Monday, October 21, 2013

Macgyver Challenge Day 20....Homemade breakfast burritos

There's a bit of a joke I have with my husband and a few friends. When I was pregnant with my son, I didn't have a single craving, but I DID want a HOT breakfast daily. In fact, towards the end of my pregnancy, engulfed in hormones and feeling as big a circus tent.. and overdue... I remember breaking down in tears because all I wanted was a hot breakfast. I didn't even care what it was, I just wanted something warm in my huge belly. Now that I'm a mom, I'm finding I have less and less time for breakfast in the morning, but am still craving that hot breakfast. I've made homemade breakfast English muffins before, and that got me thinking about my one true breakfast love....
I hereby proclaim my deep love for breakfast burritos. I am not joking when I say this: I could eat a breakfast burrito every single day until I die. I also hereby proclaim my disdain for how crazy expensive frozen breakfast burritos are! $3 per burrito? Are you kidding me? That's almost 25% of my entire monthly food budget, spent on one person's breakfast daily! Since my bff breakfast burrito and I don't plan on breaking up anytime soon, I knew I had to find a way to make these little wrapped up bundles of happiness, at home.
Homemade Frozen Breakfast Burritos

Ingredients:
-12 eggs & Milk for scrambled eggs
-2 lbs breakfast sausage (I used turkey breakfast sausage)
-One 15oz. can corn and peppers
-1 package frozen pre-cooked hashbrowns
-12 oz. of shredded cheddar cheese
-Salsa to taste
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Flour tortillas (I used a mix of large and small tortillas, so I made large and smaller burritos)

-Small freezer bags
-Wax paper

Directions:
Start by cooking all ingredients that you want to fill your little wrapped pieces of heaven. I love eggs, some form of meat, hash browns, and for a little kick, I used a can of corn and peppers. 

-I cooked a dozen eggs mixed with some milk to make my scrambled eggs. Set that aside in a large bowl and allow to cool. (You could also use egg whites here to save calories).
-Cook your meat. I chose low fat turkey sausage and added a little salt and pepper. Set that aside and allow to cool. (Ideas: bacon, turkey bacon, regular sausage, turkey or chicken sausage, chorizo, or ham).

-Yes, I'm a cheater... I was not grating potatoes and cooking my own hash browns. I got the the ones you pop in the toaster, and allowed them to defrost so I could get handfuls of hash browns rather than a big patty.
My "kitchen" in the extended stay. 
If you're also doing the Macgyver challenge... don't forget to keep setting this bad boy!!


Once all your ingredients are cool, you can begin filling, rolling, and wrapping your burritos.



For mine, each burrito used about 2 tbsp of egg, 2 tbsp of meat, 2 tbsp. of hash browns, 1 tbsp of corn, a sprinkle of cheese, a shake of hot sauce, and a dash of pepper, on a warm tortilla. Wrap your burrito up, placing the seam on the bottom to allow it to seal to itself. You don't have to do anything fancy here, the weight of the burrito will help hold the whole thing together.

Once you've rolled all your burritos, it's time to wrap them each in a sheet of wax paper, then place in an airtight ziplock freezer bag. It is SUPER important that you use a freezer bag here, to prevent freezer burn. I am able to fit 3 small burritos in a small freezer bag, and one large burrito in a small freezer bag. Remove all the air from the bag, and seal. Lay flat in the freezer and allow to freeze at least overnight.

To reheat:
-Remove the burrito from the freezer bag, and wax paper for about 5-10 minutes before you need to heat it.
-Place on a microwave safe plate, or wrap in a paper towel and Heat 2-3 minutes in a microwave.
-Add topping of your choice (I use plain greek yogurt, salsa, and avocado.. or sometimes just eat it straight).
- ENJOY.

Or, like most mornings for me, throw it in your bag, or eat it one handed while lugging a car seat out the door :)

Makes about 10-15 burritos depending on the size you use. Now here's the fun part... The cost? Less than $1 each! 




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Zen and the art of diffusing a kitchen bomb with a piece of chewing gum.

She glances up from her newest cookbook at the two burner stove that properly functions about as often as our government. A pile of ingredients rest on the kitchen table/workspace/desk/living room table. She smirks at the tiny sink and dishwasher that does little more than steam dirty plates. Challenge, accepted.

We've been sentenced to 25 days in an extended stay-style motel room.

I've begun writing "redrum" on the outside window with my index finger and spent countless hours staring at the ceiling wondering what, exactly, IS that stain?? My husband is sleeping on the couch. Our evenings are spent staring at each other like zombies, across the single small table in the room. I've discovered cooking in this um, "kitchen" is more like an episode of Macgyver than Rachael Ray.

Thank goodness I packed a survival kit:

*My Calphalon knife set including kitchen scissors
*2 stainless steel pans
* Salt, pepper, and sweet paprika
* Measuring cup set
*2 mixing bowls
*My wood chopping block

And, my trusty crock pot. That's it folks. That's all I have. So far, we haven't died of hunger and I've managed to make a meal every single night. Here's one of the modified recipes I've made so far:

Loaded baked potato soup in a crockpot:

Ingredients:
5 slices thick cut bacon, cut in small pieces
4 garlic cloves
1 large minced onion
1 tsp thyme
4 tbsp. flour
5 cups chicken broth
3 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Cheese, plain greek yogurt, and chives for topping.

-Cook bacon in a skillet until fully cooked through. Remove and place on a plate.
-Cook onion in the skillet with the bacon fat until translucent, add garlic and thyme.
-Add flour to the onions to coat, and cook until translucent again (about 1-2 minutes).
-Add 1 cup chicken brother and stir. Allow to cook down until the onions become sort of gooey.
-Transfer onion mixture and bacon into the crockpot.
-Add the remaining broth.
-Cook on high 4-5 hours, or until potatoes are tender.
-Once the potatoes are tender, mash in the pot and add milk and cream.
-Mix well, allow to cook for about 5-10 minutes more to heat the milk and cream.
-Scoop out each serving, top with a heaping dollop of greek yogurt, cheese and green onions or chives.
Makes about 6-8 dinner-size bowl servings.

Macgyver challenge note: I forgot my potato masher and potato peeler.. so I found myself with a fork and slotted wooden spoon mashing these bad boys up. I left a lot of cooked chunks, and it actually really added to the texture of the meal. My husband (while noticing me attempting to use the dilapidated slicer that came with the room on 3 pounds of potatoes), asked me "I guess you've never spent time in the brink?". No husband, I haven't... until just now.





Tuesday, October 8, 2013

11 things I wish someone had told me about raising a newborn

My motivation to writing this post was an epic meltdown from my 15 week old son last night, a particularly rough night, and another rough morning. Today, my salvation is brought to me in the form of fresh brewed coffee and blogging.

 I was never the woman who dreamed of being a mother. I knew I always wanted children, but I wasn't "that girl" (and it's not a bad thing if you are/were), I was just more focused on attaining happiness through things of which I controlled (i.e. a career, my relationship with friends/family/hubby). I knew motherhood would be an adjustment, and I believed the women who said it would be tough. But hear me when I say: it has been the greatest, hardest thing I have ever taken on. I wish someone had told me some of the things I have posted here, as it might have saved me hours of pouring over the net and calling friends, searching for answers, and helped me better prepare for this new life.

11. Blast the GAS. For us, this means gas drops, gripe water, and/or rocking little one's hips toward his belly while he's on his back. You'd be amazed at what relief a good fart can bring to a baby. :)
10. Your body will change in ways you never dreamed possible. Yes, there's those pinterest images that say "I created life" or "Stretch marks are my tiger stripes!". I get it. But that doesn't make looking at your new body any easier. The good news is, most days you'll be so sleep deprived you won't even notice. 
9. Sleep deprivation is the devil I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Long term sleep deprivation will make you feel stupid, careless, cranky, and like you're losing your mind. I have gotten stupider in the past 3 months. Get your PhD. and memorize the entire Encyclopedia Britannica while pregnant, so when extreme sleep deprivation kicks in, you'll still be amazingly intelligent.
8. A good white noise app is your saving grace. My baby loves white noise, it helps him calm down and sleep longer. It also drowns out the sound of the fedex man knocking at the door, the dogs barking, or mommy yelling at the 49ers game in the other room.
7. Plans change. Flexibility is key. Hi. My name is Cassandra, and I have a Type-A personality. I don't choose to be this way, but this is the way I am hard wired. I actively work to not be so Type-A, but alas, there aren't many bones in my body that thrive with the "we'll just see what happens" mentality. There's a reason my nickname is "worst case scenario Cass"... I always think of every last thing that could happen in any given situation. This spells BIG trouble when you are a parent, and also when you're pregnant. Which leads me to the following:
a) Birth plans are great for day dreaming, but be prepared to wad it up and throw it at someone when it doesn't happen. The only things on my birth plan that went the way I had planned? Arrive at hospital & Have a healthy baby. Everything else went out the window, no matter how hard I tried. Sometimes you can't change the way things are going to happen.
b) Nursing? Not nursing? Again, be prepared for that to change. Read this
6. TRUST YOUR GUT. Believe me! I didn't, because my theory was that my "gut instinct" was underdeveloped, I was a new mom, and what did I know anyways? Truth is, my gut is what got my baby diagnosed with posterior tongue tie and lip tie, off the "failure to thrive" diagnosis, and healthy. I should have trusted it in the beginning, but I listened to 6 different doctors and just blindly did as they said until my gut instinct lept up and beat me senseless until I listened. 
5. Grow out your bangs. Grow out your hair. Consider lasering EVERYTHING. You just won't have time for it. Conditioner will begin to feel like a luxury item. A 5 minute shower will feel like a day at the spa.
4. Invest in multiple black t-shirts, tanks, leggings, long sweaters, and layers. When you're purchasing this, ask yourself, "If I spilled coffee all over this, would anyone notice?" If the answer is "yes", it ain't going to work, momma. Your new definition of high fashion will be going one day without being spit up on. You'll also find yourself weirdly hot or oddly cold when no one else is, and you'll need to be prepared to strip off layers or add them on. This also will help you avoid the tempting road of yoga pants as actual clothing.
3. Your relationship with your husband/boyfriend/significant other will change dramatically. Those long meals listening to Otis Redding, enjoying a bottle of wine while cooking together, and asking how each others day went are now replaced with "was that diaper poo-poo or pee-pee? What color was it? Can you watch him while I pump?". For now, those dinners are gone, but they'll return in time. Make time for just the two of you, if you can. We manage one date night a month right now, and it's our time to just reconnect. Help each other out. Realize that it's stressful for both of you, but you're in it together. AND, know that he sees you as a powerful, amazing woman... because you are the mother of his child.. and that hot little skinny blonde down the road? She doesn't even register for him. You're wonderwoman to him :)
 2. Learn a kick ass lullabye. I'm not talking Mary had a little lamb. Mine is "Dream a little dream of me" by Ella Fitzgerald. Learn the lyrics, learn to sing it well, even if you don't sing. This is for your sanity. I learned this trick a little late, but it psychologically conditions me to calm down while baby is SCREAMING and fighting sleep, again, for the 15th time today. If I had known this while pregnant, I would have sang this song over and over again while in the rocking chair to condition myself before he was born.
1. I know this sounds like a "duh" but parenting is CRAZY HARD, and any mother that says its easy is a DAMN LIAR. Yes, that sentence calls for caps. I would scream this from the roof tops if I could. Every mother has had that moment when they say, "I can't do this anymore!". And believe me when I say this, every. single. mother. has been there. You're dealing with the baby blues (I was crying one minute over how happy I was with my perfect little family, then the next second crying because I couldn't get the diaper on straight and was 'failing' as a parent.. I was pacing at 3 am off of 2 hours of sleep and afraid to give my son a paci to calm down.. crying and wanting to just run away from everything), and there's going to be those moments when you're going to go insane. I say, go insane. It's cool. Go with it. In fact, go bat shit crazy. Punch a pillow in another room while baby is tucked safely in the crib. Pass baby off to Daddy and leave the house if you have to. Go for a walk. Do what you need to in order to deal with those feelings safely and do not, not even for one second, feel guilty over initiating some self care. No one expects you to be wonderwoman. You are not a failure if your baby cries, even though you'll feel that way. No ones baby is perfect all the time, and no one person is a perfect mother all the time. If I could go back in time and talk to myself at 3 weeks postpartum, I'd say: you're not failing! Yes, that screaming SUCKS. But here's the BEST advice I've EVER read:

Being a newborn is really hard. It's your job to help your little one navigate his intense emotions, because he can't communicate and doesn't even understand what's happening to him. How would you feel if someone took away your ability to communicate, you couldn't feed yourself, and couldn't soothe yourself?

I repeat this to myself multiple times a day. Often with a screaming child in my ear. It's my job to help him calm down, it's my job to help him soothe. As anxious, tired, and stressed out as I am, my job is not to react just to my emotions, but to help him navigate his. 

 And one last piece of advice....there's no guilt in motherhood. Or, at least there shouldn't be. The last I checked, there's no real "Mother of the year" award, Pinterest isn't real life, Martha Stewart has a gaggle of assistants, no one's house REALLY looks like that ALL the time, and no one is perfect. Don't feel guilty over needing time for yourself, or a break, or feeling stressed out, or not entirely connected to your baby. It happens. I certainly don't know everything, but I wish I could have told myself these things four months ago. I wish I could have eased the pressure I put on myself to be perfect, because I was only setting myself up to feel like a constant failure. Oh, and.. when your baby starts smiling.. everything changes. Being sleep deprived at 3:34am, only to hear baby cooing.. you flip on the lights, rub your eyes, question why in the world he's up again, already, dear God can you please just sleep... and you see his smiling face looking at you??  You betcha, it's ALL worth it. 



PS... That mom on your facebook newsfeed? You know the one.. Her life is perfect, right? Her baby sleeps through the night, is such a good baby, motherhood is a breeze, its the best/least stressful thing on the planet? .....

She's a liar, and we all know it. ;)





Monday, October 7, 2013

20 day challenge: Day 1

While we patiently await the closing of our new home, we are living in an extended stay-style hotel. When I was a child, I always dreamed of how COOL it would be to live in a hotel. Oh my! I could run around, someone could clean up after me! It'd be like vacation every day! As an adult? Not so much. I've found myself living out of a hotel and a suitcase a few times in my life, as I've relocated states and been in the process of settling in. I've also come to realize the 'creature comforts' of your own home.. like an oven. Or people not taking your clothes out of the dryer early to put theirs in. Or remembering your room key anytime you leave. Or knowing there's always ice cream for sale... right down the hall. While we are in this transition, I figured I'd make it an endurance challenge... "How long can we survive in a hotel with a 15 week old, cooking meals, and without losing my sanity?"

My challenge is 20 days long, and I have a feeling our home will feel like a palace by the time we move in. By far, my biggest challenge here has been cooking 'one-dish' meals. I have realized I am the person who often uses every single pot, pan, and kitchen accessory I own while cooking these elaborate meals. Sure, I could cook up some mac n' cheese, throw some bread crumbs and chicken on it and call it a night.. every night. But what kind of challenge is that? So far, I've managed to make pork chops deglazed with cinnamon apples and mashed potatoes, and chicken tacos with guacamole and grilled onions. Tonight, it's steak (again deglazed... I have a feeling this will be my favorite new trick), with garlic couscous and broccoli.

Most importantly with this challenge, is my transition in my new role. I have 'retired' from the retail world, and am now a stay at home mom. This was a choice that I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to take, and I'm looking forward to learning this new job. Stay at home moms sometimes get a bad rap and can lose their identity in caring for their families..  I've always defined myself as a go-getter, passionate, intelligent, and ready to take on the world. I'll now be doing that with a Moby wrapped baby on me, instead of my laptop. I'm trading conference calls for baby monitor calls, corporate visits for zoo visits, and excel files for baby nail files.. and I've never felt more incompetent in my life! I'm learning how to navigate this new job, without the new employee orientation or handbooks of my previous jobs. But most importantly, I'm already loving this challenge. I'm excited to watch my son change and grow every single day, and very thankful that I'll be able to be here to see it.
I know this won't be blissful every day, but I'm looking forward to a real holiday season, where my concern is not scouring the dishes so I can take midnight sales reads and head to work, rather, scouring the dishes so I can enjoy some pumpkin pie with family. Spending Christmas eve waiting for Santa.. instead of shoppers. Singing carols about the season, instead of sales numbers. I've never known a holiday without retail, and I am SO looking forward to those moments, and making memories with my family.


Goodbye Spring Ridge love...

My husband and I have officially sold and closed on our beautiful first home in Utah, and have moved to Minnesota. I never knew I could be so attached to a possession, and I found myself recalling many fond memories while packing. This was the house my husband proposed to me in (via a scavenger hunt of all our best memories as a couple), this was the house our puppy became a full sized dog (and would run up the stairs, only to whimper because she was afraid to go DOWN them), the house we made so many wonderful memories in, and the house we literally poured our heart and soul into. As we begin this exciting new chapter of our lives, and I transition into the role of a stay at home mom, I can only hope that the next couple who owns the home loves it as much as I did. I am filled with that promise, as it was an older couple who purchased it from us, and the wife was very excited to garden in my garden (GOOD- because as you all know, that garden space was a friggin' fire pit when I purchased the home, and I spent THREE YEARS composting, tilling, and renewing the soil back into shape.. okay, rant over ;)  ). 

With all that being said, this blog will need to make a bit of a transition. Our new home doesn't have much to do for dramatic DIY restorations, which is a welcomed blessing considering our newborn currently occupies every waking moment I have. While I figure out exactly what this blog will be and mean to me, I appreciate y'all hanging in there with me. I promise to post ramblings from the midwest, and pass along whatever is currently making my life joyful, as I've always done... but it may be more casseroles and less caulking. More hot dish meals, and less hot mess walls. More fun decorating projects, and less fun remodeling while my husband is away projects (although I'm sure there's still plenty of trouble I can get into in the new house, honey!).

Sweet Spring Ridge drive, you will always hold a place of fond memories in my heart. So much love, laughter, and great times were had in this house, and you will forever be cherished!


Now... let's move into THIS house.. shall we?


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My breastfeeding manifesto.

Please read this article: What breastfeeding moms need to be told


 Harry Harlow conducted a classic psychological experiment involving nature and loving. A monkey was given the choice between a mechanical device that would feed it the milk it needed, or a soft plush toy that resembled it's mother, contained no food, but provided a sense of security and love. The monkeys chose the doll...... and starved........

When I was pregnant, I had fun selecting nursing gear. I got a special nursing pillow, bought the Medella advanced pump and all the fancy accessories. I dreamed of nursing my baby and spending time building up a huge supply in the deep freeze for when I returned to work. I wanted to be one of those moms you see in the ads for breastfeeding supplies, blissfully nursing their baby, and smiling. I was told it would be natural, easy, and what's best for my child. So obviously that's what I intended on doing. I planned on nursing. I planned on having that relationship. I planned on bonding with my baby multiple times a day during my maternity leave. Instead, I have been both the feeding machine, and the nurturing monkey doll, but never once at the same time.

On June 18th at 4:34pm after 23 long hours of labor, my son Connor was born. I was one week overdue, and was induced. At the time, we did not know that we had cephalopelvic disproportion (or, in lay terms, his head would never fit through my pelvis- too big head, too small pelvis). The entire process of the c-section was traumatic.It was not what I had planned, and left me feeling like a failure. I felt like less of a woman because I could not, not matter how hard I tried and how much pain I was in, birth my child the "natural" way.

Our recovery went smoothly. The lactation consultant popped by and checked how things were going in the hospital, and said everything looked great. I was elated. Finally, we have a win. We so desperately needed to "win" at something, and we thought it was breastfeeding. Finally, I could be one of those women that things came 'naturally' with. Then we came home. My family said that nursing is painful the first few weeks but then gets better. I knew I was in for cracked and sore nipples, so I sucked it up. I shoved a towel in my mouth to keep from screaming every time he latched on, and went about my business 8-12 times a day for 2 weeks like this. When we went for our 2 week checkup, the pediatrician told me Connor had not gained enough weight back, and was concerned. She said we needed to consider supplementing, but gave me no answers as to what exactly was wrong or affecting breast feeding, other than I "wasn't producing enough milk". So, I diligently went online, contacted friends and went nuts taking supplements, eating oatmeal, and pumping round the clock to build my supply... then a chunk of my nipple came off. Oh well, shove the towel back in my mouth, muffle the scream, wipe the tears, keep going. Little did I know, I was barely more than the stuffed monkey doll to him.

I tried to make an appointment to see the lactation specialist at our hospital, and of course.. they were booked for 2 weeks. So now we're on week 4- Connor was getting 1 supplement bottle a day, and I was pumping round the clock after feeding him. He would nurse for 45 minutes to an hour every time, fall asleep, then wake up hungry about 10 minutes later. That would give me just enough time to pump and feed it to him. I wondered why there was always so much left to feed him, and why he was waking up hungry. This process was exhausting and left me with a little over 40 minutes of sleep nightly for 3 weeks. I was a weepy, emotional, sleep deprived mess.

When we finally got to see the lactation consultant, she had us nurse, gave me a nipple shield, and weighed him. She said in the 45 minutes he nursed, that he only managed to get out a half of an ounce. For his weight and age, he should have been drinking 2-3 ounces every feeding. She gave me a bottle of formula and told me the main objective was to get the baby back to breast, but make sure the baby is fed. I had high hopes in the nipple shield, and thought maybe if my nipples could heal enough, that I would somehow be able to feed him better. She was out of advice, but she knew another lactation consultant that she wanted me to get a second opinion from.. and so I went to her the next week.

When I saw the second lactation consultant, she immediately told me I had yeast. This was blocking my ducts, affecting my nipples, and causing the crazy pain I was in. She told me shoving a towel in my mouth to muffle the screams is not normal at 4 weeks in. Things should have adjusted by now. We should be further along than we were. She told me something else wasn't right. And so, she prescribed anti-fungal medication and a very strict regimen to follow to beat the yeast.. of which we still follow: 10 drops of Grapefruit seed extract in 2 tablespoons of water and swab on nipples after every feeding and for every waking hour; wash all clothing that comes in contact with my chest or at all with Connor in hot water with a cup of vinegar, after every use- all nipples, pacifiers, and pump parts need to be washed with hot, soapy water, then sanitized in the microwave, no more towels in the kitchen- use paper towels, taking high doses of probiotics, and using a special cream on my nipples. All this, in addition to using a hospital grade pump, and pumping every 2-3 hours (especially throughout the night when production can be higher)....

 I was exhausted. BUT, I was feeding my son almost solely on breast milk. It was my mission in life to figure out this nursing thing and feed my son. I didn't care what it cost me physically or emotionally. I was desperate to give him any drops of liquid gold that I could.

At this point, I had begun to lose hope that we would ever have a real breatfeeding relationship. I felt like a milk cow, hooked up to a machine 24/7 just to feed my son, without any of those warm and fuzzy bonding moments I saw so frequently in the media. I was just a source of nutrition for my son, not his source of comfort.. and that broke my heart. I was the mechanical source of nutrition, but not the warm fuzzy mom he needed. I felt like I was failing him as a mother.

In the back of my head, something kept telling me there was more we didn't know. When I'm pumping out 25 ounces a day, but he's only able to transfer half an ounce? I don't think it's my supply. When I hear clicking if he takes a bottle or nurses? And how do we explain the chunks missing from my nipples? The shooting pain that feels like glass in my breasts all day- every day? I started doing google searches and reading articles, until I eventually came upon tongue tie. I read the symptoms to my husband one night, and we both agreed without even seeing the doctor: our son has tongue tie. SO... another appointment to the lactation consultant and pediatrician at 6 weeks in... And yes, he has posterior tongue tie.

At 7 weeks of age, we brought Connor to the pediatric dentist to have the laser tongue and lip tie procedure. It had been the hardest day since he was born, for me. I was a weepy mess from the moment we went into the room. I knew the procedure had to be done, and that the laser method was far more humane than the doctors who snip it with scissors... but it broke my heart to swaddle him and watch the doctor check in his mouth with his gloved fingers. They asked me how breastfeeding was going. While choking back tears, I had to tell them "It's not". Although we still breastfeed a few times a day, he doesn't get anything more than comfort out of it. I'm in nonstop, agonizing pain that I've just come to accept as a part of my reality as a mother. I was sent into another room to prepare to breastfeed once the procedure was over, and my husband stayed with Connor throughout the procedure. My men are SO STRONG. I started crying the moment the procedure began, as I heard Connor down the hall. There is something about the "pain cry" that absolutely kills me inside.


Throughout all of my experiences being pregnant and post-pregnancy, someone has had something to say that has been inappropriate and cast undue judgement on me for the decisions I've made. First it was the random ladies at the nail salon telling me how "selfish it is to be induced" and that "any responsible mother would never do that to her child"..

Then, it was with a VERY heavy heart, on the day I was at Target to purchase formula. I had spent several days in tears, several nights having complete breakdowns, journaling to find some peace and resolution, only to realize that I had a hungry baby and at the time was not able to feed him. So, I went alone to Target to purchase the formula to supplement. I struggled looking at package after package, wondering which would be best- Why can't I just breastfeed like everyone else?, and holding back tears... when a man raised his voice while talking to his wife (it was extremely obvious he was speaking indirectly to me), and said "I don't know why any mother would ever give their child formula. Don't they know breast is best? God, I feel so sorry for that baby. That is so selfish".

Then, I find a corner at the hospital to TRY to nurse my son, if nothing else, than to calm him down after his doctor visit. I put on our shawl cover, use my breast shield, choke back the pain and latch him on. He's happy and content, not getting much milk, but calming down. I'm out of the way of traffic on the third floor, and two ladies deliberately walk past me. One says "Ugh, can't they do that at home?", and the other ROLLS HER EYES. wow. 

As Connor heals and we do his stretching exercises and OT exercises, I'm realizing that he and I will never have the traditional breastfeeding relationship. He has a disorganized suck, and there isn't a lot of hope in un-training what he's learned thus far. We're now going to see an ENT specialist, but not putting much stock in that. We will most likely need to try to nurse when I can stand the pain, pump as much as possible, and supplement when there just isn't enough.

Throughout this entire experience, I have found myself questioning and then defending my decisions. I have been judged. I have judged myself. I have constantly felt like a failure... and failing at anything is the biggest thing I fear in this world. I have cried buckets of tears. I have felt like I'm less of a woman, or that I am broken. I have endured immense pain. I have screamed into countless towels. I have used all the deep breathing techniques I learned in prenatal yoga. I have bled. I have tried and given my heart and soul to have a breastfeeding relationship with my son. I have stood, shaking, crying, asking my husband to give my son the bottle of formula, telling them both that I again, have failed him on food. "Mommy isn't good enough." "Mommy is broken". "Mommy is not a good Mommy, and my best isn't enough". I have questioned if I am ever going to be a good mother.

Everyone seems to have an opinion, and most of the time it's influenced by misguided, or uninformed hearsay. My new answer to "Breast or bottle?" will be "YES". Let them figure it out. There's two distinct feeding camps- the "I choose to breastfeed" and the "I choose to formula feed"... well my camp is the "I really, really, more than anything wanted to breastfeed and gave it my heart and soul, but now I pump a zillion times a day and give formula when he needs it"- camp. My feelings of failure stem purely from how society and the media label any mother who isn't breastfeeding. I'm not a failure for doing everything I can for my son, and I dare say that my commitment to pushing through this pain and leaving no stone unturned makes me even stronger. My son is healthy. He's gaining weight, and he's getting as much "liquid gold" as humanly possible. It wasn't the road I would have chosen, but it's the one we're on. For now, I spend every day trying to come to terms with these labels, understanding where I fit in, and trying my best to calm some of the deep judgment I've cast on myself.

For those of you who are ignorant to breastfeeding, please understand this. Sometimes, it isn't natural, and it sure as hell isn't always easy. Sometimes the mom has no choice, and being a good mom means doing what's best for your baby- pride aside. Please keep the comments to yourself, because you have NO IDEA what that mommy could be going through. She's just trying to be both food, and the nurturing monkey for her child, in the best way she knows how.




Saturday, June 15, 2013

I scream, you scream, we ALL scream for homemade ice cream!

Okay, I am very late to the trend of making ice cream at home- so perhaps my joy and enthusiasm over homemade ice cream is a little overblown. However, I'm addicted to this thing. My husband and I started by making vanilla with the vanilla extract I made last year, then progressed to chocolate. I eventually got ambitious and have made cookies and cream, strawberry with fresh strawberries pureed first, peaches and cream from last years canning crop of peaches, chocolate sorbet, and my newest experiment.... to recreate the tangy delight of Pinkberry Frozen yogurt. I ADORE Pinkberry, and the only one in Utah just so happens to be at the airport. Since I can't jetset just to get some froyo, I figure this recipe is in dire need in my house.. plus I am running out of things to do.. while overdue. ( I was due June 10th... that has yet to happen!). I'm still working on the recipe and process, and will post the results once I've perfected the closest I can get to the true thing. I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the idea of knowing exactly what goes into what my family is eating... in fact, I think I'm getting a little obsessed about it now....


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Homemade knock-off Jello Pudding pops!

Maybe it's just me, but I could sum up my childhood memories with the voice of Bill Cosby saying "Jell-o pudding pops!". Those delicious vanilla and chocolate pops were blended, swirled, amazing goodness on a wooden stick. They were the highlight to the end of a long summers day, a treat when I'd completed my chores, and just about all the motivation I ever needed to get anything my grandparents wanted done. And now, like so many other things from my childhood.. they don't exist anymore. Here's the closest I could find and create for the knock-off- The consistency is the same as the original if you let them freeze overnight instead of just a few hours. I found that my Popsicle maker from Tupperware just didn't quite seem to mold the right way, so I used Dixie cups and Popsicle sticks.

 I really hope one day my children don't look at me when I speak about Jell-o pudding pops the same way I do when my Grandparents reminisce about lavender candy and black licorice *(yuck!)*.....

1 package JELL-O chocolate pudding mix
2 Cups milk
1 cup cool whip

Cups & Sticks

-Blend the pudding mix and milk with a whisk for 2-3 minutes until smooth
-Stir in the cool whip
-Put mixture into each small cup and add a wooden stick to the middle.
-Freeze overnight
-To remove, squeeze the sides of the cup, or run quickly under warm water to loosen.

You could also layer chocolate and vanilla (my favorite), by following the recipe above, but create layers when spooning into the cups.

Relax, enjoy the nostalgia.. :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Garden IN, Gardenin'.

I have to say, few things in life make me as happy as my garden in full bloom. However, this has been one of my most challenging years, as it's proved challenging to till, prep, and plant the garden with a big old belly. It normally takes me about two weekends to fully prep and plant my garden, whereas this year it took close to four. I move at the speed of molasses these days, but my determination to get this garden in has helped push me through. I've also had to ask for more help than I ever normally would in order to get it all done. Thankfully, the garden is IN, planted, fertilized, and ready to go for summer.
I've spruced up a few things this year, as we removed the grape vine and added a real fence (my husband didn't think it was the safest idea for me to be stepping over chicken wire every day!). My eventual goal is to fully plant out the entire left side boxes of the garden with perennials like salvia and sage, so there is bright color that also attracts the honey bees for pollination. I made some fun signs with saucy titles to label my garden, and got a couple of cool decorative pieces. We also had part of our fence blow down during the winter, which was what prompted the grape vine removal, and we plan on slowly replacing the entire back fence over the next few years.

 This is the time of year that I look at my garden and say "it's so little!".. but in a few short months will be enjoying a glass of wine at the outdoor table lit by our cafe string lights or candles in big blue mason jars, eating a healthy meal from the garden in full harvest.. thinking to myself: "Life cannot get any better than this".

The difference this year is that there will be three of us at that table enjoying and appreciating our little life :)



Blackboard MDF cut to size at Home Depot, then glued using Liquid Nails to left over pieces from our fence project. I sauced things up a bit with "Hey Mickey you're so fine BASIL", "Identity crisis cucumber: Am I a lemon? Am I a cucumber?". "Tomatoes: killer and attack of...", "Peter Rabbit's Carrots", "Who you callin' yellow?! Squash", "Vampire Deterrent", "Heart break onions", "Mini Jack Skeletons: Pumpkin Kings", and "Turning Japanese Eggplant". 






Grow little guys, grow!! I'm so excited for this years crop: Herbs: Rosemary, basil, mint, cilantro, garlic. Green, red, and yellow bell peppers Japanese eggplant, lemon cucumber, Armenian cucumber, onions, potatoes, crookneck squash, zucchini, mini pumpkins, carrots, and tomatoes. MMMmmm. I can taste the pico de gallo, grilled squash, pickled carrots, and mojitos now!!

Finished nursery

The nursery is finished!! My awesome husband had a lot to do on this project: rip up baseboard and replace with new ones, rip out old blinds, install chair railing, and tons and tons of painting, not to mention some serious safety upgrades on our electrical. Obviously, I wasn't really allowed in during any of these phases.. which will probably be the one and only time I escape a home remodel project! I couldn't be happier with how the whole thing turned out, and am so thankful to my hubby for all he did. Now, we just play the waiting game until our little bean arrives....

 
Nursery BEFORE


Nasty baseboards ripped up... see ya!

"Some assembly required"



Looks like he's enjoying this whole thing, right?



I re-purposed the table numbers from our wedding, using the frames I painted and sanded last year. I found the Beatrix Potter prints I wanted from online, printed them on cardstock, and trimmed to fit. My favorite story growing up was "The Tale of Two Bad Mice", so I made sure I got a few prints of those in there as well. 

Found this guy from Pottery Barn and had to have it!

Grandma Rose made us this beautiful quilt for the baby


I had to do some major restoration and clean up on this little guy, but it was worth it. My father made this, and my mother painted it. It literally is priceless to me :)

My DIY ruffled curtains. LOVE them!!

I'm apparently SO confident this baby is a girl, that I made the burlap "G"... If I'm wrong, I'll be making a "C"!


All finished!

We'll see in just a few weeks......SO EXCITED!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Whirlwinds and Headspins...

Everything is done in preparation for the baby's arrival, and we are 17 days away from my estimated due date. I've been in a whirlwind trying to wrap everything up at work, life, and home, so that I can truly take the 12 weeks off to spend with the baby. I have great photos of the completed nursery, my garden, and a few other side projects that I just need to sit down and commit to this blog (that'll happen this weekend!). But other than that, I've been in a bit of a headspin.

Wow. In 17 days (or less.. or more... better not be more), I'm going to have one of those little things I see being pushed around and carried everyday at my workplace. They seem so tiny. So helpless. Their little cries make you just want to cry. I'm pretty certain every cereal bowl in my house has a chip in it from me accidentally dropping it on the counter. I'm really hoping that doesn't happen with my little one. I am equal parts excited and terrified. And I need to be honest in that. Everyone has done a great job telling me how it will be so different when it's my own child, how I'll look at them from the moment they're born and just *boom* become a mother. Apparently mothers are born and not made. That works for me, as I've received no training for this. I think as I get closer and closer to finding out what this child is.. Are you Grace or are you Connor? And who this child is... Do you look like Daddy? Mommy? Both?.... I become happier and more excited... but still equal parts terrified.

So anyways, on my agenda this Memorial Day weekend: Spend some time doing things I want to do that I know I won't have time or energy for in a few weeks:
1. SLC Prenatal Massage this AM (Have I mentioned how this was the best investment I have made during my pregnancy??? (http://www.slcprenatalmassage.com/    Tessa is AMAZING).
2. Thrift store shopping for little golden books and a bookcase. Let's Macklemore it up peeps!!
3. Gardening: now that my garden is planted (see post this weekend!), it'll be needing compost, weeding, and some TLC before the heat sets in. I also need to plant salvia and lavender in the garden to encourage the bees to come in do their thang... pollinate those cucumbers please bees! I love you, I promise! It's only the wasps I'm trying to murder.. I swear!!
4. Finish the front yard landscaping.... holy crap, we need MORE bark mulch. It's like it EATS that stuff.
5. TENT SALE at TAI PAN!!!! Can you sense my excitement?! They only do these a few times a year, and this is my absolute favorite home store. I am SO excited to find some goodies and hopefully some great deals (50-70% off! If you live in Utah and love Tai Pan, it runs through June 8th... but I'm sure the good stuff will go FAST!).
6. Party like a pregnant rockstar. Um. Yeah. This means BBQ-ing and watching the ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT season on Netflix that premieres this weekend. Maybe while having a sassy little mocktail :)

Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Nursery Update #2

Ever have one of those days where you think to yourself, "If I have to go to Home Depot ONE more time today, I'm going to have a break from reality"? Have you ever told the people at Home Depot (who know you by name and face), "If you see me here again today, just shoot me."?
That would be me today.
My morning started off fine enough, with a lovely return of third trimester morning sickness, then a trip to grab quick breakfast for the hubby and I, and a trip to Home Depot to grab more landscaping fabric (a whole other project- which I'll blog about tomorrow!). Last week, I picked up some picture hanging kits for the photo frames we'll be hanging in the nursery. Seeing as it is my husband and I's mission in life to get this nursery 100% complete by the end of this weekend, I figured we were all set.... Until I tried to put them on the actual frames this morning, ended up breaking the glass on one of the frames, and told myself "I'm not going back to that store today. No way, no how. I've got to find something around the house to make these puppies hang on the wall!".

So- I used pop can tabs and hot glue. I'm hoping they stick. Either way, I'm super excited that I did not have to go back to that dreadful store today. The picture below is my project. I used the table number seating frames from my wedding (which I picked up cheap, and spray painted then sanded to make them look shabby), with prints I found online and printed on card stock. Our theme is Beatrix Potter/ Hunca Munca/ Peter Rabbit, and I'm so excited to get the entire thing done to show it off. I also finally finished my ruffled curtain project, and am eager to get them hung and pressed.

But, for now, with a rock landscaping project going on in my backyard, Jace ripping apart the nursery, and me breaking glass/needing to pull weeds in the front yard and get some gardening done.. I'm in desperate need of some OM and am off to prenatal yoga. 31 weeks today!



Saturday, March 2, 2013

I profess my love of yoga & now prenatal yoga...

Preface:
I started practicing yoga in college. As much as I'd like to say that I was this amazing introspective 22 year old who knew I needed balance between a grueling school and work schedule, taking yoga as a way to balance my mind/body connection... the reality of the matter was: I needed another PE credit, it fit into my schedule, and I figured it would be an easy A. From what I had seen, it was just a bunch of hippies laying on mats chillin' out. I thought, "honestly, I can rest and up my GPA.. sweet". Little did I know just how much yoga would change my life and the way I view what is essential to me.
I was lucky enough to have my college instructor Lar Caughlan, and let me tell you- this dude is a certified hippie. His life adventures are the stuff box office movies are made of, and the stories he used to tell in class alone would keep me intrigued enough to come back for more every week. He was a firefighter, a film maker, mountaineer, and a naturalist involved in the rehabilitation and eventual freeing of a bald eagle. He learned yoga in India and authored a book with these immensely difficult, advanced poses off cliffs, waterfalls, canyons, mountains.. He taught 4 different classes at 3 different universities each week at the age of 60+. This dude was LEGIT.
I noticed while taking the class that the hardest part of yoga was silencing my mind. I didn't understand meditation. I didn't understand relaxation. And at the time, I truly didn't know how to sit in silence with myself and my thoughts. I was 22 and ran on a constant stream of coffee, red bull, and during finals "the red eye" from the local coffee shop: 2 cups of coffee, 4 shots of espresso, a ton of sugar, and a prayer they announced while calling out my order, as in "Good God, I hope you survive this drink and I don't have to fill out paperwork if you have a heart attack".  Life was crazy, and I thought that's what I thrived on. Lar's class forced me to pause. To sit. In silence. With my type A "go, go, GOOOOO!!" personality. He challenged me to do this practice daily. I can honestly say this was one of the biggest struggles of learning yoga. I was forced to turn inward and be alone with my thoughts, with my actions, with who I was as a person, and what I truly needed in order to find balance. It was awkward, uncomfortable, and weird... but oddly fulfilling. Over time, it got easier, and became something as essential as air for me. I kept taking his classes (even though I couldn't get credit for them), weened myself off the immense caffeine, and learned that I truly need balance in my life in order to be productive. I also learned that quiet time, meditation, and daily yoga are essential for my personality type. Yoga helps me center and forget about everything that isn't of importance. So you'll find me doing yoga when I'm stressed or have a big project coming up, meditating when I need to get my head right, or just when I need to take some time to reflect inward. That hippie turned me into a quasi-hippie, and I owe him the world......

A few months ago, my OB/GYN asked me what I was doing to stay healthy during my pregnancy, and I mentioned I had just started prenatal yoga, but had only been to one class. She was very excited about this, and I wondered why. I started my prenatal yoga practice at 16 weeks pregnant, and at the time, I had no major pains nor difficulty getting into my normal yoga poses. I naively assumed that it would stay this way throughout my pregnancy... oh boy (or girl?!) was I wrong. Around 22 weeks the pain in my hips became excruciating, as I moved from my "cute little hips" to "birthing hips" (something I plan on getting back after pregnancy btw!). Nevertheless, I found the poses that were usually quite restorative, were now unbearable. Then came the back pain and lack of balance. Again, a simple modified bridge brought me to near tears with sciatic pain driving me bonkers.

Going to yoga has been amazing every week, as my teacher is dedicated to helping the class ease those aches and pains, while building strength where it's desperately needed. My teacher kicks my butt with squats, lunges, warrior and tree poses, and has really helped me to understand what muscles I need to strengthen to help me on this journey. I've also learned great breathing techniques and poses that will help support my labor, and poses to do at home throughout the week to alleviate pain.

I go to the Yoga Path studio in Draper, Utah ( www.yogapath.com ) and cannot speak more highly of this studio. The classes are small, the care is nurturing, the people I've met have been great, and my teacher, Kelly, is awesome. I don't know how I would have survived with all of these changes to my body, plus working a full time job that has me on my feet all day, without prenatal yoga. I now understand why my OB/GYN was so excited I was taking up prenatal yoga, as this stuff is the bees knees :)
Om Belly :)

-Cassandra


Saturday, February 23, 2013

DIY wooden sign

The finished family sign
Snowed in today, so I figured I would post something I made this past spring before I was married. I LOVE those custom vinyl decal family signs. I just don't love the price ($300 for a wooden sign.. you're kidding me, right?) At the time, we were saving for the wedding, so I decided to make my own.

1. I used a large piece of 1" thick wood sheet bought from Home Depot. I had them cut it to the size I wanted for the sign, and kept the rest for another project.
Untreated wood 

2. I stained the light colored wood with a dark brown stain on the front and back.
After stain: LOVE this look, and could be used for so many things. When I remodeled my husband's man cave, I used this same board staining process, and hung a huge chunk of wood like this onto the wall, then ran LED lights at the bottom, hidden by the TV. The different LED colors onto the dark hardwood give a very masculine look and really help to create ambiance in that small room.

3. Once the stain dried, although I loved the look of the wood, I needed it to be a bit darker. I had some grey paint kicking around from when we painted the bedroom, and decided to rub some of that into the wood to darken it up a bit. I'm not exactly sure what this did, or how it did it, but it helped to give the sign a distressed, darker look. 
4. While all of that was drying and curing, I hopped on the computer in Microsoft Word, and created my sign. I used many fonts from 1001 free fonts  (1001freefonts.com), to customize the look, and give some character to my sign. This was the funnest part by far. I recalled things my husband and I did on our first date, places of significance to us, our nicknames for each other, things we loved, our last name, and our wedding date. This part made step 7 worth it.
Finished computer file image

5. Once I was satisfied, I sent my husband out to Kinko's with my design on a flash drive, and the size I needed it.
6. He returned with a printing the size I needed for the sign, and I set to work taping up the sign for the most tedious thing known to man.
7. I ran large strips of overlapping painters tape along the entire board, then taped the print out on top of it. My theory here, was that I would use an exact-o knife, and cut out each letter of each word. I settled in for a LONG night of cutting, finger cramps, and "why am I doing this again??" I traced over each part of each letter, then removed the white paper and green painters tape to reveal the dark wood underneath.
8. After 2 days of cutting out the lettering, I was ready for paint. I painted over the entire green area with bright white paint, let that dry, and applied 2 more coats. This gave me the raised lettering look I was going for.
9. After being 100% certain the entire thing had dried, I very carefully peeled off the painters tape, careful not to peel any of the lettering away.
10. I then used a very fine sanding block, and sanded areas of the painting to give it more of a distressed look.
11. Finally, I bought a picture hanging bracket kit from Home Depot, that included the nails and brackets to hang my board. I installed that, and slapped that bad boy up on my living room wall. 

Although it was a very tedious project, the entire thing only cost about $10, considering I already had the stain, paint, sanders block, and tape.

And the end result:




Friday, February 8, 2013

Recipe for this snow day: Spatzle

One of my fondest memories growing up was my Grandmother making Spatzle on cold, rainy days.  They are the German version of noodles, and they are doughy, yummy goodness. The funny thing is, as an adult I make these and call them my 'lazy noodles', because all you have to do is mix up the ingredients and drop them into boiling water. This recipe is for basic spatzle, and once cooked can be served with pasta, gravy, butter and fresh herbs, or just thrown straight into a soup. Today, I'm cooking chicken spatzle soup with carrots, cabbage, onion, and the leftover rotisserie chicken we had last night- mixed with some olive oil, butter, Herbs de Provence, and Thyme. Simple, easy, and perfect for a cold winter day.

Spatzle:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk 
Sift the flour, salt and nutmeg together. Pour eggs and milk into the flour mixture and mix well for about 2-3 minutes.Add more flour if needed to keep the dough sticky. Bring 4-5 cups of water to a rolling boil. Transfer the dough mixture onto a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut small sections of the dough and allow the dough to drop off the knife into the boiling water. You can use large knife cuttings, or smaller, depending on the size of noodle you want. I generally use long, thin knife cuttings, so the noodles turn out thinner. (You can also push the dough through a colander to obtain a more uniform noodle if you'd like). Once you've repeated this process with your dough, stir the cooking noodles with a slotted wooden spoon and allow to cook for 6-8 minutes.

Transfer noodles into butter, sauce, soup, or however you want to prepare them. They are yummy with butter, fresh Parmesan cheese, and a little fresh herbs (Fresh rosemary or Thyme from the garden when I can), or Herbs de Provence.

Enjoy! 

DIY Anthro/Pottery Barn knockoff ruffled curtains.. coming this weekend!

This week marks the start of the nursery planning. I have about 5 weeks left in my second trimester, and plan on using them to my advantage! I've been scouring Pinterest for the past few months for my ideal nursery, and although I'm seeing absolutely gorgeous designs, I'm not really seeing anything that fits what I see in my head (common problem), or would fit in my budget (Is zero a budget?). I would like to have a Beatrix Potter theme with soft, neutral colors. I know I'm going to have to shell out for a rocking chair/glider, and an area rug, so everything else is going to need to come in as cheap as possible. 

 I started thinking about window coverings for our currently undecorated "guest bedroom" (really, it's just a bed, ironing board, and a chair. I'd call it more of where the dogs decide to pass out if we mistakenly leave the door open, or the room where we iron). Of course, my first response was to go to Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, and Etsy for inspiration. Although there are some GORGEOUS window coverings on all of those sites, I just can't spend $300 on drapes. Even if I could, I still wouldn't. However.. I fell in LOVE with this:
This amazing shower curtain is from Etsy, and can be found here: Etsy Shower curtain Ombre. I love the ruffles, the ombre coloring, just everything about it. So, in true Cassandra fashion, I went rummaging through the fabric I have in my craft closet and came up with: An old white duvet with a stain on it in King Size (we have a queen size bed), a cream set of old sheets, and a linen window panel that I cut the bottom half off of for another project. I have my ombre colors, I have my fabric, I have an IDEA of how to do this, and potentially the sewing skills to scrape by. I think I'm going to pop by Walmart and pick up 2 super cheap cream colored sheets to tack the ruffles onto, and start cutting the strips to sew on this evening.

Nevertheless, this project is happening this weekend. Let the sewing and swearing commence!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Healthy (well, healthiER) version of Orange Julius

My husband and I got a large amount of oranges in our Bountiful Basket (www.bountifulbaskets.org) this week. That, coupled with the three oranges I had from last week and a hankering for an Orange Julius, led me to experiment with a recipe of my own. The result is very similar to the real thing, but made with fresh, natural ingredients. This still has sugar and vanilla in it so it definitely is a treat, but probably a lot healthier than the actual thing  (I believe that is made from frozen orange concentrate and corn syrup). Enjoy!


3 oranges
1 1/2 cups ice
1/2 cup of milk ( I used organic 2%)
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar (or creamed honey)
1 tsp. vanilla (used the vanilla I made at home in the other recipe :)  )
1 tsp of orange zest.

-Peel the oranges and freeze for about 45 minutes until cold, but not entirely frozen over. For best results, pop the oranges into a food processor and puree into a fine pulp blend. This will eliminate any chunks in your smoothie.
-Add oranges, ice, milk, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest into the blender, and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Pour into a fancy glass and enjoy!

*I used my Hamilton Beach personal blender for this smoothie, since my husband wanted a strawberry one instead. This recipe will make enough for one, but could be easily doubled or tripled into a full size blender.

Other options:
: Other fruit: Instead of oranges, use strawberries or bananas. I used about 1 1/2 cups of frozen strawberries (that I washed, cut, and froze last month), for my husbands drink, and he said it was just like the real thing.

:Creamsicle-Martini: (Sounds so yummy during a hot summer day!): Add a shot of "Whipped" vodka for an adult creamsicle, and serve in martini glasses with a wedge of orange.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Healthy Eating Part Two: Freezer Meals

I have to admit, when my friend Mika sent me photos of her pimped out fridge (with enough freezer meals for a MONTH), I cringed a little inside. My immediate reaction to freezer anything, was sodium-laden chemical bombs. Then I got to looking in my own freezer and realized at any given time, I have strawberries and bananas for smoothies, ginger and garlic for cooking, and peppers for when I don't feel like chopping. I was interested in learning more, and following Mika's advice, scoured the internet for different recipes. The result of my trials are the recipes listed below. The whole concept here is that you spend about an hour once every few weeks, assembling easy meals that are then laid flat in your freezer, and thrown into the crockpot when you're ready to eat them. I initially tested five recipes, which I'll post here, and made some pretty big modifications based upon health cheats (used homemade canned tomatoes instead of sodium-bomb store bought diced; added more veggies, used less meat, etc), and still came up with some pretty killer recipes. I can't say every single one is as healthy as a rice cake, as sodium is still going to lurk it's evil head wherever we go, but hey, balance that bad boy out with a salad first :)

For those of you who don't own a crockpot, call your mom, borrow hers, and never, ever give it back. That's what I did, and my own Grandmother has eaten meals out of it, commented on the crockpot, and then told me I could keep it, if I kept cooking her meals. Sweet...  For those of you who do own one, but never use it- hopefully these recipes will inspire you to bust that puppy out and dust it off. Either way, I'll gladly take 1 hour preparing several meals for my husband and I and not have to worry about cooking after a busy, hectic, stressful day on my feet at work. Oh, you mean the crockpot maid cooked dinner for us? She really needs a raise!   -Enjoy!


Teriyaki Chicken Freezer Meal Recipe

Teriyaki Chicken: Freezer meal

I was inspired by two other recipes that I have combined and significantly modified to suit my palate. Feel free to experiment on your own with serving size, adding more veggies/ different meats, or different sauces.

Teriyaki Chicken



-1 bag of medium size carrots (thick sliced)
-1 large red onion (cut into chunks)
-2 large cans of pineapple (chunks)
-4 Garlic cloves
-4 Chicken breasts (cut into cubes)
-1 cup of teriyaki sauce (I use Soy Vay Island Teriyaki since it has pineapple juice in it, and is a little sweeter)
-2 large green bell peppers (cut into cubes)
-2 cans sliced water chesnuts
-2 tbsp of soy sauce

-2 large freezer bags

Assemble all of your ingredients and evenly divide between each bag (i.e. 1/2 bag of sliced carrots, 1/2 red onion, etc). Push air out of the bag, seal, and mix well. Lay flat and freeze. To cook: the night before, remove from the freezer and place in the fridge overnight. The morning of, unseal the freezer bag, pour the contents into your crockpot, cover, and cook on low 7-8 hours. Serve over rice or chow mein noodles.

This recipe will make enough to serve 4-5 out of each bag. (Enough for lunch the next day, in my household!)

It takes me about 5-10 minutes to chop and assemble this meal, and makes enough bags for 2 separate dinners. The 5 minute prep once every few weeks versus actually cooking the entire thing from scratch is a serious time saver, and I particularly love this recipe because it has a sweet and sour taste to it.