We'll see!

Update: He did sooo good. Much better than I anticipated. I thought we'd be up the whole night. He was up at 9:00 and again at 2:30. At 9:00 I patted his back and he went back to sleep. I wasn't so lucky at 2:30. I tried to pat his back for 45 minutes but he wasn't going back to sleep. I kissed him and said "night-night," and left the room. He cried and I stood around the corner feeling horrible. He cried for a couple of minutes and walked back to his bed. He slept until 7:30! I heard him get up and play a little before yelling for us. I made sure to make a big deal about him doing such a good job. I went in with a big smile and gave lots of hugs and kisses while telling him how proud I am of him. He was all smiles.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

surviving the grocery store.....with a toddler

There are some things we have to do. Some things aren't fun. They are boring and you'd rather be doing something else. If I feel like that at times, imagine how an energetic and adventurous toddler feels.

I actually don't mind the grocery store, if it's just me. It's sort of therapeutic in a way. My toddler doesn't feel the same way. He's like this little ticking time bomb. He'll do really well in the cart for about 15-20 minutes but then get antsy and frustrated with being strapped in. He'll wiggle and try and get out, he'll yell and whine and throw all of his toys out. I carry a pacifier for extreme measures and meltdowns but I don't rely on it.

I've learned a couple of tricks to keeping his frustration at bay so that we can make it through a trip to the store, no matter how lengthy.
  • Snacks. Have a few different choices in your bag. I bring small containers of graham crackers, grapes, cheese chunks, pretzels, apple slices or even a cubed almond butter and jelly sandwich. He holds on to the container and leisurely munches while I get the shopping done. This helped me survive an hour long trip to the grocery store today. 
  • Toys. Bring ones that he hasn't played with recently. Maybe ones that he only sees when you go to the store. Give them to him one at a time. He'll be interested in it for a bit then trade out the toy for a different one. This will buy you some time.
  • A box of pasta. I give Evan a box of rotini (which I buy weekly) to play with. He can shake it to make noise and he examines the package. I look for other items like cereal or something with a crinkly package that will entertain him. This will occupy him for a few minutes so I can get through the checkout line.
  • A water bottle. I keep one in my purse because Evan likes to open it and close it and drink out of it and shake it. If it's a disposable one, he likes to crunch it up to make sounds.
  • Go for the friendly looking cashier! I've found it really helpful to get the cashier who talks to my kid. It quiets him down and gets his focus on this new person that is paying attention to him. This is a life saver since the meltdowns come at the end of the trip which happens to be in the checkout line when you are in tight quarters with a lot of people. 
So there you have it. My grocery store survival guide. What do you do to make the trips to the store more bearable? 

Friday, December 9, 2011

chicken with apples, raisins and olives

I don't want to talk about how tired I am at the end of the day or how much I'd love to soak in a hot bath because my back is aching from growing this baby or how I just want to spend some quality time playing with my toddler who I've missed all day. I don't want to talk about any of that.

Lets talk about how quickly throwing together some ingredients can make a dish that warms my tummy and puts a smile on my face. Lets talk about how getting crazy in the kitchen can dust off those creative muscles and help you forget the day.

I first saw this recipe in a Rachael Ray magazine but I added my own twists and now it's among my favorites in the week night rotation. My heart sings for these flavor combinations. This dish feels so cozy and fall-ish but it's easy on the waist and wallet. I love how versitle it is, too.

I LOVE the combo of warm, sweet apples and raisins with tart green olives. Reading the recipe, I thought it was strange, too, but I was oh-so wrong. It makes me ravenous. I really think the couscous helps unite the whole dish, so don't try and sub flavorless rice or something for it. Plus couscous is so quick, you'll cheat yourself if you try rice instead. The other ingredients though, they are totally game for substitutions.
chicken with apples, raisins and olives

1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
1-2 chicken breasts, cut up into bite sized chunks
salt and pepper
1/2 of a large sweet onion
1 apple (I had Jonagold on hand)
1/2 c raisins
1/3 c water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
handful of green olives, chopped
1 package of garlic and olive oil couscous, prepared

Make it:
Heat butter and oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. When chicken is done, remove from pan and set aside. Add onions and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add apples, raisins, water and cinnamon. Simmer for 5 minutes until apples are fork tender. Add chicken back to the pan and simmer for another 2 minutes. Add in chopped olives and stir to combine.

Serve chicken mixture and some of the pan juices over the couscous. I added zucchini on the side to round out the meal.

This meal is so easy, cheap and yummy and can be tailored to your taste or what you have on hand. I'm going to try making it vegetarian by using roasted butternut squash instead of chicken. A handful of walnuts would be awesome for added crunch. Black olives would work just as well. Get creative.

Note: This made enough for my family of 3 (2 adults and 1 toddler) with no leftovers.

You could totally make this in 10 minutes if you prep a bit the night before!

  1. Chop chicken, onions and olives. Store separately.
That's it!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Plans for 2012

I'm a nerd. You may have noticed when I confessed my love for my planner. I also love to make lists. And check things off. So, I can't help but begin thinking about what 2012 might bring. Like a lot of people, I end up making new year's resolutions that I forget about by January 2nd. I want to change that this year.

It's just a list to guide my focus so I can manage my time better and achieve my goals. In 2011 I was unfocused and my energy was spread too thin. I tried to do too much at once and at times, didn't enjoy any of it. I felt all over the place. I feel like getting in control of my time and focus will allow me to accomplish more and enjoy more. It will also let me get a lot of use out of my awesome planner!

Balancing a full time job, toddler, housekeeping, husband tending, dog tending and a few hobbies have left me drained and frustrated. I am on a mission to change this. I've rekindled my love for cooking and found shortcuts and ways to make it happen so I'm optimistic I can do a better job at balancing the rest in 2012.

Adding another baby to the equation makes this even more important to me. More like a method of survival. My plan is to use a monthly outline of what I want to focus on. Then, after the month is over, I'll move to the next focus area and I can choose to keep up any routines or processes that stick. I'm hoping this will get me on the road to better habits because of the month long practice. So here it goes......

Of course the monthly focuses might change depending on certain circumstances but it's a start and a reminder that I don't have to do everything at once. I can spread my goals out over time and still achieve them.

So, the expanded version of the "2012 General Outlook": Save money (no big projects or purchases in 2012), home organization (make the most of our small space), memory making (pictures, baby books, photobooks, outings), health (exercise, eat less meat, more veggies and more water).

To get a jump start on my year long project, for December 2011 I'll focus on home organization (garage cleaning, closet purging, cabinet organizing, pantry organizing).

I have to remind myself that these are simply guidelines and if it doesn't happen, that's ok. These have to be kept loose or I'll beat myself up every time something slips through my fingers. I'm excited for 2012 and all the fun and hard work it's bound to bring.

What are you planning for 2012?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

the quiet

Sometimes it's good to stop and enjoy the quiet and peacefullness of a moment. This morning I went into Evan's room to wake him up so we could get ready for school and start the day. He was sleeping so peacefully and looked so sweet, I just couldn't bring myself to wake him just yet. I sat in the glider and rocked and watched him. Listened to his breathing. I was going to be late to work. I chose to soak up the quiet and the peace even at the expense of being a little late to work. Life will go on.

I like to do that sometimes. I like to take a piece of moments like that and carry it with me throughout my hectic day. It's important to just enjoy things in the stillness of a moment. Life is often a hustle and bustle of one task after another. I like to hang on to the quiet. To hang on to the image of my sweet, resting boy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's Here!

I love office supplies/school supplies/organizational type supplies. I like to stroll down the office isle at Target just to feel the organization potential and abilities. It calms me, really.

I did something I don't normally do. I splurged on myself. For an organizer. And. I'm in love.
I ordered it last Wednesday and it arrived today! It came from Tiny Prints, my favorite place for custom cards, announcements and now....planners! We ordered Evan's 1st birthday invitations and they were beautiful.

Let me tell you, it's chock full of cool stuff. Weekly planning, month views, places to jot down goals and to-do's, a little folder to store stuff and a cool plastic pouch to store coupons and such. A place for important phone numbers and notes and even special occasions so I can stop forgetting people's birthdays. In my version I got to customize the front of it with pictures and our family names. There are also little stickers and such to make it fun and make it my own. It's also just the right size to fit in my bag. When the new baby arrives I can see myself using it to track those important diaper changes and feedings. I'm so excited.
The minute I opened it I started jotting things down in it. I will be doing this annually from now on. Totally worth it. Getting to customize it with pictures is super cool and fun and means I'll use it because it's fun to use it.
I'll use it for:
  • Meal planning/shopping lists
  • Goals/To-do's
  • Special occasion tracking
  • Evan's school events and breaks
  • Bill reminders
  • Appointments
  • Coupon holding
  • Baby tracking
  • Blog ideas/notes
  • Important phone numbers
I know these days people really like to use their smart phones for scheduling and contacts but I am a pencil and paper old school kind of girl at heart. I still thinks it's cool to have the actual book in your hand even though the novelty of a Kindle is neat. I like seeing my handwriting for my shopping lists and sometimes it just feels easier to write it then to open the app and type it out. If I had the time I'd still write in a journal. I guess I just like the personalization of it. 

That's why this little bundle of awesomeness is right for me. I'm a nerd. I'm okay with that. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

blueberry lemon sour cream pancakes

I know what you're thinking. It sounds weird right? No. No no no. It's perfection.

Breakfast food is by far my favorite and I think I can say the same for my toddler. So I was really excited to give this experiment a try.

I love the original recipe but I also love the mixture of flavors in my son's blueberry lemon oatmeal muffins. So I decided to sort of combine the two. It's lovely. The bright layer of flavor that the lemon zest lends is refreshing. Chopping up the fresh blueberries ensured I would get a blueberry in most every bite. The sour cream is a must for a moist, melt-in-your-mouth experience.

I made a dozen, ate some for breakfast then froze the rest for quick breakfasts during the week. Now I can just heat 'em up in the microwave and head out the door when I'm in a rush (which is most every day). They also make a great snack for the kiddo when I cut one into strips manageable for small hands.  

Do this!

blueberry lemon sour cream pancakes
adapted from

3/4 c milk
1/2 c sour cream
2 1/2 tbs melted butter
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c fresh roughly chopped blueberries
zest of one lemon

Make it:
Combine milk, sour cream, butter and egg. Stir in salt, sugar and baking powder. Stir in flour and lemon zest until just moist. Fold in chopped blueberries. Don't over mix!

Place pan on medium heat and spray with non stick spray or coat with butter. Drop batter onto pan by 1/4 cupfuls (you might have to use your spatula to thin out or make more circular). Wait till you see those beautiful bubbles then flip until golden brown. 

Note: Make these on a Sunday morning and have the leftovers all week! I won't judge you if I see you eating one by hand while you drive to work. Not that I've ever done that. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

herbed chicken with spicy cherry tomatoes

My Dad has never ever liked chicken. He won't even eat any food that has been near chicken. He must have been traumatized as a kid. Poor guy. He's missing out on delicious chicken like this!

Chicken with spicy herbed cherry tomatoes. Mmmm. Oh me oh my. This dish warmed my tummy and made my taste buds dance. I served it with couscous and broccoli.

I've never been very good at preparing chicken but pounding it out into a thin, even thickness, really helped. It was cooked through and still moist. I was thrilled because my previous experiences with chicken ended with really dry parts and undercooked parts. This technique is a must for quick cooking! It even fools you into thinking you are eating more than you really are. It's also super cheap but looks gourmet.

I served the chicken and tomatoes alongside lemon orzo. The lemon-y taste of the orzo paired well with the hint of lemon on the chicken and tomatoes. Orzo cooks up in 10 minutes so this side dish is a snap.

Chicken with spicy herbed cherry tomatoes
adapted from One Lovely Life

4 chicken breast cutlets (these were labled "thin sliced" in my market)
2 1/2 tbs of butter
1 tsp of oregano
2 tsp of fresh basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 c cherry tomatoes
3 tbs flour
extra virgin olive oil

Make it:
Combine butter, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to incorporate. In a shallow dish mix flour, salt and pepper. Pound out chicken to an even thickness, the thinner the quicker it will cook (I used my rolling pin and some plastic wrap).

Heat pan to medium/high and coat with a thin layer of evoo. Dredge chicken in flour, shake off excess. Add half the butter and the chicken to the pan (if working in batches, divide the butter accordingly so all chicken gets a bit of butter). Cook chicken for 7 minutes then flip and cook for 4-5 more minutes. Set chicken aside. Add the remaining butter to the pan along with cherry tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occaisionally.

Get it on the table faster with some night-before prep:
  1. Prepare the herbed butter, store it in the refrigerator until you need it.
  2. Put the flour salt and pepper on a shallow plate and cover with plastic wrap.
  3. Pound out the chicken and store in a plastic storage bag.
You already have all the hard work done! Now you can get this dish on the table in 20 minutes.

Eat this!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

beef pot pies

In my last post I talked about my love for cooking. Now I'm on a mission to put good food on the table through time-saving prep and planning. I'm inspired by many of the awesome food blogs out there and the mountains of cookbooks in my pantry. I'll be preparing recipes, with my adaptations, then giving tips on how to get it on the table faster, even with a toddler on the loose. I'll also be sharing what didn't work, which, I think is just as helpful.

Lets get to it!

I loved the gloomy weather we had this weekend. It was one of those weekends where a mid-afternoon nap was required.

These beef pot pies went perfectly with the weather. It was all I served to my husband and toddler and it was just enough to fill our bellies. We even had leftovers for tonight! I just stuck them back in the oven covered with foil for 30 minutes on 350 degrees.

To me, pot pies are a fun way to eat a stew made of whatever meat and veggies you have on hand. This recipe was inspired by the talented gal at I didn't have all the ingredients that the recipe called for so I started throwing in what I did have. It turned out hearty and delicious anyways.

beef pot pies
adapted from


olive oil
1 1/2 lbs beef cut for stew (small cubes) (my market actually has it labeled "stew beef")
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp paprika, smoked or regular
2 c beef broth
1 tbs cornstarch
1/4 c milk
3/4 c frozen green beans
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper

Make it:

In a large pot over medium heat, add oil and beef, brown on all sides. Remove from pan.

Add onion, carrot and celery to the pot and cook over medium heat until tender, around 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add spices and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. 

Add beef back to the pot and pour in broth. Stir, bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to a low simmer for 1 1/2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and milk together. Pour into the beef mixture and stir. Add the green beans and simmer for 5 minutes. 

Pour stew into 4 individual baking dishes OR one 8"x8"baking dish. Make egg wash by beating egg with 2 tsp of water. Roll out pastry and brush with egg wash. Cut pastry into 4 squares for individual pies (don't cut if making one pie). Lay pastry over each baking dish. Cut 2 slits in the top of each pie with a sharp knife. 

Place pie(s) on a cookie sheet in case of overflow.  Bake pie(s) for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. 

To get it on the table faster, do some night-before prep:
  1. Make the stew. While it simmers go take a nice long shower. 
  2. Let the stew cool. Place the covered pot in the refrigerator. 
  3. Take the pastry out of the freezer to defrost in the refrigerator.
I started the stew at 8:30 and was in bed by 10:30. The only real work that goes into it is 10 minutes of chopping. No bigs. 

Look at you! Now all you have to do is re-heat the pot of stew for a few minutes, place in the baking dishes, prepare the pastry and bake. You'll have dinner on table quick. 

Eat this with your slippers on. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Joy of Cooking

We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up. I never cared though. As long as there was food in the house, a hot meal on the table for dinner, I was content. I still feel like that. When my pantry and refrigerator has food in it, I feel good. When I make good food, I feel good. The fall weather in combination with good food, is by far the best. All of this in addition to the effects of pregnancy...I want to live in the kitchen.

I posted a while ago about needing to find a way to get dinner on the table faster and I turned to.....dun dun dun...boxed meals. We tried that for a couple of weeks. Ick. Bleh. Not worth it. It tasted terrible and we were eating garbage (a ton of sodium, ground beef, high fat...). I didn't feel right about it. Even if it did save us some money.

This week I've been making real food. With some planning and do-ahead prep, I've managed to put some good meals on the table, quickly. I've even spent some evenings (after baby is in bed) in the kitchen baking. I feel really good about it. I love to cook and bake. There's something therapeutic about following a recipe, step by step in a formulaic way. Then to have successful results....confidence boost!

Cooking really is a joy (even if my son throws it on the floor...) and it makes me happy. I think I've found a way to make a hobby be part of our daily lives. Yay!

I'm really into the blogs, and They inspire. I've discovered you don't need a ton of wacky and expensive ingredients to make awesome food.

My schedule is really tight getting home at 5 and needing dinner no later than 6. Here's how I make it work:
  • Prepare a menu for the week along with my shopping list. Everything. Breakfast, lunches, dinner, snacks. Important: Read the recipes. I need to know what I'm getting into before I commit.
  • Do my shopping for the week. This way I'm not running to the store after work.
  • Post my menu on the refrigerator so I never forget to defrost something.
  • Look at the menu each night (after baby is in bed) to see what I can defrost, chop, marinade or take out of the pantry in order to be ready for dinner the next night. This is the biggest help. With as much prep done as possible, I can throw dinner together quickly.
  • If I have a night with a lot of energy, I use it to bake up stuff to freeze to have on hand.
  • If I'm too tired to do the dishes, I leave them until the next night (gasp!)
Don't give in to the boxed meals!

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 2011 Photography Challenge: Failed

Yup. I get a big fat 'F' on this challenge. I got off track when we all got sick mid month and I never caught up. Boo. I'm glad I at least gave it a shot. I'll try again next year! I thought it was fun to see all the pictures and get a peek at people lives.

Maybe I'll find another little project to attempt on Pinterest. Follow me!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 2011 Photography Challenge: Days 10-12

We had a sick boy last week. Then a sick Dad. Then a sick Mama. It was rough. I got really behind on the challenge. Lets see if I can catch up.

Day 10: Childhood memory
Evan loves to read books. This was one of my favorite childhood memories and hobbies. It still is!

Day 11: Something blue
My yoga mat. A lovely place to be. It represents relaxation and strength. I miss you.

Day 12: Sunset

I see this most nights on our walk. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm Moving...Again

I like to blog because it's fun to me. It's my virtual journal and scrap book. A way for me to be a little creative. I don't blog to fight with blogging platforms.
I'm going back to blogger. Wordpress is for smarties and for those who have the time to learn all the in's and out's and quirks. I don't have the time. I don't want to spend the few minutes of leisure time that I have each week being upset because wordpress hates me. I wish I had the time to put into learning the system but this is my reality. I don't. So back to blogger I go.
I'm going to be working on getting the few posts I did here, moved over to blogger then I'll shut this baby down.


Friday, October 14, 2011

October 2011 Photography Challenge: Days 7-9

I've been a little embarrassed to be sharing photos that are out of focus or poorly composed or have awful lighting....Yet, photos are a record of life and mine clearly show that I don't have a lot of time to strive for perfection. Of course I strive for it but it doesn't happen often. I feel like my photos are an honest interpretation of where I am in my life. So instead of withdrawing because my photos aren't good enough or exciting enough....I'm letting myself participate in this challenge to not only have fun, but to be honest, be real and learn about myself in the process. It's working!
Here we go!
Day 7: Fruit

Of course I have to post lots of photos of my boy, he's the light of my life therefore the subject of my photos! I started taking pictures of apples and he came up and grabbed one. He's not feeling good here but he had fun throwing the apple like a ball.
Day 8: A bad habit

This was easy. I have lots of bad habits. When I looked at the day's assignment (at 8pm) I was about ready to have some ice cream. How perfect. Sweets are my weakness but I can NEVER turn down a scoop of ice cream. Not a great habit when you're pregnant or trying to get in shape....
Day 9: Someone you love

This is my wonderful husband. We were super busy this week with a sick baby and work and all that stuff. I had to snap a quick picture of him as our child screamed at our feet....

Monday, October 10, 2011

October 2011 Photography Challenge: Days 4-6

I'm having fun! This challenge is like a photography treasure hunt. I'm not putting a lot of focus on perfection, just finding stuff in my environment that strikes me as interesting as it relates to the day's topic. It gives me something creative to look forward to.
Day 4: Something green

These are the leaves on my 3 year old tree. The light makes me feel like the day is winding down.
Day 5: From a high angle

This is my cat, Gary. I think this is his debut on the blog. He's 8 years old and a good friend. He sleeps on my head. Every night.
Day 6: From a low angle

Day 6 was a rough day. My little guy was sick. I had to snap a quick one or skip the assignment. So here is my son from a low angle. Giant baby!

Monday, October 3, 2011

October 2011 Photography Challenge: Days 1-3

I've been thinking I don't use the camera enough. When I found out about the October Photography Challenge hosted by Our Wired Lives, I got excited and motivated. It's something I can do! I can have a little fun, learn, be a part of a community AND it only takes a few minutes a day. I can do this.
I am joining late so I have to catch up. You should join, too! Particpants can post their pictures daily or in a group (which is what I'll do), you don't have to be a pro, just get your camera or camera phone ready and start snapping. P.S. I'm not editing the pics, this is real life people.
Here we go!
Day 1: Self portrait

Yeah, not exactly in focus but I was laughing at my kid who was playing with the toilet paper. Those are spots on my mirror. I'll get to those...someday.
Day 2: What you wore today

It's still hot here in the southwest so we still sport the tanks for now. (17 weeks by the way)
Day 3: Clouds
I like this one. Feels like I'm up in the clouds.
C'mon friends, let me know if you are going to take on the challenge and I'll follow you!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Home Alone with a Newborn: Help!

A friend just had a baby. It got me thinking about my days with a newborn. So, I came up with some notes for reference. This will help me when I go through this again in a few months! Here we go..
You are probably one of those naturals. Everything comes so easy to you and you know just what to do even though this is your first baby. Lucky you.
I wasn't quite so lucky. Not that I was scared out of my mind to be alone with my newborn a better word for it. What am I supposed to do? I know I have to feed and change him. But...what else do I do with this little bundle?
Of course, my knowledge came from my mom and my experience of trying things out and figuring out what works best for us. John spent 2 weeks at home with us and I was spoiled to always have someone there to help me if I had trouble soothing baby or getting baby to sleep etc. Then...he went back to work and I had about 9 weeks of home alone days with Evan. It was tough at first, getting use to that.
I had trouble picturing what our days would be like. I'm a planner, I like to know what to expect. With a newborn, that's tricky. Yet, after experimenting with different routines, schedules and activities, we found one that kept us all happy.
So, here are my tips and pointers to all the new mommies out there:
  1. Make a point to get out of the house each day. Whether it's a quick dash to the grocery store or an afternoon strolling the mall, you need time away from home. I think it's important to change your environment so you don't get cabin fever and also to give baby a new experience. When Evan was a newborn it was summer time and I had to plan around the awful heat that we experience in the southwest (well over 100 degrees). I would often go out early in the morning to avoid the extreme temps.
  2. Play music in the background. I had the radio (on a mellow station) playing softly for a couple of hours a day. I like silence but days and days of it can take its toll on me. It also helped Evan be able to sleep with noise (I didn't want to have to tip-toe around him while he slept). AND most importantly, it presents the opportunity to dance with your little one, ah a priceless memory.
  3. Take a walk outdoors. Gives you both some fresh air, change of environment and introduces new things to baby (new noises, the feeling of wind and sun on their skin etc). Evan and I would stroll down our street (just a quick 10 minute walk) and I would narrate what we saw and heard.
  4. Sing! I have always sung to Evan but when people were at home with us I would be a little more reserved about it. When no one else is there, it's easier to sing and not be embarrassed if you don't know all the words or your tune is off or make up your own! As baby gets older you can get crazy and make faces and dance for him. I do this even now, and I get a ton of smiles and laughter.
  5.  Do some chores or answer emails....I carried Evan in the moby often. This allowed us to be close but I could still do the dishes, laundry, vacuum or catch up on blog reading. Carrying him helped me because I would feel terribly guilty if he was just sitting in his bouncy chair staring at me while I did chores. It kept our bond strong yet gave me some hands-free time. Plus, he got use to the motion and sounds of household activities.
  6. Tummy time. Of course! Lay baby on a soft blanket on the floor to help him workout his neck muscles. Lay a few toys near by for added excitement. To add to the sensory workout, let him feel different textures: a towel, a knitted blanket, a plush toy, a feather on his palm. Of course this is only for a couple of minutes a day as a nb, you don't want to overload them, they'll just shutdown and be cranky. At 2-3 months I let him lay under a baby gym with dangling toys, he really liked that.
  7. Sleep!! You might be experiencing many wakeups at night, so when baby sleeps you should too! I'm serious, do it.
And just remember....enjoy it. Be in the moment. This phase will pass.

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