Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013...My Favorite of All My Years!


{via}
The title says it all, 2013 was by far the most incredible year. The awesomeness literally started from day one. Well technically it started from the day before day one. This time last year is when I found out I was pregnant! We were traveling home from our Christmas trip to New York on New Years Eve. I had suspected I might be pregnant but like the past three or four months prior I thought I was just getting my hopes up or playing mind games with myself. What I should have done was buy a pregnancy test BEFORE we left NY instead of waiting until I came home. It would have been nice to tell my parents in person, however the look of shock on their face when we told them via FaceTime only hours after we said goodbye to them was pretty priceless (I'm so impatient)!

My sweet brother knew just how special this past year has been for me (obv), and had my blog posts from 2013 turned into a book! Yes, a book!!! I've said I always wanted to do this some day, but let's face it...when on earth would I have gotten around to that?!? This was the perfect gift in so many ways. What a thoughtful little bro...love him!
Naturally my entire pregnancy and the birth of Ella Rose were the highlights of such a phenomenal year!
Here are my favorite posts from 2013:
The cat's out of the bag
It's A Girl
My First Bumpdate @ 17 Weeks
The Start of Boys Behind The Blog
My favorite #NOtivation post
My Last Bumpdate @ 38 Weeks
Ella Rose is here!
I'm a MOM!
Ella's Birth Story
I'm looking forward to watching my little lady grow and reach new milestones over the next year!
2014 has A LOT to live up to!
Happiest New Year Friends!
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Sunday, December 29, 2013

What's cooking this week?

Wow, what a week!!! I'm alive I swear...we have been in super duper family/holiday mode these days, it's been pretty great! We have another week of awesome coming up, but here are a few things I have planned to eat...
Tonight:  Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps and edamame (ready to eat!)
Monday: Grandpa's Marinara
Tuesday: Chicken Taco Fiesta New Years Eve Party!!! (With Mal!!!)
Thursday: Turkey Meatloaf with Lemon Garlic Green Beans

I obviously have a lot to update you all on. I'll catch up eventually I swear! My bestest Mal is in town and we have been getting our "bond on". It has been amazing having her around. My parents fly in on Tuesday and we are all going to celebrate the New Year together. It's going to be wonderful. I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas with your loved ones, and have an amazing New Year!

We are about ready to eat, Ella has been phenomenal all weekend...will she stay content so we can have a meal at the table?

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Jelly Buttons - Guest Posting @ Mal Smiles

You could find me guest posting at my biffle's page today!!! Go check out my favorite cookie recipe over at Mal Smiles! It's by far one of my favorite Christmas family traditions! I can't wait to bake these Jelly Buttons with Ella!
Click HERE to view my Grandma's yummy recipe!
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

What's cooking this week?

It's going to be a quick list for this week since we are heading down to "So-Flo" for the holidays....
Sunday: Grilled Honey Orange Chicken Salad
Thursday: Loaded Veggie Pizza (no cheese on my side)
Friday: Shrimp Tostadas

Tomorrow night we're leaving to go to my Aunt & Uncle's house. We now call them "Grant & Gruncle" since they have reached "Great" status! It wasn't easy to make the decision not to go to New York for Christmas (but I have no doubt we will still have a wonderful time). There were various reasons but one was that Hubs was in the process of interviewing for a promotion. We just didn't feel the timing was right for him to be taking off. Guess what!?! He got the job!!!!!! He has gone from a Student Advisor at the college he works for - to the Manager of Student Records! I'm so ridiculously proud of him! Tomorrow is his first day too. He is such a hard worker and I know he will be amazing in his new role! Ella and I are lucky ladies for sure!

Today is going to be a cozy stay at home kind of day (it is 82 degrees out, but will pretend it is cold). My goal is to get organized and spruce up around here. There is stuff EVERYWHERE! It amazes me how quickly our home goes from being clean, to totally cluttered! We do live in an apartment...it used to be spacious, but now with all of Ella's "gym equipment" (ha) it is starting to feel a little smaller. I probably feel that way more now because of all the Christmas presents. This is the first time we have ever had presents under our tree! Normally we ship everything to New York and wrap it all when we get there. Between all of the goodies that were sent to us, plus all of the presents we bought...there is a lot happening.

I'm going to get started with the cleaning before our little beauty wakes up from her long morning nap. On a more fun note...I'm also planning on a Christmas movie marathon, cookie baking, present wrapping kind of day. Maybe I'll even crank up the AC and sip on some hot cocoa!

Happy last Sunday before Christmas!!!
Ella is excited for Santa!!! She LOVES toys...if only she had more....
(*Chelsea and I are putting Kitchenspiration on hold at least through the holidays and hope to start it up again soon!)
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Boys Behind The Blog {Link-up #7}

Happy BBB #7! 
This is how it went down...I was eating a bowl of cereal and thinking about Christmas when Mal texted and asked if I had any ideas for the December round of BBB questions. Is it obvious? We pretty much make the best team and I can't wait for NEXT WEEK! Oh, have I not mentioned this? Mal and I will be doing some chillin' very soon! Perhaps we can plan the questions for round 8 in person! I can't wait for some QT with my Bestest Blog Biffle...or my BBB! (here we go again with more B's).Yes the boys will be there too (and the puppies), cant forget about them! Speaking of the boys though...lets get back to the purpose of this post - hearing from the Hubs!
1. What is your favorite cereal?
Of all time? Hands-down Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I could eat boxes at a time if cereal didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

2. Pancakes or waffles?
Uh… Waffles, of course. Is this even a real question?

3. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
My favorite thing is putting up and decorating the tree. Even when it was just me and my brother living together, despite light decorating throughout the house the tree was always up, lit and adorned with our ornaments. Most of my ornaments are from my aunts and uncles, and then I would get a special one every year from Santa. Now being so far from immediate family, it’s nice to go through them and put them on the tree every year because it just brings me back.

4. Finish the sentence: All I want for Christmas is...
I’ve reached that milestone where I don’t want tangible items anymore. I would love to be able to spend more time with my family than I’m currently able, so that’s something. I guess we’ll have to see what 2014 brings for that.

5. What was your best moment of 2013?
This is one of those questions that answers itself. I can’t wait until next year when she is able to appreciate the idea of Christmas a little more so I can see the magic and wonder in her eyes.
Now grab a button, and link up with us!
Never The Same Spice Twice
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Good Eggs vs. Bad Eggs

How do you know if you've got a good egg? Eggs scare me. No joke, I don't like surprises! I'm always afraid I'm going to find something I don't want to inside of one. Is that weird? My Mom tells me, "you would KNOW if an egg was bad"! Honestly, I would rather not find out after cracking it. Typically they're good for about three weeks after you buy them. Yes you can go by the expiration date, but if you don't have the carton on hand..here is a handy tip!

You could find out how fresh an egg is by dropping it into a bowl of water. 
-If it sinks... it's good.
-If it sinks but stands straight up on its point...it's good but not for much longer.
-If it floats...it's a bad egg...get rid of that sucker.
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Kitchenspiration {Link-up}

It's time for another round of Kitchenspiration!
Chelsea and I are SO excited to bring you this weekly link-up! Kitchenspiration is all about ANYTHING that inspires you in the kitchen. 
This can be:
-Recipes you've tried or want to try
-Weekly meal plans
-Pinterest recipe ideas
-Food related tips
-Your favorite kitchen essentials
The possibilities are endless!
You can link-up a brand new post OR link-up anything food/meal/recipe related from your blog that you posted within the previous week.

Before you scroll down to link up:
***Check out some Kitchenspiration from this past week on NTSST:
Chicken Tortilla Soup
My Weekly Meal Plan
Never The Same Spice Twice

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

What's cooking this week?

What a Sunday! We just got back from a trip to the mall. Ella had her first encounter with Santa and she didn't scream in his face....WIN! When I was pregnant I remember wondering what this day would be like. It was even more fun than I imagined it would be. Before I get to photos, here is what's cooking...
Sunday: Chicken Francese with Smashed Baked Potatoes
Monday: Turkey Meatloaf and Mal's Crock Pot Baked Sweet Potatoes
Tuesday: Shrimp Tacos
Wednesday: Honey Sesame Chicken
Thursday: BLT's

My festive little sweetie was slightly sleepy but I was so proud of her for being such a good girl with Santa. It seems she set a good first impression! Her little outfit was SO adorable...while it lasted. Of course she would have a poop explosion! Good thing it was AFTER she was on Santa's lap. Mamma's always prepared for these mishaps. It sure happens enough!

 Last night was my work Christmas party - Stephen and I got a sitter (she rocks, thanks Sarah) and went out for the first time just the two of us. It was a good time full of lots of laughs. I'm so fortunate to work with some really amazing people! It's been a great weekend, and it's not over yet. There is still plenty of time to snuggle on the couch with my little family and watch some Christmas movies. First though....I'm going to make some yummy din!
Happy Sunday loves!
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ella's Three Month Update

Our little girl is THREE months old already (since last week)! Ella Rose is such a sweetheart, somehow I find a way to love her more and more every day!

Even when she is making angry faces at me, I can't help but laugh a little. She is just too stinkin' easy to love!

It was really hard to believe, but turns out you were all right! Three months is a magical time where everything just completely seems to fall into place. Granted things started improving once I cut the dairy from my diet, but now we are in the zone! She has been SO good, this kid has improved tremendously. It seemed like I would never use the words "Ella" and "content" in a sentence...but it's happened! Yes, she has a rough patch every so often (who doesn't?) but they are much fewer and farther between.

Our 12 lb. 2 oz. little fatty is a growing girl! Her rolls have rolls, it's adorable. I'm not sure how long she is but she is starting to outgrow some of her three month onesies already. Hubs and I have packed up a bunch of her clothes...so sad! Her hair is a very light brown and she is getting that bald spot on the back of her head that most kids get. Her eyes are still very light. Lately they have been gold on the inside, and grayish on the outside...I'm thinking they may end up hazel? Who knows, but it's fun seeing how they change. The latest development has been the sweet little sounds she has been making. We've noticed that the past two days she has been coo-ing up a storm!
Day in and day out I'm just amazed by how much she is learning. She is super interactive and smiley, it's so fun! I crack up when she imitates us by sticking out her tongue. Her neck is still a tiny bit wobbly, we  can only keep her in her Bumbo chair for very short periods of time. She loves it even if it is only for a few minutes.  Although most of the time I need to place objects in her hands, she is beginning to reach out and grab some toys. She especially loves her little crinkle toys. They go into her mouth immediately. Between all the drool and her constantly eating her hands I'm convinced she is teething. Is it too early for that? She hasn't rolled over yet but she has mastered the "superman" move when she's on her tummy...I'm sure rolling is getting close.
Another one of her newest things that she started a few weeks ago is that she rolls up and grabs her toes. When she is sitting on my lap it's like she is always trying to do crunches. I call her my little roly poly!
Since she is getting strong and starting to scooch (is that not a word?) around, we have to be sure to buckle her into her swing and glider every time! I'm guilty of just plopping her down (supervised of course)...but not anymore. 

I can sort of say that she usually sleeps through the night, however we do put her down late and wake up really early. She is sleeping 5-6 hour stretches in her own room now. The transition into her crib went a little too well. It hasn't even been a week yet so I don't want to jinx it. Since I've gone back to work she has been doing phenomenally at daycare. I'll save those details for another post though! 
I think I covered everything! She has grown in so many ways between two and three months. I can only imagine what the next month will bring! We are so ridiculously in love with this little sweetie! 
 
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

If the "Soup of the Day" is Chicken Tortilla...you better believe I'm ordering it! Ask anyone who has ever been out to eat with me. Usually my eyes light up the instant I hear it's on the menu! As soon as I'm done doing the "dairy free thing" for Ella, I plan to make this and load it up with cheese! Honestly though, it was still good without it! Sorry for the crummy picture of this deliciousness. I was in a rush to eat before Ella woke up!
Ingredients:
2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts - SHREDDED
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 onion - chopped
1 jalapeno - seeded and chopped (optional)
2 cloves of garlic - minced
1 large zucchini - chopped
2 10 oz. cans of Rotel tomatoes with cilantro
2 tbsp of tomato paste
1 can of black beans - drained and rinsed
1 cup of corn
32 oz of chicken broth
The juice of one lime
1 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of oregano
1/2 tsp of paprika
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 handful of cilantro - chopped
Toppings:
4 Corn tortillas - sliced into 1/4 inch strips
2 avocado's - diced
Cheese, sour cream - optional for topping

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees - spread tortilla strips out on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray, bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat - sauté onions, jalapeno, garlic, and zucchini until they begin to soften (about 5 minutes).
3. Add tomatoes, paste, black beans, corn, broth, lime juice, and all the seasoning - bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and add shredded chicken and cilantro.
4. Cook on low partially covered for 30 minutes.
5. Serve by topping with tortilla strips, avocado, shredded cheese and/or sour cream. 
Enjoy!!!

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Kitchenspiration {Link-up}

It's time for another round of Kitchenspiration!
Chelsea and I are SO excited to bring you this weekly link-up! Kitchenspiration is all about ANYTHING that inspires you in the kitchen. 
This can be:
-Recipes you've tried or want to try
-Weekly meal plans
-Pinterest recipe ideas
-Food related tips
-Your favorite kitchen essentials
The possibilities are endless!
You can link-up a brand new post OR link-up anything food/meal/recipe related from your blog that you posted within the previous week.

Before you scroll down to link up:
***Check out some Kitchenspiration from this past week on NTSST:
My Weekly Meal Plan
Never The Same Spice Twice
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Sunday, December 8, 2013

What's Cooking This Week?

It's Sunday, you know what that means! I've got some yumminess planned for the week that I want to share with you all...
Sunday: Italian Wedding Soup
Monday: Cucumber Avocado Subs
Tuesday: Nutty Fruity Salad with Grilled Chicken
Wednesday: Crock Pot Lentil Soup
Thursday: Lemon Shrimp Stir Fry

You wouldn't know it from this rare moment I captured just a few minutes ago, but our little darling is having a very fussy weekend! We went out last night with our friends who were visiting from NY and she basically screamed the entire time. It's been a while since we've seen this side of her. Poor thing! Something must be bothering her...my vote is that she needs to poop (so sorry to future Ella who will read this some day).
Last night was still great despite the cranky kiddo. We sampled some yummy holiday beers at World of Beer. Ella got to finally meet her Auntie Joanna! It was a beautiful December evening so we sat outside of course! 
Today we were planning to take Ella to meet Santa, but I think we'll wait until next weekend in the hopes that she'll be in better spirits. Hubs and I have a lot to do around the house anyway. I hope to catch up in Blogland, and get some online shopping accomplished. Maybe even a nap? We'll see! Speaking of naps....look who passed out while I was typing this! 
Looks like now is my opportunity to get some rest in before we start another eventful week! In case you were wondering, my first week back to work went really well. I'll fill you all in soon! Goodnight!
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Boys Behind The Blog #7 - {Questions}

It's already time for December's The Boys Behind the Blog! This time of year is crazy for everyone but we hope you will still join us for this month's link up on Thursday, December 19th.

New to The Boys Behind the Blog? The Boys Behind the Blog is a monthly linkup featuring your husband/fiance/ boyfriend/best guy friend/dad/brother/grandpa! Mal & I created this link up to brag about our men and get them more involved in our blogs. We post the questions on the 1st Thursday of the month (today), you ask your man to answer 5 easy questions and then link up with us on the 3rd Thursday of the month (December 19th).

The Boys Behind the Blog #7 Questions:

1. What is your favorite cereal?
2. Pancakes or waffles?
3. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
4. Finish the sentence: All I want for Christmas is...
5. What was your best moment of 2013?

Grab your guy and ask him these 5 easy questions! We can't wait to read his answers when you link up with us on Thursday, December 19th, 2013 at 6 a.m.
Never The Same Spice Twice
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You can check out the previous The Boys Behind the Blog posts here.
 
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Our first Thanksgiving as a family of three was prettyyyyy great! Ella did so well with her first long car ride. She slept the entire three and a half hours down. We made great timing since we didn't have to stop (same goes for the way home). She napped well during the day, ate well, and slept well at night. She was LOVING all of the extra attention she was getting all day long from everyone. The shocking part is that Hubs and I were able to sit down for Thanksgiving dinner with everyone....uninterrupted! It was pretty unbelievable, I was not expecting that at all! As always, the food was incred. I even made the best of it trying to avoid dairy as much as possible. It wasn't easy with the antipasta though!

We took photos for our first family Christmas card outside by my Aunt and Uncle's pool (my flip flops will be cropped out). I was very proud of myself for coming up with the idea of changing Ella's headband and tights to make it more "Christmas-y". Her two holiday looks were both too cute!

On Friday we went out for lunch, and did a little shopping. I got some new comfy shoes for work. We came home on Saturday morning so we could prepare for the busy week ahead. It was such a nice quick little getaway. Hubs and I were very pleased with how well Ella did!!! Yay!!!
Pics...






 
 
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