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!!!

Breakfast 
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
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!


Snack
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
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.

Goodluck!




Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Weeks 1 & 2

The first two weeks of our summer were mostly spent in or around the pool. We signed Mckinley up for a two week intensive swim class and boy am I glad we did. She is so much more comfortable in the water and I am much happier knowing that if heaven forbid something ever happens she has the basic skills to save herself.





 We tried to get out of the house as much as we could in between random downpours every single day. The most exciting day had to be during week two when we met a our friend Heather and her littles at the Botanic Gardens. We had a blast feeding ducks and playing in the dirt and we were just about to make our way to eat some lunch when someone missed a step off of a bridge and slammed her head on the concrete. Let's just say I have never kicked off  flip flops and run as fast as I did when I saw my baby fall head first off of a bridge. We had to keep a close eye on her for 24 hours, but thankfully everything turned out ok.



The rest of our time we spent outside playing with bubbles, having floor picnics, painting, dressing up like pirates and princesses, and whatever else we could find to entertain ourselves. Not pictured is the amount of time we spent watching movies. I am and never will be the perfect craft everyday mom kind of mom and some days I get tired of reading the same books over and over again and dancing to the same song while putting together the same Llama Llama puzzle so we watched movies. Our latest favorites are Free Birds, Mulan and Mulan II, and Any movie with puppies in it (Air Bud or anything with Dalmations). I have also been binge watching tv shows on Netflix. I just finished Breaking Bad and have now moved onto Scandal. Don't you worry I will quickly start Orange Is The New Black once I finish up with Olivia Pope.



Now enjoy yourself and take in our summer via a collage of pictures of my child getting really dirty and eating a bunch of food.









Next week I want to try to get outside some more even though the temps have steadily been rising (Welcome to the South and it's amazing humidity). There is an awesome park I have wanted to visit for a few weeks so my plan is to scrounge up some crusty bread (that's not easy in this house) and take the girl to go feed some scary geese that will attack you if you get too close. 
I am all about making memories here people!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Week 3

We are officially three weeks into summer break and we are already starting to plan some more fun for the next six weeks. After two weeks of gloomy, rainy, swim lesson filled days we finally have some sunshine and some freedom to move around a little more. So far this summer we have swam, sewn, made crafts, painted, watched a lot of movies, eaten a ton of watermelon, and done a lot of cooking. I have been trying out new recipes that will be awesome for meal planning once school starts again. I have also tried quite a few donut recipes since I just had to try out my donut pan Brent and Mckinley gave me for mother's day.

We celebrated Father's Day this past weekend with a pizza extravaganza and I can thankfully say besides a slight upset tummy from the cheese I did not have an allergic reaction to my Gourmet White gluten free pizza from Mellow Mushroom. Now that I think about it I am not sure if it was the cheese or the fact that I ate an entire 12" pizza between the hours of 4 and 9, but it was worth it. 

We started to get a little stir crazy those first two weeks because of the crazy pop up downpours every few hours. I think the weathermen just kind of gave up after a few days. There were a few days we were able to get out in our awesome pool, but those darn storms chased us in every single day. Thanks to my awesome mom and dad I got a little break this past weekend when they took Mckinley to spend the night at their house Sunday evening and then my mom kept her ALL day Monday! I didn't know what to do with myself. My house was clean, I only had a few errands, to run, and I had already worked out. I don't do relaxing very well so I was happy to pick up my girl that evening.

On Tuesday we had a go with the flow day. We had planned to check out a story hour at a local bookstore, but that plan quickly went out the window after a visit to the park right down the street from our house turned into a two hour visit to school. We swung by to visit friends at summer camp and ended up having so much fun we couldn't leave. After that we took an exciting trip to the grocery store and before we knew it it was lunch time and nap time.

Wednesday we had a playdate with our friends Heather, Conner, and Hayden at the Children's Museum. We LOVE the Children's Museum and I was so excited to get to meet the CEO and learn all about the new updates they are planning for the toddler area.

Wednesday night I went with my sister, aunt, and a few of her coworkers to see Ceelo Green and Lionel Richie.
It was a blast and made me want to go buy every Lionel Richie album so Mckinley and I could dance around the den especially to ballerina girl since she is now obsessed with this tutu.

Thursday we spent the day up at school filling in at summer camp for a teacher who was out of town. We weren't too helpful since one class had 2 kids out sick so Mckinley spent the day playing in one of the kindergarten classrooms while I got a bunch of work done for the upcoming school year (It is impossible for me to turn off my teacher brain!) We will have another relaxing day today with a visit to the park and later we will run by school to hang out while a few of the teachers take their lunch breaks. Later this evening Mckinley will be heading to Nonni and Car Car's house, I will be helping at a friends son's rehearsal dinner, and Brent will get to chill at home with no crazy women bossing him around.

So far our summer has been pretty relaxing and fun and I can't wait to see what the next few weeks have in store for us.