Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving: Making Food and Memories

Thursday will be here in a jiffy, are you ready?  I absolutely love the holidays, no doubt.  One day I cannot wait to host my own Thanksgiving, with a big ol' turkey and all the fixings.  As for now?  I will respectfully attend my parents' house and bring what I can.  I just love being in the kitchen and cooking (and even baking) makes me happy.  I also know it's not easy to do with a tot who's not even two, and a bun in the oven.  I wanted to bring a few new items to share and some old standbys that are so engrained in our memories, that it is simply not an option to not have them be present at Thanksgiving.

We rotate my parents and Joe's parents, and this year we are at my parents.  It's a bit of a drive (45 mins) and I didn't want anything that required too much work at their house, since I know what the kitchen looks like as the main meal is coming all together.

We aren't going crazy with apps; you certainly don't want your guests to fill up on them!  But I know that it's important to have a little snack a few hours before sitting down to eat.

I'm not sure exactly what type of cheese I will use, but I want to incorporate grapes, a chutney, and some artisan bread.  I can't have goat, blue, or brie (any of the stinky delicious ones!) but I will figure it out.

I'm going to make a Fall salad because I do believe in the power of greens!! With all of the heavy foods, it's important to include leafy greens to help our systems digest everything properly.  I love the idea of pomegranate or orange slices in there to give it a festive spin.

Grandma's squash.  I wish I had written down the recipe, as for now it's all sort of taste and try to get it right.  I do know it was always our favorite and it was always piping hot; I'm talking, steam would be pouring off your plate because it was so hot!!

She used a buttercup squash, roasted it, scooped it out and then cooked it some more with something along the lines of, frozen orange juice concentrate, maple syrup, butter, and maybe even a little brown sugar.  Tastes like candy.

Grandma's cranberry bread.  I think us girls loved it so much because 1.  It's truly tasty and 2. We could help her make it very easily.  She always added fresh cranberries to the mix, which gives is an extra punch, which you can taste in almost every bite.  It may not be "homemade" but I make this every year, and only at Thanksgiving.  I make no apologies for this!

I already start to wonder what recipes my children will remember most about holidays.  Of course I cannot wait for some Turkey, stuffing, my dad's mashed potatoes and gravy.  Pumpkin and apple pie will be present too, I am sure.  I think the reason that food is so important with holidays, is because as life goes on, we don't have anything but memories.  Little bits of here and there; snapshots of what was, and what used to be.  I would love to have one more Thanksgiving, where Grandpa carves the turkey and Grandma makes her famous bread, squash and fruit salad--(my sister's got that covered).  But life doesn't work that way, and we must create new memories, with old traditions mixed in with new.  The most important thing we can do, is enjoy the time we have together and sincerely make the most of it.

I may have started listening to some Christmas music, and one line that gets me all choked up from Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, "Someday soon, we all will be together, if the fates allow."

Now, I am certain that it's mostly the pregnancy hormones I tend to blame a lot on them haha but in reality, this Thanksgiving, we won't see Joe's parents, so I know that's tough on them.  We won't see my mom, because she's down in S.C.  We won't see our step brother Tyler because he's in New Orleans.  So, really, we just have to make the most of the loved ones we can see and enjoy it.

As far as the food is concerned? One thing I've definitely learned is to taste just little bits, and I can always take home leftovers.  I don't really have much room to eat a lot being pregnant, but I know that you don't need to shovel all that food in, and make ourselves feel sick.  It's good to indulge every now and then, but more important to be honest with ourselves about when and what we are indulging in.  Just my own personal thought…

What are some of your favorite traditions, past and present?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Weekly Photo Dump

Happy Sunday!! I am enjoying this beautiful gray day! Ha.  It was a busy but fun filled week and I am thankful to have a little reprieve this weekend.  I was super excited to get my hair done Friday; I clearly couldn't contain myself from taking a post-blonde selfie to send to the hubs!  He was hunting at my dad's and got us a doe!  It feels really good to have a freezer full of organic meat to cook up for my family.

Thursday little miss rocked her pjs until after lunch.  She enjoyed some left over shrimp scampi, but it'ss safe to say she thought the Justin's almond butter was even better. #dontblameyasister

Saturday these LOVELIES were dropped at my front door. Holy. Smokes.  They are as good, if not better than I would have thought!! Don't get me wrong, I liked the pumpkin shakes, but these?! #hadmeatpeppermint

Apparently everyone else wanted them too, since they're TEMPORARILY OUT OF STOCK.  I only ordered 5 boxes #mybad and will be ordering more if and when I see that they are back!! Because you can't have cookies every day and be healthy, these will more than do the trick of satisfying my holiday sweet tooth! Hollah!

Speaking of cookies, Tuesday I decided to treat my hubby to some. I wanted to do something with Brooke and so we busted out the Kitchen Aid and legit made our first batch of homemade cookies together.  I am a firm believer in everything in moderation; of course I would love to bake and eat these bad boys on a daily basis, but I reserve them for special occasions or once in awhile.

It was time to show Brookie how it's done!

Baking is serious biznass.

Ok ma, this does not look like a cookie!

I don't know if it was because some of the flour mixture dumped on the floor (ahem, Brooke) or if I just let go, and let happen---I'm so type A I get upset over dumb stuff like that usually, but the point of baking these was to bond with my daughter, and enjoy time just the two of us…because I know that time is short and I want to savor it!

Either way, these were the BEST cookies I have ever made.  Even Joe couldn't believe how amazing they were.   I told him it was all Brooke's doing.


And later on, as I scratched my itchy belly, she gave baby brother a kiss.

Even though her temper has flared more often this week, and she refused to get in the pool swimming with Daddy, we know that she's still learning and just a little girl.  As my husband says, she's kind of like sour patch kid sometimes…one moment she's all up in a tizzy over something and then she's as sweet as pie.  I am sure it's mostly the pregnancy hormones, but I am certainly taking advantage of all the sweet moments and soaking them up as much as possible.  In 7 short weeks, baby brother will be here and her little world is going to change. I know she will be an amazing big sister, and it's not an easy role, lord knows I have first hand experience in that, but I know these two will be lifelong friends.  Joe and I will continue to work hard at our marriage, as parents, and continuously instill the importance of family and love.  The best we can do, is simply lead by example and show them how it's done.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Holiday Cards: Minted {review}

While we are starting to prepare the turkey, stuffing, and all the fixings for Thanksgiving, we must not forget the next big holiday right around the corner.  I cannot believe it is that time of year already!  Time to take some photos of our {growing} family and pick out some super cute holiday cards.  I have had a hard time choosing which direction I wanted to go in, when I was contacted by Minted to do a review of some of their holiday inventory, in exchange for credit to their site.  I had not heard of this company before, but after browsing this site, I can tell you that I am very excited to work with them!  

If you act now, you can take advantage of their 15% off + free recipient addressing just by placing your order by Tuesday.  You don't need to create your cards just yet, but simply by making your purchase, you can save.  How awesome is that?

Use the code: HAPPYHOL15

They offer traditional photo cards as well as some more modern versions as well.  How perfect are these designs?  

This first one gets that merry little tune stuck right into your head!

I love the added detail of the of the ribbon, and yet the simplicity of the card itself.

Perhaps the red and green, all is Merry and Bright?

I love the idea of creating a collage with several family photos and having it resemble a Christmas tree.  It's personal and something I've never seen before!

I am very pleased with their wide variety that they offer and there seems to be something that suits everyone's taste and style. 

They also have an Art Marketplace  where they are showcasing independent artists and their work.   I would have to say, this section really stood out to me and I was very impressed by the quality of the artists they share.  The designs would make excellent hostess gifts or add a thoughtful touch for those who are hard to buy for on your list.

Here are a few that stuck out to me.  Wouldn't this be adorable be by the fireside this holiday season?  You can choose from different frames, that would be suit your decor.

Or even some inspiration for our office; I am all about self-improvement and empowerment and find that it's so easy to get wrapped up with what others are doing.  A daily reminder of focusing on what's important [me] would be a perfect addition to my space.
You can follow them on Facebook  and Twitter for a daily dose of artistic expression and inspiration.

These are my own personal thoughts and opinions pertaining to this company.  I look forward to purchasing cards with use of a credit from Minted and doing a full on review of the quality etc. when I receive them.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fall Cooking: Recipes

I had a lot of veggies sitting on my counter.  I have been slacking with keeping up with cooking all of my CSA.  I think it's because we don't get much fruit any more, other than apples, so I can only cook so many squash and potatoes!  Either way, I had to use them up.

I ended up making this for dinner on Sunday. That is, after my girl Alison texted me that she made an amazing Goat Cheese Butternut squash pasta.  I can't have goat cheese until after baby, but since I had already roasted some squash earlier in the day, I took to google.


Roasted Butternut Squash and Bacon Pasta

Brooke didn't seem too thrilled.  Perhaps it was too fancy haha!  Joe loved it and helped himself to seconds.  We both thought the flavors blended nicely; the sweet from the squash, salty from the bacon, rosemary adds that extra layer of deliciousness.

With my abundance of potatoes, I wrapped a few in foil and threw them in the crockpot. Aka #jackpot  Super simple and such an easy way to cook these guys!!

Baked Potatoes in a Crockpot

How handy would this be if you wanted to do a baked potato bar at a party?  You could have cheese, chives, greek yogurt (tastes just like sour cream) salt/pepper, chili.  Just a thought!

I don't even know how long I put them in for…it was probably 4 hours or so! I just checked them twice, once they were fork tender, they were done!

Brooke and Joe approved. #winning

What warm and hearty foods are you serving up these chilly days and nights? 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Playdate and a Holiday Open House

Yesterday I hosted my first "homeschool" playdate at our house.  I will admit, I didn't really do a whole lot of "teaching" last week on our stay cation.  We were off our schedule/routines and kind of just went with the flow.  I decided to post on meet for a weekly sesh,  I had two mamas interested, but one was unsure she could come because her due date for baby #4 was yesterday! Needless to say, she didn't make it, but I hope once our babies are here, we can meet up!

Our craft: washable finger paint.

We had our first real snow fall, that sort of stuck.  The girls were excited to get outside, but nervous once we got out there!

Our new friends.

How cute are they?? Brooke loved jumping in the puddles.

We didn't really have a structured "homeschool" day, as I didn't have access to the files etc. quite yet, so we just kind of had a play date.  I hope to start establishing somewhat of a routine with songs and lessons.    Regardless, they had fun and it was nice to chat with another mama.

Last night I went to my friend Cathy's for a holiday open house.  She does Tastefully Simple, had a Thirty-One consultant and a Jamberry nails lady…oh and me!  I dropped Brooke off at my in-laws on the way, so that was nice for them to enjoy a few hours with her.  She always has a ball with grandma and grandpa.  Thank you again Mama D!!

I had an absolute ball.  It's hard to explain, but AdvoCare is so different than other companies.  Since it's not a 'quick fix' program, nor is it something most people have heard of, it's not fair for me to compare myself to the other direct sales that were there last night.  So, as I was able to share my story, talk about products, put product in people's bodies and I really tried to get to know people.  I never feel like I am trying to "sell" something, but rather I look at it as a way of trying to educate people on health, wellness, and nutrition. I am very passionate about wanting others to be healthy and have energy, as I know how tired us mamas (or anyone for that matter) can be!  I feel for others when they are unhappy with their weight and are just not feeling great about themselves, because I was there.  That was me!  I also know this business is all about timing, so sometimes it takes awhile after the seeds of wellness are planted, before I can truly help others.  I just feel good about sharing what Advo can do for people.

I had not done a "vendor" event before, and this was the perfect way to ease my way into it.  I loved that it was at a friend's home, so it was very intimate and I could really take the time to talk to people.  It wasn't a mad rush of people, but I enjoyed conversations and really made sure to ask others lots of questions.  Not to mention, it was so nice to get outside of the home and not play "prego mommy" for 2 hours.  I think that is important to have my own thing that I enjoy doing; that teacher in me will always be present!  That said, I stood the whole two hours,  so I am a little tired today haha!  #pregoprobs

So I'm hydrating with some pomegranate water and have a lazy morning planned with Brooke.  We have a messy living room to clean play in and maybe some more turkey crafts to make.

It's really cold outside and not snowing here.  The south/west of us is getting slammed with the snow, but we lucked out and didn't get it.  I may have Christmas Spirit diffusing and am half tempted to start hauling out Christmas decorations…but I have a hubby who is anti-Santa before turkey haha.