Eating Paleo/Primal

The first time I heard about Paleo was about four (or more?) years ago. Brody’s buddy from Chicago was visiting and had started doing this crazy workout called Crossfit and not eating grains. Say what? I recall being baffled by the “diet” and I likely told him I could never do that.

Then, just over a year ago, our friends, Mel and Tim (the couple I trained for the marathon with) started eating this way. I still could not see myself ever giving up bread (what would I have for breakfast?!?!), pasta, or pita chips.

This spring, a few things led to Brody and I overhauling our diet:

1) I became more knowledgeable about eating grains and gluten. I listen to the Balanced Bites podcast every week (often while I’m driving or working out), I read Eat the Yolks, and I subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple.

2) Our friends Bridget and JP did a vegan cleanse in the late winter as part of Bridget’s yoga teacher training. This inspired Brody to do something similar.

3) This was a tough winter, and although I was able to get to the gym and do at-home workouts regularly, Brody struggled to find time to exercise. Finley goes to bed at 7pm, and Brody would go in to work by 6:45/7am most days so he could be home by 5:30pm to see Finley. Come spring, he wasn’t feeling healthy.

4) Brody went to Texas for the Final Four games. At this point, we had been tossing around the idea of going Paleo/Primal for a couple months. I had actually already begun to cut out a good amount of grains from my diet, but Brody had not. While he was gone, he asked me to purge our house.

I’ve learned that my body actually handles gluten quite well. While in Switzerland, I experienced almost no side effects of eating bread or pasta. Brody, on the other hand, definitely feels it. As I mentioned in one of the Switzerland recaps, he had horrible stomach cramps our fifth day there. They started the day after a big pasta dinner, and probably all of the bread finally caught up to him.

Because I believe my body does okay with grains (as far as I can tell), I follow more of an 80/20 approach. I may have a piece of sprouted toast for breakfast or some pasta salad at a friend’s happy hour. Also, Brody and I made the decision to eat dairy, so I guess some people may not consider our diet Paleo/Primal.

Here’s a typical day of eats:

6:30am: two eggs fried in bacon fat, a piece of GF banana bread, and a cup or so of fruit

10:00am: a quick snack, maybe some mixed nuts or a Fage yogurt

12:00pm: leftovers from last night’s dinner, so often meat and roasted veggies, sometimes half an avocado, and another serving of fruit

4:00pm: another small snack such as a few chunks of cheese

6:00pm: a meat (flank steak, roasted chicken) and a vegetable (roasted broccoli or asparagus, baked potato)

8:00pm: a few pieces of dark chocolate

Brody’s daily eats are a little different from mine because he’s at work and going out to lunch every day. For breakfast, he eats a Larabar, and apple, and a yogurt. He keeps pistachios, cheese, and beef jerky at work for snacks or lunch in a pinch. Most days he has a salad for lunch. He’s then home for dinner for whatever I prepare.

Finley also doesn’t eat too many grains since we don’t have much in the house. She eats meat, fruit, vegetables, eggs, and yogurt. We do give her plain Cheerios and occasionally some Annie’s cheddar bunnies. She also had Annie’s mac and cheese this week for the first time and loved it. I’d say she’s about 80/20 Paleo also.

I’m not a strict Paleo/Primal eater, but I’m feeling good about the food I’m putting into my body. Along with changing our diet, I’ve started buying better quality meat and eggs. When I can get to Whole Foods, I load up on meat and freeze it. Otherwise my grocery store carries Strauss meats (in the frozen section), so I’ve been using their ground pork and chicken for recipes. I now buy Phil’s eggs, and at $2.69 a dozen, it’s not too pricey. Buying organic produce (probably because eat so much of it, which would be an argument either way) is still a struggle for me, so as of now, we eat mostly conventional.

Speaking of money, I don’t follow a weekly or monthly food budget, so I can’t say for certain how much more we’re spending, but it doesn’t feel like much more. No longer do I buy three 12-packs of soda at a time, crackers, or bread. As someone told me when I started eating this way, “You can pay for it now, or you can pay for it later.”

It’s been a whole lot easier than I ever thought it would be, and I don’t see us ever going back to being a grain-eating family again. As Mel just told me at lunch today, “You can’t unknow what you know.”

June Freezer Meals

Although I have no photos, I’ve got some delicious freezer meal recipes to share.

I feel so blessed to have found (and been invited to) this group. Last month I bowed out as many of the recipes called for grains that Brody and I are avoiding. (Side note: We’re still going strong following a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. An update on this is long overdue, no?). But this month, all but one meal were basically meat, and we eat a lot of meat around here.

To the assembly night, we each brought four pounds of chicken (for two separate meals) and two 1-lb flank steaks. Otherwise, one woman bought everything else. We each owed her $46 and ended up with ten meals.

Turkey Picadillo
*Apparently this is quite good but spicy. My friend made it and served it over rice which cuts the heat a little.

Beef Enchiladas
*Because this has flour tortillas, I’m bringing it to a lunch play date at a friend’s house next week. Brody’s been much stricter while I strive for more of an 80/20 approach, so I’ll be chowing down on these.

Turkey Burgers
*This recipe was doubled, so I have eight burgers in my freezer.

Sweet Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken

Marinated Chicken
*I had four large chicken breasts in my gallon ziplock, which gives us two meals.

Marinated Flank Steak
*I bought a two pound steak and cut it in half. This will give us two meals. Also, I don’t have a recipe for this one – if I get it, I’ll post it next month.

Italian Beef

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*I’m not sure when or if I’ll make this one. Brody doesn’t care for slow cooked beef (texture issue), but it may be a perfect meal for a congrats-you-had-a-baby-and-don’t-have-time-to-shower-let-alone-cook situation.

Happy weekend folks!

Finley Update: 1 year

*I wrote most of this post yesterday but never got a chance to finish or add pictures.

One year ago, I was in the hospital in labor. My water had broken the night before, and I was on Pitocin. At 11:53pm on June 19, Finley was born.

I just reread my birth story, and it seems like yesterday but also like ten years ago. Funny how time can be like that.

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Sleeping:

Life is pretty darn awesome in this area. Finley takes two naps a day of about an hour and fifteen minutes each. Sometimes she wakes up after 45 minutes, but that’s only if she has a dirty diaper. Her first nap is around 9am, and her second starts around 1:30pm. Finley goes down for the night at 7pm and wakes up between 6am and 6:30am. Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night, but lately, if I hold and rock her for a minute and put her back down, she rolls on to her belly and falls back asleep.

Eating (solids):

Finley loves food (still). She eats three meals a day and a snack or two. Her favorite foods are meat, fruit, roasted broccoli, eggs, toast with butter, cheese, and yogurt.

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Eating (nursing):

Up until today, I had been nursing Finley four times a day. She nurses for the longest right away in the morning, but the other three sessions are quite short. Starting today I’m going to cut out the mid-morning one and replace it with food. Eventually we’ll probably get down to one or two feedings a day.

Social:

Summer makes everything SO much easier. Finley went swimming twice this week, went to a new play group sponsored by United Way, had a play date with her friend Braxton, and will “host” a play group at our house tomorrow.

I’ve started watching my two bonus babies again (25 months and 3 months), and Finley loves having kids around. She follows the oldest, Adalyn, around everywhere, and I bet she’ll walk (and maybe talk more) earlier because she wants to imitate and/or keep up with Ady.

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Physical:

Right before we went to Switzerland, it seemed like Finley’s mobility took off. Brody and I really saw it progress on vacation. She crawled (on her hands and knees) everywhere and pulled herself up on everything. Lately her balance is improving, and she often pulls her hands off and stands unassisted for many seconds at a time. She hasn’t taken any steps yet, but we’re okay with that.

Finley has eight teeth, but she may be currently teething. She’s been a little cranky for the last week, and she keeps putting her hand in her mouth. I’ve given her Tylenol and given her the paci.

A couple weeks ago, I weighed Finley on our scale, and she was almost 25 lbs. I’m not sure how long she is, and we don’t have her one year appointment until next month (I forgot to schedule it – whoops!). She’s a big (but proportionate) girl and wears lots of 12-18 and 18-24 month clothes. We’re still using size 3 diapers but will switch to size 4 once this pack runs out.

Likes:
-pulling books off shelves
-standing and cruising
-climbing the stairs
-drinking water
-taking baths and putting the toys in the mesh bag
-throwing the books she doesn’t want to read out of our hands

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Dislikes:
-diaper rash (but who does?)
-potatoes
-teething
-some books (see the last like)
-the sun in her eyes
-jetlag
-being hungry (just like her mama) or tired

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For her birthday, Brody came home from work early, and we opened presents. Finley got a couple dolls, a dump truck, a tricked out Radio Flyer, and a couple other small toys.

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Aunt Erin gave her three adorable outfits from Mini Boden, and Grandma Lee gave Fin a wooden matching game with pictures of animals and stackable blocks. Thanks for all the gifts!

We prepared what we thought was her favorite meal: veal, and had roasted sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli on the side.

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To our surprise, Finley was not interested in the veal…like, at all. Good thing I spent $30 on 1.5 lbs of veal from Whole Foods. One thing she did eat with gusto was a cupcake.

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The rest of the night was normal: bath, nursing, books, and bed. This birthday girl was asleep by 7pm.

I love you Finley Marie.

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Switzerland: Days 7-9 and the Flight Home

We’ve been home for a week now, and I’m happy to say that we’re all back on Central time and have been enjoying the start of summer in Wisconsin.

The last few days in Switzerland were similar to the others, with Finley controlling the schedule, a couple more hikes, and lots more food, wine, and chocolate.

Day 7 (Friday)

We didn’t go for a hike this day because Brody was still recovering from his stomach bug (or possible gluten overload…not really sure which). We kept it low key and took walks around the village and ran errands with my FIL and step-MIL after lunch.

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Finley playing with my step-MIL’s 50 year old doll

That night my step-MIL made one of my favorite meals: fish soup. I meant to snap a photo of the recipe or find it online before I left but I forgot.

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Mmmmm

Day 8 (Saturday)

With Brody feeling like himself again, we had a great hike this day further up the mountain along the Bisse (the stream that winds down along the mountain). There were lots of other people along this path, so it wasn’t very private, but Finley liked seeing all the people and even a few dogs.

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We stopped for a picnic lunch and took in the breathtaking views.

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Surprisingly, Finley did not fall asleep on this hike, so while she slept back at the apartment, Brody and his dad drove back up to Montana to have a beer. I relaxed and caught up on some blog reading.

We appeased Finley and had veal again for dinner. This time the veal cutlets were lightly breaded and pan-fried. Finley loved them. That girl.

Day 9 (Sunday)

Our last day in Switzerland was like most of the others and included walks in the village, naps, and a really lovely hike.

Post morning nap, we loaded up and set off for a hike from the village. This was a new hike for Brody and I, and Brody’s dad hadn’t done it for years. Brody claimed this was his favorite one of the vacation, and I might have to agree. The scenery was interesting and diverse and the path was both challenging and easy.

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A cow says “Mooo”

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Finley chowing down on half a banana

For dinner we grilled out again, and you better believe Finley had some veal. She ate two veal sausages (4-5 inches in length each), an entire orange, and some other odds and ends. Her appetite is pretty incredible.

Flight Home

The day began early at 6:30am. Finley woke up on her own, which always makes me happy to not have to wake her, and we left for the Geneva airport at 7:45am. The drive is about an hour and 45 minutes, and Finley took a short 40 minute snooze on the way.

It kind of stunk that the longest leg of our flight was through the day, but Finley did well and took two naps throughout the 8.5 hours. We kept her entertained with books (the Llama Llama books got A LOT of use), playing with toys, watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (kind of), and eating. There was a two year old boy on the flight, and his dad brought him over a couple times so the two of them could stare at each other.

When we landed in Dulles, it was around 2:30pm, which felt like 9:30pm to us. Finley was happy, though, and had fun people watching while we went through customs and security again. On the flight, Finley took a brief nap in my arms.

Oh, O’Hare. You always cause problems. In Chicago, our gate was changed FIVE times before we finally took off…two hours late. There was bad weather earlier in the day, and it threw off all the later flights. At this point, Brody and I were both so tired; we had been awake for almost 24 hours. We’d pass Finley back and forth, trying to keep her entertained. She fell asleep in Brody’s arms around 9:30pm (which was 4:30am Switzerland time), and managed to stay asleep as he transferred her to me, as I boarded the plane, and through all but the last five minutes of the flight. At that point she woke up and was pissed. She’d nurse for a little, and then pull off and start wailing. I hope the people on the plane understood, but it was a small plane, and I know everyone could hear her loud and clear.

Madison has such a nice, small airport, and we were happy to see our bags were already on the belt by the time we got to the baggage area. We walked out to our neighbor waiting for us, loaded our bags, strapped Finley into the carseat for their son (front facing but at that point we weren’t about to be picky), and got home at 11:30pm.

It was a trip (literally and figuratively) and definitely a learning experience. There’s not a whole lot we would’ve done differently with traveling or while in Switzerland. Vacationing with a baby wasn’t like previous trips (duh!), but it was still relaxing and fun.

On a completely unrelated note, on this day two years ago, I ran a marathon. On this day one year ago, Finley was supposed to be born (she came nine days late). On this day today, I’m home with Finley; so far we played, went to a high school baseball game, and had lunch with an old coworker and her kids. We have a doctor’s appointment later and will take the dogs for a walk. To play off the theme of my friend’s recent post, June 10, 2014 wasn’t as “epic” as the last two, but I’m loving it all the same.

Switzerland: Days 4-6

Good morning!

Once again, Finley (and Brody, who has come down with a stomach bug) is asleep. Free time for this mama includes blog reading, showering, sweeping of the kitchen, and writing this.

I’ll spare you from all the minute details this time and tell you that our days are often as such: wake up, breakfast, play, walk, Finley naps, “adventure” and lunch, Finley naps, play, walk, dinner, Finley’s bedtime, wine and chocolate, and Treme.

Day 4 (Tuesday)

The big outing of the day was a trip to the grocery store in the town at the bottom of the mountain. Sounds like my life at home, right?

Another exciting moment was having a glass of wine down in The Cave (pronounced caahh-ve). Brody’s dad brought the wine cellar back to its true glory a couple years ago after it had been used as storage space for years. This was Finley’s first time in The Cave, and she got into the spirit of things by drinking (water) from a wine glass and ringing the cow bell.

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Day 5 (Wednesday)

After Finley’s morning nap, we packed up and my step-MIL dropped us off at a wine museum for the start of a hike. For the first part, it was more of a walk through villages along paved roads. Once we got to the vineyards, though, it was dirt paths and open fields of grapes.

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We stopped and had lunch in some shade: sandwiches for the adults and leftover veal for the baby.

My step-MIL then picked us up in the village where the hike officially ends, and we drove back home. Finley, surprisingly, did not fall asleep in the backpack or on the way home in the car.

For more dinners than not, Finley has been Miss Grumpy Pants. We can’t figure out why, and I realize it’s just a guessing game. She’s made dinners less than enjoyable, and this night was no exception. Dinner was creamy pasta with ham and peas, and I thought she’d like the pasta. But no. And we are out of veal.

Day 6 (Thursday)

Today we got another hike in, and this one was also one we’ve done years past. Brody’s dad drove us to the funicular (a rail car that goes up and down the mountain), which we took up to Montana. On the funicular were an adult goat and baby goat – so cute!

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Once in Montana, we walked around for a bit and grabbed sandwiches from a bakery.

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We ate at a picnic table and attempted to have a beer at Brody’s dad’s favorite spot (it was closed).

The hike back down to the car was over an hour, so we got started so that we could get home before Finley’s afternoon nap. Finley had other plans, though, and fell asleep in the backpack for the last thirty minutes of the hike. It began to rain as we walked, and then even turned into hail, all while Finley slept.

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Her brief early afternoon nap threw off the routine, so we played in the family room and watched Up and Mary Poppins. Fin was more interested in Mary Poppins than Up, and eventually fell asleep in my arms. This was a nice treat because it so rarely happens anymore.

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Unfortunately, Brody started to fell really awful this afternoon, and even stayed downstairs during dinner. Fin and I ate lamb chops, potatoes au gratin, and Lima beans with my in-laws. Not too surprisingly, Fin loved the lamb – she’s such a carnivore!

Three more days of vacation left and the trip home. It’s gone by slowly (in a very good way) and quickly at the same time. I’ve appreciated all the family time we’ve had, and also been so thankful that my in-laws are ridiculously accommodating (a full apartment, stocked with food, privacy, etc.) and understanding (planning everything around Finley’s sleeping schedule).

Switzerland: The Flight and Days 1-3

It’s day six of our vacation, and now that the internet is working in our “apartment” and Finley is down for a nap, I thought I’d see how much of a review I could get through before either of those two things change.

The Flight(s)
Our flight pattern was Madison to Chicago, Chicago to Dulles (DC), and Dulles to Geneva. Finley was awake for the first flight, took a thirty minute nap on the second, and slept for five hours straight on the last (which would’ve been her nighttime). I’ll likely do a full post on traveling with a baby in the future, so I’ll keep the details to a minimum. It all went by very quickly because our layovers were each only just over an hour, so we never had to sit around in the airports for very long before boarding the next flight. Overall, it was a success.

Day 1 (Saturday)
We arrived in Geneva at 8am (1am Central Standard time) and we’re picked up by Brody’s dad and stepmom. The drive to their place is about two hours, and for only having slept 3-4 hours, I felt pretty good. Finley slept for the majority of the car ride.

Their place in Switzerland is in a small village of about one thousand people. It’s up the side off mountain and has amazing views. This is the view from the bathroom – not bad to look out of after showering.

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Their house has two levels, each being it’s own full apartment. They live on the second floor and keep the first floor available for guests. There’s a full kitchen, family room, two baths, and three bedrooms. Brody’s dad turned the smallest room into a nursery for Finley.

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View of the family room

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The (kind of messy) kitchen

Although we’ve been eating a mainly grain free diet for over a month now, we both decided to not follow Paleo/Primal during vacation. The bread here is incredible, and it would be a crime to not eat the doughy, crunchy goodness. So, of course, our first meal in Switzerland was bread, salami, and butter sandwiches.

Our hope was to stay awake for most of the day, but after a trip to the grocery store, Brody and I were both exhausted. Back at the apartment, we put Finley down for her afternoon nap and crawled into bed ourselves with an alarm set for 4pm. Good thing we set it because I could’ve slept for much longer. We had to wake Finley up as well because we wanted her to adjust to the new time as quickly as possible.

We took a walk at some point that afternoon and tried out the stroller Brody’s dad and stepmom bought. Finley obviously doesn’t look happy here, but she likes it and enjoys our walks around the village.

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Dinner is always a big to-do while we’re here, and Brody’s dad and stepmom prepare delicious meals. Saturday night was pasta with a variety of mix-ins: spicy tomato sauce, tuna, truffles and their oil, onions, and chopped ham. I think we had a simple salad as well. Finley tried tuna for the first time, but she didn’t love it.

Brody and I put Finley down for the night at 8pm, but she woke up at 11pm. I nursed her and put her back in her crib (a pack n play), but she wasn’t having it. She ended up sleeping in bed with us for the rest of the night, and she slept like a rock until 8:30am when we had to wake her up. Again, we wanted her to adjust quickly, and letting her sleep in would not be helping that goal.

Day 2 (Sunday)

Brody made eggs and bacon for breakfast. We ate them with more warm bread. Mmmm…a never ending supply.

The three of us played in the apartment during Fin’s first awake time. She’s been having a ball pulling all the CDs, DVDs, and VHSs off the shelves.

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After her nap, we set out for our first official hike of the vacation. Brody’s dad took us on a hike along the Bisse (I think that’s how it’s spelled). We’ve done it before a few years ago, and it’s a good first hike because it’s very flat. We packed a lunch and ate in the shade. Finley did awesome in her hiking backpack but did end up falling asleep after lunch.

Because of Finley’s odd and short nap in the backpack, we put her to bed at 6pm (she was grumpy!), but not before some playtime in the Swiss sunshine.

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Finley playing on the patio before dinner.

We then had dinner with Brody’s dad and stepmom. This meal was a standby for our visits: Swiss grill. We had three kinds of sausages, pork and steak, and a side salad. Also, I haven’t mentioned it yet, but we’ve been drinking our fair share of red wine with dinner and after. I bet I’m averaging three glasses each night. Hey – I’m on vacation!

Finley woke up again after three hours of sleep, and again would not go back to sleep and was awake from 9pm to midnight. Ugh! At least she’s sleeping in.

Day 3 (Monday)

We all slept until 8am and had our standard European breakfast: bread, meat, cheese, and fruit. Finley has taken a liking to bread with butter and it’s all she eats for breakfast now. The eggs and fruit lay untouched on her tray. Speaking of, Brody’s dad and Chantal also purchased a high chair for the apartment. It’s worked out great and will hopefully get lots of use in the years to come with Finley and other grandchildren.

We took a walk with Fin in the stroller to the funicular, and along the way saw sheep, cats, and horses. I think Finley is going to be disappointed when we go home and don’t have such amazing views and things to look at.

During Fin’s nap, Brody and I headed upstairs and had lunch with his dad and stepmom. Finley woke up and also had some food.

Because the weather wasn’t that nice, our big adventure of the day was a trip to a grocery store up in Montana, a ten minute drive up the mountain. Along with the food, Finley left with a souvenir – a stuffed dog. Brody aptly named him Monty for Montana.

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Monty and the Swiss cow Brody’s dad gave Finley upon arrival

Back “home”, Finley took her afternoon nap. Although I can’t remember specifically, I would guess Brody and I read in the family room and likely napped as well.

The three of us, well-rested, went upstairs for dinner. Brody’s dad made veal cordon bleu – so good! Also, this was the best meal Finley has had all vacation; she was in such a good mood and pounded the veal. Apparently we need to make veal at home.

We’ve tried to keep Finley’s routine as normal as possible, so we’ve still been giving her a bath every night followed by a feeding, books and then bed. We didn’t bring many books because of space, and also because Finley has become very particular about what books she wants to listen to. If she’s not into the book you’re reading, she’ll grab it, throw it, and hand you a book she does want. Her favorite books on this trip have been all the Llama books, Pinkalicious (Brody and I try to hide this book from her but she finds it), and The Puppy Book (which I purchased at Half Price Books). We read those books at least four times each every day. Books she dislikes are Goodnight Moon and The Goodnight Train.

We went back upstairs to finish our wine with Brody’s dad and stepmom and then watched an episode of Treme in our apartment. That night Finley slept until 11:40pm; I fed her, held her for a few minutes, and put her back in the crib. And she slept in it the whole night! Success!

Geez, this is quite the recap. I had plans to go through day five but I’ve changed my mind. As you can tell, we’ve fallen into a nice rhythm here and are very much enjoying our time in Switzerland.

My Birthday

On Sunday, I turned 31 years old, and I had a really fantastic day.

Finley let me sleep in until 6:33am! Lately she’s been waking up closer to 6am, so this was a treat. Brody made breakfast – sausage and eggs – and the three of us played until Finley’s nap.

During Fin’s nap, we both got ready for the day and watched a little tv. I finally transferred the 700+ photos on my iPhone to my computer, and it was the easiest thing. I plugged my phone into our computer (also an Apple) and everything went into iPhotos. This meant I was able to update my phone. Wahoo! The daily messages reminding me of the update will stop now.

After Fin’s nap and a quick nursing session, we packed up the car to drop Fin off at a friend’s house. My friend Amber has a little boy who is a month older than Fin, and a couple weeks ago when I mentioned I needed to find a sitter for Fin this afternoon, she offered. Thanks Amber!

The reason we needed a babysitter was for my birthday surprise “experience” from Brody (although he claims it was from Finley). I had no clue what we were doing, which was fun!

Brody drove to the house of our friends, Erin and Jared. I met Erin through Meriter’s Mother Baby Hour, and although she’s back at work now, we still get together when we can. Her little boy, Braxton, is only a week older than Finley. Upon entering the car, Erin and Jared handed me a present: the Nom Nom Paleo cookbook! So nice of them.

Erin and Jared knew what we were doing, so Brody told them to keep quiet. We drove to the east side of Madison and ended up at…

Flambe Gourmet for a cooking class!

The outside of the building is a little questionable, but the inside was so nice. Rows of tables faced the main cooking area which included all really nice cooking equipment: an induction stove top, a live feed from a camera over the cooking area, and both granite and cement countertops.

The cost of the class includes drinks; Erin, Jared and I started with mimosas and Brody made himself a bloody mary. Throughout the class I drank a couple more mimosas before switching to water.

The theme of the class was Southern Brunch, and the menu included eggs benedict, biscuits and sausage gravy with grits, and bananas foster french toast. Brody informed me that he scheduled this before we agreed to cut out processed foods and grains, so this was a big cheat day for us. It was totally worth it.

Chef Dan led the twelve of us in the class and started by demonstrating how to make hollandaise and how to poach an egg. I’ve seen my mother in law do both for years now because she always makes us eggs benedict when we visit her in Ohio. Chef Dan had a slightly different technique in regards to poaching. He includes vinegar in the water, uses a deep pot of water that’s almost boiling, and swirls the water before dropping the egg in. Everyone then got to make their own egg, and I have to say, I was pretty proud of how well mine turned out.

For the sausage gravy and biscuits with grits, we watched and snacked on the huge block of aged Cheddar sitting on the counter.
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And then we ate. So yummy and so easy! I want to make Paleo biscuits and then use a little almond flour in the sausage gravy instead of regular flour. Hopefully that’ll work…?

Lastly, we finished with something very sweet and delicious. Chef Dan started the bananas foster by melting butter and brown sugar. Brody volunteered me to cut the bananas. After Chef Dan’s batch, I made a second for the group.
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Another person made the french toast. We were all so stuffed that most people had only half a piece of french toast.

The class was a ton of fun, and I’d love to do another one. This one lasted a little over two hours and was $65 a person. The company offers other classes coming up in May, such as a seafood one and a ladies night with Asian apps. Chef Dan was a great teacher and very friendly. I also love that all of the dishes we made were very approachable and simple – no crazy ingredients or difficult steps. I highly recommend this as an “experience” gift to a loved one or just a fun night (or day) with a significant other or friend.

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Thanks again for the wonderful birthday Brody (and Finley)!

April’s Freezer Meals

Hey hey! How are things? I’m checking in to share the recipes from this month’s freezer meals group and talk a little about what’s going on with food in our household.

The group skipped March, and like me, I’m guessing everyone had empty freezers ready to be stuffed with delicious meals. Seven ladies were in for this month, and we met on Monday night for assembly. After putting Finley down, I grabbed my meat in gallon baggies, some food I prepped ahead of time for assembly, and a cookie sheet and headed out the door.

Before meeting, the super woman who organizes this whole operation informed us we’d need to bring the following meats: 2 lbs raw chicken breasts, 2 cups cooked diced chicken, 1 lb cooked Italian sausage, 1 lb cooked ground turkey, and 3 total lbs of cooked ground beef. On Monday morning, my mom (who was visiting for the weekend), Finley and I made the trek to Whole Foods in Madison to buy meat.

To back up a smidge, the super woman who did the shopping dropped off 10 lbs of onions, 2 heads of celery, and 7 boxes of chicken flavored rice for me to prep before Monday. It was quite fortunate that my mom was in town and likes doing stuff in the kitchen, because she helped me with the dicing and sautéing. 

The assembly took only an hour or so. I was responsible for putting together the bags of food for the Pasta Fagioli and labeling the cans of broth and kidney beans with everyone’s name and the meal it goes with. Everyone had come with gallon baggies with their names and the meal on each. This system, or each person putting together all seven of the same meal, works well, and as I said, went really fast.

So the recipes – here they are! I haven’t made any, so I can’t vouch for what’s good or not, but they all sound great.

Breaded Ranch Chicken

Pizza Casserole

Pasta Fagioli

Poppyseed Chicken Casserole

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Emily’s Sloppy Joe Recipe (no link)

  • 1.5 lbs. ground beef
  • 3/4 cup finely diced green pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can Healthy Request tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • small drizzle of maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Saute green pepper, onion, celery and garlic. Brown meat. Add all other ingredients. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Italian Rice Bake (no link)

  • 1 package chicken flavored rice
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (sweet)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Instructions: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare rice according to box. Brown the meat, sprinkling with onion powder as it cooks. Combine rice, sausage, marinara sauce, and seasonings. Put into greased baking dish. Pour extra sauce over top if desired and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Sadly, some of these freezer meals may sit in our freezer for a while, as Brody and I have officially started eating Paleo/Primal. We’re not 100%, especially me – I’ve cheated a bunch. Brody, though, has been. From what I’ve read, following this lifestyle is quite personal – what works for you may or may not work for others. In essence, we’ve cut out all grains and processed foods. We’re still eating dairy, and I highly doubt will ever go the raw route.

I had already been transitioning into this way of eating, and it hasn’t been very difficult. Being home full time, I’m surrounded by the food I buy, so as long as a package of Oreo’s or Wheat Thins doesn’t end up in my shopping cart, I don’t have access to it. Brody, on the other hand, has faced some obstacles. On Monday he sent me pictures of amazing looking desserts from his office, and on Wednesday he went to the Brewers game to which he was handed a beer as he walked on to the bus.

I’ll keep you posted on our journey and on the freezer meals we eat.

Happy Friday!

Chicago Trip

I wasn’t planning on putting a post together but I’m awake this morning already and Finley is sleeping. One can only check Facebook so many times!

This weekend happened before Cincinnati, so we had two big weekends in a row.

Our main purpose in going to Chicago was to have Finley attend her first Blackhawks hockey game that Friday night. Brody bought the tickets months ago, and we didn’t have high expectations for seeing much of the game as it started at 7pm…which is Fin’s bedtime.

We had lots of fun through the first period of the game. After that, Finley was getting close to melt down mode, so we took off. She sure looked cute in her Toews jersey!

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We spent the rest of the weekend at Brody’s high school friends’ house, Sean and Nina. They have a 4 year old son and a baby on the way. They were awesome hosts, and we had our own living/sleeping space in their basement.

On Saturday after Finley’s morning nap, she and I met a few of my college friends for brunch. It was great catching up with these ladies!

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Because Finley’s bedtime makes going out at night difficult (and expensive), our hosts had invited friends over for dinner Saturday night. Lots of basketball was watched, (no surprise) including one of the Wisconsin games. Sean made a fantastic dinner of coconut shrimp, mustard greens, rice and beans, and mango avocado salsa. Nina baked a ridiculous chocolate cake with caramel frosting. I was so full!

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Sunday morning we relaxed with our friends and their son until Finley was awake from her nap. Then we packed up, said goodbye to our friends, and drove to meet another one of my college friends for brunch on the way out of town.

Although it was a crazy long wait (at least an hour!!!), it was a nice brunch and so good to see Carrie and her husband, and to finally meet their little girl.

Brody and I have lots of friends in Chicago, so we always love to visit. But as with any weekend away, it’s nice to get home.

Cincinnati Trip

Good afternoon! Brody, Finley and I had a fantastic weekend, so let’s get started with the recap.

We planned this trip for two reasons: to visit our very good friends, Bridget and JP, and fly with a baby. We’ll be visiting Brody’s dad and stepmom in Switzerland at the end of May, and we wanted to have one flight with Finley under our belts before that.

Our flight was direct from Madison to Cincinnati. Although I wasn’t thrilled that Fin woke up at 5:45 Friday morning, the timing worked out well because the flight left at 8:45am. I nursed Finley as we took off, and she fell asleep in my arms shortly after for a short 30 minute nap.

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Playing on the floor of the airport

Bridget and JP picked us up, and we spent about ten minutes figuring out the car seat Bridget had borrowed from a friend. Let’s just say carabiners were involved. It was so sweet of Bridget to have borrowed a car seat, pack n play, stroller, and high chair for Finley this weekend. It made traveling so much easier! Thanks Aunt Ridgey!

The five of us went to grab lunch. They suggested Mac’s because it has great pizza and an impressive beer selection. Bridget and I had vanilla porters while the boys drank IPAs. For pizza we had a gyro pizza and one with have pesto primavera and half meatball. Finley ate plain Cheerios and a squeeze pouch of sweet potato and apple. We left with full and happy bellies.

At Bridget and JP’s house, Finley went down for her afternoon nap, and the four of us sat outside in the sun. Yes – sun! It felt soooo good on my skin. Unfortunately, Finley woke up after 41 minutes and had a dirty diaper, so there was no chance of her falling back asleep.

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Just call her Fin Diesel

After a clean diaper and a nursing session, we jumped back in the car and headed to Rhinegeist, a brewery that Brody’s college buddy works at. Finley ended up falling asleep when we were almost there – apparently she was still tired. It was an odd nap, though, and she was moaning and moving her head back and forth a lot. Bridget stayed in the car with me, and once Finley woke up (short 25 minute nap), we joined the boys in the brewery.

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Family pic

As you can see, the space is open and very industrial. They have a bar in one corner, and then lots of picnic tables for sitting and ping pong tables for playing. I ordered an IPA, and it ended up being the only beer I drank there (not because it wasn’t good – I just was distracted with Finley and friends). We chatted with friends and even set up a little play area on the floor (read: concrete). Babies in a bar playing on the floor – ha! Finley loved meeting and playing with Corrine, and I was so happy to finally meet her mama, Bridget’s good friend.

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Babies love breweries

Finley started to feel a little warm in the early evening, and she was acting a little clingy. I put a few things together (lots of drool, moan-y nap, low grade fever) and realized she was feeling the effects of teething. Thank goodness I packed along Baby Tylenol!

Friday night we ate takeout and watched basketball. Finley’s sleep was crappy, so at 10:15pm, I pulled her out of the pack n play and brought her into bed with me. Brody had already volunteered to sleep on the couch, and he was going to stay up to watch (some of) the Michigan State game.

Finley and I slept until 1:15am, when she woke up hot, hungry, and with a dirty diaper. We were awake until 2:45am, when I nursed her (again) to sleep. Luckily, she didn’t wake up until 7:15am, so I kind of got to sleep in. (There are too many “until”s in that paragraph but I’m too lazy to revise it.)

Saturday morning was low key; we ate a small breakfast, Brody ran to Whole Foods with Bridget, we played with Finley, and she took her morning nap.

For lunch, we braved the elements (i.e. rain) and went to Dutch’s for lunch. This was probably my favorite “thing” (because just seeing Bridget and JP is my favorite) we did. Our food took a while, and Finley became grumpy and sleepy. Brody managed to hold her for a 41 minute nap. As she was napping, our food came. Impressive multitasking!

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Dad of the Year!

I had a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich with fig jam and arugula. It was amazing! The meat and cheese platter was also delicious. I was like a bottomless pit. Bridget and I ended lunch with a bottle of prosecco.

Back at the house, Bridget’s friend and her little one came over to play. Corrine is a week younger than Finley, and it was cute to see them interact. They even brought a gift – an adorable board book! Thanks guys!

They left and Fin took a short nap in my arms. I’ll never get tired of those.

Saturday night was a big night for Badger fans. I ate a little leftover pizza and vegetable pad thai before the game, and then a brownie sundae with Graeter’s ice cream. It was a good night because Finley slept well in the pack n play and the Badgers won!

Sunday morning, Finley woke up at 6am, so I brought her into bed with us and she slept another hour. We played and ate breakfast. Then, I did something I haven’t done forever – YOGA! Bridget is almost done with her yoga teacher training, so we took a class at her studio. It was incredible, and I was reminded how much I love (and miss) hot yoga. So much sweat.

Once we cleaned up, we all got back in the car and went to meet some of JP and Bridget’s friends for brunch. They have a little girl also, so it was fun to chat with them about parenthood. Cora is seven months and a cutie. The food was awesome; I had an eggs Benedict type meal with artichokes.

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Funny faces from Dad and Finley

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Bridget and JP with two pretty ladies

We made it home right in time for Finley’s afternoon nap. The rest of the afternoon was pretty chill: watched basketball (Michigan State played and lost), read Bridget’s copy of Gwenyth Paltrow’s new book, and walked for a few miles.

Our flight home left at 8pm, so we got to the airport around 7pm. We checked our one bag and got through security quickly. I had Fin in the Ergo and wanted to see if they’d let me keep her in it. And they did! Brody grabbed us sandwiches at Bruegger’s Bagels, and we ate at our gate.

The flight back wasn’t the greatest. Finley was way overtired. She moaned, cried, and squirmed. She took a thirty minute nap, and then was awake. We rolled with it and fed her Cheerios to keep her occupied.

As always, our trip to Cincinnati and time with Bridget and JP was lots of fun! Finley is already asking when she can go back. Well, that’s not true because she can’t talk yet, but I am positive she would be saying that if she could.