Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Big Baby!

We had an ultrasound this morning; everything is fine :) Baby V is measuring a whole 2 weeks ahead of schedule, putting us due more around January 15th...which was our initial due date before they did the first ultrasound and moved it to February 1st. We have another one in 4 weeks to see if he really is a giant or what.

(The umbilical cord was in front of his face the whole time so we couldn't get a clear shot, but I still think the ones we got are pretty amazing!)

More pictures from today's ultrasound to come!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Peppermint Product Review...Ho Ho Ho

I have found two fabulous peppermint products already this season.

First, we all know and love these CANDY CANE KISSES, right? Just reminding you...they are yummy.

Second, SUAVE PEPPERMINT BLISS body wash is almost as yummy. As if I did not love the shower enough! The best part is that it was only like $2...take that Bath & Body Works! :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dinner #7 - Hodge Podge

We had random findings for dinner last night...we both had a salad, I had a bagel, and Nick had leftover pot pie from the night before. It was Saturday and neither of us felt like a big planned meal was necessary. (Not to mention we went over to a friend's house and snacked on pizza and chips & salsa and all sorts of things we shouldn't have late at night.)

So there you go- I did it. And it was nice to have a plan and know what our meals were going to be ahead of time, however I don't think that either of us really care for me to cook every day...I don't think either of us crave big "meals" every day. At least I don't- I get burnt out and just want Cheerios. So I think in the future I will be planning a few more days during the week to eat leftovers or find whatever in the fridge, but hopefully the planning of meals will continue for us :)

Did anyone try any of the recipes we had this week?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dinner #6 - Chicken Pot Pie

This is one of my favorites...yummy and super simple. :)

1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg frozen vegetables (original recipe calls for a 9 oz pkg but I often use the 16 oz pkg of carrots, peas, green beans, etc. because I like mine heavy on the veggies)
1 cup cooked chicken, cubed (I have also used just a can of chicken when I am lazy or any leftover meat from that week I am trying to get rid of)

1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 cup bisquick baking mix

Mix the first three ingredients in a pie dish; Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour on top. Bake at 400* for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Enjoy!

I told you it was simple...and such a great way to get your veggies in (a lot of times I don't even use chicken!) It is a perfect quick meal for those cool winter days!

Only one more night to go to "prepare" dinner and then I am off the hook...plus it will be Thanksgiving and we will want to not eat so well so we can pack it in on Thursday, right? :) It really hasn't been that bad to make dinner every night this week; it took a little bit of prep time in the beginning to figure out what I was going to make and make sure I had all the ingredients, but it has been totally worth it to not wonder every afternoon what we are going to do for dinner. Plus the leftovers have ensured that I have had good lunches this week! This has been a good experiment for us!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dinner #5 - Find your own!

I had a dinner planned for tonight - homemade chicken & veggie pot pie - however Nick has a late meeting tonight and I just really wanted Cheerios.
So I will be having some Honey Nut Cheerios and canned peaches for dinner this evening and I will find something for Nicholas when he gets home...maybe leftover 15 Bean Soup and a quesadilla or something. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dinner #4 - Creamy Chicken & Pasta Bake

I know I should take pictures- I like blogs that have pictures. I did try...the first day. And then I forgot to upload them when I actually blogged so I gave up on the rest of the meals...sorry.

Tonight's dinner was yummy (disclaimer: I really, really love pasta). I was generous on the pasta and broccoli...rarely do I follow a recipe exactly...and it could have used more sauce, but I just sprinkled some parmesan dust on it and called it good anyway. Lesson learned; next time either follow the proportions given or be generous in the sauce too. :)

Creamy Chicken & Pasta Bake

1 1/2 c uncooked multi-grain/whole grain rotini pasta
1 small bunch broccoli, cut into florets (about 3 cups...I just used a frozen package)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 c fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 oz cream/neufchatel cheese, cubed
1 c mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 375*. Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package, adding broccoli for the last 3 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Stir in broth; simmer 3 minutes or until chicken is done. Add cream cheese; cook 1 minute until it is melted. Stir in 1/2 c mozzarella cheese.
3. Drain pasta and broccoli. Add to chicken mixture; mix. Spoon into 8x8 baking dish and cover.
4. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses (1/2 c mozzarella and 2 Tbsp parmesan) and bake 3 minutes uncovered to melt cheese.
5. Make sure all of your burners and oven is turned off and then ENJOY! :)

(Just a side note: Nick's favorite so far has been the lasagna...so I guess if you are only going to make one of our recipes, that would be a good one to start with.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dinner #3 - Pizza & Salad

Day three and I already feel like I have been cooking so much...I needed a break already! So tonight we are just having pizza and salad. I got these pre-made crusts at Costco last week and we are going to try one tonight- I will have to tell you if it is delicious or if I should have made my own crust like I normally do.

I got a fresh pineapple and cut it up today...I can not stop myself from snitching a piece or two every time I open the fridge- it is so good! Fresh pineapple will definitely be on the pizza tonight :) A green salad and tomato sauce will ensure that we get our veggie serving, the cheese on the pizza can count as our dairy, and I think I have some pepperoni and ham lying around for protein. I know it isn't the most nutritious meal, but it is what it is and I am preparing it!

What did you have for dinner tonight?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dinner #2 - 15 Bean Soup

I had a 1 lb 15 bean mix that I got at the farmers market awhile back in our "food storage" and decided that this chilly day would be great to use it. I have lots of cookbooks, but ultimately just ended up googling "15 bean soup recipe" and ended up using this one below...my comments are in green.

(1 lb) bag of 15 bean soup mix
1 large red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15-30 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 c chopped ham or a 1 lb ham hock with hambones
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 tsp dill
1 tsp pepper
2 tbs olive oil
4 c chicken stock

5 cups water

Before you do any cooking you want to make sure that you have soaked your beans. (I soaked mine overnight in lots of water - they expand like crazy - and then drained the water off of them and put new water on to boil them...supposedly this helps with the gas factor of beans.)

Now, If you want you can add things to this soup like carrots or potatoes to make your own mixed bean soup. (I did end up chopping some carrots and adding them into the mix in step #6 because it just seemed like the kind of soup that should have carrots.)
1. Put the beans in a large pot and add 4 cups of water. Simmer on medium high heat for 45 minutes. Stir Occasionally. Skim the top with a spoon to remove the foam once in awhile. If at anytime the water gets too low add another cup of water.

2. Put 1 cup of water and 4 cups of broth in another large pot or stock pot, add 2 cups chopped ham or a 1 lb ham hock that has the bone ( if you don't have any ham you can use a pound of bacon for your soup ) and simmer on medium high heat for 30 minutes. (I used bacon because there is a long story about finding the ham at the grocery store...I just used 1/2 lb of bacon though.)

3. In a large frying pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat it up on medium heat.

4. While the oil is heating up put 2 celery stalks, 1 red onion, 1/4 cup fresh parsley and 3 garlic cloves in a food processor and chop them up. Don't Puree it! (I just chopped them up with my knife...minus the fresh parsley that I forgot to get at the store.)

5. Then add the mix to the frying pan and add 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dill, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme and fry it up for 4 minutes. Stirring Occasionally. (I didn't measure the pepper or thyme and nixed the dill completely because it did not come in my spice rack...)

6. Now add the contents of the frying pan and the can of tomatoes to the pot with the ham and broth in it, stir it well and continue simmering. (My can of tomatoes was a big one...28 oz I believe.)

7. After simmering the ham and broth for 30 minutes pour it into the pot with the beans. If your using a ham hock remove the ham hock and pick the pieces of ham off that you want to add to the soup discarding the fatty pieces , add what you want to keep into the beans and then add the broth to the beans and simmer for 30 minutes.

Voila, it's finished. Now eat a bowl full or 2 and enjoy your new 15 bean soup recipe. (You will definitely want to enjoy more than one bowl full of this soup...it was pretty yummy and this recipe makes A LOT of soup. I think tomorrow I will take some to a friend or something because we have a lot and I am still planning on cooking another meal...but it will be great for lunch!)

All in all I think we liked the soup- like I said, it kind of felt like a soup day and I didn't even mind that I had soup for lunch as well! My parents came over to test it and they seemed to like it as well. It was a nice and hearty meal and we definitely didn't feel guilty about having seconds!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dinner #1 - Crock Pot Lasagna

I got this recipe from a Kraft Food & Family magazine awhile back. Since then I have made it a few times, but tonight was my favorite because I didn't really follow the recipe exactly. Below is the recipe as it was in the magazine:

Brown ground beef (1 lb) in large skillet; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce (1 jar/26 oz) and water (1 c).

In separate bowl, mix ricotta cheese (1 container/15 oz), shredded mozzarella (1 1/2 c), grated parmesan cheese (2 Tbsp), one egg, and fresh chopped parsley (2 Tbsp).

Spoon 1 cup of the meat sauce into your crock pot; top with layers of noodles (about 6 total in the whole recipe...not cooked...broken to fit); top with half of cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups of the meat sauce, more noodles/noodle pieces, and remaining cheese mixture. Pour leftover meat sauce on top.

Cover with lid and cook for 4-6 hours on low, or until liquid is absorbed.

So that was the basic recipe- however I decided to make it today and did not have ricotta cheese on hand. No big deal...I don't really like cheese a ton anyway! I made my meat sauce as it says above, however the "cheese" mixture was this: about 1/2 a bag of shredded mozzarella, a little shredded parmesan cheese, sprinkle of dried parsley, a small can of sliced olives, 1/2 a package of frozen spinach (thawed of course), a few slices of pepperoni I chopped up, and an egg.

I never measure how many noodles I put in...the original recipe says 6 but I think it depends on the size of your crock pot i.e. how many noodles it takes to make a layer so you can't really see the layer underneath...that is what I go by! (Plus I like it heavy on the noodles as that is my favorite part of lasagna!)

Then I layered as stated above and topped with a handful of shredded mozzarella, let it cook 4 hours on low, and voila! It was definitely my favorite because it didn't seem overly cheesy. And aside from getting a pan dirty to brown the beef and a bowl dirty to make the cheese mixture, it was so easy to prepare and clean up.

We had my parents over for dinner tonight and we all loved it- we had bread and a green salad and orange jello with mandarin oranges too. It was a very yummy and easy meal- I love that I don't have to cook the noodles before hand!

Try it out! :)

Dinner for a week

I have decided that this week I am going to focus on dinner; most of the time some sort of plan is made regarding this meal, however this week I am really going to focus on making it better. Nick and I have only been able to eat dinner together a night or two during the work week for two years- now I am done with work and can spend a bit more time preparing for this special and not-so-rare-anymore occasion. Plus with my trip to the doctor last week I have decided that, while I might not completely overhaul my diet, there is definite room for improvement in my eating habits and planning in advance and being accountable would be helpful for me.

Thus, I declare that I will make "dinner for a week", meaning that I am going to plan and prepare a meal for us each night this week. I won't guarantee that they will be completely healthy or protein-rich, carb-free, low-fat, or anything like that...but they will be a meal. A meal...not just one item, but a variety of cohesive foods that *hopefully* include all food groups.

Now I know none of you really care what we eat each night, but I will be reporting my menu and recipe each day here on my blog because it will help me to actually follow through with my plan and mostly because this is my blog and I can if I want to! Plus maybe, just maybe, it will give someone out there an idea for dinner someday. :)

Check back tonight for DAY ONE's report on Crock Pot Lasagna!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's that time of year...

...no, not when the world falls in love but when people get sick- I am no exception. I had my first flu shot this year so hopefully nothing too serious will come my way, but I woke up with a scratchy sore throat and only breathing out of one nostril. Nuts. I guess it is my turn; I predict a lot of crafting time and water in my future.

On another note- I tried to rearrange our living room furniture today with the hopes of making room for a rocking chair/glider/recliner/etc. Not that we have one of said chairs yet, but I am hopeful that we will be bringing one home soon and I want to be prepared.

I had envisioned everything perfectly in my head, however it didn't go quite as smoothly as planned. Once I got things where I thought they should go I wasn't so sure that it was the best arrangement afterall...and it definitely did not open up a spot for a new chair. I tried a bunch of other configurations, however in the end I moved it back to the original way I had intended it...I was just too tired to keep trying. Like I said, there isn't a clear spot for a chair now like I had hoped and I am not sure things fit as well as they did before...the room doesn't seem as big as it used to...but the bunny ears work well in the new spot and I can now see the tv from the kitchen which means I could sit at the table and craft instead of spreading out on the floor, thereby tempting Koshka to come "help". It will have to do for now! :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Do these pants make me look big?

Apparently, yes. I went to the doctor today and did not get great news. DON'T WORRY!!! The baby is fine...his heart rate is steady and we have a routine ultrasound in 2 weeks. But back to me- the doctor is a bit concerned with my weight gain. I joked with her that I was too...nobody really likes to gain a bunch of weight even if it is for a good reason, right?

Basically she said that she was hoping my weight gain would taper off or plateau a bit by this point, but I keep adding a couple of pounds each visit. Currently I am still in the healthy range of weight gain for a pregnancy, however I am only in the first week of my 3rd trimester...which means there is definitely more weight in my future. Nuts.

She recommended I follow a diabetic diet- not "diet" like limiting food intake for weight loss but "diet" like a particular selection of foods. The foods are basically more protein and veggies, fewer carbs and fruits. But I love fruit!!! I eat a can of peaches almost every day...I can't get enough. And a good ole' starchy potato or pasta is always what I fall back on when nothing else sounds good or I am too tired to think of something else to make. It isn't that I hate meat, it is just harder to snack on and such.

My belly keeps measuring right on, so it isn't like I am way too huge I guess...just really heavy. But I am still running 3 mornings a week and walking the other days- I thought that might help a little, but I guess not. I am just frustrated because I thought this was going to be the one time in life when I wouldn't worry too much about my weight and now it seems like it is more the focus than before I was pregnant. And lets not forget that the holidays are coming up- egg nog, pumpkin pie, and peppermint ice cream...oh my!

So I don't know what to do. I don't want to completely ignore my doctor's recommendations, however if my weight isn't affecting the baby and it is just that it is more to loose later, then let me worry about that when that time comes. But it is also silly and selfish of me to continue eating what I want if there is something that is really better for the baby.

Anywho, I haven't come to any conclusions yet...I have just kinda had a bad day and needed to vent about it. My hair was having some major flyaways this morning and I just started breaking out and I didn't feel that fabulous anyway...and then I get told I am a chunk at 9am...not the best way to start out a day! (By the way: I tried to treat myself with a little retail therapy...some new black flats and some tights...because when I wore my regular ones last week and bent over I got a run in the buttocks region. Hmmm...maybe my doctor is right!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day One

Day One of full-time stay-at-home-hood:

Got out of bed about 7am. Made Nicholas a lunch and got my running clothes on after a weather report from my mom. Ran 5 miles with my mom- it was hard today. I got a Diet Dr. Pepper with vanilla from Sonic on the way home :)

Showered, had breakfast, took a nap while "watching" The View.

Got dressed, sent an email out for work (and messed around on the computer a bunch), went to Kroger.

TANGET ON KROGER: I have always preferred Kroger to Randalls, but with our nice HEB so close I hardly go anywhere else...unless I have to go to Walmart for something non-edible. The last few weeks though I have been visiting Kroger because they seem to have such great deals on their ads...and it has really been working for us! Maybe I am just buying the right things or something, but I usually save about as much as I spend. Now I am not one of those people who have figured out how to work the system enough to get the grocery stores to pay me to shop or use coupons like mad or anything, but I have been impressed with Kroger's ability to help me save lately. So for now I am a fan of Kroger.

Carried the groceries up our 3 flights of stairs, stirred up homemade bread and left to rise while I put away the groceries, folded laundry. Had lunch while watching "Lets Make A Deal".

Wrote some "thank yous" for baby gifts we have received lately, read up on insurance plans so I can be informed when Nick and I discus switching plans tonight before open enrollment ends next week, vacuumed up all the liter on the tile.

Now I am going to get the bread in the pans so it can raise another hour...then it is into the oven to bake- yum! Although it isn't really cold like it was last week, thus making homemade bread seem not quite as appropriate, the bread already smells amazing and I am looking forward to having toast for breakfast this week.

And the day isn't over yet! (Plus I didn't even list out all the little things I did like make appointments to register at the hospital and clean out the kitchen cupboards!) In the plans for tonight: eating bread and consequently vacuuming up a lot of crumbs, watching DWTS in real time, discussing high PPOs vs. low PPOs with Nick, and more!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What good has come to the world today from me? Nothing. Absolutely nothing! I have not gotten one thing "done". My body has been a mere shell for our baby to grow in today because I haven't really done anything...and it has felt wonderful. :) My body is tired and it needed some time to gain strength for tonight- my last night of teaching at the studio!

It has been lovely to live life in my sweats today, but it is now time for me to get ready and be useful- which honestly, even though I know my feet will be tired and probably achey by the end of the night, I am looking forward to...nobody likes to feel like a complete bump on a log! :)

Wish me luck on my last night! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I can taste it!

Two more days. That is it!!! It is so close I can almost taste it!

Now it isn't that my job was the worst thing ever, but I am just getting so excited thinking about all the things I am going to do when I don't have to go in and teach. Of course I will get to spend more time with Nick since I will actually be around in the evenings, but I will also get to do lots of other stuff during the day too. It is hard to get started on projects and such sometimes when I know that I have to go in to work at 5pm- and there were definitely days I just wanted to wear a hat, but couldn't because I knew I would have to re-get ready at like 4pm...which just makes your day feel weird. Plus my mind is always on the studio- how I should have handled something better or how I am going to teach something or on the latest drama (ballroom dancers have lots of drama!). Anywho, I only have two more nights of teaching - and teaching I will be...I am booked solid until 10pm both nights! But here is a small sample of the list of things I am looking forward to doing next week when I am completely free*!!!!

-bake homemade bread
-fix the lights above my kitchen cabinets (half went out a week or so ago and I just haven't gotten up there to fix them yet)
-work on Christmas projects that I want to have done by Thanksgiving
-make more "Thank you" cards
-buy bingo gifts for the annual Thorpe family bingo game
-get Koshka a rabies shot
-actually make dinner every night of the week
-work on a blanket I started crocheting for Nicholas months ago
-get plenty of rest so I can wake up early next Saturday morning for Coles Crossing's huge garage sale and find good baby things :)
-perhaps even get a massage...since I haven't used the gift certificate Nick gave me for Valentine's!

*Disclaimer* I am still going to be working on the paper from home, so it isn't like I won't have any work to do at all. Still though, that work is from home and so flexible usually and really only consumes one week each month and so I am definitely going to be more free than I am currently. :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day!

Please go vote today. If you don't vote, you have to at least promise that you will never complain about the government since you forfeited your right to participate in it.

Take a few minutes and research the candidates and propositions in your area and then please GO VOTE!!! It is a terrible product of modernity that we are so apathetic as Americans...don't even get me started on my favorite subject to ramble about- modernity. Just go vote...and if it could be done with just the slightest clue of what you are voting for, that would be even better :)