Tuesday, December 20, 2016

10 favorite recipes I tried in 2016...

It's that time of year! Who doesn't love a good year end recap? In the past I've done a picture round up, book round up (still hope to do this in early January, despite how few books I read this year!), travel round up, but today is one I think we can all use....a favorite (new to us) recipe round up!

I try to document most of our new favorites on instagram (visit my page here). Here's 10 of our favorites we tried from the past year, in no particular order! If you're looking to spice up your meal plan, give one (or a few) of these a try!

1. Sweet Potato Hash from the cookbook Eating in the Middle by Andie Mitchell. Get this cookbook if you don't already have it! I tried a few of her recipes this year and loved them all!

2. White Bean Caprese from Skinnytaste...a delicious side at anytime of the year!

3. Rosemary Chicken Salad with Bacon from Skinnytaste...of all my meals I've listed here, this was the one I was most skeptical about, but was the biggest pleaser! J and I both loved this filling salad. I added chickpeas because we had some leftover from another meal, and they made a nice addition.

4. The Kitchn's Skillet Gnocchi...this wins as my most popular new meal from 2016. I make this alllll the time because it's so easy, cheap, and my family devours it.

5. Southern Living's Steak with Charred Tomato Relish...my friend Katie shared this with me, and it was a summer favorite when we were grilling regularly. I prefer it with flank steak.

6. Skinnytaste White Bean and Chicken Enchiladas....another meal I find myself making all the time! Also have made it a few times for new mamas!

7. I know I've shared this on the blog before, and I almost feel like I'm cheating including it on here, but this meal right here is one of my most favorite finds form 2016. And the only prep work required is chopping two peppers and an onion. The steak is the herbed sirloin with chimichurri sauce from Trader Joe's, and the rice is the Peruvian Rice from Trader Joe's (it's in the frozen section and amaaazing!)

8. How Sweet Eat's Red Wine Marinated Flank Steak with Cherry Tomato Caprese Salsa...this is as delicious as it sounds and looks. I like it over arugula.

9. This cauliflower salad wasn't new to us (but it's definitely a favorite!), but these Grilled Shrimp Scampi Skewers were a new one for us, and they were delicious. A great summer time dinner!

 10. And last but not least! Slower Cooker Creamy Chicken and Biscuits. We just tried this one last week and it was the perfect winter time comfort meal. And it was an EASY crock pot meal. Also, I cheated and made pillsbury biscuits. Makes dinner time even easier, which I am all about when I have a 14 month old hanging on my leg and crying at 5pm, and a four year old singing her head off five feet behind me.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fall Family Pictures

Back in mid-September, we had some family pictures taken by my wonderful friend Tara from Tara Marie Photography on a hot and sunny afternoon. She did T's newborn pictures last October, so it was fun to meet up with her again almost a year later for another session. It was hot for September in Charlotte, but we all survived and she got some wonderful pictures. T was just learning to walk at the time and wanted to GO! So any pictures where he's being held, he was less than thrilled!

Thank you again, Tara!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Four weeks later...

Long time no post. That is seeming to be a habit around these parts lately. I go into each week with good intentions and wanting to pick blogging back up, but life is just busy right now, and when I get a spare, free moment in my day, I find myself gravitating toward a chore that needs to be done, or scrolling snapchat, or even just sitting in in my living room with the lights off and listen to a few minutes of a podcast. And then before I know it, four weeks have passed and it's been radio silence over here.

So, in typical bad blogger fashion, I'm gonna do a quick little list of some recent favorites from our family lately. And this list is all over the place. That's your fair warning!

  • Do you have little ones and Amazon Prime? If so, I can't highly recommend the show Creative Galaxy enough! It's for free to stream through Prime (we watch through our Fire TV) and it's so so cute (not something I say about all kid's shows)! It's from the same creators of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood so it feels and sounds a lot like it, but instead of enforcing social skills and other cute lessons, it's all about art and being creative. My little left handed artist is obsessed! She requests an episode almost daily after her rest time.
  • While we're on the topic of M and her likes, I have another recommendation for you! I honestly don't remember where this recommendation came from, but M and I have been LOVING listening to the Stories Podcast in my car lately. It's a podcast for kids and it's exactly what it sounds like...stories! Some she knows (Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk) and some we've never heard. They're all told by a wonderful narrator who uses funny voices. M will sit silently in my car and just listen and laugh. I can't recommend enough if you have a child close in age to her!

  • I tried the Skinnytaste Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup last week. It's a keeper and an easy one to prep the night before and then pop into the crock pot in the morning. Make this on a chilly day. I toasted some corn tortillas that I brushed with some olive oil and salt and served them on top. YUM!
  • I can't even believe I'm going to list this...but my friends, I have become completely obsessed with fantasy football this fall. I spend all day Sunday refreshing the scores on my phone. My only regret is not playing before this year. J told me recently that I am not the woman he married. And I'd have to agree. I don't know who I am anymore when it comes to NFL football. It's weird. And I love it.
  • Last weekend M and I went with a friend to see Moana, and we LOVED it. For starters, it was just beautiful. All of the art work, the story, the music, it was all beautiful. And what I loved the most was how empowering it is to little girls. I know Disney gets a lot of heat for some older movies which don't really show women in a powerful way, but this one does the opposite. And again, the music! We came home and immediately downloaded the soundtrack. I can't stop singing and humming "How Far I'll Go." It is a tad scary for little ones in parts, but M did okay with a few reminders that Moana would be just fine and nothing bad would happen to her.
  • I've been a long time fan of Thred Up, and I recently scored a couple of cute things for T and myself for practically nothing! If you've never used Thred Up, I highly recommend for some great second hand stuff! Here's what I picked up for me....a JCREW Factory Dress. I think it'll pair nicely with some navy tights and some riding boots or booties
And I got T these two sweaters....

Adorable, right? Here he is the other day in the striped one. A baby boy in a sweater might just be the best part of winter.

If you use my referral link, you can get a $10 credit to Thred Up!

That's all I've got for now, but I really do hope to pop in here more in the coming weeks. Maybe with some recipes, maybe with some tales about our every days...we'll see! I'm not making promises but I'm going to try!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Five on Friday

Happy Friday friends! Linking up with April with some favorites for the week.

1. About a year ago, my ancient hair dryer bit the dust. For awhile I used a cheap con air hair dryer, but then recently purchased this one by RUSK after a suggestion from a friend. I cannot believe I was ever hesitant to put out the money for this thing. I LOVE it. And as someone with a thick head of hair, I can say that this thing works wonders and it's fast. If you're in the market for a new hair dryer, this is a great one and the price is worth it!

2. I know we're late to the party on this, but we finally finished catching up on The Americans! Well, at least all the free seasons on Amazon! I don't think we've seen the most recent season that aired this past spring. But friends! This show is so good! And usually Keri Russell annoys me, but I think she's great in this. It's a great "couple" show that J and I both have enjoyed, and the first four seasons are free if you have Amazon Prime!

3. I recently picked up this eyebrow filler after a recommendation from a friend on snapchat. I am NOT a beauty guru. Not even in the slightest,  but I've been trying to step up my game a little bit lately. I've always thought I didn't need eyebrow filler because I have thick dark eyebrows, but after her review, I thought I'd give it a shot. This stuff is great! It fills in any "gaps" in the eyebrow and it doesn't smudge and is a piece of cake to apply. The price is a little higher than I normally spend on makeup, but it's also not something I wear every day (especially as a stay at home mom who really only wears make up maybe three times a week), so I'm hoping it'll last me a little while.

4. Are you a meal planner? If so, stop what you're doing right now and add these two items to next week's meal plans and come back to thank me next week. Both are delicious and so easy.

5. And if tyou know anything about me, you had to know this last one was on my list for today! Earlier this week Lin-Manuel Miranda announced a new little project he's been hiding called The Hamilton Mixtape, basically a new album with a lot of the musical's songs (plus a few that were cut) that are covered by a variety of artists. This is going to be amazing. I preordered my copy this morning and got the Kelly Clarkson version of "It's Quiet Uptown" and The Roots version of "My Shot" (which features Busta Rhymse who is amazing in it). Both tracks pretty much had me in tears (for very different reasons). Cannot wait to hear the rest. Especially Usher's "Wait For It" and John Legend doing "History Has Its Eyes On You"

Monday, October 31, 2016

Pumpkin Party

Last Sunday, we got together with some of our best pals to celebrate the birthdays of both of our October babies! 

I know I won't be able to get away with joint parties for long, but this year M was pumped to share her big day with her little brother! We hosted the party at a local park and had a pumpkin theme. There are hundreds of great ideas for pumpkin parties on pinterest, but we kept it pretty simple. Here was the invite I designed in photoshop and then had printed through overnight prints (love them! they always do a great job for a reasonable price!)

The kids all played on the playground for a long time and then we decorated pumpkins. The day before the party I had this grand idea to make a sign to put by all of the mini pumpkins I had bought. I am so glad I did. I think it turned out really cute and now it's on our porch with all of our pumpkins!

For food, we had mostly "kiddie" food...mini pb&j's, veggies and dip (in the shape of a pumpkin!), apple sticks from TJ's, cheeseballs (mini pumpkins!), a fall trail mix (made of candy corn, M&M's, pumpkin cheerios, pretzels, and marshmallows) and these cute clementines. My mom and I started drawing the faces on them on Saturday, and M quickly jumped in to help. I love her creative faces she made.

About an hour and a half before the party I dropped our cake that J had picked up earlier in they day from Publix. I was pretty upset (to say the least). It was beautiful and had pumpkins on it and big enough for all of our guests, and chocolate, and $45, and just perfect....and I dropped it in our garage. I was pretty angry about it, but my sister and dad were rockstars and drove to two stores to find us two cakes to feed all of our guests, and they were even able to find "fall" colored cakes. So very thankful they were here and could jump in to help. Thankfully, the birthday girl had no idea and the birthday boy still had a mini smashcake in good shape.

Also, poor T! The boy just doesn't stop and lately and has been using his face to break his fall as you can see by all his bumps and bruises and scratches! No matter how closely we watch him, he's falling and walking into metal poles on playgrounds. His face was looking mighty fine for his close up pictures during cake eating!

He loved it!

I love this picture of my parents and T!

And now, we're done with birthdays...until the end of November when J and I both celebrate! We spend a lot of time eating cake and celebrating in October and November!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

12 Months

Little Bear, I am a bad mama. You turned one year old on October 8, and here I am now sitting down to write about you. I promise it's only because I don't have much free time since I spend most of my day chasing you and keeping you out of trouble. The picture was taken a few days after your birthday. 

At 12 months...you are nursing four times a day, but (spoiler...I am in the future now) you're going to drop to three in a few days. You love nursing in the morning right after you wake up, but you don't seem to care one way or the other about the other three sessions. I'd like to nurse a little bit longer to give you an extra immune boost for flu season, but I also want to follow your lead. You eat 3 meals each day, and you really do eat pretty much anything we offer you. You love any and all fruits, carbs, and cheese. You still like most meats, and peanut butter and jelly is a new lunch time favorite. Vegetables are probably your least favorite item we offer you.

You walk everywhere these days and you're finally doing a great job in your shoes! You started taking steps in August, but it really took you right up until the week before you birthday to truly choose to primarily walk. And now that you really walk, you are unstoppable! You can also climb up and down our stairs with ease, and you love nothing more than going down slides head first. You are very active and you want to explore! When we go to the playground, you pretty much do you own thing and just wander. A big change from your big sis who always stuck right by my side.

We call you "Baby Shrek" because "shreking" a room is your specialty. You will walk into the living room and if anything is on the coffee table, you clear it off in a matter of seconds. You will walk up to the shelves in M's room that hold her toys, and your can clear them in no time. You have ripped more books than I can count, and my hand towels are never hanging on the oven door thanks to you, and my lower kitchen cabinets and drawers that don't have locks are always wide open and just torn apart. When I tell you "No!" you grin so big and shake your head no at me. 

Still taking two naps a day. Most days each one is around 45 minutes - hour, but some days we get lucky and they're closer to an hour and a half. You sleep from about 7:45pm-7:30am. You sleep with two lovies and your pacis.

You have finally started sitting still for two books at bedtime! Up until recently, you'd get mad sitting still, but you have started to enjoy a couple of favorites: Goodnight Moon, The Going to Bed Book, On The Night You Were Born, 1 2 3 to the Zoo.

During the week, you enjoy going to story time with me and M. You love dancing and bubbles and there. You are a trooper and take M to school three times a week, and you also sit through her swim lessons once a week. You don't love the car, but you will tolerate it a decent amount. 

You don't say anything yet, but you make a lot of sounds and noises! You are constantly making noise, and you're finding it's hard to get a word in when your big sister is around. Sometimes I think you might know that Dad is Dada, but its' hard to tell. 

You love going for walks and playing in the driveway. In general, you are a pretty happy boy outside. You like "wrestle" with Dad. You love to get in the dogs' faces (especially Rosie) and have them kiss you. You are really good at growling. You have perfected the art of rubbing bananas and spaghetti in your hair on the day after a hair wash. You like to "talk" to our Amazon Echo after you hear one of us give her a command. You love to wave to strangers. 

T-Bear, you are such a joy. You have provided us with so many laughs this past year and it's hard to imagine a time before we knew you. So thankful you are ours.


12 Month Stats:

Weight: 24lbs 7oz (88%)
Height: 32.5 inches (>99%)
Clothes: 12-18 Months
Diapers: Size 4 in disposables and 4 snaps open in BG
Teeth: 8, 4 on top and 4 on bottom
Eyes: so blue!
Hair: So straight and dark! And every now and then we see a hint of red in it in the sun.