Monday, February 11, 2019

When an Amazon Prime Family Enters Target

Highlights from the past few days:

1. I found my "lost" retainer in the depths of my hair supplies drawer, under my hair dryer.

2. 2018 taxes are filed!

3. We have been a lice free house for greater than 3 weeks.

So, as you can tell, things are pretty wild over here.

We are continuing to trudge through the never ending winter. Even though Friday and Saturday were good days involving otherwise exciting things like a church marriage event, a sparkling clean house, and consignment sale organizing, I couldn't get out of a funk. By the time Saturday evening rolled around I finally decided to just eat a bologna sandwich and go to bed.

But then Sunday came with church and errands and a family lunch out at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and small group (so amazing) and my spirits lifted considerably.

After we ate our weight in chips and salsa I dropped Dan off to get his hair cut while I took all three girls to Target for Ina's Valentine's Day box supplies.

After a few seconds in the store I realized that my girls have rarely been to Target (we are strictly an Aldi and Amazon Prime family), as they stood in the front of the cart shouting out the names of every little thing they saw:

Ina: Mom, look, a sparkly pillow!

Cora: Mom, look, a paw patrol sucker!

Mira (hair in her face because she refuses to keep a pony in and dried salsa covering her mouth because sometimes I just can't): MAAAAOOOOOOMMMM!!!!! 

Mira joyously screamed the entire time we were there. Ina affectionately noted that Mira was in fact living her absolute best life. We made many patrons laugh.

I was very nervous about making Ina's Valentine's Day box because we both tend to have anxiety over projects like this and usually someone gets upset. However, Target has pre-made kits and Ina didn't even think to hint that I was totally cheating to buy one. Actually two, because it would be unfair for Cora not to have anything that involves a red headed mermaid.

When we were putting the boxes together and then labeling her slime gifts to her class, Ina casually mentioned that if she could have picked her mom out, she would have picked me and I just about melted on the floor.

Just like her daddy, she's a charmer and she knows it. Ina also complimented my ability to write the word, "SLIME" in a "slimy way" multiple times. I guess she knew I needed a little pick me up. <3

We heavily relied on leftovers this week, but I do have a few recipes to share:

ONE POT sausage and sun dried tomato pasta with broccoli: make this immediately. I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 and we still didn't have a single bit of leftovers.

Sloppy Joe's with baked sweet potatoes- I doubled the recipe and froze the leftovers. Future me will be very thankful.

Flourless chocolate blender muffins (with black beans, I promise, you can't taste them!) - just do it. Dan had one for breakfast today and told me they tasted like dessert.

Also, if you plan on staying in on Valentine's Day, here are some fun recipes to make!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Goodbye January!

What. a. month.

I was oh so thankful to flip to the pink and red February pages in my planner and say goodbye to January 2019.

(Mira has decided that she doesn't like having hair ties in her hair, so she mostly walks around looking like a sheep dog.)

After so many nights of snow, ice, coughing, antibiotics, puking, and other things that shall not be named as to not give them any more power, I stopped writing things in my planner so I wouldn't have to cross them out a few days later.

The complaining could continue. The Chiefs weren't in the super bowl. Cora poked her eye while trying to make Mira laugh and was rendered completely useless for 48 hours. I broke a kettle bell at the gym. Mira cut a new tooth. It was really, really cold.

Like, ice on the inside of the gym door, schools canceled due to wind chill cold.


I must remain positive. Here are some things worth mentioning during otherwise dark times.

-My cousin Alexis and her friend came to visit for a night before they went to the Chiefs game. We always love when Bub Bub is in town. The girls seriously count down the seconds to her arrival in anticipation of all the books read, games played, and movies watched.

- Dinner with some new friends! We have befriended our parents as teachers teacher Miss Tricia and her husband Anthony. They are such good people and we need them in our lives right now and forever. When you have little kids, having friends that also have little kids is great. But, having friends that have older kids in oh so helpful in so many ways. 

- My house was deep cleaned. Like deep to surfaces I am 100% positive have not been touched in the 8 years we have lived here. Two women battled for 12 hours and I could hear angels sing when I walked in the front door.

- Two little girls birthday parties, which are always a good way to shake the sillies out. One at McDonald's and one at an indoor pool.

- A visit to see my grandparents, which when I take all three girls by myself and my grandparents are in different rooms looks very similar to me herding cats.

- Slightly related - Ina's 100th day of school when she dressed like a 100 year old.

She wore this get-up to the assisted living facility to visit my grandparents and somehow I didn't think about how that might be offensive until after we left.

- And the the most exciting - we met my sweetest niece Delaney.

The feeling of a baby on your chest and nuzzling your neck is exactly what Heaven must feel like. How can I forget it that quickly?

Even Cora and Mira, who typically compete for their parents' attention, were mostly content with sharing the affection. Needless to say, we were all in love and have talked about her ever since.

Here's to riding that new baby smell high into a much better second month of 2019.

All of those days being stuck in the house did allow for some really good cooking. Some recipes to share:

Chicken thighs with shallots and red wine vinegar with mushroom risotto and roasted zucchini - while we were eating this Dan kept on saying, "I can't believe this isn't from a restaurant!" The risotto will be repeated for every Valentine's day and otherwise fancy dinner in the foreseeable future.

Sheet pan BBQ meatloaf with green beans and sweet potatoes - you can't beat how easy this is.

Cashew chicken lettuce wraps- so fast and so delicious

Sesame chicken with cabbage, brown rice, and zucchini. Really tasty and the corn starch based breading was Dan's absolute favorite.

Pressure cooker turkey dinner with sweet potatoes and green beans from Skinnytaste One and Done

Enchiladas with our favorite sauce - I used up all of the leftovers including carnitas, a container of black beans, and roasted zucchini.

Paleo blender muffins and white bean blender muffins - the girls prefer the later because they include chocolate chips.

Chicken pot pie (doubled for the new parents!)

Cheeseburger salad -when the Nybergs came over for after church lunch. Being as sophisticated as we typically are, we served the salad with tater tots. Ina was not disappointed.

I have made this roasted cauliflower and quinoa salad for lunch for two weeks in a row. You should do the same.

Oh, and we did go to a Mexican restaurant one night and had such a pleasant experience with everyone eating their food and devouring cheese dip and covering themselves in salsa that we hope to venture out as a family a little more often.

Here's hoping that the next time I write, I will have many more positive things to say. <3

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Winter Sick List

Just about the time that I hit "Publish" on my Winter Fun List, my children all decided to get sick and the weather decided to be really, really yucky, making "fun" a little harder to come by. Mira started the fever trend, then Ina quickly caught up. She had a fever from Sunday to Thursday night, a horrible cough that kept us all up all night, and missed an entire week of school. Cora was the last to join in, but still sounds horrible when she tries to talk.

Everyone was fever free yesterday, which I is something to be very thankful for.

Although I haven't left the house much, with the exception of hosting fellowship interviews and grocery shopping, and of course the gym, things have actually been going well over here. A few highlights:

(5 am is a beautiful time to exercise in a winter wonderland)

- The Chiefs won their playoff game! This is a very exciting time to live in Kansas City.

- During the winter storm last weekend, the girls' parents as teachers teacher (who I adore and always end up chatting with more than we probably should) was without power. She and her husband came over for some electricity and a hot shower and we had a great day hanging out in my messy house. Dan had been plowing for about 30 hours before that and I was ready to pull my hair out being stuck in the house with no adult interaction. They were an answered prayer!

- I made mussels! I don't know if this is something we will do regularly, but I tried something new in the kitchen, which was my goal. When I pictured myself preparing this dish, I was peacefully sipping on a glass of wine and listening to music. But in reality Mira was screaming at my feet to be held and  I didn't select a big enough strainer, so a few shells shattered on my counter/floor. Next stop: risotto.

- We "tidied up" the toy room and every time I walk by it feels like a serious breath of fresh air. The girls have been playing in there so much more and "found" toys for 2013 that are getting a new life. Our closet is the next thing on the list, which shouldn't take me too long...but poor Dan will be in there all weekend. He has a very difficult time parting with, well, anything, clothing included.

- We used some Christmas money to buy a cordless Dyson and I am totally obsessed and vacuuming every surface in my house (and car!)...until the battery runs out. Thanks Mom!

A few great weeknight recipes: sheet pan sausage, peppers, and potatoes (seriously one of the easiest things ever) and slow cooker picadillo (a long time family favorite).

I have been using lentils for lunch prep and I loved this vegan lentil stew as well as this 8 minute pantry daal.

We have also been on a muffin kick. I really like these morning glories and these banana-white bean blender ones too!

I hope you have a fantastic weekend and here's to the second half of January being a little more exciting! <3

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Winter Fun List

Hello! We are back in the full swing of things over here, with dance lessons and swim lessons and client meetings and fellowship interviews and a baby with a fever. Again. Yay for 2019!

Inspired by Laura's list, I made my own list of things to do to make winter after Christmas more exciting, instead of wanting to stay in my pajamas for the next 3 months.

After writing this list, Winter 2019 doesn't seem so bad.

Go out to eat for restaurant week. I have wanted to do this for years, but am always doing some type of detox in January. Well, not this January. I have our favorite baby sitter booked, now I just need to pick the restaurant. So many choices!

Sit and watch the Chiefs in the playoffs. I must admit that although our team is doing great this year, I haven't actually watched many of the games, but rather listened while doing all of the other things. Saturday (and hopefully a few of the following weeks!) I am staying put on the couch and watching every single play.

Winter Jam. This has been on my list for a few years, but every year I bail to stay home in my pajamas. Not this year. I am forcing myself out of hibernation for this, even if I only take Ina.

Church marriage event. Dan and I are so looking forward to this. I love our church.

Branson Family Trip! The girls pooled their Christmas money and we booked a water park room for a few days. We can't wait!

Have dinner with my grandparents once a week. For a long time I have been trying to work my schedule to visit my grandparents while they aren't eating dinner, but found it near impossible. My light bulb moment was when I realized we could just grab dinner and eat with them. Genius.

Take the kids sledding. Ina has been begging, however, every time it snows Dan is plowing or salting and I can't take all three kids by myself. I will just need a plan that involves Mira-care.

Be outside for 20 minutes a day. You know how you read all of those articles that advise going on a walk to treat/prevent the afternoon slump, and you nod your head, and then proceed to stay sitting at your desk all afternoon and wonder why your energy is low? Just me?

Well, two days ago I was feeling the typical 2 PM slump, so I laced up my shoes and walked for 15 minutes. The sunshine and fresh air made a world of difference in my mood, mental clarity, and energy. I am going to set a 2 PM alarm from now on.

Cook something I have never made before. I am thinking risotto. Or a whole fish. Or mussels. Or maybe all of them.

That's all for now! Anything you are doing to make winter more fun?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

My Family's Most Cooked Meals of 2018

Hey there! I hope you survived the first few days of the new year!

If you are anything like me, the new year brings a fresh start to many things, one of which is full-steam-ahead meal planning. Meal planning helps not only budgeting, but also ensuring my family eats nutritious meals so that we can go through the rest of life effectively.

(Speaking of budgeting, I just switched to YNAB and I am OBSESSED. It is everything I didn't know I needed. Do it.)

A few days ago I flipped through my 2018 planner for a little meal planning inspiration. I noticed a handful of meals my family ate over and over again and I started writing them down to share with you!

I thought this list would be useful to others looking for meals that are:

  1. Delicious - at least 4/5 of my family members will eat it
  2. Relatively nutritious
  3. EASY to make. Like, less than 30 minutes hands on time and can be prepared with a toddler at your feet and a baby in your arms.
  4. All the ingredients can be found at Aldi (because who wants to go to two grocery stores?).

I also have to give credit to my friend Danielle. Her family lived with us for the majority of 2018, so she was greatly involved in the planning, preparing, and executing of these meals, which means they are actually TWO FAMILY approved.

Get your grocery list ready.

Cheeseburger salad from Skinnytaste.

This was probably my favorite recipe of 2018. We ate this two times a month and the leftovers were great. We gave the kids sandwich thins and typically served baked sweet potato fries as a side. The dressing is amazing and I usually add chopped kale in with my lettuce because you know I love any way to add my favorite green.

The only way I change the recipe is to just brown the meat (like if I was making tacos) instead of making patties. So easy!

Pork Shoulder Ragu from Dinner a Love Story

This little gem is my go-to for entertaining, but we also made it twice just for us. Serve with a salad and roasted broccoli. Heads up: you need to start cooking 4(ish) hours before you need to eat.

Carnitas from Skinnytaste

Hands down my favorite slow cooker meal. I always serve with a simple cabbage slaw and tortillas/chips and enjoy ever last bite.

Enchiladas from Gimme Some Oven

That sauce is straight up drinkable, and if you have meat already cooked from another meal, this recipe is a great way to completely transform the flavor. Dan would eat this every day if I let him.

I will note that the sauce recipe has a little kick to it and if you prefer something a little more tame, Gina's recipe is also delicious.

Greek Chicken Pitas from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

This is the ultimate customizable meal that can be easily prepped before hand. The spice rub makes the chicken so flavorful when it comes off the grill and I have used the quick pickled onions for everything from tacos to BBQ.

I usually serve with rice and chickpeas or pitas, so the kids can choose their own meal adventure.

Sloppy Joe's from Skinnytaste

This was a Champ family favorite that we have since adopted. There are so many veggies and nutrients thrown in into that sauce!

Every single time we had this for dinner Ina proclaimed that she didn't like sloppy joes, but by the end she was gobbling up her plate.

Monterrey Chicken from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

This might be the most delicious way to cook a chicken breast. The absolute perfect summer meal. We typically served Mexican rice and some type of roasted vegetable and no matter how much chicken I defrosted, there never seemed to be any leftovers.

Peruvian Chicken with Green sauce from Skinnytaste

This recipe requires two different links (sauce and chicken), but is beyond worth it. This is my other favorite meal of 2018 and can be served with anything from rice to pasta to just a pan full of roasted vegetables. When that sauce is in the fridge it gets put on everything: eggs, salad, burritos, etc. Do yourself a favor and make it now.

A few other meals that I don't have recipes for, but almost always make it on to our monthly meal rotation. I know these aren't ground breaking, but a good reminder that sometimes simple and obvious is the best way to get through the week without being in the drive-thru.

  • Tacos. I make my own seasoning (usually just sprinkle chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregeno, and salt to taste) on ground beef or turkey or a combo. I chop up lettuce, tomatoes, and onions and we have a range of tortillas. My family has been super into double-decker tacos, so a can of refried beans is a must. 
  • Spaghetti. Sometimes we make meatballs. Sometimes we use this super simple slow cooker recipe or this veggie packed recipe. No matter the day, if you add tomato sauce and pasta together, my entire family will devour it.
  • Pizza. Sometimes we buy a take and bake from Aldi. Sometimes I make my own dough and make a BBQ chicken and pepperoni. Sometimes I use the bread, rolls, buns in the bottom of the bread basket. Pizza is always a delicious hit in our house. 

I hope this information was helpful!

How about you? Is there a meal you have cooked over and over again that I need to know about?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

19 Goals for 2019

Good morning and Happy Happy 2019!

Have you heard that how you spent New Year's Day is indicative of how you will spend your year? If that is true, I will spent most of 2019 looking for my keys, which sounds pretty accurate.

We spent NYE at home, eating reubens (all the girls love them!), watching Annie, and going to bed at 10 PM. Ina seemed to enjoy the fake countdown I made up right before we went upstairs and I almost felt bad about missing the real deal.

Yesterday we had Hoppin' John and Collard Greens. (A few notes on the recipes: for the Hoppin' John, I used Tony Chachere's creole seasoning and doubled the recipe. For the greens, I wouldn't use sesame oil next time).

So how about some goals for 2019?

I know that every blog you read has a  post like this, but I love this sort of stuff. Except for last year, apparently I didn't, because I tried to check my goals from last year and it turns out I didn't set any.

Weird. Maybe I was a little overwhelmed on December 31, 2017? Honestly, I don't really remember.

From big to small, here are some ways to make this year great!

1.Not complain about winter, instead embrace it. This article about people without the sun for days is incredibly interesting.
2. Do something about my eyebrows. Geeze.
3. Improve and meet work goals. Every year at work we have to set 4 to 5 goals for the year. I have to admit that the last few years, between babies and maternity leaves, my goals haven't been very lofty. I hope to change that this year and put my foot on the career gas pedal.
4. Write thank you cards. Or at the very least, send thank you texts.
5. Have professional family photos taken. Print them out. Hang them on our walls.
6. Do a photo family 2019 book in real time. Include fun things the girls say, memories of things we did together, etc.
7. Outsource house cleaning. And pool cleaning/maintenance (does it count as outsourcing if I assign this to Dan?).
8. Start serving at church in a different way other than small group leader.
9. Go to a Christian concert.
10. Go to a marriage conference.
11. Take three vacation days (spread out) just for me. The kids will still go to school/daycare. I ended 2019 with about 4 leftover vacation days which surprised me.
12. Go on a few family trips - one big out out of the state (hopefully) and a few smaller ones in the state.
13. Payoff half of our rental house principal. We really want to get this paid off by the end of 2020 and I think we can do it!
14. Read a chapter of the bible a day. Just one chapter, but better than nothing.
15. Do a pull-up. I want this so bad.
16. Start a book club. Or maybe join a book club.
17. Read 25 books. Totally doable.
18. Maintain my weight/size/health. For the first time in a long time, on December 31 I feel absolutely fantastic. Not perfect, but great for me. I just want to be happy with the way my body is right now.
19. Average two blog posts per week. One more topical post (I have pretty much stopped writing these) and one weekly summary

Have a great rest of your week!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas 2018 (Another Pukey Christmas)

Hello and Happy New Year!

I am back from the gym and furiously typing, hoping that Mira doesn't wake up for the 6th morning in a row by getting sick in her crib.

Poor baby. Poor Momma. (Is it bad to truly feel sorry for yourself? Ha!)

Backing up to Christmas Eve, we had a fun filled day that started with Dan's company party at Top Golf. What a fun place!

We ate lunch and swung golf clubs while I enjoyed meeting everyone Dan works with. From there we quickly went to Granny's house to pick up the girls and get them ready for church.

Our church had a Home Alone theme for the sermon, and had a photo booth set up with some of the characters, and some of the "booby traps" which we didn't know until after that photo was taken.

My face hurt from smiling so much.

From church we drove to Grandma Frankie's house to celebrate Christmas. The girls had fun, but on the way home everyone was complaining and whiny, which I attributed to the increased amount of sugar intake.

By midnight I was proved wrong once with Ina, 4 am twice with Cora, and then  6 am, a third time with Mira. If you are ever interested in challenging yourself, try playing Santa while tending to three puking children.

I was also starting to feel sick, but tried to ignore it as I had 16 people coming to my house in two hours and cinnamon rolls to make.

We all held it together as we forced ourselves to open presents and go through the Santa scavenger hunt I had printed out days before...literally between puking episodes for everyone.

Then we hurried to clean, put everything away, and made cinnamon rolls and meatballs for brunch.

We greeted our family and tried to hold it together. The girls actually did great, but I pretty much just laid on the floor and hoped that my welcoming smile was enough.

We were all spoiled so much and the girls have all sorts of new toys to play with.

The last few days have mostly been spent trying to survive. Poor Dan caught the stomach bug two days later and I think it hit him the hardest. Mira mostly cries unless I am holding her, which makes cooking, cleaning, or anything else very difficult.

(A perfect visual representation of the status of my house right now)

We did get out of the house on Saturday for my gym's Christmas party and on Sunday for church and my mom's side of the family Christmas.

I am not going to sugar coat it. This "vacation" week has been rough. I am really looking forward to starting work again on Wednesday.  Next year we are going out of town for Christmas.

I hope you had a great Christmas and I am looking forward to a healthier 2019.
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