Thursday, December 22, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 12: Italian Sausage Subs

For the 12th (and final) meal of Christmas:

Italian Sausage Subs


1 package Italian sausage links
1 green bell pepper (chopped or sliced)
1 red bell pepper (chopped or sliced)
1 cup red wine (I use pinot noir)
Season with garlic powder & dried basil

8 hrs on low. Cut up sausage and stuff into Italian loaves or a hoagie and top with parmesan cheese.

My family loves these - hopefully yours will too!

So, that's it. My 12 meals of Christmas. How about that blogging follow through? I made at least 2 of each meal to make a total of 26 meals and I spent less than $200.

Monday, December 19, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 11: Mushroom Chicken & Rice

For the eleventh meal of Christmas:

Mushroom Chicken & Rice

I have a thing for mushrooms and I've been told that it's just gross and wrong because they are a fungus, but whatever, man (husband), I like them. And since I do the cooking I force the rest of my family to eat this fungus as well. And I'll be honest, the picture is not pretty but it tastes very good, even to the mushroom haters.

1 can cream of mushroom
1 packet onion dip mix
3-4 chicken breasts
8 oz. Sliced mushrooms
1 cup water

8 hrs on low. Serve over rice. You can add an extra cup of water and cook 1 cup of rice on the crock pot for the last hour of cooking but I prefer my rice cooker. It cooks the rice to perfection.

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 10: Caribbean Jerk Chicken

For the 10th meal of Christmas:

Caribbean Jerk Chicken 

This is one that is obnoxiously easy but one of our favorite marinades so it almost always makes the cut.

1 bottle Lawry's Caribbean Jerk marinade
4-5 chicken breasts

Thaw and grill. Serve with rice or on a bunch with BBQ sauce. It is spicey and sweet and just yummy.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 9: Pulled Pork

For the ninth meal of Christmas:

Pulled Pork


We have a slight obsession with this meal. One, because it's easy. Two, because it's delicious. Three, because of the leftovers. And it's easy. Did I mention that?

3 lb. Pork loin
1 packet Memphis BBQ Pit seasoning
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

8 hours on low. Shred and serve on rolls, buns, or stuff in a baked sweet potato. Add some Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce and you're set.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 8: Brown Sugar Salmon

For the eighth meal of Christmas...

Brown Sugar Salmon

This is my kids' most favorite way to eat salmon. They gobble this up so fast.

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
A little pepper

Mix together and marinate a bag of salmon filets or a whole cut of salmon, whichever you prefer or is on sale.

Bake at 400 for 12 minutes. Leftovers are great warm or cold...if there are any.

Friday, December 16, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 7: Spanish Dirty Rice

For the seventh meal of Christmas...

Spanish Dirty Rice

1 box Spanish rice, cooked
1.5 lbs of ground beef, cooked with garlic, Chile powder, cumin, salt & pepper

Mix together. Thaw, warm & serve topped with cheese, salsa, cilantro and chips.

It is obnoxiously easy.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 6: Simple Spaghetti & Meatballs

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:


Simple Spaghetti & Meatballs 


I do have a fancy spaghetti sauce I like to make but when I'm making 26 meals, certain ones get simplified. Like this one.

2 jars of your favorite prepared marinara sauce
1 bag meatballs
1 Bay leaf

6 hrs on low. Serve with spaghetti noodles.

Because spaghetti always sounds good and because the kids will always eat it, Simple Spaghetti & Meatballs almost always makes the freezer meal list.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Oh, My Loves...


Emmie is 4 months old. She's pretty amazing but to be honest, she is our hardest baby. She finally likes Darren so I'm able to leave the house without her giving him a hard time but she still won't take a bottle and that has been a struggle because I keep getting thrush - we're probably just passing it back and forth ever so discretely. Or, get this. My doctor thinks it could just be inflamed milk ducts.

She thinks this because 1.) Emmie hasn't shown symptoms, and 2.) I was on an anti-fungal for two weeks and it got better then got drastically worse. Even though this has never happened before she said bodies get tired and worn out the longer and more times we do things. True dat, sister. So we're kind of stuck in a wait and see situation. Fun times. 

So back to Emmie. She is not a great napper and takes about 3 or 4 cat naps throughout the day (much like Maci did) and wakes up twice each night. We moved her crib to our room so she could get used to it and she does pretty well, then ends up in our bed after her second wake up of the night then she sleeps pretty solid. (I have to wake her up every morning so we can get Isaiah off to school. Crazy girl.) She's pretty go-with-the-flow as long as I'm around. She is very particular about who holds her and how they hold her. Unless it's me then she doesn't care - total mama's girl. 

Isaiah and Maci are pretty much her favorite people. They can get all up in her face and she just laughs and laughs. She rolls over both ways and scoots around on her back. She loves to suck on her hands and fingers and her eyes light up when I sing to her. She toots like there's no tomorrow and squeals when she's got something to say. And, you guys, the hair is STILL red! She's our little firecracker.


I keep thinking I should have her more on a schedule or better routine but I do this with every baby. I think I spoil the babies. Oh well, they end up being well-adjusted eventually.

Emmie is funny because she sleeps better when we're out and about. She loves her car seat and stroller the most, is mesmerized by Christmas lights, and has a really sweet personality...unless she's angry.


Oh and we keep waiting for the novelty to wear off with Isaiah and Maci but it has not. Emmie is still the coolest person in the family.




12 Meals of Christmas, Day 5: Orange Meatballs

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Orange Meatballs & Rice


1 bag meatballs (26 count)
1 bottle orange chicken  sauce

4 hrs on low. Serve over rice.

We love meatballs in the slow cooker because they can be dinner or a party food. And our kids will always eat them. So, bonus.

Sweet & sour (BBQ sauce and grape jelly), Sweet & spicey (grape jelly & chili sauce), teriyaki sauce, BBQ sauce, orange sauce...we eat them all the ways and love them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 4: Savory Pork Loin

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Savory Pork Loin


3 lb. pork loin
1 packet "pot roast" seasoning
1 can French onion
1 cup water

8 hrs on low

I served this with roasted broccoli & sweet potatoes and stuffing. We loved it - rich and hearty and perfect for these cold December nights.

My Kid Is Smart, But He's Not a Genius


As moms, we can see our kids in that sweet-pea-apple-of-my-eye sort if way. So much so that we can tend to see them through rose-colored lenses, exaggerating their strengths and talents so much that we may be doing them a disservice. (Or just flat out lying on Facebook.)

Lately, I have been so proud of my boy. He was placed in the highest reading group in kindergarten and since getting his glasses has jumped 5 units immediately and then a unit a day thereafter.

 I am so proud - he is a fantastic reader. I have been so proud that I took to social media to brag about him. Now, what I said was true and I am very proud, but here's the thing - he's still 5, he's still a kindergartener, and he's still learning. He is smart but he's not a genius. 

After my post a friend suggested getting him tested for a gifted/honors program at school. I asked his teacher about it and she said:

"Well, the deadline for testing has passed already..."

And then, bless her sweet soul:

"But that program isn't just for reading, it's for all around academics and problem solving."

I had to laugh at myself! It was as if she was saying, "He's a high reader but he's not a genius. Pump the breaks, lady." 

This is why (Well, one of the reasons) I'm so thankful for teachers. They see our kids as just that...KIDS. Not the center of the universe. Since he's my first born, it's easier for me to get wrapped up in thinking he's smarter than he is.

Isaiah's teacher has been so great for him, she has gone above and beyond to work with him and the other students in class. As a classroom volunteer I have seen the strides each kid has made in a matter of months. 

And while every accomplishment they make and every goal that's met should be celebrated, it also should be expected. Why? because we're raising these little humans to one day be big humans and that is simply how the world works. There are things exoected out of you. You don't get a cookie for every good deed or work assignment you complete. 

So if you're proud of them, be proud. Brag a little. But be realistic. If your child is successful at their grade level, be proud. Don't exaggerate. And, for goodness sake, don't overly celebrate what is expected of them.

Monday, December 12, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 3: Winger's & Waffles

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Winger's and Waffles


If you've never had Winger's chicken, you're missing out. Our love affair with this restaurant started when Darren and I were in college and I found the best recipe for the sauce on the interwebs a few years ago. Pair it with waffles and game. over.

For this meal buy and store your favorite waffle mix in the pantry.

Buy 1 bag of frozen popcorn chicken and in a bag freeze the Winger's sauce:

1  1/2 c brown sugar
6 Tbsp. Frank's hot sauce
2 Tbsp. water

Defrost and heat up sauce until the sugar is dissolved and everything is combined. Make waffles and chicken according to package instructions. Add some butter and syrup to your waffle, top with chicken, add Winger's sauce and LIVE YOUR LIFE. 

SO GOOD.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 2: Pad Thai

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Pad Thai

This is one of those meals my family is obsessed with. Having it prepped as one of my freezer meals helps me out tremendously.

Here's what I do:

In one bag, freeze 3 thinly sliced chicken  breasts (or shrimp or tofu), 1-2 thinly sliced zucchinis, 1 thinly sliced carrot, and half a bunch of chopped green onion. Add a little garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

In bag 2, mix the contents for the sauce - 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1/2 brown sugar.

Store rice noodles in the pantry.

To prepare, defrost everything. Pour hot water over rice noodles in a bowl. In a small sauce pan, heat up sauce until sugar is dissolved and everything is combined. In a wok, heat up a few Tbsp of EVOO and add chicken and veggies. Toss around until cooked. Add strained rice noodles. Toss. Add sauce. Toss. Add a scrambled egg. Toss.

Serve with a squeeze of lime and top with chopped peanuts.

I always freeze some egg rolls with this too.

It seriously tastes as good as takeout and is 1/3 of the cost. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

12 Meals of Christmas, Day 1: Roasted Red Peppers & Sausage on Texas Toast

This week I completed 26 meals for under $200. Instead of doing a long list of meals and grocery items, I thought I'd share the different meals I made individually. And I'm calling it the 12 meals of Christmas...because I'm so clever.

So. [Ahem...]

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 

Roasted Red Peppers & Sausage 
on Texas Toast

1 lb. cooked ground Italian sausage
1 jar roasted red peppers
8 oz. of tomato sauce

6 hrs. on low in the crock pot

Prepare Texas Toast according to package (5 minutes at 425).

Top toast with sausage and peppers and top with cheese.

It's yummy. The end.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

How I'm Sort of Losing the Baby Weight

One question I've been getting often is: how are you losing the baby weight? I think I'm actually getting it more this time around than I did with my other two (and with those babies I was actually trying) and it's funny because this time around, every time I get an urge to get back in shape/get healthy/take my body back/etc. I end up with mastitis or thrush. For realz. I must just dress well or I'm simply strung out on coffee and no sleep.
 
Regardless. I'm going there. I decided to show my post-partum belly pics.
 
Top: 4 months post-partum
Bottom: 3 months post-partum
 

Left: 1 month post-partum
Right: 2 months post-partum
 
I'll be honest, I'm not unhappy with how far my body has come even if I'm not at my goal weight or as fit as I want to be. It's taken me three babies but this time I've learned to really go easy on myself. I just had a baby, it takes time to get back into shape. After having babies I have followed programs like P90X and Insanity, but this time around I'm operating on a do-what-I-can-when-I-can mentality...and it's working. I only have about 5-7 lbs. left to lose and can wear most of my pre-pregnancy pants (though, I did split a pair down the booty - good times). It's not extreme, I can't promise fast results for anyone but here is my one piece of advice for how I'm sort of losing the baby weight:
 
MAKE MOSTLY GOOD CHOICES.
 
Yep, that's it. TA-DA. I eat when I want and I eat mostly healthy food. I eat cookies and I eat spinach - I eat bread and I eat veggies. The only diet restriction I have is no-dairy because of Emmie's intolerance but other than that, I don't even think twice about what I eat. The only shake I use is Orgain Slim and I love it just so I can get a quick protein-packed breakfast on busy mornings (no on likes a hangry mama).
 
As far as exercise, I have a couple of yoga DVDs I do here and there as well as some high intensity interval workouts that I have written down (they take about 20 minutes). I attend a kickboxing class when I can but mostly just love to run (read: jog slowly) for a few miles. Realistically, I probably workout 3 times a week...maybe. It's not much but it's where I'm at and for now, I'm okay with that. I mean, there's still 6 months until summer, right?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

White Turkey Tortilla Soup

I love thanksgiving food and I love the leftovers. But after a few days turkey and cranberry sauce can get old and it feels like the meat hangs around forever. I like to do something a little different with it to spice it up. I'll make it into a "chicken" salad or stir fry. Or, make it into a turkey tortilla soup...and it's really good - great as a dip, soup or over rice. And it's super simple. Here's the recipe:



Leftover turkey (cut into bite sized pieces) - about 1 1/2 - 2 cups, white and dark meat
2 cups of chicken broth/stock (I know you have leftovers of that!)
1 can drained corn
1 can rinsed black beans
1 can diced chilis
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt & pepper to taste

3 hrs on high, 6 hours on low

I served this on rice with cheese and Pico de Gallo. We were happy.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Easiest 24 Crock Pot Meals for $175



This was by far my quickest round of meals. If you are looking for a round of meal prep that requires minimal prep and time, this is it. This is for two reasons: 1.) Lots of meat meals and none require the meat to be precooked, and 2.) 6 of the meals simply need to be frozen and thawed and thrown together on the day of consumption. These meals are also a lot of my kids' favorites. And they're also dairy-free. Because breastfeeding.

Menu |
(Make two of each)

Simple Spaghetti & Meatballs
Pulled Pork
Pepperoncini Pork Sandwiches
Tavern Style Beef Roast
Brown Sugar Salmon
Sweet 'n Sour Meatballs
Carne Asada California Burritos
Sausage Bake
Pesto, Goat Cheese Pizza
Beef and Broccoli
Turkey Club Sandwiches
Savory Beef and Potatoes

Grocery List |

Dried Goods:
2 packages spaghetti
4 packages of rolls and/or buns
2 loaves Italian bread
2 packages Tortillas
1 2lb. bag brown rice
2 premade pizza crusts

Canned:
4 jars marinara (pick one you like)
1 jar pepperoncinis
4 cans French onion soup
1 jar pesto
2 jar pizza sauce

Meat:
4 bags meatballs (26 count in each bag)
4 3 lbs. pork loins
2 chuck roasts
2 salmons (I purchased two whole salmons but you can also do filets...whatever is on sale)
2 packages carne asada (about 3 lbs. each)
2 smoked sausages
1 package pepperoni
1 package salami
6 lbs. cubed beef (stew meat)
2 packages of Turkey deli meat
2 packages bacon

Seasoning & Sauces:
2 Memphis BBQ Pit seasoning packets
2 ranch seasoning packets
2 Tavern Style pot roasts slow cooker pouches
Brown Sugar
2 bottles Soy Sauce
2 bottles BBQ Sauce
2 bottles grape jelly
2 packages of taco seasoning
2 Savory Pot Roast Seasoning packets
Garlic Powder

Frozen:
2 bags French fries
4 bags broccoli florets

Refrigerator:
1 package goat cheese
1 package shredded mozzarella

Produce:
8 red potatoes

**Always make sure you buy gallon sized bags so you're ready to go when you get home. I like to get the Hefty brand with the slider top. They're easier to close and don't leak. (and trust me, when you make 24 meals at a time, you don't want them to leak!)

I shopped at Winco and my total was $175. When you get home, label bags and start dumping. It took me 30 minutes for all of these.

Simple Spaghetti & Meatballs
2 jars marinara
1 bag meatballs

6-8 hours on low. Store noodles in pantry.

Pulled Pork
1 Pork loin
1 Memphis BBQ packet
1/4 cup brown sugar

8 hours on low. Shred and serve on rolls (freeze those with the meals).

Pepperoncini Pork Sandwiches
1 Pork loin
1/2 jar pepperoncinis
1 Ranch seasoning packet
1 can French onion soup

8 hours low. Shred and serve on buns (freeze those with the meals).

Tavern Style Beef Roast
1 chuck roast
1 pouch of the Tavern Style marinade

8 hours on low. Serve this with roasted or mashed potatoes...perfect cold weather meal!

Brown Sugar Salmon
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder

Thaw and grill or bake. (400* for 15 minutes...usually) This is seriously my kids' favorite. (No joke, Isaiah told the doctor his favorite foods are salmon and broccoli. I felt like mom of the year.)

Sweet 'n Sour Meatballs
1 bag meatballs
1 bottle BBQ sauce
1 bottle grape jelly

6 hours on low. We eat this as a meal and I also use it as a party dish - grown ups and kids approve.

Carne Asada California Burritos
1 package carne asada (or round roast)
1 packet taco seasoning

Freeze the tortillas and French fries to go with this. Add one cup of water upon cooking, 8 hours on low. Thaw tortillas and cook fries according to package instructions. Serve with your favorite taco fixings.

Sausage Bake
Freeze the sausage and broccoli.

Thaw the day of and add sweet potatoes and any other veggies you might want. Toss in EVOO, garlic powder, and basil and bake at 425* for 45 minutes.

Pesto, Goat Cheese Pizza
Freeze crust, goat cheese, and salami

Thaw when ready to serve. Store pesto in pantry. Make a pizza. (Also note: I bought regular sauce and pepperoni for my kids because I'm nice.)

Beef and Broccoli
1/2 cubed beef
1/2 bottle soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder

8 hours on low, add frozen broccoli the last 30 minutes.

Turkey Club Sandwiches
Freeze turkey meat, bacon and bread

Thaw and make a yummy sandwich. The end.

Savory Beef and Potatoes
1/2 cubed beef
1 can French onion soup
1 Savory roast seasoning packet
3-4 cubed potatoes

8 hours on low.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Post Partum We Forget to Talk About


After the cracked nipples and stitches in your nether region. After the new found joy and euphoria from falling in love with your tiny new babe. After the many, many [too many] visitors and meals in the first few weeks, there are post-partum things we forget to talk about. And honestly, after I had my first baby, I really wish everyone hadn't failed to mention it. When you start reaching the tipping point of being "mostly recovered" from giving birth, there is still some crap you have to deal with. For example...

1. Your body sucks. There I said it. Right after I have a baby I feel fierce and strong and sexy and even skinny (hello, I dropped 20 lbs. in a week). I feel so happy to be able to breathe and move and function. Then the euphoria of giving birth like a warrior princess wears off and I realize this is what I'm left with. My hips are wide and my stomach is soft and saggy. And so, so out of shape. It can be discouraging, even when I try to not let it be. Getting your body back takes time, and if you make mostly good choices regarding food and exercise, it will come back. Until then...yoga pants.

2. Your back hurts. Because breastfeeding posture is a real beast and can turn you into the hunchback of Notre Dame. And also, your abs are shot so there isn't much core holding you upright. This takes time to improve but the back pain is real, friends.

3. Thrush and Mastitis. This can pop up anytime while breastfeeding and it's never any fun. Never, ever, ever. First off, pray it doesn't happen to you and at any first sign of pain or tenderness, call your doctor. You don't want to wait either of these out. Trust.

4. Hemorrhoids. Oh, you lucked out and didn't get any of these while pregnant? Don't worry, they can *pop* up at any time while your body heals. Fun.

5. You're out of shape. And I'm not talking about your whole body, I'm talking about downstairs. Do your kegels, use your kegel balls, and have sex (seriously, doctors orders) to help get back into tip top, tight shape. (Also, you might qweef the first time you workout - consider yourself warned.) Call me inappropriate, I dare ya.

6. You're tired. I know that after labor and delivery you are tired, believe me. But the older your baby gets the more behind in sleep you get. And no one is coming over to offer you a nap anymore...or a lasagna.

I get why no one wants to talk about this stuff. Everyone wants it all to be hunky dory and back to normal ASAP. But it's not always a smooth transition. I remember after having my first baby thinking, WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME ABOUT THAT? So this is my way of telling you, mamas. Be warned. You will be okay though, because you gave birth. You are a warrior.

Friday, September 16, 2016

25 meals for under $200


Since I am 6 weeks post-partum, I wanted to do a super healthy, Whole30-ish round of meals. But then I thought, "Who am I kidding? I'm breastfeeding and starving and not worried about counting calories...just yet." So here's what's on the menu...

Menu |

Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches
Pulled Pork on Pretzel Rolls
Meatball Subs
Spaghetti Sauce
Caribbean Jerk Chicken
Lemon Pepper Chicken
Lemon Pepper Salmon
Mango Salsa Chicken
Honey Apple Pork Loin
Beef Stroganoff
Butternut Squash Chili
Chicken Pot Pie
Nacho Cheese Dip

I made two of every meal, except the nacho cheese (I only made 1) and my total was just under $200.


Grocery List |

Meat:
2 chuck roasts
4 pork loins (3 lbs. each)
2 bags meatballs
5 lbs. ground beef
2 lbs. ground Italian Sausage
4 bags frozen chicken breasts
1 bag salmon
3 lbs. cubed beef

Canned/Jarred:
1 jar pepperoncini
2 cans French onion soup
2 jars marinara
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans tomato paste
2 cream of mushroom soup
2 cartons of chicken broth
2 cans black beans
2 cans kidney beans
2 cream of chicken soup
1 can Rotel

Seasoning:
2 ranch packet
2 Memphis BBQ seasoning packets
Brown Sugar
2 bottles Caribbean Jerk marinade
2 bottles Lemon Pepper marinade
1 bottle honey
2 onion dip mix
2 packets chili seasoning
Garlic Powder
Thyme
Rosemary
Chili Powder
Cumin
Salt
Pepper

Dried Goods:
2 packages spaghetti noodles
2 packages of egg noodles
2 boxes cornbread mix
1 bag tortilla chips

Bread:
2 packages pretzel rolls
2 packages hoagies
2 packages tortillas
2 packages of buns

Refrigerator:
2 containers mango peach salsa
2 packages of pie crusts
1 block velveeta

Produce:
2 honey crisp apples
1 butternut squash
4 carrots (from the bulk section)
1 package celery
4 red potatoes
1 bag broccoli

 Other:
Gallon Storage bags
Slow Cooker Liners

Get home, label bags and get to work dumping the ingredients in each bag. Tortillas, pie crusts, and bread products can go right in the freezer. Cornbread and pasta goes in the pantry.

Recipes |

Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches
1 chuck roast
1 can French onion soup
1 packet ranch seasoning
1/2 jar of pepperoncinis

8 hours on low. Shred and serve of buns.

Pulled Pork on Pretzel Rolls
3 lb. pork loin
1 packet Memphis BBQ seasoning
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Add 1 cup of water. 8 hours on low. Serve on pretzel buns.

Meatball Subs
1 jar marinara
1 bag meatballs

4-5 hours on low. Serve on hoagies with cheese.

Spaghetti Sauce
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 lb. ground beef, cooked
1 lb. ground Italian sausage, cooked
2-3 bay leaves
1 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic powder

8 hours on low. Serve with spaghetti noodles.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken
1/2 bag frozen chicken breasts
1 bottle Caribbean Jerk marinade

Thaw and grill.

Lemon Pepper Chicken
1/2 bag frozen chicken breasts
1 bottle lemon pepper marinade

Thaw and grill.

Lemon Pepper Salmon
1/2 bag frozen salmon
Sprinkle with lemon pepper
Squeeze with real lemon juice

Thaw and bake for 14 minutes at 425.

Mango Salsa Chicken
1/2 bag chicken
1 tub mango peach salsa

8 hours on low. Shred and serve with tortillas.

Honey Apple Pork Loin
3 lb. pork loin
1 apple, cut up
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt & pepper

8 hours on low.

Beef Stroganoff
1.5 lbs. cubed beef
1 can cream of mushroom
1 packet onion dip mix
1/2 carton of chicken broth

8 hours on low. Serve on egg noodles.

Butternut Squash Chili
1 lb. ground beef, cooked
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can tomato sauce
1 packet chili seasoninh
1/2 of the butternut squash, cubed
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

8 hours on low. Serve with cornbread.

Chicken Pot Pie
1/2 bag chicken
1 can cream of chicken
2 chopped carrots
1/2 the celery stalk, chopped
1/2 bag of broccoli
1/2 carton of chicken broth
Salt & pepper

8 hours on low. Shred and fill pie crusts and bake according to pie crust package instructions.

Nacho Cheese Dip
1 lb. ground beef, cooked and seasoned with cumin & chili powder
1 block velveeta cheese
1 can rotel

4 hours on low. Serve with chips.

Again, make two of each meal except for the nacho cheese.

Enjoy!

This is how we feel about meal preps days. :)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Emmie's Birth Story

Emmie Jo Moss
Born August 3, 2016 at 6:08 p.m.
7 lbs. 10 oz. & 19 inches long
 
Four. That is the number of times I was scheduled for an elective induction because of my fast labors. Three of those days I didn't receive a call. This was for many reasons - hot weather=dehydrated mamas going into labor, low hospital staff due to summer vacations, and, perhaps the most important reason, I was healthy and they didn't feel a need to get me in. I think I had a pretty good attitude about not getting calls and being left hanging around town considering how I expected things to go. However, on the fourth day I was scheduled for the induction (August 3rd), I was done. I didn't want to be scheduled for another induction. I didn't care if that meant barely making it to the hospital or not at all. I just didn't want to stay in town waiting for a phone call that may or may not come.
 
So I called my doctor's office and at this point, me and the nurse, Susie, were on a first name basis. She asked how I was doing and I said, "Honestly, I'm starting to feel frustrated. I don't want to be scheduled for another induction if it's not going to happen."
 
Long story short, she called the hospital and they immediately called me and told me to bust a move and get to the hospital before any more laboring pregnant women get there. So we did. I drove the kids with me to the hospital and Darren met us there, as well as my mom and sister (who was going to take the kids back to our house).
 
After getting checked in, they started me on Pitocin at about 11 a.m. This gave me consistent contractions about every 3 minutes but they didn't hurt. I spent most of this time standing and squatting to get things moving (hopefully).
 
I stayed at a 4 and in the +1 position but my "cervix was softening" (I still don't completely understand what that totally means).
 
By 2 p.m. the hospital doctor came in to break my water. I was so nervous because when my water broke with Isaiah, I immediately went into active labor. Not this time. Only a tiny trickle came out because her head was so low and it took about 30 minutes or so before I actually felt strong enough contractions that I had to breathe through them.
 
By 4 p.m. I was in active labor. My nurse, Jackie, tried to have to labor on my side with what she called a peanut between my legs. I lasted about 2 contractions because it hurt so bad. The majority of labor was back labor so I spent the rest of the time on all fours and a good majority of that time asking for Jesus to, "HELP ME!" to which my mom responded, "He is, honey." "No He's not!" I argued. Labor is hard folks. Yes. Yes, it is.
 
At 5 p.m. I was a 6.
 
At 5:20 p.m. I asked for the epidural. (Beforehand, I told them I have done it both ways so I wasn't sure what I was going to do.) It seemed like they were going to get it but Darren said it was pretty clear they were stalling. He thinks because they knew I could do it naturally. And I have to say, they were incredibly encouraging. They did give me a painkiller in my IV at about 5:30 and it did not take the pain away but did help me relax in between contractions. I felt kind of drunk. And it only lasted about 15 minutes. I had reached an 8 at this point.
 
By 5:45 p.m. I wanted to push. My other nurse Julia said, "Do not push, you will tear your cervix!" (It was still behind Emmie's head). This was by far the worst pain I had ever felt: not pushing when you want to. This was also when everyone started filing in the room and getting ready for the baby.
 
By 6 p.m. or so I was a 10 and ready to push. "Don't push! Your doctor isn't here yet." My response: "She doesn't need to be here!" And for those of you that know me, know I am not a yeller. Like at all. So yelling at a room full of nurses made my mom and Darren chuckle a bit. And again, not pushing was the worst pain I have every felt so maybe I had every right to yell.
 
5 minutes later my doctor runs in and I yelled, "What took you so long?!?!" She just smiled. Bless her. Three pushes later Emmie was out. It took 2 pushes for her head because she had her hand by her face. Ouch. And one for her shoulders. Then she was out and in my arms and it was like she's always been here and we can't imagine life without her.
 
She has REDDISH brown hair and blue eyes. She scream/squeals when she wants attention and doesn't cry much other than that. She's very smiley and has a pretty easy-going temperament so far. She fits right in to our now family of FIVE.
 
Our first family photo. The kids were in awe and have been such great helpers at home. (Seriously they hold her while I cook, clean...type this. Love them!)
 
Darren was able to video our first moment with her and it's pretty special...and funny because I'm in tears saying, "Hi, honey! I'm so happy you're here...." then I turn to my doctor and say, "Thank you for coming. I'm sorry I yelled at you. I'm sorry I yelled at all of you." My doctor then says, "It's okay. I got flipped off trying to get here in time." Dr. Henderson is seriously the best...she is funny and sarcastic and smart and listens to me as a patient. I really had such a great experience with her as my doctor.
 
As a matter of fact, I've had great experiences with all my doctors, nurses, and hospitals. I feel like there's so much heat on doctors and hospitals for overmedicating and not respecting patient wishes that I think it's important to recognize those that do care deeply for their patients and provide excellent care for mothers and their babies.
 
Dr. Bales at Mary Birch Hospital for Women in San Diego. (I don't remember my nurses names but they were great!)
Dr. Panzer at St. Joe's in Tacoma, the triage nurse was the best birth coach ever. My post-partum nurse was amazing too.
Dr. Henderson at Good Samaritan in Puyallup, my nurses were Jackie, Julia, Kate and Karen.
 
If you know any of them, high five them for me. They rock!



Daddy's first time holding Emmie.

Moments after she was born. Mascara face and all.

The kids were able to come in an hour after she was born and were so amazed she is here.

Maci was in awe and so proud to be a big sister.
 
Post-partum stuff (Because I know you want to know):
I had some really heavy bleeding immediately after giving birth. You know those softball sized blood clots they talk about? Totally me this time. Because of this they kept me on a Pitocin drip for most of the night and it really helped control my bleeding. Who knew? And now less than two weeks post-partum, that whole situation is more under control than my previous two.
 
Breast feeding is going great. Using the shield like I always do and so far it has been way less painful. Emmie is having trouble keeping up with my milk so I'm pumping twice each day to stock up and until everything starts regulating a bit.
 
I'm still getting hot flashes and chills at night so I'm anxious for those to go away. Hormones are a beast, aren't they? Emmie is a pretty good sleeper and typically gives me at least one 3-4 hour stretch. So let's all shout, "hallelujah" for that!
 
This has been the best home transition we've had so far. It helps that Isaiah and Maci are 5 and 3 and can actually help. They will hold her while I make lunches or clean the kitchen, get me clean diapers, and throw away dirty ones. They absolutely adore her and are fascinated by nursing. :)


Monday, August 1, 2016

40 Weeks.

I don't care if you're a saint, no one likes to see their due date come and go. No one. And yes, I wear this outfit every other day because IT FITS. Alright, little girl. I'm gonna need you to get out now. Please & thank you.

Appointment Update:
Did the stress test and no one is stressed.
Blood pressure 110/60
Weight Gain: 40 lbs.
Baby Heartrate: 130's-160's
4 cm dilated
+1 station (basically I could push her out if I were fully dilated and in labor)
80% effaced

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Still Pregnant

I'm currently living the expression: we plan and God laughs. I know labor and delivery never go exactly as expected but I was at least hoping I could sort of take the reigns on this one but no such luck.

For those of you wondering, yep, I'm still pregnant.

I was scheduled to be induced twice this week since I have such fast labors because we thought it was the best way to ensure I don't deliver at home. Or in the car. Or at Target. However, I was bumped both days because it's not a medical reason. So while I'm bummed I'm not holding my baby right now, I'm trying to have a good attitude because God already knows her birthday. And also, me and Emmie are healthy so there's that. Not even a little high blood pressure. And I'm actually not due until Sunday so how much can I really complain?

So now we're just waiting. And waiting.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Thirty-Nine

You see that smile? That is the smile from a lady that knows she is about to have a baby very, very soon. Look, I know the end is not fun for anyone. Everything hurts, I'm tired, irritated, and intolerant of stupid behavior. But I am also very aware of how quickly this will be over. I know I won't be pregnant forever, even when it feels like it. 

We have been fortunate enough to get scheduled for an induction this week. It is elective because my health and Emmie's health is great. However, with my history of fast labors, we decided to get induced so we can avoid a side-of-the-road birth. Unless she comes before then, of course. We shall see.

Weeks along: 39
Cravings: sweets, I suppose, but nothing really sounds good at all at this point
Other symptoms: weak & nauseous 
Labor signs: lots of pressure and BH contractions, still.
What I look forward to most this week: seeing Emmie Jo's sweet face for the first time.
What I'm most nervous about: how bad my boobs are going to hurt.




Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Belly Manners



People can be so weird. Can we all agree on that?

Last night Darren and I went on a much needed date night - we went out to dinner, shopping at the mall (my man desperately needed some new jeans), and then ice cream. While getting in line to purchase his new pants, a man (probably near 40 and with his wife and young child) took one glimpse at me and said, "WHOA! Is that thing gonna pop out right now?!?!"

Har. Har. Har.

"Well, I sure hope so!" I said. I could see his wife out of the corner of my eye scold him under her breath. The biggest reason for the scold? You just don't know. I could be due in two months and you just made me feel like an even bigger whale. Thanks for that. Even though I am due any day, I also don't need a reminder that I am massive. I can feel how large I am from the inside out, thankyouverymuch.

Then while waiting in line for ice cream, another man playing with a child on his shoulders turns to us and says, "Just wait. You'll be experiencing this before you know it!"

Again. Har. Har.

"We already have two at home," we say with a smile. (Look, dude, we are not parenting experts but we very well know I'm not going to give birth to rambunctious 5 year old.)

"Oh but you guys are so young!"

{eye roll}

"Thank you!" is all we say because this just proves my point: you don't know. You don't how old we are. You don't what we do for a living or how long we've been married. You, sir, just don't know. And you don't need to. I just want to get my Butterfinger ice cream and go watch Luther on Netflix with my husband.

I've been pretty laid back this pregnancy as far as unwelcome comments and conversation in regards to the child growing inside my uterus goes. I actually haven't received that many off-the-wall comments, to be honest. But maybe the reason for that is because I spend a lot of time with other moms - at parks, pools, the zoo. Even while shopping on a week day in the morning you will run into more moms than not. And moms are smart. Moms know you just don't.

You don't comment on the size of a pregnant person's belly and if you do you better tell her how small she looks. My neighbor told me I look 27 weeks pregnant. She was probably lying. I know that. I still wanted to hug her. I don't care if said pregnant person looks like she was supposed to deliver triplets two weeks ago, her belly is small, mmkay?

You don't ask her if she's pregnant. If you don't know, don't ask. She could have just had a baby and was left with a 6 month bump. She could just be chubby. Leave her alone. If you don't know if she's pregnant, you probably don't know her so it's probably not much of your business anyway. My advice is just to leave it alone because you don't want to be wrong on this one.

Don't touch it. I haven't had a stranger touch my belly since I was pregnant with Isaiah. But, good Lawd! Why does anyone think this is okay? If someone does this to you, just tell them you aren't pregnant and watch them squirm.

Just don't. Some people love talking about pregnancy. I do sometimes. But with people I know. But chances are (especially toward the end of pregnancy) we are so burnt out on talking about when we're due, "when's that baby coming?", "how far a long are you?", "any day now!", and literally pretty worn out from all the weight we've gained that we really don't want to small talk about it every where we go. Literally every single place we go.

Smile. Nod, Say, hello. By all means be kind and decent and have good manners. But you don't need to discuss a stranger's current 9 month body type. You just don't. We're tired. We're massive. And yes, we want to have this baby ASAP. Unfortunately, we're over discussing the details of our OB/GYN visits.

(Please note: I know this post is grouchy and sarcastic. Welcome to 9 months pregnant.)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Thirty-Eight

I'm so ready to have this baby.

And here's my pregnancy with Emmie in a nutshell (first picture I was 12 weeks and the last one at 38 weeks and all the weeks in between minus a few):


Weeks along: 38
How I'm feeling: mostly good, but, you know, over it
Currently reading: Chasing God by Angie Smith
Clothes: sweats and maxi dresses
Isaiah & Maci: I've been telling them I could have Emmie any day and if I say it's time when we're out and about, they need to be really good listeners. I also told them, "mommy might have some owies when that happens but I will be okay." I'm hoping I won't be with them when it happens but I don't want them to freak out if I'm loud and in a lot of pain. Especially since I go from zero to hero very quickly.
Signs of labor: tons of pressure and BH contractions. Emmie keeps dropping so my hips hurt. She is feeling so much stronger every day so I'm ready for her to come out. :)

Appointment Update:
BP: 98/61
Baby Heartrate: 130's
Belly Measurement: I forgot to ask
Weight Gain: 39 lbs.
3 cm dilated/75% effaced

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

37 Week Check Up

Here are the stats from today's appointment:

Blood pressure: 111/73
Weight gain: 38 lbs.
Belly measurement: 34 weeks (baby dropped)
3 cm dilated, 50% effaced
Baby's heartrate: 134 bpm

These are the exact stats I had days before I delivered Maci. I'm also having the same symptoms - pressure, BH contractions, and a lot of mucus (tmi, I know). I feel like she's really close and I'm really excited.

We also have a few projects that ideally I'd like to be completed before she comes (window sill replacement, broken oven, etc.) But I'm remembering that life goes on after you have a baby. We will be exhausted and delirious but we will be ok. And hey, we can survive without an oven for a while. I use my crock pot the most, anyway. ;)

Come on, Emmie! Mommy's ready.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Thirty-Seven

Well, holy cow.

You know that wall that you hit at the end of pregnancy? The one that makes it incredibly difficult to get out of the bed? The one that makes your hips hurt so bad it feels like your legs might fall off? The one that feels like someone hit you in the back with a baseball bat? The one that makes you nauseous and gives you hot flashes?

Yeah, that wall. I totally hit it this week. And now I'm so ready to have a baby. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Cowboy Caviar


One of my husband's favorite things to munch on is chips and salsa. Okay, mine too. But there is something so refreshing about cowboy caviar and I always feel way less guilty eating it. Because vegetables.

Here's a super easy recipe for your next get together or late night snack:

1 diced red pepper
1 diced green pepper
1 diced red onion
1-2 diced tomatoes
1 can drained sweet corn
1 can drained and rinsed black beans
1 can drained and rinsed white beans (or black eyed peas)
1 bunch cilantro leaves (optional)
2 diced avocados  (optional - it won't keep as long if you add these)

Mix together in a bowl.

Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Whisk together and then add to caviar mixture. Serve with tortillas chips & enjoy!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

26 Meals, 2 hours, $190


Our hospital bags are packed. All the baby items are washed and ready. The car seat has been installed. And now, meals have been made. We can have a baby now - you are welcome to come anytime, Emmie. ;)

$190 worth of groceries.

26 meals.

For this round, I made 26 meals for about $190. (Averaging less than $7.50 per meal.) Each time I complete a round of meals I typically make 24-26 meals and it will last our family about 6-8 weeks. We don't necessarily eat a freezer meal every single night - I can cook other things without my crock pot, believe it or not - so spending between $150-200 on dinners every couple of months is very worth it for us.

If you're interested in the process I go through each time I bulk cook, check out this post. Here's how this round went:

Menu |

Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches
Zuppa Tuscana
White Chicken Enchiladas
Simple Spaghetti & Meatballs
Sweet 'n Sour Meatballs
Philly Cheese Steaks
Zesty Herb Chicken
Teriyaki Chicken
Chicken Pad Thai & Egg Rolls
Dirty Rice
Brown Sugar Salmon
Chicken Alfredo Tortellini with Garlic Bread
Chicken & Veggie Sesame Noodles

(I made two of each)

Grocery List |

Meat:
2 2 lb. chuck roasts (or one 4-5 lb. roast cut in half)
2 2 lb. beef roasts (or one 4-5 lb. roast cut in half)
4 3 lb. bags of frozen chicken breasts
6 small bags of prepared meatballs (24 count)
2 lbs. ground beef
1 bag salmon
2 cooked rotisserie chicken
2 lbs. ground Italian sausage

Dairy:
16 oz. sour cream
2 small cartons of whipping cream

Canned/Jars:
1 16 oz. jar of pepperoncini peppers
2 cans French onion soup
2 cans cream of chicken
2 cans diced green chilis
4 jars marinara sauce
2 bottles grape jelly
2 BBQ sauce
2 cans pineapple chunks (no sugar added)
2 bottles of teriyaki sauce
1 bottle rice vinegar
1 bottle fish oil
4 jars Alfredo sauce
1 bottle soy sauce
1 16 oz. carton of chicken broth

Produce:
2 green bell peppers
2 zucchinis
2 large carrots
1 bunch green onions
6 red potatoes
1 small bag spinach
2 lemons

Seasoning:
2 ranch dip packets
2 zesty herb seasoning packets
2 black peppercorn packets
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Pepper
Cumin
Oregano
Garlic Powder

Dried goods:
2 packages of tortillas
3 packages of spaghetti noodles
2 packages of hoagies
4 cups brown rice (from bulk section)
2 packages rice noodles
1 small bag brown sugar
2 lbs. cheese tortellini (from bulk section)
2 loaves garlic bread
2 packages of pub buns

Freezer:
2 bags frozen stir fry veggie mix
2 packages of egg rolls

Other:
1 box gallon Ziploc bags
4 slow cooker bags

When you get home, 1 package of spaghetti, all the tortellini, the ground beef, and ground sausage all need to be cooked. Cook 2 cups of rice and store the rest in the pantry. The rotisserie chickens need to be de-boned. Freeze all packages of tortillas, buns, bread, and egg rolls. Spaghetti and rice noodles are to be stored in the pantry. Label all Ziploc bags. Then just work through each meal at a time.

Recipes |

Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches

2 lb. chuck roast
1 can French onion soup
1 packet ranch seasoning
1/2 jar of pepperoncini peppers
8 hours on low. Serve on pub buns with provolone cheese.

Zuppa Tuscana

16 oz. chicken broth
1 package Italian sausage (cooked)
3 handfuls spinach (could also use kale or swiss chard)
3 potatoes cubed
1 tsp garlic powder 
2 tsp oregano
 Pepper to taste
8 hours on low. Add 1 cup whipping cream the last 30 minutes.

White Chicken Enchiladas
1/2 bag of chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken
1 can diced chilis
8 oz. sour cream
1 tsp cumin
8 hours on low. Shred and roll in tortillas and top with extra sauce. Top with cheese and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Simple Spaghetti & Meatballs
2 jars marinara
1 bag meatballs
7-8 hours on low. Serve over spaghetti.

Sweet 'n Sour Meatballs
2 bags meatballs
1 bottle grape jelly
1 bottle BBQ sauce
4-6 hours on low.

Philly Cheese Steaks

2 lb. beef roast
1 packet peppercorn seasoning
1 sliced green bell pepper
Add one cup of water upon cooking. 8 hours on low. Shred, Serve on hoagies with cheese.

Zesty Herb Chicken

1/2 bag of chicken breasts
1 packet zesty herb seasoning
Add one cup of water. Thaw and grill.

Teriyaki Chicken

1/2 bag chicken breasts
1 can pineapple chunks (drain most of the juice)
1 bottle teriyaki
Add 1 cup of water upon cooking. 7-8 hours on low. Serve on rice.

Chicken Pad Thai & Egg Rolls
Bag 1:
2 chicken breasts sliced thinly
1 large carrot sliced thinly
1 zucchini sliced thinly (season with garlic powder, salt, & pepper)
(make two)

Bag 2: {the sauce}
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
(this is doubled from my original recipe...I like extra sauce)

Store rice noodles in pantry. To prepare: soak rice noodles in hot water. Thaw sauce and chicken and veggies. In a small pot, warm sauce. In a large wok or skillet, add 3 Tbsp. olive oil and sauté chicken and veggies until cooked through. Scramble an egg. Drain and add noodles. Toss. Add sauce. Toss. Add a squeeze of lime and top with chopped peanuts. Serve with egg rolls prepared according to package instructions.

Dirty Rice

1 cup rice cooked
1 lb. cooked ground beef
1 tbsp. montreal steak seasoning
Drizzle with Olive Oil
Thaw and warm in a skillet.

Brown Sugar Salmon
3 Tbsp. Brown sugar
3 Tbsp. Olive oil
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. Garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste (I use about 1 tsp. of each)

Chicken Alfredo Tortellini with Garlic Bread

1 lb. cooked tortellini
2 jars of Alfredo sauce
1/2 of the chicken from a rotisserie chicken
Warm in a skillet.. Serve with prepared garlic bread.

Chicken & Veggie Sesame Noodles

1/2 package of cooked spaghetti noodles
1 bag frozen stir-fry veggies
1/2 of the chicken from a rotisserie chicken
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Warm in a skillet.

Remember to make two of each meal & enjoy!