11/10/14

Meals

Today is a gorgeous Monday! I plan on enjoying every second of this day because that Arctic blast or whatever the catch-phrase the news is calling it is on it's way. And it's going to get downright COLD.

I look forward to cooler weather during the hot months because I like my Fall and Winter wardrobe much better than my summer (I can't believe I actually typed that out) but when I say cooler weather I'm talking somewhere in the 60's. NOT THE THIRTIES. 

We are going to try and play outside a lot today and might even make a trip to the zoo. Eli has been asking to go for awhile now. This is one of those activities that was much easier without a baby, now with a nursing baby it's a little more inconvenient, but I need to take him before it gets cold.

Anyways all of that to say that the only thing that DOES excite me about really cold weather is cooking. I love cooking when it's cold outside, hot soups and yummy baked goods (although I guess I'll avoid pumpkin). I need to plan my menu this week! Also I'm going to one of those meal prep parties this week where we will make 8 meals to freeze to cook later. That sounds great!

Here is what was on our menu the past couple of weeks:

Monday: Creamy Baked Chicken Taquitos
My family absolutely LOVES this meal. It is one that even Eli gobbles up which is hard to find these days. We pair it with the Cilantro Lime Rice as suggested and it is all delicious. I also usually put some black beans with it or make some broccoli. 

Tuesday: Taco Soup
My go-to taco soup for the past couple of years has been Paula Deen's taco soup. It's easy, quick to put together and so filling. We have leftovers for days. 

Wednesday: {Leftovers}

Thursday: Poppy Seed Chicken
This is one of those classic meals. I grew up eating this and actually forgot about it until my grandma gave me a handwritten recipe book with this in it. I hadn't made it in awhile but I was glad I did cause Eli also liked this one. I'm noticing a trend of him enjoying the "creamy" meals. 

Friday: {Halloween - eat out} Five Guys. YUM.

Sunday: Bow Tie Fiesta Pasta
I got this recipe from Blue Eyed Bride several years ago. It was passed around the "blog world" for awhile and became a favorite here in our home. 

Monday: Baked Potatoes
We have small group in our home on Mondays and we always try and eat together. It's hard to think of meals that everybody would enjoy and that would make enough for all adults and kids. Someone in our group had the idea to do baked potatoes with all the toppings this week. It was a great idea!

Tuesday: Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sliders
 This is in Luke's top 5 favorite meals. I always serve it with corn and sometimes we eat some chips on the side.

Wednesday: Stuffed Pepper Soup
Oh man this is such an awesome soup recipe (but I'm a big soup fan). Make this soup this week when it gets cold. YOU WON'T BE SORRY. 

Thursday {Leftovers}

And the meals end there. I'm looking forward to lots of good meals this week!



11/6/14

Random Thoughts.

1. I've been doing a really good job of meal planning a keeping track of it all. And just today Luke and I marveled at the fact that we haven't eaten out in about two weeks. This is HUGE for us. Hopefully huge money saving also!

2.  I made THE most delicious pumpkin crunch cake this week for our small group. Almost every single person there declared that they don't like pumpkin (excuse me, what?) and my husband tries not to eat too many sweets so he didn't partake in it. So I was left with a HUGE pumpkin crunch cake for just myself. I will say I have enjoyed it immensely but nothing good can come from eating a whole cake by yourself so I took it to my playgroup today to share with the moms. If you like pumpkin you should try it! Recipe HERE.   I'm going to try and make it again at Thanksgiving. Surely somebody there will like pumpkin!

3. Last night we went and took our yearly family pictures. Back when I first had Annie I was already looking into the future excited about taking pictures in the Fall. I figured by then I would be back to my pre-pregnancy weight (wrong) and I also assumed I would give it a lot of thought and be really prepared (wrong again).

I decided to pick out what to wear right before we left to take pictures which resulted in me regretting what I wore. I think it was a bad choice. And yes, this is all one giant white girl problem.

I also scoured Pinterest before our pics looking for cute/fun poses. Does anybody know who the robots on Pinterest are? I mean HOW do they get those poses to work and look so perfect?

I thought this particular pose would be cute:



I still have buises on my neck where Eli pretty much strangled me while I tried to hold a squirmy Annie in my arms. I can promise you it looks nothing like the picture.

As long as we got ONE good shot for the Christmas card it will be fine. Even if I don't like my outfit.  Again, major white girl problem.

4. I'm going to do a blog post about Babywearing. I've really gotten into it this time around and I've been able to answer questions that some friends have had about it. It doesn't take an expert obviously but I had no idea what I was doing the first time around with Eli. I wrote a post about my favorite carrier when he was a baby but I feel much more educated now so I'm going to do a follow-up to that post.

5. The November Warmer and Scent of the month are pretty great!
https://megantree.scentsy.us/Buy/ProductDetails/30147

https://megantree.scentsy.us/Buy/ProductDetails/30379

I've been warming that scent since I got it. It totally smells like Christmas in my house!




6. I spent some precious time this week and organized my pantry thanks to some $3 bins in the $1 spot at Target (it's confusing I know). I feel so much better about my life now that the pantry is organized.

7. I started watching Gilmore Girls. The verdict is still out on whether I like it or not, but for now I'm going to continue to watch.

8. If anybody has a baby Eli let me know cause I have some shirts to sell from when he was a baby. I sold a couple on a FB site but I have a few more size 12 months to sell!

9. My contacts feel like they are going to pop out of my eyeballs so I'm going to end this right here.

11/3/14

Halloween 2014

The holidays really are so much more fun with kids. I've always heard that but it's one of those things that you can't really understand until you do have those kids with you on the holidays.

Since graduating from junior high (is that too old to trick or treat?) Halloween has always just been another day, no big deal made about it, no dressing up, just October 31st.

But this year it was SO fun. Although I had no idea that Halloween festivities would take up the whole week of Halloween! Seems like we had something everyday. What will Christmas be like? Something everyday for the whole month??

Anyways, back in September I asked Eli what he wanted to be for Halloween and he said a gorilla. Well....ok. Thinking that he didn't understand the question I waited a couple of days to ask him..... and he said he wanted to be a gorilla again. He was very insistent on this, so I sought out for a gorilla costume

And lo and behold I found one at TJ Maxx of all places. And it was the perfect gorilla costume! Because of Eli's costume choice, Annie's costume came naturally; a banana.




As could be expected Annie was not a fan of the banana costume,  but she was a trooper each time she wore it.

Halloween morning we woke up and went to our favorite donut shop. They were giving a free Halloween donut to all kiddos dressed in a costume. We will never pass up a free donut.


The donut shop is close to Luke's work so we took a box of donuts to his office which allowed us to show them Eli and Annie in their costumes. Everybody is a fan of a gorilla and banana.

That evening we had our annual Trunk or Treat at church. Each car is responsible for coming up with a game. This year we did a banana toss game - I was very proud of myself for sticking to a theme, something I'm not usually good at. I usually throw something together at the last minute. Actually I did throw this together at the last minute, it was just an easy theme to stick with. 


 And our game sounds a lot more put together than it actually was. I noticed a couple of days before Halloween that my trunk would slowly close on it's own ending with a big BANG as it picked up momentum and slammed shut. I noticed this when it almost took off my head once or five times.

I then forgot about it. Until we were at trunk or treat. An event that requires us to leave our trunk open for two hours. So we spent the next two hours wrestling our children while dealing with several hundred kids stopping by our trunk, and holding open the trunk door. And by we I mean mainly Luke. He has now asked me to mention all car problems to him in a timely manner.

We came home and were exhuasted but I wanted Eli to trick or treat at a couple of houses. I like the trunk or treat and think it's fun, but I grew up going door to door trick or treating and I wanted Eli to experience it, I knew he would love it.

And he did! We stopped by a few of our friend's houses and each time we left he would say "Ok let's go to another house that was fun!". Luke and Annie stayed at home so it was just me and Eli, and it was so special.

Then we came home, ate dinner and went to bed. We were all so tired!

It was such a great day and night. I can't believe October is already over, looking forward to November!




10/26/14

Sleep

I'm currently sitting on the floor outside my three year old's room working on various tasks on my computer.

I'm also mentally begging my child to fall asleep. Please just go to sleep so I can get off the floor and go get in my own comfy bed.

And I just remembered I still have to wash my face, take out my contacts, and brush my teeth. I despise the bedtime routine. I always have, even before we implemented the three hour please-go-to-sleep bedtime routine for the three year old.

It wasn't on purpose, and up until March of this year we had a wonderful sleeper. He never had a problem sleeping and even transitioned to a big boy bed with ease. It was too good to be true. TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.

Then we had a baby - and because babies don't like to sleep at night when they first enter this world she naturally slept in our room so that I could feed her at all hours of the night.

So three out of four family members slept in the same room. Do you see where this is going?

I mean I get it. I don't like to feel left out, if everybody is hanging out I want to be invited. I'm not a big party gal but if there is a party I'M THERE. Just don't leave me out.

I can only assume that Eli felt left out in his own room and own bed while the three of us shared another room. I'm sure in his mind we were having all kinds of fun in there. If he considers sleepless nights, spit up and sleeping on towels that are covering up where the baby just peed because I'm too tired to change the sheets fun then we were having A BLAST.

Pretty soon the new baby was sleeping through the night, which was fantastic, and would have been a victory in the realm of parents getting some sleep, if only the three year old would have followed suit and stayed in his bed all night.

I have to admit something. I was once a firm person. And I'm not just talking about my belly (which is no longer firm) but I was a firm YES or NO person. If I said yes I meant it if I said no I meant it and if I said never I meant it.

Oh how I wish I could go back and take back any "never" statement I ever made. Because all those times I said I would "never" let a kid sleep in my bed are coming back to mock me. Laugh at me as I sleep on the tiniest sliver of the right side of the bed while simultaneously being kicked in the ribs by three year old feet.

We've tried various tactics in the seemingly impossible task of getting Eil to fall asleep alone and stay sleeping in his own bed all night long; bribery, discipline, begging, firm voices, ALL OF IT.

One morning I woke up defeated and discouraged, which was probably due to the fact that our queen size bed had too many people sleeping in it, but I was desperate. So with coffee in one hand and desperation in the other I started seeking the advice of google for ways to get the child to stay in his bed all night.

One site suggested you take the child back to their bed without saying a word to them. Just lead them back to their room put them in bed and go on your merry way. Oh yeah that sounds like a good plan. Until you do it SEVENTEEN TIMES.

Seriously who are these people? Apparently that worked for the perfect Leave it to Beaver family, but us Trees are resilient. We are fighters. We are tired and just need some SLEEP.

I became consumed with figuring out how to get Eli to sleep in his bed all night. I worried myself sick. I made bold statements about how we were failing as parents.  When Eli joined us in bed around 3am it was as if it was a physical reminder of the awful job we were doing. Why couldn't we get our kid to stay in bed?? When did we become such failures?

I think Luke could sense my discouragement (insanity?) and reminded me that it wouldn't always be this way. Yes, right now it feels consuming, but time will pass and he will sleep in his own bed all night eventually.

Since that talk I've felt better and less like a failure (well at least in this particular area). I try to enjoy every aspect of motherhood because I know the time with my babies in my arms is short - but sometimes, some parts are just exhausting, quite literally in this case, but I also know it won't always be this way.

So for now we just roll with the punches. Sometimes we sit outside his room while he falls asleep, sometimes we lie down next to him, sometimes when we joins us at 3am we let him stay in our bed and sometimes we carry him back up to his bed (several times).

I've realized that there are no absolutes in parenting. What works for some (ahem google) doesn't work for others. And what works one week may not work the next week. It doesn't mean we are failures and it doesn't mean we won't ever reach a victory in this area. If he is 14 and still wants to sleep with us we have a problem, for now we have a normal three year old who is HOPEFULLY just going through a stage. He will sleep again.

Until then we keep moving forward. And pricing king size beds.

10/22/14

Meals Last Week

Where do the weeks go??? I seriously plan to blog every day and have all these ideas in my head and I have half-written posts in my drafts and then before I know it its Wednesday and I haven't published anything.

The weeks dissapear faster than my memory on my iphone.

But really, where does that memory go? Why do I delete hundreds of pictures, texts, emails and even favorite apps yet I still have NO SPACE???

It's a conspiracy I tell you. I don't know what kind of conspiracy or what the reasoning would be, but I'm a constant skeptic so I call CONSPIRACY.


Another conspiarcy? Alarm clocks. If you don't set your alarm clock you will somehow, suddenly wake up early in the morning without the ability to go back to sleep.

If you do set your alarm you end up pushing snooze 18 million times and feeling more drowsy than you did the day you didn't set your alarm. Weird.

I experienced this conspiarcy this morning. I planned to go to bootcamp and set my alarrm. And then somehow slept through it for about 30 min. Well I kept pushing snooze in my sleep. Which is not uncommon for me. In high school and college I had to put my alarm clock across the room so that I would have to wake up and walk to it to turn it off. And still sometimes I wouldn't remember turning it off. So basically not really a conspiracy but just a person who can sleep through anything. Except my children crying.

Anyways, all of that to say, I came here to share my meal plan from last week (flawless transition there, thank ya).

It was a not so great week of eating out several times. I have spent almost the entire time that I've lived here in our town looking for good Chinese and while I was pregnant I found it and now when I get a craving for it I HAVE TO HAVE IT. So have it I did this weekend. Along with several other eating out experiences. Not the best use of our money. But it satisfied my craving for some good Chinese food.

Monday: Chili
It was a little "chilly" on Monday. Well it was probably like mid-70's but that's cool to me so I made my favorite chili which is this Whole Foods Market Chili recipe. Seriously the best.

Tuesday: Leftovers

Wednesday: Crockpot Sasuage Dinner
This is one of those easy throw it all in the corckpot and forget about it dinners.

Thursday: Spicy whole wheat linguini with sasuage and roasted peppers.
This is a Skinny Taste recipe which did not disappoint at all (I've never had a bad recipe from that site).  I did make this un-spicy for my bunch.

Friday: BLT's
This is one of my favorite easy dinners. We eat it with chips and dip. Easy and yummy!




And then it was followed by our bad weekend of eating out. Eating out and trying to figure out what Luke and I will wear for our annual family pics. It was thrilling. 

Try the chili! You'll thank me!




10/13/14

Best Sellers

This past week I hosted my annual Fall/Winter Scentsy open house for all my customers to come smell new scents and pick up a new catalog.

I love doing this because I'm able to visit with my customers and give them some fun samples while also answering questions they have.

This year was really fun because it was my first open house in our new house so I had a lot of my new friends from our neighborhood stop by and pick out scents. I love introducing people to Scentsy, they always love it!

There are so many new great scents and warmers so I thought I would share some that I've noticed to be the most popular so far this season.

This is by far my most popular warmer right now - which is funny cause it's not even new to this catalog, but I have one in my house and I think when people see how pretty it is they want to order it. All the warmers are pretty in the catalog but they are so much prettier in person!



This gorgeous warmer which donates proceeds to the National Breast Cancer Foundation is another big seller right now: (MUCH prettier in person)


And the warmer of the month this month that is 10% off is Grateful Harvest


Of course the Fall/Winter and Holiday scents are extremely popular right now. It's hard to pick my favorite so my top three right now are: Cedar Cider, Pomegranate Pear, and Shimmer But really you can't go wrong with most of the scents. And there are so many options, there is something for everyone!

Some of my popular scents during this time are:
 
Pumpkin Roll
Christmas Cottage
Peppermint Dreams
Autumn Sunset
Orange you Glad
Silver Bells 


As always be sure and checkout the CLOSEOUT section on my website. So many great deals on tons of products. These would be great for teacher gifts and other "random" gifts you are faced with during the upcoming holiday season.

Let me know if you have any questions or need anything!

10/12/14

Meal Planning. Again.

Sometimes I feel awesome, and sometimes I don't. 

I feel like my awesomeness happens every other week.

For example if I'm awesome this week, it means next week I will for sure be a total and utter train wreck.

And my awesomeness is in regards to all areas of life; wife, mom, friend, director, homemaker, etc etc.

Some weeks I'm spot on. Clean house, plenty of play time with Eli, meals planned and on the table every night, meaningful convos with Luke, caught up on all Scentsy to-dos etc etc. Basically just a rockstar at life.

And then some weeks I'm a disaster. No meals planned, scrambling around trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, pit of a house, behind on all to-do lists and so on - which all adds up to me feeling awful about myself.

Usually you can tell what my emotional state is based on how our fridge looks. If its clean and everything is put away all nice and its freshly stocked then I'm having a good week. But if it's disgusting and full of leftovers from last week that need to be trashed and random odds and ends that wouldn't make a good meal when put together, then I'm having a bad week.

The truth is in the fridge.

I try not to let the state of our fridge affect my emotions. But sometimes it's hard. I will declare I'm the "worst mom, wife, fill-in-the-blank" ever. And then I'll get over it and move on.

One thing that I have found really helps me stay on top of things is meal planning. I was really good at meal planning at the beginning of our marriage and when Eli was a baby. And then last year we moved and were sort of in transition for about 6 months and I let myself get out of the habit of doing it.

But I'm trying to get back into the routine of meal planing. Life seems to go more smoothly if I start the week with all our meals planned. It takes so much stress out of the week.

So I'm going to try and get back into the habit of sharing our meals on here, basically for record for myself of what I've cooked and what we like.

For some reason when I'm sitting down trying to plan meals I can't remember a single meal and end up doing basic things like spaghetti and tacos every other night. So hopefully keeping track of them will help me.

For the majority of our meals I will cook the main dish and then we will cook some veggies with it. In the past I did a big meal with several sides but it got to be too much. We save money by buying a ton of those frozen veggies that you steam in the microwave and just throw it with whatever meal I cook. It doesn't always go together but it works for us.

Two weeks ago was a rock star awesome week.....Our meals:

Sunday: Pioneer Woman Beef Noodle Salad Bowls
This is a meal we cook often and we love it. I could eat these noodles every single day! We usually eat ours with broccoli mixed in.

Monday: Penne with Mustard, Basil and Sausage via The Dough Will Rise Again
Gosh this recipe is so good. SO GOOD. It's probably my favorite recipe right now. I serve with some veggie and bread.

Tuesday: Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla Pie via The Girl Who Ate Everything
This is an easy and quick meal but also really good and filling. I've made it a couple of times and Luke always talks about how good it is. I only put jalapenos on half of it because I'm the only one who likes a little spice in their meal.

Wednesday: Crock pot Chicken - no recipe, if I'm running out of ideas, or didn't go to the store, or trying to save money I will just throw some chicken in the crock pot and put something on it. This time it was taco seasoning and salsa.

Thursday: Italian Mini Meatloaves

Last week wasn't so awesome and consisted of tacos and trying to throw something together the other nights. I don't even remember what we had but I do know one night I made Lemon Chicken Soup that I found on Kate's blog. And it was DELICIOUS! It was the perfect meal to eat as we welcomed in cooler weather.

I planned to meal plan tonight but got distracted doing other things including writing this out. Hopefully I will get the next week planned before the end of the day tomorrow.

I also really need to clean my fridge.