preparing for baby

Ways to Prepare to Make the First Few Weeks with New Baby a Little Easier

Today’s post is far from my usual – instead of a recipe and pictures, I’m jotting down everything we’re doing/will do before baby Pea #2 arrives that will make life easier when we get home from the hospital. Obviously this is all with the assumption that I don’t go into labor early. If you’re preparing for your first, hopefully these will give you food for thought. Some of these things just seem so basic that you wouldn’t necessarily think of it being a help to have done beforehand, but you’ll come to realize that in those first few weeks the less you have to focus on things other than your new baby (and other kids/husband for seasoned moms) the much less stressed you will be.

Anyone that has already had kids knows just how all-consuming those first few weeks are, and there are several things we could have done to be more prepared for bringing our first home. My goal this go-round is to have as much done and purchased as possible, so that the first few weeks at home I will only need to focus on taking care of the people inside my house (myself included).

I want to be able to hold our new baby all day long if that’s what she needs, and not worry about mess building up in the house.

I want to be able to sleep (or shower) when she sleeps during those first few weeks.

I want to be able to enjoy my maternity leave trips to Target – I want to walk the aisles aimlessly without having to worry about actually remembering to buy something we need like shampoo or toothpaste.

I do not want to be caught up doing tons of dishes and cleaning. Of course I’ll maintain, but having a good deep cleaning done while we’re in the hospital means we’ll come home to a house that I won’t have to clean for at least a week (probably two if we’re being real here…maybe three).

 For baby:

  • Wash bottles/pump parts – even if you plan to EBF, you never know how it may shake out, and having these other feeding methods ready to use will save time if you need it
  • Buy enough bottles that they can just go into the dishwasher rather than washing by hand every day – maybe someday I’ll write about our first breast feeding journey, but long story short I ended up exclusively pumping/bottle-feeding for 10 months (and working, so needing bottles for daycare was a given)
  • Nursery ready with diapers/wipes
  • Have a diaper changing kit ready in rooms other than the nursery where you hang out most – have a small basket or bin in the den, living room, playroom, etc. filled with diapers, wipes and burp cloths so you don’t have to constantly go back and forth to the nursery
  • Buy present from baby to older siblings

diaper station

For older siblings (pets, too):

  • Plan for various “going into labor” scenarios – it won’t matter if I go into labor in the middle of the night, workday or weekend – we have a set plan for Anna Ruth (and Bailey), so I won’t have to spend any time worrying about her
  • Buy present from older siblings to baby
  • Have the dog groomed

For self:

  • Haircut
  • Pedicure
  • Find the best dry shampoo that works for you – buy all of it – and then buy stock in the company
  • Have post-delivery healing products ready – squirt bottle, cooling spray, ibuprofen, Colace
  • Have nonmaternity-in-between-regular-clothes ready to wear – for Target runs, obv
  • Buy good concealer and one other product for everyday wear – when you don’t want to do make-up but have to look presentable at Target
  • Make sure all make-up is stocked

For home:

  • Stock the freezer – I’ve done this, this, this and this (and added chicken breast) so far. Anything you make for a meal that would freeze well, go ahead and double it to freeze half. Once the meals stop coming, you’ll be thankful you did this
  • Put a bottle of white in the fridge on your way out the door to the hospital – SO to Taylor for reminding me of this most important tip. I won’t get in an argument over this piece, but as opposed to some popular belief it is A-okay to have some alcohol while breastfeeding 
  • Subscribe to a year of express lane grocery pick-up – this could almost go in the “For Self” list – for $100, I can order our groceries online and pick them up without having to cart two kids into the store. I figure the cost will be covered by not buying all of those items I just throw in the cart that aren’t on my list (looking at you boxed macaroni and Cheez-its)
  • Cleaning lady on call for hospital stay – our house will be *sparkling* when we come home from the hospital, and this is probably what I’m most excited about
  • Change your bedsheets just before heading to the hospital – does this even need a comment? Fresh sheets are the best
  • Buy back-up toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, hair product, face wash, body wash, bar soap, razors, toothpaste, contact solution, lotion, deodorant
  • Buy back-up cleaning products
    • bathrooms (showers, sinks, floors, toilets)
    • kitchen (counters, floors, appliances, trash bags)
    • dusting spray
    • vacuum cleaner bags
  • Stock up on paper products – napkins, paper towels, toilet paper
  • Buy paper plates and plastic utensils for first 2-3 weeks – I’m generally not one that’s okay with being wasteful, but not having to worry about cleaning most of our dishes will be big
  • All laundry done – for these last weeks leading up to my due date, we’ll be running laundry all week rather than just on laundry day
  • Pick up clutter every day – I wish I could say this was already standard, but maybe one day….
  • Schedule any bills due to be paid on time
  • Clean the cars and make sure gas tanks are always full

back up toiletries

So – wow – that list wound up being quite a bit longer than I originally thought it would. Do some, all or none of these things, but I guarantee whatever you can do on the front end of delivery will make those first days/weeks at home with your new baby easier.

Is there anything you would add to this list? I’d love to hear more!

oven fajitas

Easy Oven Fajitas + Fajita Bowls

Stepping off of the freezer meals this week, and bringing you one of our favorite slash easiest slash cheapest weeknight dinners turned workday lunches ever. I’m talking about oven fajitas. With tons of veggies and lean protein, what we have here is one weeknight dinner of fajitas with all the fixins and two days of fajita bowl lunches ready to go with minimal work.

oven fajitas

You’ve seen oven fajitas on Pinterest for a while now, and I can’t really claim these to be very far off except maybe the addition of mushrooms? And taking them a step further by throwing in the whole meal prep thing?

oven fajitas

I first need to discuss the ease of the whole oven fajita sitch. I generally plan to have these on a Monday night, so we get dinner Monday and lunches on Tuesday and Wednesday out of the way, and I generally prep it on Sunday. While I’m already in a veggie chopping groove after making our weekly veggie bags, I just finish up with the veggies for these oven fajitas. If you really don’t like veggie prep, you can buy most of these pre-chopped. I’m just so used to chopping things that it doesn’t take me more than 5-10 minutes, but if you need to save a little time then the prepared veggies are the way to go. Once I have everything ready, I just leave them covered in the baking dish for the next day. When I’m ready to cook the oven fajitas, I add the chicken, olive oil and seasoning. (Also – helpful hint – have the meat guy at your grocery store cut the chicken breast for you to save extra time and mess.)

oven fajitas

While we generally just do standard fajitas for night one – chicken, veggies, tortillas, cheese, sour cream, salsa, avocado – I prepare other ingredients for the fajita bowls that we’ll have for lunch. While the oven fajitas are cooking, I make white rice (any rice works, but my rice cooker is a one-trick pony) and beans and corn for the fajita bowls. The beans and corn are just cooked with a little of the same taco seasoning as the oven fajitas, and really just need to be heated up to cook out the powderiness (word?) of the seasoning.

oven fajitas

As written this recipe makes a ton, but that is because I want to get those three meals out of it. The fajita bowls look like a lot of food – and they are – but it’s mostly veggies and protein, so the calorie count is still in the 400-500 range (including a serving of shredded cheddar and sour cream). You can change up the amount of veggies and chicken used to cut down on the number of servings, but when you can get so many easy meals out of it, why in the world would you?

Oven Fajitas

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts – cut into strips (get your meat counter guy to do this)
3-4 bell peppers – cut into strips (I use 2 green and 1-2 red depending on what I have on hand)
1 large or 2 small yellow onions – sliced
1 lb white mushrooms – sliced
1 tbsp olive oil (plus more to drizzle over chicken)
1 tbsp taco seasoning (plus more to drizzle over chicken)
For fajitas: tortillas, optional toppings (avocado, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream)
For fajita bowls:
Cooked rice
One can EACH beans and corn
A little taco seasoning

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice all veggies and combine in a baking dish. Add the olive oil and taco seasoning, and mix well.
  3. Place the chicken strips on top of the veggies. Drizzle with another 1-2 tsp oil and taco seasoning, and rub over to make sure each piece is covered.
  4. Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes, or until chicken is done.
  5. To make fajitas: serve chicken and veggies with tortillas and toppings of choice.
  6. To make fajita bowls:
    • While oven fajitas are cooking, prepare the rice.
    • Rinse and drain the black beans and corn, then cook in a skillet over medium heat with about 2 tsp taco seasoning. I just cook them long enough to let the water from rinsing cook off.
    • Assemble the bowls – place rice in the bottom, top with bean/corn mixture and then the oven fajitas mixture. Add any additional toppings as preferred.
  7. Enjoy!
sweet potato black bean enchiladas

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Oh hai, sweet potato black bean enchiladas. You’re super simple + super flavorful + super cheesy and help us keep our sometimes-vegetarian card…this might be love. Y’all, Andy – the meatatarian – scarfs these down and takes no issue with “meatless Monday” if these are on the menu.

sweet potato black bean enchiladas

Vegetarian dishes don’t generally do as well on the blog as other, more meaty dishes do, but it would be selfish of me not to share this recipe. This dish comes together quickly, and the filling can be made in advance if you really need a quickie meal on a weeknight. (I wouldn’t recommend totally assembling that far in advance because the sauce will make the tortillas too soggy.)

While some of you may be less than enthused about a vegetarian dish, let me just assure you this meal doesn’t leave you wanting more. The bulkiness of the potatoes and beans combined with the heat from the chilies and spices (and let us not forget that ooey gooey cheese situation on top) gives this dish a stick-to-your-ribs-comfort-food rating of 100.

sweet potato black bean enchiladas

So far we haven’t given Anna Ruth these sweet potato black bean enchiladas because they do have a definite kick, and I’m just not ready to experience the wrath of a threenager that just ate something too spicy. That just plays to our favor. We get dinner and two lunches out of this recipe with the following break-down:

Dinner – one for me, two for Andy
Lunch 1 – one for me, one and a half for Andy
Lunch 2 – one for me, one and a half for Andy

sweet potato black bean enchiladas

You can serve these as a stand-alone meal, or serve with roasted broccoli or some other green veggie that can roast at the same time. No matter what you choose you can’t go wrong!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Ingredients:

3 sweet potatoes – peeled and small cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can black beans – rinsed and drained
1 shallot – small dice
1 (4oz) can mild diced green chilies
½ tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
¼ tsp EACH – salt and pepper
8 flour tortillas
1 (14 oz) can red enchilada sauce
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
Optional toppings: avocado, sour cream, cilantro

Directions:

  1. Prepare the sweet potatoes: preheat oven to 375 degrees while you’re cubing your sweet potatoes. (You can peel them, but I like to leave the skin on.) Spread the sweet potatoes into a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt/pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, while you prepare the remaining filling ingredients.
  2. Prepare the filling: in a large bowl, combine the cooked sweet potato cubes, black beans, shallot, chilies and all spices (through S/P). Stir until everything is mixed well.
  3. Prepare the enchiladas: change oven heat to 350 degrees. Grease a rectangular dish and pour about 1/3-1/4 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom. Fill each tortilla with the mixture, roll and place seam side down in the baking dish. Add any remaining mixture to the open spaces in the dish after you’ve stuffed all of the tortillas.
  4. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas, making sure everyone is covered. Top with the shredded cheese, loosely tent and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until hot.
  5. Enjoy!
freezer quesadillas

Freezer Quesadillas

The lack of organized photos in this post is a good indication of life right now: busy. We have six weekends between now and when baby Pea #2 is due, and four of those are booked. I’m trying to stay on top of posting, but heads up there will be some weeks I won’t have a post. Please bear with me!

freezer quesadillas

If you’re my husband, mom, dad or sister, then I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record, so no need to continue reading. If you’ve been reading this blog for the last few weeks, I may be getting there for you, but today we’re back on the meal-prepping-for-baby train. If I’m being completely transparent, these posts are almost more for me than for you. If we decide to go for #3 down the road, I want to be able to look back at how I prepared for #2.

freezer quesadillas

Anyone that’s done the new baby thing will probably be able to relate, if not let me paint you a picture…

You have a newborn, and your husband has gone back to work, so it’s just you and bebe. Bebe insists on being held during waking hours unless you’re good with constant (ummm, LOUD) crying <– not an exaggeration. The clock strikes three in the afternoon and you suddenly realize you haven’t eaten a single thing all day. Leftovers from last night’s dinner are tonight’s dinner (and it would also require you to put the baby down – see above), so you reach for a tortilla and shredded cheese and nuke it for 30 seconds. It’s one of the few things you’ve found that only take one hand to both prepare and eat. You know you need more, but you’re just too wiped out to make it happen.

freezer quesadillas

Enter these pre-made freezer quesadillas. Stuffed with protein-y chicken and black beans, and ready to eat (one-handed for the love) straight from the freezer in less than three minutes.

Now, I know these aren’t exactly healthy, and my goal is to keep up with the veggie prep once baby Pea #2 arrives, but for me the first several weeks are all about survival. Last time I was totally unprepared for a baby that constantly needed holding. I mean, any moms that have babies that can happily lay in a floor gym or swing for any amount of time should take a moment right now to send up praise hands because having a baby that will not do that makes it that much more physically/mentally/emotionally hard. I loved my time at home with Anna Ruth, but I was just a mess, and I largely attribute that to trying to establish a milk supply while not keeping myself nourished. Sure the hormones played a part, but the physical parts of breastfeeding and not eating had the bigger impact. Knowing what I do now it won’t matter if #2 is also a stage-five clinger. Having simple things like freezer quesadillas ready to go will mean I can better take care of myself before hitting that wall of physical exhaustion in the afternoons from forgetting to eat.

freezer quesadillas

As you can tell by the pictures, I had two little helpers making these freezer quesadillas over the weekend. Anna Ruth and Abigail love helping in the kitchen, so I promote that any chance I can. These quesadillas are perfect for little helpers. There are no exact measurements, so you really just have to supervise to make sure they’re not using too much or too little of any one ingredient.

freezer quesadillas

The recipe here doesn’t include exact measurements because it is all to taste and preference. I used a chicken that I roasted earlier in the day, and large tortillas. You can easily use shredded rotisserie chicken, different cheese and beans and any size tortilla you prefer. This particular batch was one chicken, 2.5 bags of shredded cheese and one can of beans. We made 16 quesadillas, but ran out of black beans after about 12.

Freezer Quesadillas

Ingredients:

1 roasted chicken – shredded (rotisserie chicken works as well)
Shredded cheddar (or other cheese of choice)
Canned black beans – drained and rinsed
Tortillas – any size

Directions:

  1. Preheat a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Prepare tortillas with desired amount of chicken, cheese and black beans.
  3. If freezing*: heat quesadillas on each side just until the cheese melts.
  4. Allow the quesadillas to cool completely, then wrap individually in plastic wrap and then place into a zippered freezer bag.
  5. To reheat
    • In the microwave: remove plastic wrap, wrap in a paper towel and heat for 1.5-2 minutes.
    • In the oven: remove plastic wrap, wrap in foil and cook at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through.
    • On the stovetop: allow to thaw completely in the fridge, then heat in a skillet as you normally would.
  6. Enjoy!

*If eating right away, simply cook as you normally would and serve hot.

Freezer Stocking for New Baby

If you’ve followed along for any amount of time, you know one thing I love is to stock my freezer for easy weeknight meals. With baby Pea #2 coming in 7ish weeks, I’m really starting to focus on having meals at the ready.  Here are a few I’ve gotten a head start on.  I’m hoping to post more freezer ideas in the coming weeks, but mama’s getting tired so we’ll see how that goes! These recipes are great for stocking your own freezer, or to take fresh to a family with a new baby!

First up – roast chicken – this was one of my more recent posts, and I went into some detail about how we make and freeze roast chicken. In addition to having pieces frozen for easy summer night meals (think chicken on top of salad), I’m using some of the breast meat to make freezer quesadillas that I can pull out for an easy lunch while I’m on maternity leave. Really – I can’t stress this enough – this chicken is so juicy that once thawed after frozen it is still 99% as good as it is fresh out of the oven. This is the only chicken recipe I can say that about.

roast chicken

Next – Madras Lentils – used this way, this way and this way.

madras lentils

Pulled Pork Shoulder – we use this for sandwiches, burrito bowls, quesadillas and enchiladas.

pulled pork shoulder

Sausage Lasagna Roll-Ups – the easiest weeknight meal. Goes straight from the freezer to oven, and gives us enough leftovers for a lunch or two.

sausage lasagna roll-ups

Freezer Breakfast Burritos – I can’t tell you how many times on my last maternity leave that I would look at the clock in the afternoon and realize I hadn’t eaten all day. <– Not good when trying to establish a supply for breastfeeding.  These can be reheated in the oven or microwave, and are easy to eat one handed.

freezer breakfast burritos

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Scones – because oatmeal is good for increasing breast milk supply, and because once thawed they just look pretty sitting on the counter in a cake stand.

tea for two birthday party

That’s it for now! As I come up with new ideas in the coming weeks, I’ll be sure to share so stay tuned!

cheesy chicken sticks

Sweet + Spicy Cheesy Chicken Sticks

Oh hai, sweet + spicy + cheesy chicken sticks – where have you been my whole life this entire pregnancy? Kinda pizza-like, but more appetizer-like, these cheesy chicken sticks are your college-late-night Pokey Stix cravings amped up to a more adult level.

sweet and spicy cheesy chicken sticks

We love this recipe because it’s super quick and easy (looking at you, 5-ingredient list), and it is also a great way to use the chicken breast meat from last week’s roast chicken. (Rotisserie chicken breast also works well here.)

cheesy chicken sticks

The combo of the sweet barbeque sauce with the spicy wing sauce is perfect, so you don’t have to choose between the two flavors. We’ve had this multiple times lately, and it gets two thumbs up from everyone that’s had it. If you want more of a “pizza” experience, just make larger pieces, but we love having the smaller stick version.

sweet and spicy cheesy chicken sticks

Enjoy!

Sweet + Spicy Cheesy Chicken Sticks

Ingredients:

2.5-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast (homemade roast recipe here, or rotisserie is also great)
1 can refrigerated pizza dough (we use Pillsbury brand)
1/3 cup barbeque sauce (we use Sweet Baby Rays)
1/3 cup buffalo wing sauce* (we use Franks)
1.5 cups shredded Colby-Jack cheese
2 green onions thinly sliced (optional – green parts only)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Roll the dough onto the sheet and bake in the oven for 8 minutes.
  3. While the dough is baking, add the chicken, barbeque sauce and wing sauce to a skillet and heat through over medium heat.
  4. Pull the dough out, and cover with the chicken and sauce mixture, getting as close to the edges as possible.
  5. Top with the cheese then bake for an additional 6-10 minutes, or until the dough is done.
  6. Top with onions (if using), and enjoy!

*Make sure to use actual wing sauce, as hot sauce would make for a much much spicier sauce.

Notes: Anna Ruth loves these sticks, but I leave out a small portion of chicken to combine with just barbeque sauce, so she doesn’t get the spicy.

roast chicken

Roast Chicken – Two Ways

Thighs and drumsticks and breasts, oh my! We’re getting into one of my ultimate weekend prep loves: roast chicken. A single chicken cooked on Sunday afternoon easily feeds my family for three dinners and generally 1-2 lunches for Andy…and all for around $7.

roast chicken

When it comes to whole chickens, where are you? Do you get excited like late-20s/early-30s me with the knowledge that one little bird goes so far with so little work? Or are you like early-20s me, and the thought of cooking a whole animal seems very overwhelming? The truth is, it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve embraced the whole chicken, and I’m so glad I did because the time and money money money it saves is right up my alley. Here’s how we generally break this down, so that we get three meals (there are dozens of other ways we use it, but here’s last week’s use):

Night one: eat the dark meat as is with sides of potatoes and kale
Night two: shred or chop one chicken breast for quesadillas (enough for a lunch ‘dilla, as well)
Night three: shred or chop the other chicken breast to put over salad

The chicken is good for several days, so we don’t eat it in three consecutive nights…meaning we don’t get tired of it.

roast chicken

Oh – and the flavor! I’m on paragraph three, and haven’t even discussed the best part. Roasting a whole chicken is hands down the way to get the juiciest chicken ever. Even the breast meat <– and that’s saying a lot. So many people are just ho hum about chicken, but it’s because they’ve only had ho hum chicken. Roasting it locks in the flavors, and is anything but boring.

roast chicken

The most versatile way for roast chicken that you’re using in other recipes is to simply stuff the cavity with celery. The chicken does not come out tasting like celery, but the celery provides plenty of moisture to keep it nice and juicy. The other way I do roast chicken is by stuffing it with lemon, garlic and rosemary. This preparation is better IMO if you’re eating it as chicken and not part of another dish. The flavors infuse so beautifully, and the pan juices can be used to make a delicious lemon sauce.

roast chicken

So, obv, the pictures in this post show how I roast chicken two ways, so the pan was pretty full.  If I’m only roasting one chicken, I’ll generally throw in diced potatoes to cook with it, and have a nearly one-pan dinner situation. If you want to go that route, the chicken prep/cook time is no different, but you just arrange the diced potatoes around the bird and drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I don’t usually roast two at a time, but am starting to do that more now that I’m stocking our freezer for once the new baby is here. Y’all. Roast chicken freezes beautifully and is just as juicy and delicious as fresh out of the oven. To freeze, I just roast the chicken and then carve it into the servings I would use throughout the week (leg/thigh combos and individual breasts). I put them into freezer bags and into the freezer once they’re totally cool. The key for using after frozen is to let them thaw in the fridge for 1-2 days before using them.

roast chicken

As far as roasting pans go, you don’t need an “official” one to do this because we don’t use the rack in this preparation. Just an oven-safe pan with high sides is fine (though if you use a cast iron dutch oven the cooking time may vary because the pan would cook from the sides as well). We got this one as a wedding gift from one of my favorite families on Andy’s side, and use it at least once a week for things other than just chicken. If you want one, I would definitely suggest it.

roast chicken

The recipe below is for ONE chicken, so make sure to double it if you want to roast two at once**. I’m giving the ingredients for the lemon/garlic/rosemary preparation because the amounts of those are more specific, but if you want to go the celery route, just replace those items with celery pieces (about 4 stalks should do the trick). Do you have other combos you use for your roast chicken? I’d love to hear them!

Roast Chicken – Two Ways

Ingredients:

4-5 lb whole chicken
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter – melted
Salt and pepper
1 lemon* – cut in half
1 head of garlic* – cut in half
8-10 sprigs of rosemary*

Directions:

  1. Remove chicken from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before putting it in the oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Dry the chicken with paper towels, and remove the giblets and neck.
  4. Season the inside of the cavity with plenty of salt and pepper (about ¼-1/2 tsp, but you really can’t use too much here).
  5. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, garlic and rosemary* – gently squeeze juice from one half of the lemon just a little bit.
  6. Place the chicken breast side up and season with more salt and pepper – just eyeball it, but I’d say about ¼ tsp.
  7. Brush the chicken with half of the melted butter, and tie the two legs together.
  8. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, then brush on the other half of the butter.
  9. Continue roasting until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees – about 45 more minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes before carving.
  11. Enjoy!

*Replace these ingredients with celery stalks if you want to use the chicken for other preparations that don’t necessarily work well with this flavor combo (think tex-mex).

**If you roast two chickens at a time, you may need to up the cook time by about 10-20 minutes. Just start checking the internal temp after it’s been cooking for a total of an hour and 15 minutes.

life lately

Life Lately and Valentines

The lack of pictures in this post should be the best indicator of life lately: busy. Too busy, in fact, to remember to pause to take a picture documenting some of the fun things we’ve been up to.

Pregnancy update

As of today, I’m 30 weeks with baby Pea #2. This pregnancy is so different from my last because we’re hardly doing anything to prepare, and that feels weird to me. We basically have everything we need and I’m leaving the nursery as is, so there’s really not much else to do. I guess the only thing we’re doing differently this time is that we’re going in with an actual birth/after birth plan. Yes, we took the class last time, but really we had no idea what we were walking into. There are a lot of things that will be out of our control (which – if you’ve read this blog at all – you know makes my type-A self very uncomfortable), so I’m focusing on the things we can control: care for Anna Ruth and Bailey, pain management after birth, breastfeeding/pumping/supplementing/combo after birth. To put it lightly, we had a rough two days in the hospital last time, and we’re going to be prepared for a much better experience this time.

Duck Donuts in Greensboro(!!)

As you could probably tell from last week’s post, we are savory breakfast people. We might make waffles for a weekend breakfast once every six months, but we just don’t generally do sweets. Well the new Duck Donuts recently opened in Greensboro, and we had a gift card from one of Andy’s students, so we decided to give it a try. You guys. If you’ve never been to a Duck Donuts, now is your time. The experience is unlike any other we’ve had. You go in, select the toppings you want on however many donuts you want, and they create them right in front of you. No “hot now” sign needed for this because they are always served nice and toasty warm. We had three main “stars” of our show: maple glaze/bacon crumbles, peanut butter glaze/oreos/fudge drizzle and just plain cinnamon sugar. The first two were good but just a little too indulgent and over the top for me. Anna Ruth’s and my favorite was the cinnamon sugar. I could easily see myself slipping over to the sweets for breakfast side of the aisle if these were part of the deal. AR and I shared a cinnamon sugar, and we took the leftovers home for our Super Bowl party. It’s sad that I can’t say for sure that AR has had a donut before now – I mean, she’s almost three, she HAS to have had one, right? I just honestly can’t think of a time when she has, but home girl loved it.

life latelylife latelylife lately

Babysit Swapping

We had another first this past weekend. We traded babysitting nights with some of our good friends. Rosie has made several appearances on the blog already, so you’ll recognize her sweet face. The “babysit swap” is exactly what it sounds like: the Logans babysat AR on Friday, and we babysat Rosie on Saturday. It was a win-win. We each got to go on a date, and the girls got to have two play dates in the same weekend (and no $$$ for a babysitter). Also, forgive the messy den. #reallife

life lately

Date Night

Y’all. This was big for us. We’ve had plenty of “dates” over the last three years, but none that didn’t involve grandparents babysitting. I was nervous that AR would be a terror, but she actually did really well. For our date, Andy and I went to a newish restaurant called Don Ishiyaki & Ramen. We both got the ishiyaki bowls, which are basically rice dishes served in hot stone bowls. The stone kind of crisps up the rice, and it is so so good. I got the teriyaki chicken don, which was good, but the teriyaki was a bit sweeter than I prefer. Andy, however, got the bibimbap, which I will definitely get the next time.

After dinner we did something totally new to us. We went to the Cline Observatory on GTCC’s campus, and got a turn on the giant telescope. Apparently this is something they do most weekends. They open up the observatory to the public, fix the telescopes on different planets or constellations and let you have a look. We were only there for about 20 minutes, but it was a really neat (and free!) thing to do. I tried to take a selfie of us with the big ‘scope, but was very quickly told to put my phone away – oops! I would definitely recommend this as an activity for your kids for a special night surprise. I think they have a Facebook page that details what they’ll be looking at each weekend, so you can always check it out to see if they’re focusing on something you’d like to see.

Before getting AR, we finished the evening with a little dessert at Maxie B’s. The night was so simple, yet just what we needed. We will definitely be swapping babysitting services again!

Valentine’s Party

We got together with some friends for a little Valentine’s party over the weekend. You remember these kiddos from the beach, Christmas in July and our birthday party for Jesus. Simon was there, but already asleep, so he missed the picture. Calvin – the oldest boy – met the girls at the door with flowers, and could not have been cuter. The kids played outside and exchanged Valentines, and it was just easy fun.

life latelylife lately

Birthday Party at Tumblebees

I normally wouldn’t include this because we go to too many birthday parties to feature them all on the blog. However, this was for one of AR’s favorite school friends, but also a big step for her. If you’re not familiar with Tumblebees, it’s a gymnastics center that has classes but also does birthday parties. Typically, she has always been very timid – and even a little scared – around this type of equipment/trampolines/etc. She has no problem with the observer role, and would hang out on the balance beam (low to the ground, of course) in these types of situations. Not this time! She did the foam pit and bounce house! For some parents this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I was so proud of her. The first time we did something like this, she was not having it, and I decided I wouldn’t push her. When it comes to these types of activities if she doesn’t like something, or something scares her then I won’t force it. The fact that I have no pictures to share from this party should show how much fun she had because I couldn’t get her still.

Valentines!!

Can we all just say a collective “thank you, Lord, for Pinterest”?? I am definitely not the mom that will make my kid’s lunches to look like animals (but just know that any of you moms that do that I just think you’re super-moms), but I will come out strong for holidays and events. While I love the thought of doing cute Valentines, I am just not crafty or creative enough to come up with the ideas on my own. So for the last two years I have relied on Pinterest to help me find the perfect thing. Last year, I made cute play doh Valentines for AR’s friends, and this year I went with the cuties theme.  These things look like so much more work went into them than actually went into them. Trust me. If you have time to buy and fill in Valentines, then you have time to download/print Valentines. You can find so many free printables through Pinterest, and you pretty much just have to make sure you remember what you’ve done in the past so you don’t repeat. You can find the printables for this year’s Valentines here.

life lately

I didn’t intend for this post to be so long, and I’m sure I’m missing things, but thank you for reading and sticking it out with me! One of my favorite things about having a blog is that I can document anything I want and will have it to look back on in the future. Thank you for stopping by!

turkey chili southern scramble

Turkey Chili Southern Scramble

Tater tots + turkey chili + eggs + cheese = Turkey Chili Southern Scramble. You’re welcome.

turkey chili southern scramble

This one goes out to all of my savory breakfast lovers. I don’t have much time because I’m writing this on Super Bowl Sunday and we have ten adults and seven kiddos coming to our house in just a few hours. Since our team didn’t make it all the way this year, the food is the real event of our party. I’m serving up last week’s turkey chili over cheese grits, and everyone else is bringing other appetizers. It’s going to be so amazing.

turkey chili cheese grits

In order to save myself some time, I made the turkey chili yesterday and will just reheat it while I make the grits. However, since it was already there, we decided to try something relatively new to us for breakfast: a turkey chili southern scramble.

turkey chili southern scramble

If you live in Greensboro, you’ve probably heard of a newish restaurant called Scrambled. I think Andy and I may have been the last ones to try it, but we finally got the chance to do so a few days before Christmas. You guyzzzzzzzzzz. We both went with one of the “scrambles” and found a new love for breakfast. <– And we already held a deep deep appreciation for the best meal of the day, sooo if that tells you anything. Generally when we go out to eat, we’re all about the experience, and Scrambled brought it. The scrambles at Scrambled all come in (uuuge) individual cast iron skillets and are out of this world delicious. The skillet presentation was so fun, and it meant the base of hash browns was crispy on the bottom and melt-in-your-mouth yummy on the top.

Well, after making the turkey chili and eating it over cheese grits (an option for your scramble at Scrambled), I thought “why not make that at home?” So off we went. Instead of hash browns, which I’m sure would work perfectly, we went with a fun base of tater tots (mainly because that’s what we had in our freezer). You just cook the hash browns in the skillet, then load them with cheese and turkey chili, and then crack several eggs over the entire situation. Since I love a good food evolution photo sequence, here’s how the assembly goes – in 3…2……..

turkey chili southern scrambleturkey chili southern scrambleturkey chili southern scrambleturkey chili southern scrambleturkey chili southern scramble

Tots, cheese, chili, eggs, cheese. Easy peasy. Dunzo bunzo.

Turkey Chili Southern Scramble

Ingredients:

1 tbsp canola or corn oil
Frozen tater tots (enough to have an even layer in your skillet)
2 cups turkey chili (heated but not too hot) recipe here
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 eggs (as many as you want)

Directions:

  1. Heat your oven to 450 degrees.
  2. While your oven heats, wipe your cast iron skillet with the oil and arrange the tater tots in a single layer.
  3. Cook the tater tots in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the tater tots, and spread the turkey chili over the cheese.
  5. Using the back of a spoon, make 4-6 wells in the turkey chili (depending on the number of eggs using).
  6. Gently crack one egg into each well.
  7. Return the skillet to the oven and cook for 13-16 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolk is to your desired doneness*.
  8. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining half cup of cheese. Enjoy!

*We’re currently out of pasteurized eggs, so we let ours go for the full 16 minutes so the yolks weren’t runny. Generally we would lean closer to the 13 minute mark. When you cut into the runny yolk and it seeps down into the dish it continues cooking a little (so good!).

chicken philly cheese dip

Perfect Snacks for the Super Bowl

Whether you care who wins or loses this weekend, the Super Bowl calls for yummy snacks.  We’re having friends over for the game, and I plan on making my turkey chili over cheese grits, but any of these would make a great addition to your party!

First up: Chicken Philly Cheese Dip – this is always a crowd pleaser, and not something you see a lot.

chicken philly cheese dip

Baby Pea Guacamole – using baby peas adds extra fiber and helps cut back on some of the calories you normally get from guacamole.

baby pea guacamole

Pepperoni Pull Apart Bread – because pizza and football are like peanut butter and jelly.

pepperoni pull-apart bread

Roasted Garlic Hummus – perfect for a veggie tray!

roasted garlic hummus

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups – just two ingredients and because every party needs something sweet

chocolate chip peanut butter cups

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