Monday, August 11, 2014

First Day Of School

I don't have many words to explain how I feel today except for excited, tired, and a little sad. Today was my first day back to school and it also happened to be my baby girl's first day of preschool. Thankfully I had so much going through my mind for my classroom that I never really got a chance to dwell on the fact that my baby wasn't a baby anymore, but a big kid who goes to school. 

After a long night of going to bed late, a balloon and fan incident and my alarm not going off I never had a chance to get nostalgic this morning. Thankfully I had decided at 11:00 last night to scrap my first idea for a first day of school picture and decided to do a little chalk art instead. I have an awesome framed chalk board my sister made for me this past Christmas and it was perfect for all of the pictures I was able to squeeze into my already hectic morning.

The 11th hour (literally) sign

And indoor shot 

An outdoor shot

A shot with our classroom sign that we forgot to change the 4 into a 3. I am going to get a redo picture when Mckinley goes back to school on Thursday

And an after school shot since I didn't get a chance to take a picture with my baby this morning.

What a whirlwind of a day for our little family. Tonight daddy is cooking us dinner and we are going to relax and snuggle. Tomorrow I will have another half day with a new set of babies and Mckinley will go to our babysitters house since she doesn't go back to school until Thursday. Wish us luck that drop off on Thursday is a little easier with fewer tears. Also pray that if we happen to run into each other in the classroom there won't be any tears. I am hoping the more she sees me the easier it will be on her.

I will be posting on my school blog Insane In The Pre-K Brain more frequently so come on over and check things out. We are going to have such a fun school year!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Mckinley and Noah's Tomas The Train 3rd Birthday Bash

This year we decided to shake things up and give a joint birthday party with Mckinley's best friend Mr. Noah. 3 years ago Noah was born on Mckinley's due date and my wild child was born 2 days past due and these 2 kiddos have been besties ever since. Thankfully we also consider Noah's mom and dad as some of our nearest and dearest so it was more fun than actual work. It was also pretty useful that Noah's dad Ben just happens to be a graphic designer and could make all of our invitations and goodey bag tags and my dad owns a printing company and could print everything for us. After we had our theme we were ready to start planning.

Having never had a joint birthday party before I wasn't sure how we would divide and conquer everything , but I think we did a pretty darn god job making sure everything was taken care of for the big day. It doesn't hurt that we all enjoy getting together and grilling some burgers and drinking some wine. I honestly think that is the recipe for planning a successful party. Good friends, good food, and good wine.

Once we came up with our theme and chose an invitation design we got to work on planning our menu and any other little details. My inspiration for the entire party was based around this picture I had pinned on Pinterest. After we had our set up idea we could start planning out our menu. We decided on a simple menu since our party would be at 1:00 and some people would have eaten by then, but we wanted to make sure we had enough food for those who waited to eat. We had spinach dip and chips, Cheese balls, vegetables and ranch dip, fruit, pin wheel sandwiches, pretzel dogs, pigs in a blanket, and of course it wouldn't be a party without some cake and ice cream. To drink we had sodas, water, juice, beer and sangria. All simple and easy yet it was enough to feed a hungry swimming crowd.

The night before the party I headed to my parent's house to begin the party set up. I am so glad I spent so much time prepping beforehand because I didn't want to be rushed the day of the party. I started by setting up the food table and laying down the rail road tracks. I had purchased some inexpensive plastic green table cloths to be my base layer and to make it look like grass. Next I used blue painters tape to create my rail road tracks all around the table. I really wanted to use a brown or black tape to make my tracks, and almost bought some duct tape, but I am very glad I decided to go with my gut and stick with the painters tape. I ended up having to re-position a few pieces of tape after already laying them and if I had gone with the brown duct tape I would have torn my green table clothes to shreds. The painters tape allowed me to easily pull off any piece I wanted and move it into the correct position.

After laying all of my rail road tracks I got to work on the train cars that would hold all of our food. I found these loaf trays at Kroger and after roughly figuring how many cars our train should be carrying (12) I started hot gluing on the wheels I had cut earlier in the day. This only took a few minutes since I am a glue gun master. I went ahead and set all of the cars around the table so all we would have to do was throw the food in and relax.

After my amazing track laying skills the only thing I had left to do was get the tags attached to the gummy snacks for our goodies. Noah's dad Ben took created these tags for us and I will toot my own horn here because I came up with this idea with my crazy teacher brain! I knew I wanted something train themed and this just popped into my head one night right before the party. All I did was tape a tag on each gummy and threw them in a bowl for the party guests to grab before they left.

My final party craft was super simple, but turned out so cute. I wanted something to put outside so people could find the party and I wanted something train themed of course. I recreated this cute sign I found on Pinterest and I do believe mine turned out pretty darn cute. I reused a piece of board my dad had cut while fixing a few boards on my house and a little poster board and viola we had a sign.

The only other set up we did on the party day was set out the food, fill a few balloons (I have a fear of popping balloons so I did not participate in this!), set out the drinks and throw a train track on the table.

The final touch to our decorations was of course the birthday cake that my amazing mom made. She works at a bakery, but isn't one of the cake decorators and with a little help she was able to create the most amazing Thomas The Train cake. I couldn't believe how absolutely precious it turned out!

 Mckinley and Noah definitely enjoyed blowing out the candles on their own chocolate cupcakes and then Mckinley just started attacking the cake

I am calling this birthday the best most fun and relaxing so far.
To quote a line from one of Mckinley's favorite books Moosetache to sum up this birthday,
 It was simple, so easy, so perfectly perfect!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summertime Fun

Now that summer is almost over and I have barely posted because we have been so busy I thought I would just bombard everyone with a million pictures of our entire summer!

Here we go! 

We kicked off Summer Break with an eventful 2 days at Italian fest. My great aunt who passed at 103 was honored as a great Italian and my godmother Nini accepted on her behalf. We drank a lot of wine and had a blast with Mckinley's BFF and his parental units.

We celebrated Father's Day

We had fun with friends and family.

We spent about 95% of our time in water.

We visited the Botanic Garden and ended our adventure by falling off of a bridge and smacking our head on the concrete path.

We had a blast at the Children's Museum

We took a million pictures making weird faces

We ate a lot of food and had many floor picnics

We painted, played with play-doh and built with blocks

Celebrated the 4th of July

And just had fun

Not pictured is the significant amount of time the girl and I spent being sick. We both had a few bouts of the stomach bug, we both had a few injuries and of course a few fun itchy allergy days. I obviously didn't take many pictures on these days and no one wants to see me looking a dirty mamma mess so I will refrain from scaring you with images of towel covered couches and red swollen eyes.

This summer has been my favorite so far. This little girl of ours may be tiny, but she is bubbling over with personality. It is like she just can't contain it. Her smile is effortless and she can light up a room when she walks in. She gives the best neck squeezes and I love the look on people's faces when she runs to them arms wide open and literally jumps in their arms. There is nothing better than watching this little person you created bring such joy to so many people.

In a few days my baby will turn three years old and in a few more days she will be starting school and I have obviously not allowed myself to properly process this information. This child I brought into this world has broken through every expectation I ever had for her and has become an incredible little human being. I know I keep saying I am looking forward to the school year starting back, but I also really dread this amazing summer coming to an end. I am so thankful I took a million pictures to document all of the fun we have had.

If you ahve made it through this entire post I congratulate you and thank you for rehashing our entire summer in pictures. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What Do You Eat?

I get asked this question almost every single day and every single time I tell people the same thing. I eat real food. I eat meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and lately I have been eating a few paleo breads and sweets which technically aren't sweets because they do not contain any sugar except a little honey or maple syrup. I have added a little cheese back into my diet, but have quickly realized it does not make my body very happy so I will only be eating it if I am desperate for pizza. I have been very interested in trying out cashew cheese so maybe I will give that a try and report back to you how that turned out. 

I have posted a few times about what I can not eat and I have also written a little about my Whole 30 I completed in May, but I thought it would be fun to do a real day in the life of someone who has food allergies. I actually did a lot of cooking yesterday, but there are a few more things I want to get thrown together and in the freezer since the girl is finally at the babysitters (HALLELUJAH!!) and I can cook without being asked 20 million times to play a song, or put a movie in, or blow bubbles!!!

I eat some sort of egg concoction almost every single day. If I am feeling wild I might make some almond flour pancakes, but on a typical day I will have eggs, but I will cook them differently to trick my mind into thinking I am not eating the same thing everyday. I do have some gluten free oats I make Mckinley oatmeal with which I can eat, but I have found that is just too heavy for my stomach that early in the morning. So how many ways are there to cook eggs? I use a variation of scrambled, egg muffins, poached, fried, frittatad, quiched, and hard boiled. I am sure there are many other ways you can cook an egg, but these are my go to styles. The day I learned to poach an egg was life changing! I love a good over medium fried egg, but I hated having to fry an egg. It took too long and I felt like I was wasting my coconut oil doing it too often. Finally I found a recipe that taught me how to poach without any special equipment. All you need is a large deep saucepan filed about an inch with water, some good sized ramekins, some oil to grease the ramekins and help those eggies slide out easily, and some seasoning. Place the saucepan on the stove and place the greased ramekins in the water. I like to break my eggs in a glass pyrex measuring cup then individually pour them in their ramekins so I don't break the yolk. Bring water in saucepan to simmer, cover the pan, and set your timer for 5 minutes. Don't over cook them because your yolk will get hard and you want that yummy runny deliciousness to dip your homemade turkey sausage in.

A typical breakfast of turkey sausage and spinach quiche with coconut milk vanilla coffee. I use my immersion blender to make my coffee all foamy and delicious.

Speaking of turkey sausage that is another breakfast item I eat daily or use in my egg muffins, quiches, and frittitas. I found this recipe and my life has not been the same since. I can not eat any pre made sausages because almost all of them contain pepper and trust me I have contacted many companies to see if I could fin 1 that I could eat that might make my life a little easier, but sadly to make sausage you need pepper. I use an old season jar to keep all of my homemade seasonings in. I write the recipe on each bottle so I don't have to run to Pinterest every time I start running low. Here are 3 of my favorites:
Breakfast Sausage
Season All or Burger and Fry Seasoning
Poultry Seasoning for my Almond Meal Chicken Fingers
Not pictured is my go to Taco Seasoning.

Lunch is my least favorite meal of the day. I always feel like I am scrounging for something to eat and I usually end up eating some sort of Boars Head lunch meat wrapped up in lettuce with some sort of fruit. Every now and then if we have leftovers I will try to finish those off.

This is lunch on a very good day when I actually have leftover bacon to make a turkey "club". That brown thing is a homemade chocolate date bar which we will talk about during snack time.

Another of my favorite go to lunches is tuna salad stuffed hard boiled eggs. I use this eggless mayo recipe from The Clothes Make The Girl and make these tiny little handfuls of deliciousness!

I don't really snack since most snack foods are off limits to me and ever since I began eating Paleo I do not eat the same as I used to. I used to always feel hungry. I used to snack all day long. I don't know if it was kicking my sugar habit or cutting out carbs even gluten free ones changed how my body dealt with feeling hungry. I still get hungry, but it is not an all day everyday thing. I feel like I have broken free of the hold food had over me. I enjoy food and don't let food control me anymore. I will have a handful of nuts every now and then or a homemade date bar, but my go to in between food is a smoothie with spinach, a frozen banana, some frozen fruit, chia seeds, and almond milk if I am having a really long day or need a pick me up.

One of my favorite snack foods to make is homemade date bars. So far I have tried the cherry (my favorite), chocolate (delicious when mashed with a piece of cherry), and the gingerbread. Brent does not care for Larabars and has tried a few different flavors, but he LOVES my homemade bars so if he requests them I make them!

This cup of deliciousness contains 1 frozen banana, a handful of frozen blueberries, about 1/4 a cup of mixed frozen fruit, a handful of frozen spinach leaves, a teaspoon of chia seeds, about 1/4 a cup of unsweetened almond milk and some water to make things move more smoothly. One of my best and really only kitchen tips I have is to throw the entire bag of spinach leaves in the freezer as soon as you get home from the store. It freezes perfectly and breaks apart easily to be placed into smoothies and cooking and keeps it from going bad.

Dinner is probably my most favorite meal of the day because I am not eating the same things over and over and over and over and over again! Now we do eat a lot of the same things like Turkey Tacos every Tuesday (Taco Tuesday baby!), but that is just one of our favorite things to eat plus it is super easy so it will always stay on our menu. We also eat pasta (zucchini noodles for me) once a week and we have pizza on Fridays when we do not have plans to get together with friends. A typical week of meals in our house goes like this.

Monday- Something in the crock pot since it is the beginning of the week and I will be very tired when I get home. It is typically something I have prepped and frozen in my freezer that I have thawed out the evening before. Usually a roast, a whole chicken, or some sort of pork deliciousness.

Tuesday- Turkey Tacos or if we are feeling adventurous I will pound the crap out of a pork tenderloin, sprinkle my homemade taco/fajita seasonings all over with a squeeze of lime and Brent will grill it for pork tacos.

Wednesday- Either spaghetti/Zucchini Noodles with homemade spaghetti gravy or Brent will make us our favorite crawfish pasta sauce

Thursday- Is usually a toss up day. We wither eat leftovers, everyone fends for themselves, or we eat breakfast for dinner.

Friday- We like to make homemade pizzas if we are not getting together with friends or going out for a date night.

I am a much more adventurous cook these days since I decided to only eat whole foods and to cut out all processed foods and this was my most adventurous undertaking to date. I found a recipe for making a pizza crust out of a Yuca or Cassava Root. I have picked up a yuca a few times at Whole Foods since finding this recpie and promptly place it back down, but I decided to just go for it after I had to run to Whole Foods to get some dates to make my date bars. It sat in my fridge for a few days until last night. Brent's soft ball game got rained out and he called me while I was at the store and said he wanted pizza so I decided to just go for it. I am so happy I decided to give this recipe a try because it was AMAZING! It was pretty easy to put together and made a super crunchy crust. I added some Italian seasoning and garlic salt to my yuca crust and after I flipped my crust with about 10 minutes to go I added all of my toppings (olive oil, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil from my garden) and it was perfect. It had the best texture and flavor and I will probably be a yuca root pizza crust girl from now on.

I will be spending the rest of my day searching for more yuca recipes and coming up with the recipes I want to make over the next few weeks so I can have a stock of freezer meals all prepped before I have to go back to school. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Meal Planning With MOMables

Recently I was contacted by MOMables to see if I would be interested in working with them to help share their online school lunch meal planning service. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to let someone else do a little of the meal planning for me because right now I am in a rut! Meal planning is typically an everyday thing for me, but ever since summer break started I have slacked off because I was starting to get tired of planning out every step or bite I took. I wanted to be able to go with the flow and be footloose and fancy free for a few weeks. So go ahead and ask me how that worked out! Not good. Not good at all my friends. I was stuck eating anything I could find that was "safe" for me to eat. That meant there were many days I was eating plain chicken hot dogs, hard boiled eggs, and canned green beans. It wasn't pretty and I wasn't excited about eating and the only thing that got me a little excited about eating most days was a piece of bacon and a fresh smoothie. 

It's so funny that they contacted me this week because I have been scouring Pinterest for new recipes and had just gotten my meal planning calendar out so I can get back into my routine before school starts again. I know I know you are all yelling at me that school doesn't start for another 6 weeks, but I need to get my butt into gear and get back into my meal planning habits before it gets to close or I will panic and just start throwing things into lunch boxes because there will be so much going on! Remember not only will I be starting a new school year, but my baby girl will also be going to school (sniff sniff)! I also have her birthday coming up and this year not only are we having a Thomas The Train Birthday, but we are having  a joint Thomas The Train Birthday with Mckinley's BFF and future husband Noah! So I need to get into tip top shape before all of this biznass goes down! 

Here is where MOMables comes in. They have sent me a 3 month subscription to try and in return I am going to give my honest opinion about their program and I am also going to giveaway away a 3 month subscription and a $15 Amazon Giftcard so you can buy all of the fun accessories you will need to go along with your MOMables Subscription! MOMables is also offering a free week meal plan when you sign up for their weekly newsletter. Just think mom's 3 months of school lunches planned out for you! They even send you a shopping list for 5 meals which means 5 fewer meals you  have to think about and plan! You buy the ingredients and follow the directions and then you can sit back and relax and wonder why you ever stressed about packing lunches!

MOMables offers vegetarian, gluten free and nut free options so no matter what your needs are you can adapt every plan to fit your family. I definitely understand what it takes to plan out every bite you eat because of my dietary restrictions so I am excited to show how I make this program work for us by showing you how I make simple exchanges to make it safe for us to eat. For example this upcoming week there is a recipe for a delicious strawberry kiwi wafflewich so I will be making my homemade almond flower waffles which we can eat for breakfast and then I can use the same waffles for our sandwiches. So whatever the dietary needs are you can make any of these recipes work for your family.

All you need to do is fill out these few simple Rafflecopter entries and you can win a 3 Month MOMables Subscription and a $15 Amazon Giftcard to help make this upcoming school year a little less painful.