Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Faves

Hey there! Just thought I'd share a random assortment of recent favorites from my life this week.

1. Our bedroom archway.

When we moved in to our house, the master bedroom was a peachy tan color and the archway into the bathroom was a dark brown. We painted it a soft greyish green a few months ago, but never got around to painting the archway. Every time I walked into our room it made me think of mint chocolate chip ice cream! Adam surprised me this week while I was out with the kids and painted the archway our white trim color. It looks so much better with our wall color now! He also hung those little glass candle jars that he got me a few years ago. At night we turn on the candles inside of them and it looks so pretty!

2. Sheet Pan Suppers
Once again, something Adam surprised me with that I absolutely love! He bought this cookbook for me, thinking it would made dinnertime easier. All the recipes in the book are baked or roasted on a sheet pan, kind of like a one-pot meal. I have made about 5 recipes so far and every single one has been absolutely delicious. Two recipes have included roasting cherry tomatoes, and oh my goodness. I really do not like cherry tomatoes when they are raw, but roasting makes them so good! Roasted cherry tomatoes are my new favorite vegetable. (or fruit?)

3. Puffer vest and rain boots
I bought these navy blue rain boots from back in the fall, and they were such a smart purchase! I walk Ryan to school and home every single day because we live too close for driving to make sense. This means I am sometimes walking in the pouring rain while pushing the double stroller and holding an umbrella over the kids. I keep my rainboots in the garage and slip them on if it looks wet outside, which has been happening a lot lately. They are so cute and comfy. My blue puffer vest is also a favorite of mine. I got it for $12 a few months back from Old Navy and I wear it at least twice a week! It looks especially cute with my latest Stitch Fix sweater.

4. Sleep Sprays
Adam bought me this sleep spray from Bath and Body Works last year and I love the scent. I spray it on my pillow at night and it supposedly helps me sleep better. I don't know if it works, but I do love the way it makes my pillow smell! This year he bought me the stress relief version. It smells slightly different but still really nice. Apparently he thinks I'm stressed? haha
5. Big Middle and Little

Of course I have to include 3 of my very best favorites! We call them big, middle, and little and I love them so much!

What are some of your recent favorites?

Monday, January 25, 2016

What Ryan Ate In A Day

Ryan has always been a picky eater, even as a baby. He would gag over the tiniest crumb of food and reject trying new things. Now at the age of 5 and a half, the list of foods he will eat is extremely limited. He generally refuses to try new foods. If I serve him something that looks slightly different than what he is used to, he puts up a huge fuss. The smell of foods bothers him and sometimes he can't sit next to me if I'm eating something "stinky". Textures also bother him a lot.

The more I read about how to combat picky eating, the more I think battling over food is pointless. It just makes mealtime miserable for us. We have gradually stopped forcing Ryan to take bites of new things. We strongly encourage it, but if he won't try something at the table, we don't make a big fuss about it these days. Sometimes he goes to bed hungry, because I just can't justify allowing him not to eat dinner and then rummage for a sugary snack before bed. However, on the rare occasion that I serve dessert after a meal, we let him eat it even if he hasn't had a great dinner. I know this might not make sense. But the idea behind this is that he can choose to eat however much he wants of what I serve. That includes dessert (he's not big on desserts anyways). But I'm not going to make him a separate meal or allow extra snacks after the meal. What I serve is what he gets, and he has full control over what he eats off his plate. One rule I do enforce is not snacking for about two hours before dinner. Ryan's appetite is so tiny that he needs to be really hungry at mealtime in order to eat anything.

On an average day Ryan doesn't eat much. He is just small and doesn't have a big appetite. I chose a random day last week and snapped pictures of everything he ate throughout the day. Is his diet ideal? No way. He is awful about eating fruits and vegetables, and he probably doesn't get many healthy fats in his diet. Here we go.....

Breakfast: For breakfast I offered Ryan eggs or homemade granola. Just for the record, Ryan has never eaten an egg in his life. He chose the granola but after eating one tiny bite, decided he didn't like it. He went to school hungry.

School Snack and Lunch: Ryan's snack was an applesauce pouch, which he brought home uneaten. So he lasted until noon without eating anything. His lunch at school was a small piece of leftover cheese pizza, 5 homemade animal crackers, and a box of raisins. He ate the pizza and crackers and brought home the raisins uneaten.

Afternoon Snack: Ryan ate these two mini homemade muffins, plus a 3rd. I made them with whole wheat flour and added mini chocolate chips. He loved them. He also ate a few more homemade animal crackers.

Dinner: Dinner was chicken fajitas with kale chips and raspberries. You can see what I served Ryan on his plate below. Small tortilla, two raspberries, chicken, bell pepper, cheese, and kale chips. He wrapped the chicken and cheese in the tortilla and took a few bites, but then decided he didn't like it. (This was huge for him....I was shocked that he actually tried the tortilla!!) He ended up eating one more small piece of chicken by itself. He did not eat any kale, bell pepper, or raspberries.

So that's what Ryan ate in a day. I would say it's a pretty accurate representation of the amount of food he eats. I wish I could have gotten a fruit or vegetable into his little body. But some days he will eat apple slices, so that's better than nothing.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

From Baby to Little Girl


My little Jenna has changed so much since she turned one just two short months ago! I think all my kids went through a big developmental leap right after they turned one. All of a sudden Jenna is less baby and more little girl, especially her personality!

If I could use one word to describe Jenna right now, other than "happy" or "sweet", it would be playful. She tries to get people to play with her and talk to her. She will stare at strangers and wave until they notice her, and then she smiles to engage them. Sometimes she will smile shyly and put her head on her shoulder, as if she is pretending to be shy. But I wouldn't necessarily call Jenna shy. She seems to be a happy mix between her reserved brother and her outgoing brother. Jenna loves playing at the park and climbing on everything. She is a little cautious but she still loves trying to keep up with her brothers. She will even get down on the floor on her tummy to play.

Jenna also seems to be understanding a lot of words. If I say "say cheese", she will give me a big smile. If she picks up a crumb off the floor and I say "give it to me", she will usually hand  it to me. The other day she even took food out of her mouth and handed it to me! She will also pick up crumbs off the floor and put them in the trash can for me, or in the dust pan if I am sweeping. Jenna says Hi Dada, uh-oh, yay, all done, that, num num, and mama.

Jenna loves peek-a-boo and patty-cake. She claps, waves, and points at things and says "dat!". As adorable as she is, she is also learning a few naughty habits. She shrieks and bucks her head when she gets really mad. Sometimes when I use a stern "NO" with her, she will lower her head and look up at me with her blinking eyes. She will stay frozen like that for a quite a while, as if she is testing me to see if I really mean "no".

Jenna is getting so fun, and I know she is going to become even more playful as she gets older. This age is exhausting but oh so fun!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Vinegar Veggies

Back when I was pregnant with Jenna I had a few months where I craved vinegar. I seriously poured it on my salads and then drank it out of the bottom of the bowl. Nowadays I don't crave it quite to that degree, but I still love anything vinegary!

I attribute my love of vinegar to my Mom. When I was a little girl she used to rinse the shampoo out of my hair with apple cider vinegar. (Did anyone else's Mom do that?) Smelling it always reminds me of getting my hair washed. Apple cider vinegar in particular is really healthy not only for your hair, but for eating. It has all sorts of amazing health benefits.

Last month after consuming too many cookies, I started to get that craving for vinegar. I wonder if this signals some sort of vitamin deficiency? Or maybe my body was just screaming for something healthy after eating too many treats. Anyways, I saw this recipe for Pickled Cabbage Salad, and I decided to try it.

It was good, but not quite what I was expecting. The 1/3 cup of sugar just made it too sweet for my liking. When I eat something vinegary I want to really taste the vinegar. The cabbage also turned really rubbery, which I did not like.

A few weeks later I bought another bag of pre-shredded cabbage and tweaked the recipe. I reduced the sugar a lot and added a little olive oil for healthy fats. The result was absolutely perfect!
I simply combined a bag of shredded cabbage and a few other veggies (thinly sliced cucumbers work great). To the veggies I added 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Mixed well and then ate it over the next few days. The cabbage stayed crisp and the taste was very sharp and vinegary.

I just made another batch today because eating it makes me feel clean and healthy from the inside out. Is that strange? Let me know if you try this. But be must like vinegar to try this recipe!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Custom Made Baby Gates

Once Jenna turned one she started walking. It quickly turned into me chasing her around the house and up the stairs all day long. I was feeling really tired by the end of the day and not getting anything done. 1-year olds must be watched constantly!!

I knew we needed baby gates, but we had a hard time finding one that were both the right size and affordable.

So of course Adam offered to build them for me!

A few hours and about $40 later, and I have two custom built baby gates! One is in between our front hallway and our family room:

We spent about a week trying to decide on what color to paint or stain it. My 8-year old niece suggested painting it pink because it is for Jenna. She will be sad to know that we ended up staining it a greyish brown color last night.

It has a basic gate latch:

The other gate is in between our kitchen and dining room. (It still needs to be stained)

Aren't they great?

Adam has something really big and exciting that he'd like to build next. I'm still not sure about it, but he is slowly breaking me down. I'll share more if we decide to build it!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Stitch Fix Review #21

I took a couple months off from Stitch Fix to focus on Christmas and spending my money on others. Then January rolled around and I had some Christmas cash burning a hole in my I scheduled another fix! Receiving a box of Stitch Fix clothes is such a fun treat. Back when the weather was just turning colder, I was really excited to wear all my warm sweaters, jeans and boots. Pulling out my clothes at the start of a new season is kind of like getting a new wardrobe. But now that we are a few months in I must admit I'm getting pretty tired of wearing the same things over and over. The clothes in my closet that looked new and fresh back in October are now looking kind of drab and boring.

For this fix I requested a great fitting pair of jeans. I asked for either skinny jeans or boot cut jeans. I also asked for long sleeve tops or sweaters to layer or wear alone with jeans. I also mentioned that I would prefer tops be slightly more form fitting. I know the oversized loose look is very in right now but I think these styles have a tendency to make me look and feel sloppy and frumpy.

Referral link!

My note from my stylist Heather reads: "Hi Stephanie! I hope this fix helps you have a fashionable start to the new year! I found you a great pair of skinny jeans to try by Mavi. They have some stretch like your Liverpool jeans, so I sent them to you in a smaller size. If you need to exchange them for a different size, please don't hesitate to reach out to us! Since you requested some more fitted pieces, I found you the Market & Spruce top with its fabulous teal color that will compliment your complexion and it's fun side zipper that will add some spice to your winter wardrobe. Wear it with the jeans and some ankle boots for a date night with your husband! The Absolutely sweater and the Pixley sweater will be perfect for layering with your jeans and your olive Sweet Rain vest from last January's fix! Do you have any style resolutions I can help you with this year? Enjoy! Heather

This month's stitch fix fashion show brought to you by Jenna destroying my nightstand and then looking cute and innocent when I confronted her.

Galena Side Zipper Knit Top by Market and Spruce

While this top was a pretty color and it had a very cute zipper detail, it was a little too fitted. It was the type of material that is quite clingy, and I just don't think my post-3 babies body will ever be suited for clingy clothing. It also accentuated my large chest and I just wasn't comfortable in it. Status: Returned

Freida Skinny Jean by Mavi

In my notes to my stylist I mentioned that I am in between my typical size 8 and a size 6. Since I seem to have so much trouble with my pants sagging, I was glad to see she sent me these jeans in a size 6. They fit well when I put them on, but after wearing them a very short time I was already finding myself yanking them back up to my hips. My official theory on why jeans never fit me properly is this: my waist is extremely short for my height and my hips sit very high on my body. So a typical mid-rise pant sits more like a low-rise pant on my body because of where my hips are. And because pants always sit below my hips, they have nothing to help hold them up. I have no idea if this makes sense, but I'm wondering if higher-rise jeans would stay up on my body. These Mavi jeans were nice but pricey, and if I'm going to buy pricey jeans they better stay on properly! Status: Returned

Borrego V-Neck Sweater by Pixley

This is a cute versatile sweater that feels incredibly cozy and soft. The sleeves are a bit long but I can deal with that. It looks like a navy blue with pink stripes, although it is listed as purple on my price sheet.  I tried it on under my green cargo vest, as well as my blue puffer vest. It looked nice with both of these, as well as under my army jacket . The style card that came with it suggested wearing it with white jeans, a denim jacket, and white converse type sneakers. I own all these items, so im excited to try this combination. The sweater also looked great with my grey pair of jeans that never seem to look right with any of my tops, so that sealed the deal. It was a keeper and I have already worn it! Status: Kept

Edmond Henley Knit Top by Market and Spruce

I always seem to get a 3/4 length Henley top in my fixes. While I think this style and neckline are very flattering on me, I just don't need a top like this right now. For one thing it is freezing outside. This black and white pattern is also almost identical to the maxi dress I kept from one of my summertime fixes. This top didn't excite me (or spark joy......anyone read that book?) so back it went. Status: Returned

Jimean Pullover Sweater by Absolutely

When I got a peak at this sweater sticking out of my box, I was intrigued.  It was a little bit unique and I liked the slightly faded look of it. As I tried it on I thought I would definitely be keeping it. Adam really liked it and it looked great under my military jacket. However....something about the fit just didn't look flattering to me. I think it was a combination of the wide stripe across my chest and the higher neckline. I went back and forth on this one. At one point I had decided to keep this one over the other striped sweater. But ultimately I went with the sweater I felt more comfortable in. Am I crazy for giving this one up? Status: Returned

Try Stitch Fix for yourself with my referral link below!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Things I Love About Lucas

Poor Lucas. He is such the classic middle child! In addition to being my most challenging child at the moment, I feel like he gets looked over sometimes, especially on this here little blog. Ryan has all the "first" experiences that make us excited and proud. And Jenna has the privilege of being our first baby girl, so she gets attention just for being cute and girly. Then there is Lucas. He may make me want to pull my hair out each and every day......but he also has so many endearing qualities! I struggle with him so much that I sometimes find myself overlooking the sweet, funny, smart things he constantly does. Here are some things I adore about my dynamite middle child.

-He gives the best kisses and hugs! When Lucas gives a hug it is more of a running tackle hug. His kisses are loud and exaggerated. Lucas isn't afraid to tell me he loves me. He is such an affectionate child!

-His beautiful eyes. Not only does Lucas have mile-long eyelashes, but the color of his eyes is really unique. They are blue, but as he gets older the center ring gets wider and more gold. They are almost half blue, half gold.

-Lucas is fiercely independent and fearless. It can be a real pain at the age of 3, but I know it will be beneficial as he gets older. He will be willing to take on challenges and try new things without the fear of making mistakes. Even now, I just have the sense that he is very capable, and I tend to be a little harder on him because I know he can handle it.

-He is always the first to say "amen!" after we pray.

-He loves HARD. Lucas wears his heart on his sleeve. When he loves someone or something, it's obvious to everyone. These days he is really loving his little sister!

-He seems to have inherited my very thick hair!

-He calls his backpack a "pit-pat" and his big toe his "papa toe".

-He is confident in his beliefs. If Lucas believes the sky is purple, don't you dare try to argue with him that it is blue. You will not win. Surely this will benefit him later in life....perhaps he'll be a lawyer??

I love my firecracker middle child!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Trader Joe's Grocery Haul

I went shopping at Trader Joe's yesterday and I thought it would be fun to share with you what I got, as well as my menu plan for the week. I often see other bloggers sharing their grocery "hauls" and I find it strangely fascinating to see what other people buy and eat. So here is a glimpse into my shopping cart!

Before I left for the store, we had no food. As in, our refrigerator, freezer and pantry were nearly empty. As in, I was about to be fired as a mother and wife. So this wasn't just a quick trip to grab a few things. I was out of many essentials, and we had no meat, dairy, or vegetables left in our house. I set a conservative budget limit of $150. I ended up spending $167.72. Considering the fact that Jenna was screeching and throwing things on the floor and Lucas was begging me for yogurt tubes the entire time, I'm happy with what I got and spent. Here is my total haul:

And here is the breakdown.

Produce: Romaine hearts, spinach, baby cucumbers, green beans, 2 bags broccoli, shredded cabbage, cauliflower, avocados, russet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, Fuji apples, red grapes, bananas

Meat: stew meat, turkey lunch meat, chicken breasts, 2 packages ground beef, salmon, bacon

Dairy: whole milk, low fat milk, creamer, yogurt tubes, shredded Parmesan, havarti slices, mozzarella, block of cheddar, ricotta, 2 tubs full fat plain yogurt, whipping cream, 2 boxes unsalted butter, 2 dozen eggs

Dry goods: multigrain spoonfuls cereal, whole wheat couscous, 1 lb rigatoni, croutons, unsweetened applesauce, coconut oil, whole plum tomatoes, marinara, peanut butter, chocolate chunks

Impulse buys: peanut butter sandwich crackers, spicy hummus, whole wheat pitas

It looks like I got a lot of vegetables and cheese! I find that Trader Joe's has some great products and low prices. Some of my favorite items to get include cheese, yogurt, nuts, seeds, frozen produce and peanut butter.  Unfortunately I also find that they have a lot of what I consider " glorified junk food". So many of their products have fun packaging and they taste delicious, but they are really not any healthier than your typical snack food. I fall victim to buying these foods sometimes. On this trip I tried really hard to stick to my list. I pretty much ignored the frozen aisle because I often get tripped up there, and end up coming home with mini pizzas, cookies, and taquitos.

My hope is that these groceries will last us until next Wednesday or Thursday. (We will run out of whole milk before then). Here is what I am planning on making for dinner this week.

Friday: Beef stew with homemade rolls and kale chips

Saturday: Roasted salmon, green beans and cherry tomatoes (recipe from my new sheet pan suppers cookbook!) and couscous

Sunday: Baked beef ziti, homemade garlic bread ( I love my bread maker I got for $5!), Caesar salad, broccoli, cookie bars ( we are having dinner guests this night)

Monday: Hasselback potatoes, scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit

Tuesday: Crockpot chicken teriyaki (from freezer), rice, frozen stir fry veggies

Wednesday: Cauliflower pasta, Caesar salad

Thursday: Green chile chicken (recipe in my new Pioneer Woman cookbook!), Spanish rice and beans

Sounds yummy, right? Unfortunately Lucas will eat none of this and Ryan will eat maybe a couple nights. I am so tired of trying to please everyone at dinner time that I have kind of stopped caring. All I can do is cook healthy food and surely someday they will choose to eat it.

So what do you think of my grocery haul? Do you like seeing what other people buy and eat? Does your shopping cart look similar?