Saturday, December 31, 2011

Weekly Menu

This week things will return to a more normal routine.  I need that!  This Christmas break has been fun and eventful-- Stella's arrival, Penelope's birthday, visitors--and relaxing as well, but I need some structure and routine.  Then, I think more exciting blogging will take place too.  I'm tired of only writing weekly menus!  I've had several half-written-in-my-head blog posts, prior to Stella's birth, but just couldn't sit still and focus on getting them on here.  I couldn't even focus to go on Pinterest much either!  So, a new year will start soon and so will several resolutions/try harders/do mores/goal setting, etc.  :)   Good luck and Happy New Year!

Saturday--New Year's Eve--pizza and salad
Sunday--Roasted Chicken, Risotto, Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Monday--Veggies and Noodles with Thai Coconut Curry Sauce
Tuesday--Chicken Tortilla Soup
Wednesday--Dressed up Sloppy Joe's, quinoa, green beans
Thursday--Lasagna Soup
Friday--Steak and Veggie Fajitas, beans, rice

Friday, December 30, 2011

Penelope is Three!

The day after Stella was born, was Penelope's 3rd birthday.  I was sad that I couldn't be home with her, but she came to the hospital to visit. 

Then, Friday when Stella and I got home, we celebrated Penelope's milestone.  Penelope had to line all of her gifts up on the coffee table then EVERYONE had to sing Happy Birthday to her.  I have never seen her so happy and excited as when we sang to her.  She danced around, had the biggest, happiest smile, and was laughing.  I think having everyone sing to her was her best and most favored gift!

Happy Birthday Princess of our Hearts*!
*She insists that Jaime call her the princess of his heart and the rest of us should call her that too.  She's just a little bossy :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I write this next tid-bit of info knowing that my dear husband will have more than one comment to share with me about it....
I miss being pregnant.  After Penelope, I was so done.  This time around I spent so much time sick, tired, with varicose veins out the ying-yang, who-ha, and everywhere else, then the last week of pregnancy the cholestasis.  I spent so much time thinking and saying that this time was definitely the last time--my body just couldn't take pregnancy anymore.  Now, here I am a week and about 2 days post-pregnancy and I miss it.  I also can't wait to get back in shape.  Okay, I'm boarding the crazy train now :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Week Ago

About a week ago I had my usual hospital day--Mondays were sonogram and non-stress test days.  I was 39 weeks and 2 days.  I figured this baby was staying in through the new year!  She was so comfortable in there, but I was getting quite uncomfortable.  At about 38 weeks, I developed Cholestasis again and had planned on discussing induction with my doctor despite my aversion to being induced.  While having my non-stress test, my doctor called the hospital to discuss a development that was found on the sonogram that I'd just had.  Dr H. called to tell me that I had polyhydramnios--too much amniotic fluid. I had double the amount that I should.  My nurse had told him about my itching and I shared about it with him as well.  Then he said, "In light of these 2 serious developments as well as the velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord, I think we need to induce you."  As much as I wanted to hear that, I didn't want to hear it either.  I was induced with my first baby due to Cholestasis, I had recently watched the Business of Being Born (which I HIGHLY recommend!), and I have terrible fears of being cut open--a C-section is one of my biggest fears when pregnant.  After having 2 natural births after my first induction, I knew another induction would be hard and could easily end in me having a C-section.  I knew though that this time things were out of my hands.  For my daughter's well-being, we needed to get her out.  I agreed to be induced the next evening.  We were scheduled to arrive at the hospital for a 6pm induction.  Knowing my feelings on interventions during labor, my doctor said he'd break my water in the morning if necessary and he also agreed to wait as long as possible on the pitocin and hopefully avoid it.  Dr H is a pretty awesome doctor. :)  Jaime wanted to arrive at the hospital closer to 5pm so that we could get things started sooner.  I drug my feet, showered, took pictures, made sure everything was ready to go for the next couple of days for the kids (they still had a day left of school before the Christmas break), and ate dinner--thank you, Azadeh for the delicious chicken Marsala, rice, and broccoli.

We got to the hospital at 5:50pm.  Check-in is at the ER. In the past we've always checked in then headed directly upstairs to Labor and Delivery.  That night we checked in and then were told to wait.  Eventually we got to go up.  We walked in to the LD area and were told to wait.  I've never seen that place so busy!  So many rooms were full!  After a couple of minutes, we did get a room, 529.
I got to say hi to some nurses that I'd come to know over that past 3 months of weekly visits.  We got settled in to our room and thought things would get started right away.  While answering the various questions while getting ready, we found out that not only were they extremely busy, but there were 3 C-sections that were getting ready to occur.  My thoughts weren't good with this news.  I hoped that this info wasn't a foreshadowing of what I was in for.  I still had some questions regarding the induction and type of medicine that was going to be used, so I talked with my nurse, Christi, and on the phone with my doctor.  Finally, I was confident in the method we were going to use--Cervidil--and with the way we were going to proceed.  The Cervidil could be removed.  I liked the idea of starting with the medicine, then getting rid of it when my body could proceed naturally.  The medicine was put in at 8pm, I was dilated to a 2 and 50% effaced--I'd been this way for a couple weeks.  I had about an hour and a half where I tried resting and sleeping through contractions.  From 9:30-10:30 I had to start breathing through them more.  From 10:30-11:30pm, I was fairly uncomfortable and having to really focus and breathe through the contractions.  Sometime before midnight I agreed to being checked again.  I was fully effaced and at a 3.  I about died! Only a 3!!! I was going to be working all night long! The contractions were pretty close together.  Outside of getting up to go to the bathroom--which I chose to do every 45-60 minutes--I had to stay laying in bed because of the medicine.  Knowing that is the WORST place to be while in labor, I flipped from side to side about every 15 minutes, stretched my legs and made walking motions through every contraction.  By midnight I was begging my nurse to let me get up and walk around or at least sit up and rock.  She said as long as she could get a good strip of heart rate from the baby I'd be allowed to get up and the medicine would be removed.  Well, the medicine was removed, but we weren't getting continuous good heart rate.  My dear nurse let me sit up and she hand held the monitor in place through all my moving so that we could get off the monitor.  We were also told that our doctor was there (had been there, and I think had even come in a couple of times) and was staying because the roads were getting icy.  He was open to breaking my water since I was fully effaced.  I was so torn.  I didn't want that C-section.  I agreed to being checked and trying a jacuzzi bath--the back labor was strong.  This was about 1am.  I was so torn about being checked. I even told the nurse if she checked me and told me I was only at a 5 that I would be crushed.  She said if that was the case she'd let me enjoy a bath :) Ha! if I only knew what that bath would bring.  Well, I was checked, I was a 5, she promised that I would dilate faster now because I was fully effaced, and she started that bath for me.  During all these contractions, I was having to have Jaime remind me not to push.  Freak! I was already having to not push and I was only a 5! I couldn't get in the bath fast enough--relaxation, right?  It was 1:30am when I got in that bath.  I know this because I sat on the edge of my bed through a contraction and looked at the clock and told myself I could take a 30 minute break.  Again, if only I knew what that bath would bring!  Somehow moving about 10 feet to the tub and stepping in caused me to start having those undeniable feelings to push.  My mind immediately pictured tears and rips and other way gross things as a result of pushing a baby out when I was only half way ready.  Just sit down in the water.  That warm water and the jets felt great...for about 7 seconds.  The nurse left when I finally lowered myself in to the water and said it felt good.  Then the contraction came.  I just had to push, no way to deny this feeling.  Jaime pretty much yelled at me not to, I told him that the baby would come out my butt then, he immediately called the nurse back in (remember, he's been through this a few times with me and knows that I mean business when I start talking like this).  My nurse and another one rushed in to get me out of the tub. I had pushed hard about 3 more times.  During the third one and still in the tub, this other nurse got about an inch from my face, demanded I open my eyes and stop pushing.  I can still see her eyes and hear her intensity.  I was half walked half drug back to my bed.  I had zero desire to get in that bed.  So much for a relaxing 30 minute bath. Doctor Wonderful was in the room, I got to the foot of the bed, was told that if I got on the bed he'd break my water.  I leaned my arms behind me on the bed and pushed again.  I kinda got on the end of the bed and said I needed to push again.  I was shocked when I heard 2 voices--my nurse and doctor--say that I could do what "feels natural."  I pushed, my water was broken, a head came out, I pushed again, a body came out, more water gushed.  It was 1:51am.  Stella Lucia arrived along with the most gushing water ever.  Jaime described it as a hose turned on high.  He said the water soaked Doctor Wonderful.  I was holding my baby and couldn't believe it!  Jaime got to cut the cord.  While holding Stella, they started giving me 2 doses of Stadol.  Jaime seemed calm, doctor was down there, I was asking how bad I had torn, doctor said to push, I did.  Doctor Wonderful was morphing in to Doctor Crazy.  Pitocin was started.  What the heck was he doing pushing on my belly and digging around in me?!  Oh well, I had my 6 pound 8.8 ounce, 19.5 inch baby with 10 fingers and 10 toes, and my ears.  Someone said something about the medicine making me loopy, my eyes wouldn't quite open right.  Dr Crazy was still down there despite telling me that I didn't need any stitching up.  "Push," he said.  Oh yeah, that durn placenta still had to come out.  He said something about it being 15 minutes since delivery and we had to get it out.  Do you know what that means???  He stuck his hand in me and pulled my placenta out!  The cord had snapped he explained to my husband.  He said we were lucky that it didn't snap during pregnancy.  He said it would be cruel not to give me the Stadol.  The 2 of them examined the placenta while I loopily attempted to take a few phone pictures of Stella and send a couple texts announcing her birth.  Later when Dr H was talking with us he said, "You realize you went from a 5 to holding your baby in just under 30 minutes?"

 I can't believe she's about a week old already!

Day 1

Day 1

Day 1

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Weekly Menu and Christmas

Christmas comes at the end of this week!  That means a house full of people and maybe even a baby might finally show up :)  I've kept the menu so simple and basic these last few weeks in anticipation of her coming, that I'm kinda tired of that stuff, so this week it's time to change things up a bit and hope it all goes well.  Family arrives both Wednesday and Thursday, hence the doubling of recipes, and the expanded menu to include breakfast and lunch.  I still need to make our Lara Bar cookies for the week.  Have I shared about those yet? So simple and delicious! :) 

Sunday--Beef and Noodles, Salad (make the "noodles" from mashed potatoes and potato flour, make ahead so that ready to go when crock pot is done)
Monday--Black Bean Soup
Tuesday--Braided Spaghetti Bread (one regular and one GF/DF), pasta with meat sauce put in the bread, brush outside with garlic herb butter
Wednesday--White Bean and Chicken Soup, sub great northern beans for the cannellini beans, no cheese, probably extra bacon, make it a recipe and a half
Thursday--Meatloaf (double) Bacon wrapped Green beans with onion sauce (double)
Friday--Pace Verde Salsa Pork (mom's recipe, double)
Saturday--Christmas Eve--have to plan out still
Sunday--Christmas--have to plan out still

Meals while company is here (blank spots will be figured out):
Thursday--Breakfast--GF/DF pancakes, eggs
Friday--Breakfast--omelet muffins (finely chopped veggies--mushrooms, broccoli, onion, cooked sausage, beat an egg for each muffin cup), soaked oatmeal
Saturday--Breakfast--GF/DF donut muffins, sausage cheese balls, cream of buckwheat
Lunch--Chicken Spaghetti--9x13 of this then do a GF/DF version in a skillet without all the dairy additions, serve the GF/DF one with DF cheese sprinkled on top if desired, salad

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekly Menu

So, as I sit here and write this entry way too early on a Saturday morning, I'm having some fairly regular contractions.  Yea!  I would love it if she decided to come today.  Who knows?  The anticipation is supposed to be fun :)  In light of that, here's the ideal menu plan for the week, but it might get thrown out the window.  We'll see!
Saturday--roasted whole chicken, veg of some sort, rice
Sunday--White Bean Chicken Soup, sub great northern beans for the cannellini beans, no cheese, probably extra bacon
Wednesday--Japanese Noodle Soup with Chicken and Spinach
Thursday--Thai Chicken Pizza
Well, it's not complete, but I can't sit still any longer or I need to take nap.  I've been up since 4am after all.  Will try to fill it in later today.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekly Menu

Fairly quick and simple again.  
Sunday--filet Mignon, bacon wrapped green beans, salad
Monday--Sloppy Joe's, salad
Tuesday--Firehouse Pork Ribs,veg of some sort
Wednesday--Tacos, beans, rice
Thursday--Lasagna (with spinach, sausage, and cheese for J and myself), spaghetti (for kids), salad
Friday--leftovers or something from the freezer
Saturday--Roasted Chicken and veggies
For a fun breakfast side: Gluten Free donut muffins

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Soaked Oats WORKED!

Oh my, I am SO EXCITED!!!! Soaking the oats for 24 hours then cooking them up super fast this morning worked!  Each boy was full after only ONE bowl.  I couldn't believe it.  AND, they each said they LOVED the oatmeal.  I'm so happy that they like something that's quite healthy for them.  Are you intrigued?  Do you have insatiable appetites to fill?  Are you wanting to improve the food you eat?
Here are a couple of resources that I have read:
Some excellent info at Momnivore's Dilemma blog--she's got several great posts about nutrition
Soaking Grains at the Kitchen Stewardship blog--she's also got several recipes there too
There are many more out there including a book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
When I asked Nicolette of Momnivore's Dilemma for some resources about soaking grains, she recommended a few other blogs:
Nourished Kitchen
Food Renegade
Kelly the Kitchen Kop
I haven't made my way through those blogs, but I bet there's plenty of great info to read there.

Quick Soaked Oatmeal
Adapted from Kitchen Stewardship*
In a pot, combine about 1 cup of water (bring this water to a boil in the microwave first), 1 cup of oats, and a bit (I just used the cap so it was about 1/2 teaspoon) of Bragg apple cider vinegar
I bought the medium sized bottle at Target for about $5.  This stuff is incredible!  Check it out.
Leave the lid off for a couple of hours so that the chlorine from the tap water can evaporate.  Cover the pot and leave it alone.  You want the oats to soak for about 24 hours.
Just before cooking, add about a cup more water to the pot. (I didn't measure any of my water or oats, just threw it together.)  Bring to a boil and stir for a few minutes--3-5 min.  Serve.  That's it!  So fast. 
Can serve with dried fruit, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar, butter, etc.

*I needed to keep our dairy free.  At that link she explains some of the reasoning and science behind soaking the oats.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Heathier Breakfast and Soaked Oats

My kids eat dozens of eggs!  I'm trying to cut some eggs out of the breakfast routine and add more healthy variety.  I've been reading about the importance of soaking grains before eating them.  I'm trying to fill my kids up more with less food--crazy, right?  Some say that eating soaked oatmeal is more filling than eating today's regularly prepared oatmeal.  My kids love oatmeal and often eat it as a snack.  Tomorrow they will be served oatmeal that has been soaked.  I'm really hoping that they like it.  I say tomorrow because in my reading I've learned that the oats are best and healthier after soaking for 24 hours.  I'll let you know how it turns out.
This morning marked the second time I made Cream of Buckwheat for breakfast.  The first time I made it was a couple of weeks ago.  I made just a small amount to see if the kids would like it.  There was nothing left in the pot after they ate :)  Success!  Today I made it again, made more so that Jaime and I could have some too.  I told Jaime I packed it for his breakfast as he was heading out the door.  I know there was a slight groan.  However, later I got a text--he really liked it and was pleasantly surprised that he liked it.  Yea, double success!!!  Oh, I like it too.  Cream of buckwheat is gluten free and can be made dairy free as well.  I found the cream of buckwheat at Whole Foods on the same shelves as cream of wheat, oatmeal, and such.
Making the cream of buckwheat is very simple and doesn't really take any longer than making oatmeal or eggs.  The 2 times I've made it, I've cooked it in vanilla almond milk to make it sweet (terrible, but I knew that would ensure the kids would at least try it).  I love cream of wheat with some butter on it.  I am looking forward to making cream of buckwheat without the vanilla milk and adding some butter to it.

Cream of Buckwheat--Gluten and Dairy Free
2 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk (any milk or water will work)
1/2 cup cream of buckwheat
couple dashes of salt (optional)
Bring the milk to a boil, add the cream of buckwheat and salt, stir, bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir frequently for about 10 minutes.
I serve it with some walnuts, dried fruit, and cinnamon on top.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekly Menu

We made it through Thanksgiving and it was a delicious meal.  We had a Bobby Flay recipe for Brussels sprouts, bacon wrapped green beans with an onion sauce, panzanella, grilled turkey, sauteed mushrooms, salad, and I think I'm forgetting something.  I love this time of year--the excitement, the parties, the music, the food and drinks.  Three years ago when I was pregnant with Penelope there was that added excitement of a new baby.  And, here we are again :)  Who knows when she'll come--hopefully not for a couple more weeks.  I'm trying to keep things fairly simple and easy in case I'm not around the kitchen for a couple of days.  These meals for the most part can be made ahead of time and then reheated at dinner time.  I've got 3 whole chickens in my freezer that I can't decide what to do with.  Any suggestions?

Saturday--Loaded Baked Sweet Potato Soup (never got to this last week)
Sunday--Pizza (never got this made last week either) salad
Monday--Beef and Cheese Enchilada Casserole, beans, salad
Tuesday--Brinner (breakfast for dinner)--pancakes, eggs, OJ, sauteed spinach with onion and bacon
Wednesday--Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Thursday--Turkey Soup--using the leftover bones and meat of course
Friday--Spaghetti with homemade sauce of crushed tomatoes, caramelized onions, and sausage

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Garlic Cheesy Herb Bread

Last night I made this incredibly delicious garlic herb cheesy bread.  I got the idea from this recipe, but used my own bread recipe and made a few other changes. 
Just look at this awesome yummy bread!
I tell you this bread was so what I've been craving (along with the jalapeno poppers my dear husband picked up for me.)
To make it yourself, just make up a batch of bread dough (or you could even thaw out some of that Rhodes dough, but making your own really is simple and quick).  Let the dough rise for an hour then separate in to 2 equal parts.  Form the dough in to 2 baguette shaped loaves.  Let loaves rest about 10-20 minutes while the oven heats up.  Bake the 2 loaves at 375 for 15 minutes.  Then, while the loaves cool some, melt about a 1/4 cup of butter in the microwave.  Add some Italian seasoning and garlic powder to the butter. Thinly slice some cheese.  I used mozzarella.  Use a bread knife to slice about 3/4 of the way through the bread. 
Next spoon or brush that melted butter mix over the top and in between the slices of the bread.  Then, slide the slices of cheese in between the slices of bread.  Put the bread back in the oven (I lowered the temp to 350) for about 5-7 minutes to melt all that cheese.  Try to resist immediately eating slice after slice of buttery, cheesy, herby, garlic bread.  Let it cool for a few minutes so you don't burn your tongue...seriously.  Then just pull off a couple of slices and indulge.  You can even heat up some marinara sauce to dip it in. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekly Menu and Thanksgiving

I have yet to plan our Thanksgiving meal.  The men of my house are getting quite concerned.  John Paul has been talking about the meal since at least Halloween.  He's worried we won't get the gluten free turkey.  He wants a chocolate pie.  I got a call this morning from Jaime saying he and the boys had a good talk on the way to school regarding my lack of planning for the big day.  Uh oh.  I don't know why I'm not feeling it this year.  Normally planning all the food for Thanksgiving is something that I enjoy doing and get done well ahead of time. I even test some of the recipes too.  I think this year, between the baby coming, not having any guests, and feeling like it's just one more meal to cook, I just am not that into it.  I do love Thanksgiving. Oh, and this year our anniversary falls ON Thanksgiving.  It's not just any anniversary, it's our TEN year! Holy cow, 10 YEARS!!!  So anyway, planning a feast (when I can barely eat a few crumbs without feeling over stuffed) just hasn't been something I've wanted to do.  I don't even like turkey. But, I do like this crazy good panzanella that we've made the last 2 years.  That's about the only thing I have planned :)

Saturday--flank steak with Gorgonzola cheese, pan roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, rice
Sunday--loaded baked sweet potato soup
Monday--beef tacos, beans, guacamole
Tuesday--spaghetti and sauce, salad
Wednesday--pizza and salad
Thursday--Thanksgiving--turkey, spinach cheese balls, panzanella, and who knows what else....
Friday--kids with Grammy so Jaime and I can EAT OUT--remember that whole 10 year thing :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hang In There

Today we are a little over 34 weeks along.  After a few hours of contractions last night and several more contractions today, I was glad that today was my "hospital day."  Hospital day means Penelope and I spend most of our day at the hospital doing the sonogram and non-stress test for the baby.  Due to all the contractions, I received the special gift of being checked.  Lovely.  Anyway, I'm 30% effaced and dilated to a 1.  Not a very big deal in my opinion considering I walked around at a 3 for 3 weeks with Penelope.  I also had the privilege of having a liter of fluid pumped in to me and gave a urine donation.  Needless to say, we spent longer in the hospital today than usual.  Contractions have slowed and I've managed to avoid the bed rest.  :)  I've got way too much to get done before this baby shows her face! 
We got to bring a picture of her home today.  Not sure how much you'll be able to make out, but know that the picture is of her face (on the right), a hand (near the top), and her body (toward the left).
My goal is to make it to at least November 24th that way she's only 4 weeks early.  We'll see! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekly Menu

Autumn has finally settled in around here and I'm loving it!  The cooler weather energizes me (unlike the energy-sapping heat of summer!) and makes me want to cook more, clean more, and be outside more.  Some of these cooking and cleaning desires I think are more due to nesting.  Not too much longer to Christmas Eve and a new baby girl in the house.  I've been making extra of meals and freezing them.  My only problem with these is that they've been meals for Jaime and I and not GF/DF ones that the kids can eat too.  I need to get on that.  The other problem is freezer space.  This crock pot chicken and dumplings recipe looks and sounds SO DELICIOUS, but alas, I can't figure out how to adjust it to be gluten and dairy free.  If you make it, would you share a bowl with me, please?
Saturday--Beef Brisket, Salad, fresh veggie of some sort
Sunday--White bean and roasted mushroom soup
Monday--Crock pot Lemon Chicken use this Italian Salad Dressing Mix
Tuesday--Salisbury Steak with caramelized onion gravy (sub ghee, GF flour, and liquid smoke for the butter, flour, and Worcestershire sauce), potatoes, salad
Wednesday--left overs?
Thursday--Chicken, cheese, and spinach quesadillas
Friday--Brown sugar and balsamic glazed pork (sub GF soy sauce)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Delicious Eggplant Meal

I made this delicious eggplant meal for Jaime and I.  It was kind of a spur of the moment thing.  During Penelope's nap this afternoon I did my meal planning for next week.  I knew I needed to use an eggplant that I'd bought a couple weeks ago.  So, for some ideas I turned to Pinterest and just did a quick eggplant search.  I found some beautiful examples of the color eggplant being used.


And I also found this
I knew I'd be making it quite soon. Quite soon turned in to tonight's dinner :)  I made the kids some GF/DF calzones with sausage, mushrooms, and spinach.  I had planned the same thing (with gluten and dairy) for Jaime and I, but just couldn't get that gorgeous eggplant and cheese picture out of my mind--I could practically taste it!  I've never had breaded and lightly fried eggplant, but I sure could imagine it.  I love it when I have everything on hand to make something I'm craving.  I even still had some fresh-from-our-garden cherry tomatoes that needed to be eaten.  The meal came together super fast and easy.  I did use a different goat cheese--just one that I had on hand.  Another change I made was to not peel the eggplant.  The peel is perfectly fine to eat and didn't impact the flavor or texture at all--keep all your nutrients (in this fried meal!) Also, NEVER put your fresh tomatoes in the fridge (the recipe says to cut them and then refrigerate them while prepping the eggplant. I just cut them while the eggplant was in the oven for the 7 minutes.) Jaime and I both decided this would be a repeat dish.  Give it a try!
Here's mine--I think I should have left it in the oven a little longer to melt the goat cheese more, but we were ready to eat.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stew Sucker

I'm a sucker.  A sucker for stew meat.  Good stew meat.  Several weeks ago I picked up a little over a pound of some on sale, organic, wonderfully cared for and grass fed stew meat.  The meat was beautiful!  Last week I had planned stew for dinner tonight.  Why? Why do I fall for the stew meat? Why do I insist on making stew?  Because I'm a sucker.  I can't make stew.  There, I said it. It's out there forever now.  Let me revise that.  I can't make stew and have it taste any good.  I've tried a few different recipes--herbs, red wine, variety of potatoes, browning the meat, etc.  I typically end up making stew in the crock pot.  It has never tasted good.  One time, Jaime made this incredible stew from a Jacques Pepin recipe.  It was pretty wonderful.  It took a long time.  It was NOT in a crock pot.  Maybe that's my problem.  Maybe I just haven't tried the right recipe.  Anyone out there have a good great crock pot stew recipe?  I know I'm a sucker and I'll probably end up buying some beautiful stew meat again.  I'll need a fantastic recipe. Help me out please, won't you?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekly Menu

I started planning this menu earlier today during Penelope's nap, but wasn't feeling too inspired.  I think it's because I just haven't been hungry lately. Now, as I work on it, I keep falling asleep--it is almost 11pm.  I usually write out my grocery list as I plan the meals, but haven't  done a very good job tonight--again, because I keep falling asleep.  So, I think I've got the week decently planned and the list writing will have to wait until morning.  Leave a comment here on the blog to let me know if you try any of these meals and what you think of them.

Saturday--Grilled flank steak (minus the Worcestershire sauce so that it's GF), spinach something (I've pinned several ideas and can't decide! Did you know you can follow me and my various boards over on Pinterest?), roasted fingerling potatoes and garlic
Sunday--Spaghetti Bread--will make 2 of these--one GF&DF and the other following the recipe, green salad
Monday--Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash  we had this a couple weeks ago and we all enjoyed it :)
Tuesday--crock pot stew, homemade bread
Wednesday--Spicy Thai Noodles with chicken
Thursday--Calzones--spinach, cheese, sausage, mushrooms Dip in marinara sauce
Friday--Chicken Marsala Pasta

Penelope this week

Life with an almost 3 year old :)
Monday--dressed up as a cowgirl for Halloween, but insisted she was Buzz
Tuesday--had to feed the birds. painted a beautiful picture and hung it on the fridge BY MYSELF! never mind the paint that is on the wood floor--Lily will clean it. (it's Friday now and that dog still hasn't cleaned the green paint off my floor)
Wednesday--decided early in the day that she wanted to go to the beach (umm, we live in Kansas!). It was our first rainy and chilly day. She called her Papi that evening and told him he needed to come pick her up (he lives in Dallas) and take her to the beach.  She said she couldn't drive because it was raining.
Thursday--another chilly day. insisted on carrying a couple naked baby dolls around everywhere we went (including visits to the perinatalogist, church, and library).  chose several Christmas books from the library since there weren't any Thanksgiving books
Friday--had to feed the birds again and run up and down the street a few times (it was 23 degrees this morning and the water in the bird bath was a block of ice) with me trailing behind. made cookies (larabar-like), played dominoes, Zingo, and tangrams. got sent to her room for not following directions and talking back--stuck stickers all over a stool instead of paper. had to remove stickers and put on paper. emphatically declared she wouldn't put stickers on said paper. left her room and decided it'd be a good idea to put stickers on the paper. ate cheesy bread, pretzels, pickle, and dates for lunch.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Little Photo Shoot

Last week I took advantage of some nice weather and the boys being out of school.  I took them to a park and got a few pictures :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weekly Menu

We made a Costco run after soccer this morning and stocked up on some meat, so I'm ready to cook for awhile.  I'm kinda a meat snob and prefer organic meat, pork, and poultry, but sometimes the wallet doesn't allow for that kind of constant purchasing.  I just can't think too much about the meat (and the junk that is in it) while I eat it or I won't be able to eat it.  I've had some serious cheesy Italian cravings this pregnancy and lately have craved a big juicy filet Mignon (it's the anemia kicking in!)  Costco carries filet Mignon for an incredible deal--you just have to cut the filets yourself.  For $65 we got 16 giant (IMO) filets!  Jaime and I divided all the meat and pork up, dropped it in family size portions in to freezer bags, then stacked them up in the freezer.  Having these on hand will help in the next few weeks as we get closer (6-7 weeks!) to baby coming. ***Side note--that means Christmas is in 7 weeks.***

Saturday--Filet Mignon, shrimp, green salad, garlic mashed potatoes
Sunday--Mom's cooking for us :)
Monday--BBQ ribs in crock pot, rice, green beans and corn
Tuesday--Beef Enchiladas, Beans, green Salad
Wednesday--Loaded Baked Sweet Potato Soup
Thursday--Chicken Spaghetti via Pioneer Woman (with a few alterations to make it GF&DF)
Friday--Sausage and Spinach Frittata

Last week's Chicken Enchilada Pasta was DELICIOUS!  I definitely recommend it. The only change I made to it (aside from separating some out to keep it GF/DF) was to only add 1 can each of the enchilada sauces.  Alexander read the recipe to me as I made it and he read the part that described it as being "a symphony in the mouth."  So, while we cooked, we discussed what that meant.  When he ate his, he said that it was a symphony in his mouth too!  Everybody loved it and enjoyed it for lunch the next day.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tile Tray

I have wanted to do a tiling project for quite some time now, I just didn't know how to tile--adhesive, grout, spacers, etc.  I'd LOVE to redo my bathroom and kitchen, but I knew I couldn't start with such big projects.  I even had some less than $5 tile picked out for a small project.  Then came along Chris over at Just A Girl with just the perfect beginning small tile project!  I've had a plain wooden tray on my bathroom counter for at least a year or so now to help corral a few items that always sit on the counter.  I wanted to paint it or do something to it, I just never quite knew what and, big picture, it was a project that was low on my to do list.  However, once I saw Chris's tiled tray, I knew that that was the perfect way to begin tiling, finish that boring wooden tray, and add a pretty touch to our master bathroom.  Chris posted a pretty thorough tutorial on how to do this project and I followed it fairly closely.  
First I played with the tile on the tray, including another tray because of the different sizes.  My chosen tile didn't fit perfectly in the tray and I wasn't about to figure out how to cut tile for this little project.  After playing with it, I still couldn't decide, so I went ahead and painted both trays.  Whichever tray I ended up not using I knew would go in the girls' room with their newly painted bookcase. (Their room is slowly coming together.)
After the paint was dry and I finally decided on a tile layout with a tray, I applied the adhesive/grout mix.  This stuff is great and easy to use--a lot like spreading frosting on a cake!  It does take time to set and dry. 
Also, because I was just beginning, I didn't spend money on proper tiling tools (just like Chris).  So, to spread the adhesive stuff I cut a square of the cardboard that the tile came on.  Isn't that tile pretty?
Then the adhesive needs to be scored.  I cut notches in my piece of cardboard.
Next came the fun part of laying the tile.  While deciding on my tile arrangement, I had cut my 12x12 sheet of tile in to strips because it was arranged in an offset pattern that just wouldn't work for me since I wasn't going to be cutting tile.  Working with strips was easy.  Since I was not having to lay individual pieces of tile, I didn't have to worry about spacers and just eyeballed space between each strip.
Then, because the directions on the adhesive/grout stuff says to let it dry for 24-36 hours before using the mixture as a grout, I did.  But I couldn't resist cleaning up the edges some with a damp cloth.
After waiting the designated amount of time, I used a new square of cardboard to spread the layer of grout all over the tile and in between each one.  Again, it isn't too different from icing a cake--with sandy frosting!  (My container of adhesive/grout looks like I barely used any from it.  For just under $8 it goes a LONG way!) I couldn't resist cleaning it up some since I had some chunky pieces of grout.  However, I realized the more I tried cleaning, pieces of it would come out from between the tiles.  So, take it from me, let it dry for the 4 hours it says then wipe it down.  See below how it all came off.
See in that picture above how there's still some chalky film on the tile?  That comes off super easy later after it's dried again for 24 hours.
Here she is all wiped down and shiny on the bathroom counter.
I can hardly believe that picture is just a month shy of being 5 years old! It was taken on our 5 year anniversary.
And because I couldn't resist a little staging...
Don't be afraid to learn something new by doing just a small project.  I still don't think I'm ready to tackle redoing the shower or the kitchen backsplash, but I'm ready and excited to try a bigger project...and I've got a couple in mind!


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