Monday, March 31, 2014

Enjoying Today


I know what you're probably thinking..."Monday, UGHHHH!". Seems like the first thought most of us have as soon as a new week starts is - "is it Friday yet"? I'm basing this on a lot of my Facebook newsfeed every Monday morning! We are all guilty of it.  If you aren't hardwired to think this way, please let me know what your secret is! 

Living in the moment is so NOT a strength of mine. I talked about this a little bit while I was pregnant. Obviously during that time I was super anxious for Ella to get here. Naturally, I was looking forward to seeing my little girl as much as I tried not to rush things. Now that she is here, all I truly want is for time to slow down. It's cliché, I know. Time is just whizzing on by! Reality hit me as I was sorting through all of her new NINE month clothes and packing up all of the things that don't fit her anymore. She suddenly looks so big to me. Her photos from her first few months are so drastically different! Our girl is growing so fast, and hitting new milestones every day!

How could I become a more mindful person? I'm working on it believe me! A while back I read this article about enjoying every moment as a new mom. Actually it was right before I went back to work. The timing was interesting because I was feeling SO conflicted between working mommy guilt and the fact that in a sense I spent a majority of my maternity leave hoping time would hurry up. What!?! That's crazy....I know, but hear me out. Basically I was anxious to get past the rough patch and to that magical three month mark that everyone kept telling me about. For some reason this article stuck with me. The entire concept of mindfulness intrigues me and it is something that I'd like to work at.

I want to be sure I am soaking in every second and enjoying each moment to the absolute fullest! Now I know that I can't slow down time, but I'm on a mission to be more present each and every day. Even during the moments when things are tough and you realize there are certain aspects of motherhood that aren't exactly how you imagined...the crying fits, teething, yucky sickness...I want to remember it ALL and not wish for "better" days ahead. This isn't easy for me. I'm sort of the queen of the countdown! At any given moment I could usually tell you how many days left until the next vacation or the next family visit. I suppose there is nothing wrong about having things to look forward to. For me, there is a fine line between looking forward to something....and wishing the days would hurry up and pass by so I could get to that next big moment. 

When I look at how much Ella's little face changes in just one month's time it simply makes me not want to live moment to moment like I usually tend to do. The in-between, everyday ordinary stuff is worth savoring too!!! Last night I was thinking about this quote that I had saved on my phone for a few months just as I was hugging my little one tight.... 
Have a Happy Monday! Enjoy Today! 
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

What's cooking this week?

Morning!!!! Back to the usual Sunday routine. Guys, I'm beat! There's a lot I'd like to accomplish today, but I'm not sure I have it in me. Ella hasn't been herself since coming home from NY. She's been EXTREMELY fussy (don't be fooled by that smiley picture) and spitting up A LOT! I keep running through the possible culprits in my head... maybe she is coming down with something, maybe it's just teething, maybe it's a growth spurt, maybe I should go back to dairy-free, maybe we shouldn't be weaning her off of her reflux medication?!?! 

We've been carrying on after being home a few days. On Friday we went shopping, and yesterday we went to visit with friends. She is cranky when we're home and cranky when we're out. It's not totally constant but it's more often than not. Poor kid, something has to be ailing her. Due to all the spitting up I'm starting to think she shouldn't be coming off of the reflux meds just yet. We've been weaning her off for about two weeks now and she seemed fine until last Monday. I didn't think much of it at first because she does tend to have some days where she spits up more than usual. I'll definitely be having a chat with the Pediatrician. Has anyone ever experienced this issue?! 

There's no easy way to transition from talking about spit-up to the menu for the week....so I'm just going to go right into it....
Tonight: Sunday Sauce
Monday: Caramelized Onion and Fennel Pizza
Tuesday: Mushroom Jack Tacos
Wednesday: Easy Ranch Chicken and Rice
Thursday: Crock-Pot Tomato Basil Soup and steak for Hubs

How is Spring Break is coming to an end already? Despite this rough patch, it's been incredible spending all of this extra time with my sweet little girl! Tomorrow will be a shock to my system I'm sure. There's a lot on my agenda for today - cleaning and organizing Ella's room (again), and making lots of baby food (sweet potatoes, apples, plums, green beans, chicken and turkey) all while dinner simmers away! I've been looking forward to breaking in my new Magimix food processor! We'll see how much of this I actually accomplish because my priority is snuggles and Disney movies! 

Baby Girl is taking a little snooze in her glider, I'm starting to think maybe I should nap too. I'll get to the rest later! HA! Happy Sunday!
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Friday, March 28, 2014

First Family Vacay

Short and incredibly sweet! That's the best way I could describe our first official vacation as a family of three. Hubs and I have done this many times before (traveling to NY to visit the fam). We know the drill. You never get to do everything you want to do and see everyone that you want to see. Add a baby to the mix and it's even more difficult to squeeze everything in! We sure did try!
After our flight landed on Friday, Stephens parents picked us up and spent the rest of the day with us at my parents house - my brother was there too. It was a nice laid back and relaxing day after our hectic adventure at the airport earlier that morning. Lots of family came by that night to see us meet the baby.

On Saturday we spent a lovely day at Stephens parents house on the North Fork. Up until a few months ago it was a Bed & Breakfast. They have since retired - but the house still has that charming and quaint feel. Lots more family came by to spend the day with us. Ella had a chance to meet some of her cousins too.

Sunday morning the Sergi's (the kids that I used to babysit) came over. They are so big now, and still adorable of course. Ella loved meeting "Aunt Kaci and Uncle Joseph"! Afterwards we went to my adorable little cousin Gianna's first birthday party. More family, more cousins and of course more good times!

Monday was a chance to relax. Stephen and I probably needed it more than Ella. My dad has been SO busy this tax season...but he was able to get a little extra quality time in before heading back to the office. The Sergi's came over later that night again to play!

Tuesday we were able to spend time with my mom, Stephen's parents, and my brother before our flight home that afternoon. As usual, it wasn't easy to say "goodbye" so instead we said "see you soon". We miss everyone already! This was the first of many trips Ella will be taking up to NY...it was certainly memorable at least for Hubs and I!
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ella Flies The Friendly Skies

After all of the anticipation, it's over...and we survived! What was I so nervous about? Honestly, I thought she would scream the entire flight. Thankfully, that was not the case at all. She wasn't great, but she was good. I'll take it! Overall she was better on the way there. She took two short 20 minute naps on my shoulder. Towards the end of the flight she was fidgety and got a little whiney, but nothing major. At least we got this cute photo sesh in!
Not going to lie, on the way home there was some screaming.  Our only saving grace was the fact that the plane was barely half full. Stephen had to stand with her a few times. One of the flight attendants walked her up and down the aisle. Obviously everyone loved her. Between her cute face and our "I'm sorry" bags....how could you be annoyed?! 
I'd still say our first time flying as a family of three was a success. Next time I won't be nearly as anxious. Although I'm not exactly chomping at the bit to do it again in the immediate future, I'm happy to know next time will be more relaxed. 

Leading up to the trip I did a ton of research on flying with babies. Here are a few tips that I found most useful...
1. Give baby a bottle (or nurse) on take off and landing. It helps with the ear popping (and kills some time if you use a slower nipple). 
2. Be careful not to overpack! Keep the load light...necessities only in the carry on! This made it easier to grab the things we needed. I HATE digging around and searching for stuff (especially when time is of the essence). 
3. Bring one favorite toy, one new toy and a book. 
4. Try to time your flight around nap time if possible. This could be why the flight home was almost a disaster. 
More details on our trip coming soon! 
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Bliss

It's #BloggerBliss Wednesday again! I'm linking up with Heather and Meg to share some of my favorites from the month of March. We just got back from our fabulous NY trip last night. There's so much to update you all on, but before I get into all of that fun stuff...
March Bliss


Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color - Stoplight Red - There aren't too many occasions that warrant me having such bold lips....but when one comes along...BAM! These are my "go-to" cheapo lipsticks! (See shameless selfie on the right)
Pandora Radio - You know I'm always raving about my love for Pandora! Lately I've been listening to a lot of Drake radio, and Lorde.
eos Lip Balm - Pomegranate Raspberry - These little pots of goodness are spread all over my home. My lips are SO dry after NY, so I'll be loading up on this!
Starbucks Shaken Iced Tea - This isn't a new favorite by any means. I just had one at the airport and fell in love all over again! They are all good - black tea, green tea, passion tea...MMMMM!
Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear - Mint Sorbet - A true mint color isn't easy to find. This one is PERFECT (in my opinion)!
Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser - When I use foundation, I always prime my skin first with this.
Seche Vite - Fast Drying Top Coat - Love, love, LOVE! This top coat is the reason I can't justify paying for a manicure! Can we talk about what an amazing deal this is?!? Just added these to my Amazon cart!
Real Techniques Starter Set - Eyes - These brushes are so soft and fluffy. This set came with the perfect variety of brushes. I got mine at Kohls.
NYC Bronzer - Sunny - Yes I live in Florida. Yes I still use bronzer. I need to get out more...
Truvia - This is by far my favorite natural sweetener!
Cetaphil - Restoraderm - Our Pediatrician recommended this for Ella...and I kinda love it for me too. Again - will be loading up on this after coming home with crazy dry skin!
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Look Out NY

Ella is taking her first big trip today! It's our first official vacation as a family of three. We're on our way to NY - by plane. I've been so anxious about making this journey. Of course I'm picturing the worst case scenario where she screams the entire flight up. We are going to be "those" people. Yes, I'm aware it's possible she sleeps the whole way. Somehow I can't picture that being the case. I'm prepared with little treats for our flight neighbors just in case they want to hate us. Thank you Pinterest!  

On the flip side, I am SO ridiculously excited to see everyone and introduce Ella to the NY crew! She is in for a treat. Too bad she is too little to experience Little Vincent's Pizza, Bagel Brothers and Ralph's Italian Ice!


Wish us luck, here goes nothing!

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Boys Behind The Blog {Link-up #10}

You all rock for joining us every month. We notice a ton of loyal BBB friends month after month...it's pretty amazing! If it's your first time joining in on the fun then WELCOME to the party! I'm not sure all of our boys feel as excited...but it has sure been fun for Mal and I! Soooooo, grab your most favorite boy, ask him these questions and link-up with us! Happy Double Digits!!!

Enough from me. Let's hear from Stephen! I can't even take these two together...
1. What's your lucky number?
I’ve never actually thought about this before. I suppose my answer is 28, although 42 would work as well.

2. Do you have a lucky charm?
Nope; should I? This is making me reconsider the idea of external luck-attributing items.

3. Do you fill out a bracket for March Madness? Who do you want to win?
Not so much. I’m not exactly a die-hard sports fanatic, especially so when it comes to college sports.

4. March 10th is "Middle Name Pride Day." What's your middle name?
James. As in Bond; James Bond.

5. Submit one question that you would like to see on a future The Boys Behind the Blog.
Has the question been posed as to what we want to be when we grow up? If we had (or currently have) a man-cave, what would be found inside? Liquor/mixed-drink of choice? There’s a few for you to choose from.
Now grab a button, and link up with us!
Never The Same Spice Twice
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Christie @ Little Big H {Guest Post}

Hi, my name is Cristie and I blog at Little Big H. This is my very first guest post so I am very excited. I started Little Big H late last year as a way to share recipes with other parents interested in raising adventurous eaters. My son is now 12 months old and eats everything (just about everything - I’m still working on blue cheese).

The recipes on my blog are nutritious, delicious and not too difficult. You will find lots of recipe ideas that are suitable for babies just starting solids at 4 months old and now that my son is reaching the point that he can eat what we eat - recipes that are suitable for the whole family.

I also write about baby/toddler fashion and the occasional baby/toddler product.

I hope you enjoy the recipes below. They are suitable from 6 months (if you have introduced the ingredients individually). Chicken with apples is a great introduction to a protein as apples are often one of the first foods babies try. The addition of thyme gives it a lovely flavor.

Chicken with Granny Smith Apples and Thyme
Ingredients
¼ onion, finely diced
2 medium sized Granny Smith apples (approx 150g), diced
1 potato, diced
50 grams chicken breast, diced
Pinch of nutmeg
1 sprig of thyme
1 tbls crème fraise (optional)

Steps
Add the onion, apple, potato, chicken and the sprig of thyme to a steamer basket and steam for approximately 15 minutes – or until the chicken is cooked through

Once cooked, discard the spring of thyme. Add the ingredients to a blender along with nutmeg and crème fraise and a little of the cooking juices

Blend until you have a smooth puree, adding more of the cooking juices until the desired consistency is reached 

Sole with Red Grapes and Fennel
Ingredients
1 small bulb of baby fennel, finely sliced
A bunch of red grapes – about 100g (or a tbls raisins if out of season)
50g Sole fillet (or another delicate white fish), diced
150g parsnip (or potato), diced
A few parsley leaves

Steps
Add all ingredients to a steamer basket. Steam for approximately 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked and the vegetables are tender

Once cooked, add the ingredients to a blender along with a little of the cooking juices. Blend until the desired consistency is reached.

Berry Coulis
Ingredients
250g mixed berries (I used strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)
1 tbls water

Steps
Add berries and water to a saucepan and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. Squash the berries with a folk to release some of the juices. Add additional water as needed.

Remove from the heat and serve as is to older babies that are used to the texture or blend to achieve a smooth coulis.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hey guys, it's Steph! How INCREDIBLE are these recipes?!?! Christie is phenomenal, and so is her blog. Definitely check it out! Is anyone else inspired...because I am! I think I'm ready to step up my game! Thanks a bunch for sharing Christie!!!!
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Not Much Cooking This Week....And Next

Guys, I'm overwhelmed. It doesn't really make any sense to me - especially since I'm just 4 work days away from SPRING BREAK! I took Friday off and we are heading up to New York. 
Potential reasons why I'm feeling overwhelmed:
1. I'm nervous about how Ella will do on the plane.
2. I'm already feeling anxiety over the fact that we will not be able to see all the people we want to see, and do all the things we want to do.
3. WORK - I'm not going to lie, things are picking up and the working Mommy thing is taking a toll on me.
4. Not enough time in the day (I knowwww everyone feels this way).

Are these silly things to be worrying about? I think I need to put things into perspective.  My brain is going a mile a minute lately. Just watched The Lion King. Timon and Pumba sure know how to keep it real. This problem free philosophy is going to be my mantra this week...
{via}
I'm trying my hardest to not to let numbers 1 & 2 get to me. Let's face it...this trip will be amazing and memorable. We can't wait for everyone to meet Ella, and for her to experience her first big trip. It will be short, but jam-packed with a ton of excitement. There's a HUGE ("yooooge") part of me that is SO looking forward to it. 

Separating work from home hasn't been easy...I thought I'd be better at it. I have a "working Mom update" post in the works for you all, so I'll save the details for that then. 

Speaking of blogging, you may have noticed I haven't been around much lately. One thing I promised myself is that I won't let this blog stress me out. I decided to let myself off the hook and not worry if it's been a few days since posting. This thing is supposed to be fun and I'm keeping it that way! If only there was more time in the day for me to post and share all of the things I really want. There are so many future blog post ideas in my head. Eventually I'll get to those. For now though I'm trying to keep my life as simple as possible and spend my time with this one little lady who has stolen my heart. 
Which brings me to the main point I was trying to get to before completely going off on a tangent....there isn't much cooking this week...and next! I've got frozen hot dogs defrosting for one day, tacos will surely make an appearance - but that's all folks. After our NY trip I am getting my act back together in the kitchen. I have a fancy new food processor that I have intentions of breaking in. Stay tuned! 

If you are looking for some ideas for what to cook this week and defrosted hot dogs just aren't doing it for you...check out my archive of weekly meal plans and recipes!

Don't forget to link up with Mal and I on Thursday for The Boys Behind The Blog round #10!

HAKUNA MATATA!!!!!
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Brown Rice & Quinoa Medley

First of all, do I have your attention with the word "Medley"? Brown Rice and Quinoa "Mix" sounded too boring. I'm pretty awful at naming recipes, so I'll consider this a win. Even though I love quinoa, I was a little hesitant to make it on its own. Depending on how you are preparing it, quinoa can have a very distinct taste that may take you a bit to get used to. Not quite ready to take the leap? This recipe is a great way to ease into the wonderful world of this healthy "superfood". I've used this rice and quinoa combo medley as a base for many yummy meals. You could pretty much substitute it in place of just plain old rice anytime. Feel free to adjust the ratio of rice to quinoa. I like to made a 50/50 blend. Last night we had it with this Chicken and Asparagus Lemon Stir Fry (which was unbelievable FYI). 
Ingredients:
2 cups of cooked brown rice
2 cups of cooked quinoa
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion chopped
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. 
2. Add the onion, cook for about 5-7 minutes stirring often until caramelized. 
3. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.
4. Combine onions well with cooked rice and quinoa. 
5. If you have any left....
*TIP*
If you have any left, let it cool then put it into a freezer bag. Flatten it out so it stores easily in the freezer. I recommend using it within the month to avoid freezer burn. When I take it out, I let it defrost a little then warm it in a pot. I add a little chicken broth if it is too dry. 

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

What's cooking this week?

Last week I didn't do a "What's cooking this week" because Hubs was away for work. There was no chance I'd be cooking for just myself and I'm not a fan of advertising when I'm home alone. It's been decided that I could survive off of sandwiches and cereal and live a very happy life. Ironic? Regardless, it will be nice to eat real people food for dinner and get back to normal!
Tonight: Thai Noodle Soup
Monday: Pork Burritos
Tuesday: Chicken and Asparagus Lemon Stir Fry
Wednesday: Pasta Aglio E Olio w/ Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil
Thursday: Leftovers!
Friday: Spicy BLT's

Tonight's dinner intrigues me. I feel like it's either going to be terrible or out of this world amazing! I'll keep you posted!  It's another classic lazy weekend over here. We are resting up for two very busy upcoming family weekends. Next week we will be in South Florida and the week after that...NEW YORK! The thought of taking Ella on a plane still terrifies me...but it's happening! I've been doing lots of research on traveling with babies. If you have any tips, I'm open to suggestions!

Yesterday we went for a nice long walk and watched lots of movies. Teething is in full swing! This kid will chew on anything including but not limited to your face if you are in what I call the "danger zone". In addition to trying to eat our noses, she has been doing a number on her socks. Still no sign of any teeth though!
I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!
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Friday, March 7, 2014

Crock-Pot Tomato Basil Soup

This is really weird. When I started thinking about the meals I wanted to cook for next week, this soup randomly popped into my head. Since I hadn't made it in so long I thought I'd check my blog post to refresh my memory on what was in it. Imagine my surprise when I checked my "recipes" tab and realized that it wasn't there. Then, I searched my blog for it...nowhere to be found. Obviously I never posted it! How did I manage this one?

This isn't even my own recipe, I e-mailed Laura at Real Mom Kitchen and asked if it would be okay to share this recipe with you all LAST MAY! Let's blame "preggo brain"...but here it is...finally! March is probably a better month to post soup anyway! I remember loving this recipe because it was easy to put together, delicious and CHEAP. 

CLICK HERE for the yumminess (better late than never)!

Oh, and speaking of being forgetful...this mat is amazing and I NEED it....
{via}
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Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Boys Behind The Blog #10 - {Questions }

Hi friends! Can you believe it's already time for this month's The Boys Behind the Blog questions? Last month was a huge success and we are so happy to have so many of you linking up with us. The Boys Behind the Blog is an easy way to get your husband/boyfriend/brother/whoever involved in your blog with a few easy questions!
March brings Spring weather, basketball, and St. Patty's day shenanigans! Mal and I hope you have fun this these 5 questions and link up with us on Thursday, March 20th!
1. What's your lucky number?
2. Do you have a lucky charm?
3. Do you fill out a bracket for March Madness? Who do you want to win?
4. March 10th is "Middle Name Pride Day." What's your middle name?
5. Submit one question that would would like to see on a future The Boys Behind the Blog.

Join us for The Boys Behind the Blog #10 link up on Thursday, March 20th!
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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ella's Six Month Update

SIX MONTHS! Oh man, has it already been that long? On one hand time is flying, but since I can't picture my life without her...it's like she has been a part of me forever. Does that even make sense? Probably not. Happy Half-Birthday Baby Girl!
Ella is a little smiling, laughing, rolling, grabbing and pulling machine! One major milestone this past month is that she has now started to sit up. I usually put the Boppy pillow around her since she is still a little wobbly. She gets stronger every day, so I'm sure it's just a matter of time before she no longer needs the extra cushion. She likes to sit and play with her little vanity set (Grandpa for the win on her favorite toy of the month).

She doesn't crawl yet...she rolls ALL OVER. I turned my back for two seconds the other day and she ended up under our coffee table! She's zippy ("don't kid yourself"...a Great Grandma quote). This month she is also figuring out how to use her hands. She started holding her own bottle, pulling the spoon into her mouth, and playing with the iPad even more. She has a few favorite apps which I'll be sharing in another post. Such a serious face!

Some new foods that she has tried are carrots and bananas. The Pediatrician told me to just buy carrots from the store and not make them myself because they can contain large amounts of nitrates. She absolutely loves them. I hope this isn't a sign that she hates my cooking...otherwise we are in trouble! The other day she had her first official snack. Choking freaks me out (is anyone really "okay" with choking?) but she turned these little rice rusks to mush quickly with all that slobber. Don't be fooled by the expression, this kid was so excited when I handed this to her and she realized it was edible. It was pretty funny watching her chew! That face...omgggg!
Her eyes seems to have settled on this hazel-ish color. They change in different lighting but I still can't seem to picture them turning fully blue or brown. I guess anything can still happen at this point since they can change up until one year. We'll see!
You better believe I watched this video about a million times... I call it her "spoon trick".

We have a nice day to day routine set. Yes there are a few variations, but for the most part we have things down to a science as much as you can with a 6 month old. She sleeps through the night (most nights). We have been putting her down around 9:00 and she sleeps until about 5:30-6:00ish. When she is at the sitter's house during the day she naps about four hours a day. When I take her home, she sometimes puts in up to another hour of nap time - but not always. On the weekends it's iffy because of the fact that we stray from our usual routine. No big deal, we just plan for potential crankiness. HA!

Besides her yucky sickness it was a GREAT month! She is teething like crazy - still no teeth. Maybe soon! I can't wait to see what the next month will bring, although if time wants to slow down a bit...I'd be okay with that!
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