Monday, June 30, 2014

Barely cooking this week...

....but I'm going to post about it anyway! We're leaving on Wednesday afternoon for Savannah, so I'm only squeezing in two days of cooking this week. I hope tonight's dinner doesn't let me down, I'm pretty excited about it!
Tonight: Cool Ranch Crockpot Chicken Tacos
Tuesday: Italian Sausage and Peppers

This weekend was a lot of fun! Saturday we went and bought that doorknob we've been eyeballing (YOLO), and blinds. Okay, the exciting part didn't happen until yesterday when we met up with family at their hotel in Orlando for the day. Another successful vacation crash! They were staying at a Marriott that had two awesome pools for kids. Ella LOVED the splash pad, we couldn't keep up with her. She was fearlessly crawling under all of the sprayers, and happily splashing around all day. This is one very excited little girl!
 
There's a good chance we may be having another pool day today. I'm also going to attempt to make granola bars (random)...I'll let you know if they come out any good!
Happy Monday!
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Friday, June 27, 2014

A Peek at the New House

First, can we talk about how little Ella looks in this photo - it was only two months ago....yikesss! Anyway, I've been talking about our new home for what seems like forever. It has just occurred to me that I never shared any of the pics here! Unfortunately I don't have a ton of pictures, it's extremely difficult to photograph empty rooms. This is the best I could do. At least these are the only photos that were worth sharing. 
LOVE our entryway - especially the dark wood floors that are throughout the house!
I plan to work a lot of magic in this space! Needs a backsplash, don't you think?
This is where you'll find me!
Bedroom on the left and a bedroom on the right - pretty standard. 
From what you can probably see, it's a total blank slate. Three bedrooms, two baths, gorgeous wood floors, granite countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms. The master bedroom is the perfect size - especially the closet! Someone lived in this house for only 6 months, so as far as I'm concerned it's basically new. The walls are all beige right now besides two yellow accent walls in the main living space and the master bedroom. Three weeks from today we'll be closing and the first order of business is painting the accent walls as well as Ella's room (colors TBD).

Apartment living hasn't been horrible by any means (besides living on the 3rd floor), but it will feel SO good to get into our house. I'm most excited about Hubs and I finally having a place to decorate and put our own touches on! We're on HGTV/Pinterest overload these days! Most likely we'll be moving in on July 25th, but I secretly hope to make the official move on the 21st. On that day 5 years prior is when Stephen and I crossed the Florida state line and started our lives down here. Whenever it is, we're psyched to get our little family settled in and finally start our next chapter as homeowners! 
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bliss

Today is #BloggerBliss Wednesday! It's been a few months since I've linked up with Heather and Meg. I'm making up for lost time and sharing a whole bunch of favorites!
Bliss - June
Orange Is the New Black - I'm getting back into it now that Netflix is back in my life. Just in time for season 2...thanks bro!
L'Oreal Magic Lumi Primer - I don't know if I'd call it "magic", but it does help me look slightly less dead. I've been into "glowy" skin lately. 
Magimix Food Processor - You all know how I feel about this thing, and if you don't...read my review HERE
NYX Butter Gloss - As far as lip gloss goes - these are the best I've ever tried because they're creamy, not really sticky at all. I picked up the shade "Peaches & Cream" at Target, and lucky me just received "Eclair" in my June Ipsy bag!
Tazo Passion Tea - We can't always have Starbucks passion tea on hand, but with this you could recreate it at home. Next best thing!
Bath & Body Works - Coconut Lime Breeze - Usually, coconut is my go-to scent for summer but honestly I started getting a little sick of it until I picked up this body spray. Lime is a great alternative to the usual vanilla scent. I could bath in this stuff...no really, I have the body wash too! YUM!
Chobani Flip - So far, I haven't met a flavor I don't like. Even the pineapple coconut one that I was iffy about is good. In fact, it just might be my new favorite!
Crochet - My love has been renewed and I'm feeling extra crafty these days. I'll be ready for next winter!
Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips - Back to the whole "glowy" skin thing - this is a relatively new obsession. I have it in the shade "Miami Strip" and I love that it's not full of chunky glitter! You could use it as a bronzer but I've been using it mainly as a highlight.
Bandeau's - In my opinion, it's perfectly acceptable to wear these under everything this summer!
Bolthouse Juice - Green Goodness - I know, I know...this is a lazy man's juice, I could make this on my own and it would probably be full of a lot less calories, and considerably healthier. This is just too easy, and too good. 
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Monday, June 23, 2014

Meet Miracle Morgan

Today I would like to introduce you all to my friend Jenn and her beautiful daughter Morgan who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at one year old. My way of letting Jenn know how much I respect her and this journey she's on is by sharing her story here for all of you. Jenn and her husband Joe are phenomenal parents to their two sweet daughters, and the relationship that these sisters have with one another just melts my heart. Please follow Miracle Morgan's Facebook Page to see all of the progress she's making, and click here if you would like to make a donation towards the equipment Morgan needs to help her overcome the obstacles she's facing. I love seeing this pretty little smile and these insanely gorgeous blue eyes in my newsfeed. Jenn, you're one of the strongest women I know...no wonder Morgan is such a fighter!!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our second child we immediately were scared. Scared mostly about how it would affect our first daughter who had just turned two. Little did we know what we were really in for. At around 6 weeks pregnant we found out we were going to have twins but one twin had no heartbeat and was significantly smaller on the sono. We repeated the sono at around 12 weeks and my body had already absorbed the dead twin. They called it disappearing twin. My first reaction to all of this news was to cry. Not so much because one twin had passed but because I was scared as to how this would affect the surviving twin. They assured me that nothing was wrong and it is very common. I went into labor full term with no other complications in the pregnancy or delivery. 
We welcomed our beautiful baby girl Morgan into our family. She came home with us after the normal two day stay in the hospital. The first three months were a nightmare! She would cry non stop. My husband and I would literally pass her back and forth until she fell asleep. She was fed, changed and burped - what else could be wrong? She also was always very tight. I had a hard time changing diapers because her legs were always so clenched closed. Her right arm was always held in close to her body and fists always very tightly closed. 

I kept telling the pediatrician that I thought something was wrong. She kept telling me that she was just a “tense” baby and colic. I couldn’t take this as an answer. There was something going on here! I switched pediatricians and joined a massage class at the local library. In the mist of waiting for an appointment, during one of the massage classes, the instructor took me aside after class and said very politely that she noticed Morgan wasn’t holding her head up great and all the other things I have already noticed. I explained the situation and she hooked us up with early intervention to get Morgan evaluated. 

When we went to see the pediatrician he wrote a script for a MRI. While waiting for that appointment we got Morgan evaluated and she was approved for PT and special instruction with a “diagnosis” of gross motor delay. She started this at 6 months old. Morgans MRI was done when she was 8 months. The MRI showed “white matter” on a significant part of the top of her brain. The term was periventricular leukomalacia, otherwise known as a stroke. Morgans was bilateral which means it will affect all four limbs. I took this information and immediately started googling. All I kept coming up with was cerebral palsy. 
She was later diagnosed with CP at the age of 1. The diagnosis opened up a door for other services. So we then had a full schedule of PT, OT ,Speech, Special instruction, aqua therapy, and hippo therapy (horseback-riding). Morgans diagnosis is spastic quad cp. She has low tone in her trunk and high tone in all four of her extremities. She is now 24 months and doesn’t walk or talk. She just started using a gait trainer to help her get around. We are also try to use a Pecs board to get her to communicate as it gets very frustrating not knowing what she wants? She had double Strabismus surgery at 20 months which went well. She no longer has to wear glasses or patch her eye. She has feeding issues as well. She is still on baby food because of her inability to chew solids. She's drinking from a sippy cup but we are in the process of transitioning her to a straw cup. We are hoping this may help with her speech. She can roll over and commando crawl. 
She is ALWAYS happy and puts on smile on our face everyday! We have a long road ahead of us. We live on HOPE! Staying hopeful is extremely hard but her motivation and strength get us through each day! 
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

What's cooking this week?

"Fabulous" doesn't even begin to describe these last few days. Just as I expected, my parent's visit flew by in the blink on a eye...but it was perfect. Ella was able to spend some quality time with both Grandma and Grandpa, we took them to show off our new house, and they bought us a comfy new couch (for the millionth time - THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH)! Yesterday we went out for a delicious dinner at a new Italian restaurant, and we ended the night with them meeting Baby Chloe. We had such good times! It was not fun saying "goodbye" early this morning, but it was much easier knowing we'll be seeing them again in 10 days when we meet up in Savannah, Georgia!!!
This is my idea of keeping the menu "light" (besides tonight)...I'm trying to drop a few pounds before Savannah. Surely, the trip will revolve around eating. We're also trying to clear out the freezer/fridge/pantry before the big move next month. It may be difficult to accomplish that while keeping the meals on the lighter side, but "challenge accepted"!
Tonight: Sunday Sauce
Monday: Leftovers
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: White Bean Basil Hummus Chicken Wraps
Thursday: Apple Turkey Picadillo
Friday: Cucumber Avocado Subs
Saturday: Perfect Oven Baked Chicken Wings and Mal's Crock Pot Sweet Potatoes

Have a great Sunday!
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Parents Have My Undivided Attention

{via}
Hey there! I just wanted to pop on for a quick update. Today was my last day at work, I'm back on summer vacay until the end of July. The first two weeks just felt like practice, but now this time it's for realsies! Hubs and I have some fun things planned over the course of the next few weeks...including a family vacation to Savannah and then moving into our very first house shortly after that!

Once again, the goal is to disconnect from work as much as possible. Okay, so I might just peek at my e-mail from time to time JUST to see what's piling up...and maybe ward off a few things. Other than that, it will be nothing but fun in the sun, family time, days home with my peanut, catching up on some reading, trying out new recipes and of course blogging!

Right now, my parents are in town for a hot second. I'm ecstatic that they planned this last minute little trip down here. My mom has been here a few days already, and my dad is on his way from the airport as we speak as I type!

They leave on Sunday morning...moral of the story = my parents will have my undivided attention over these next few days! I'll just be busy eating up moments like these...
Enjoy the rest of your week and weekend!!!
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Daddy's Day + What's cooking this week?

First of all, Happy Father's Day! To my Daddy (the handsome dude in the photo above), thank you for always being there for me, supporting and guiding me into becoming who I am today. I love being your sidekick, some things will never change. When I was little you were "World's Best Dad"...and I hope you know that you still hold the title! As an added bonus, thank you for this kick-ass sense of humor (as Mom would say - "yoo-mah")! We hope you're having the perfect day golfing, we can't wait to see you in only FOUR days (and a wake-up). 

To my father in-law Dad Sko - professional father (of SIX) & grandfather (of TEN)- we miss you bunches and hope you're having an incredible trip of a lifetime in the UK! We can't wait to hear all about it! 

To my Hubs, thank you for being an awesome dad to our little sweetie. Ella is a lucky girl and she already knows it! No one makes her smile and giggle like you do! You're rocking this whole first-time-dad thing just like I knew you would. XOXO
I'm keeping things pretty simple in the cooking department this week for two reasons...
1. I go back to work tomorrow (just for a week though).
2. My parents are coming to visit!!! My mom will be here on Tuesday night, and my dad will be here on Thursday night! Yessssss!
Tonight: Taco Night!!!
Monday: Balsamic Burgers again (leftover meat in the freezer from last week, so why not)
Tuesday: Perfect Oven Baked Chicken Wings
Wednesday: Crock Pot Tomato Basil Soup & Caprese Chicken Paninis 
Thursday: Easy Crock Pot Chicken and Black Bean Taco Salad
Friday: Mom Sko's Pierogies and Kielbasa

Enjoy your Sunday and week ahead!
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Ella's 9 Month Favorites

We haven't done one of these in a while. Ella has a whole new set of favorite things to share with you all. It was hard to narrow these down considering our home is overrun with her stuff, but I managed to cut the list to ten. 
9 Month Faves

1. Ella's Kitchen Baby Cookies - Obviously we are a little partial to the Ella's Kitchen brand, but it's good stuff! She seems to like the apple and ginger ones best (in the green box) but these are good too. I'm SO paranoid about choking, however these seem to be the perfect texture - although I still don't take my eyes off of her for a second. These cookies are firm enough that she can't just bite a huge chunk off, but they do crumble and then melt after she slobbers on them for a while. They're great practice for holding her own food and feeding herself, and they are also excellent teethers!
2. Busy Ball Popper - Ella loves going over to this and pressing the button all on her own. Her cute little giggles tell me that it's definitely "Ella approved".
3. 5 Minute Princess Stories - I'm a sucker for anything Disney, and let's face it...the attention span doesn't go much beyond 5 minutes (for the same book) in one sitting anyway.
4. SwimWays Baby Float - We got ours (in blue and green) for about 20 bucks at Walmart. I've got nothing to compare it to but I love how she fits in it so nicely. There is a "shelf" to put a bunch of teethers and toys for her to play with on while she splashes! It's a little pricier than other baby floats but it seems like it is a lot more durable than anything else we came across in the stores. I also love the canopy and the fact that it collapses nicely. 
5. Google Chromecast - This was an impulse buy on Christmas day (thanks Jen)! Best impulse buy ever! We are constantly casting from our ipads, galaxy tabs, and phones! Pandora, YouTube...SO convenient. Hubs and I like it for ourselves, but we do use it often to play some music or videos for Baby Girl. 
6. Baby Bullet Steamer - I know you don't need one of these to steam food, but it is so cute and little I had to buy it. We actually returned the actual Baby Bullet and picked this up instead. I use it whenever I'm making her a small batch of food, and we also use it every day to warm up her food instead of microwaving it. Super convenient!
7. Triple Paste - Tanika recommended this to me back in the day, she said it was pricey but well worth it. This stuff is a lifesaver, I use it whenever she looks the slightest bit pink to ward off a rash. Thanks for the tip lady!
8. Vera Bradley Lunch Bunch - This fits a surprising amount of bottles, food and snacks inside. We got ours in the color Tutti Frutti. I like that it's not too bulky to also throw inside the diaper bag. 
9. Melissa and Doug Puzzle - She is a pro at taking this thing apart and I KNOW it's only a matter of time before she is putting it back together. The giraffe seems to be her favorite piece!
10. Stroll-Along Walker - It didn't take long for her to get the hang of pushing her very first stroller. The funny thing is that she doesn't like for any babies or stuffed animals to be sitting in it. Now she cruises around like it's her job - she even does laps now...LAPS! Ugh, she is growing up too fast! Look at her go...

Ella hopes you enjoyed reading about some of her favorites, and maybe your babies will like some of these too!
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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cheesy Quinoa Potatoes {For Baby}

This was Ella's first experience with quinoa or anything with a grittier texture for that matter. She seemed a little confused at first, but got the hang of it REAL fast. Of course I gave them a try before serving them to her and they definitely have my seal of approval. You just can't go wrong with cheesy potatoes...EVER. As you'll notice from the baby food recipes I'll be posting, I'm also experimenting with some spices here and there (yes, there will be the same - twice...don't even go there smarty pant). 
Ingredients:
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1/2 cup of potato puree (I had pureed steamed russet potatoes with water until it reached the desired consistency)
1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
*Pinch of onion powder and thyme (optional)

Directions:
1. Be sure potatoes and quinoa are warmed.
1. Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly until cheese is melted in. 

Made enough for 2 - 3 servings depending on babies appetite - approx. 10 oz. 
Can freeze up until 3 months. 

If I would have let her lick the bowl she would have gotten every last bit! 
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Monday, June 9, 2014

This Sums It Up

I have a new Macbook charger on its way. I guess you could tell how "Operation New Macbook" turned out. I'll just have to wait until we get settled into the new house I suppose. In the meantime let's just hope this thing holds out until then. Hubs has been working his magic and getting the old charger to work every so often. Last night we managed to get 37% out of it...so I'm making this weekend recap quick. Luckily there isn't too much to talk about anyway. This video from Saturday morning basically sums up the low-key weekend we had...  
We went out and about Saturday afternoon to scout out some furniture for the new place. The main objective was to find a new couch. I'm all over the place with couch styles, and all over the color wheel too! It's a tough decision because I know whatever we get we'll be stuck with for a long time. I'm trying to go for the comfort factor without sacrificing quality. Do I want to keep it in the beige family, or go into greys? We're also trying to decide between a sofa/loveseat or sectional. I think I'm leaning towards sectional to save some space and get more seating. Also do we want to get it with or without a sleeper? Ohhhh so many decisions to be made!

Baby Girl was a trooper while we dragged her all over furniture stores. She only had one episode at Chik-Fil-A when I took her into the bathroom for a diaper change. I'm pretty sure the whole restaurant thought I was torturing her in there. Just when I thought we were out of the screaming bloody murder phase! I literally ran out of there without putting her shorts back on. She must have exhausted herself...
Sunday was the usual "wake up, plan the weekly meals, and keep it low-key" kind of day. We went down to the pool for a bit, and spent the rest of the day playing. Stephen and I watched the Lego Movie (twice, seriously), which was just so creative and fun - we loved it! 
Our upcoming week will look very similar to this for Ella and I...
{LOVE this Striped Rainbow Romper from The Children's Place!}
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Sunday, June 8, 2014

What's cooking this week?

They say you shouldn't go grocery shopping when you're hungry...I'm thinking the same goes for when you're making the list. It seems like an extra long list this week. Maybe it's because I ran out of a lot of pantry staples OR because I added a few snacks to the list. Let'ssssss just go with the first one! While perusing Pinterest for recipes I came across my own lettuce wraps and I took it as a sign. Yum, can't wait to have them later.
Tonight: Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Monday: Balsamic Burgers w/ Roasted Cauliflower 
Wednesday: Chipotle Mac & Cheese
Thursday: Coconut Chicken with Jasmine Rice and Broccoli
Friday: Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Today we're going to the pool and planning for our big move on August 1st!!! I'm also experimenting with a crock pot beef stew...for Ella! She hasn't had beef yet, I hope she likes it!

Luckily I had a cute little helper to work on this weeks meal planning, but she is getting a little restless. It's time to get back to our Big Block SingSong dance party ("Fifteen kinds of fruit...."). Happy Sunday!
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Friday, June 6, 2014

Avocado Yogurt {For Baby}

Let's bring on the baby food! It's time for the next phase of my blog! Little people food just might be more enjoyable to make than big people food (there, I said it). I've been having a blast putting all kinds of yummy combinations together for Ella. She seems to be loving it too - at least there haven't been any complaints yet. Luckily my girl is a great eater and it's been SO much fun expanding her palate. Avocado is one of MY favorite ingredients so it was only right to make this my first baby food recipe post!
Ingredients:
1 avocado
1/3 cup of Greek yogurt (plain/full fat)
Pinch of cumin
1/2 tsp. of lime juice

Directions:
1. Put all of the ingredients into a food processor.
2. Puree until smooth.

Made enough for 2 servings - approx. 7 oz.
Can freeze up until 3 months.

Hopefully your baby loves this as much as mine did...minus the part where she got so excited and smeared it in her eye!
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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ella's Nine Month Update

Yesterday, Ella turned NINE months old! Every morning when we wake up, I swear she looks significantly older. It's blowing my mind! Yesterday at her nine month appointment she weighed in at 18 pounds 4 ounces. Lately I've been noticing how tall she is getting...her head now skims the underneath of our dining room table. Officially though, she is 26 and 3/4 inches tall. A few weeks ago, her two little bottom teeth finally poked through and they're adorable! Our pediatrician says the top ones look like they'll be making an appearance very soon too.
She's crawling like crazy, pulling herself up on everything (walls, cabinets, furniture...you name it) and cruising from couch to couch and back again. She can stand without holding on for short periods of time, although she's still pretty wobbly. She's been pushing her little stroller all over the place - and getting really good at it too! 
There have been a few new foods in her diet this past month - yogurt, summer squash, avocado and even little teeny tiny bits of bread and cheese. It's safe to say she has overcome her milk allergy (if she ever even had one). She gets three solid meals a day, three bottles (about 6-7 ounces each) and we've been working on getting her used to drinking water out of a sippy cup. She mostly just uses it as a teether but it's a start.
I love hearing her voice, which is a good thing because we hear it all day long. Ma-ma, Da-da, Ba-ba, and now "COOK"....yup. This is the best I could do capturing the moment...
Our routine is pretty set and hasn't changed much at all in the past month. She takes about two naps anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour (sometimes more) each. We usually put her down to sleep anywhere between 7:30 and 8:30 depending on how she is and how much she's napped during the day. I'll probably post about our nighttime routine soon.
Her favorite toys lately have been her stroller, her teethers (all 80 of them), her new activity table and books - especially the touchy feely ones. I try not to plop her in front of the TV, it's mostly on in the background but she stops in her tracks every time Mickey Mouse Club House comes on, and she LOVES Baby Einstein (only certain ones though). It's kind of funny how she has all of these preferences...this girl knows what she likes and she lets you know! 
How lucky am I that I get to spend all this one on one time with her this summer?!? It's only a few days into our break and it's been so fun getting to know her better every day. I love my girl so much! 
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