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.

I’m in Another Monthly Food “Group”

If you’ve been reading about my life for a while, you know that I get together with a fabulous group of women once a month to eat food, share the recipes, drink wine, and enjoy each other’s company. I love our monthly Wine and Recipe get togethers!

Two ladies in this group are also in a Freezer Meal group. They explained it to me and suggested I give it a shot. After speaking to Brody about it, I told them to count me in.

This was my first month doing it, and I sadly couldn’t even attend “the” event (explained later), but here’s the gist of it.

One (super) woman in the group compiles recipes from everyone else as possible meals for the month. Last month there were categories, like breakfast, Crock Pot, and soup, with two options in each. We have a private Facebook page, and everyone voted for their favorite option.

Once the meals are decided, said (super) woman does the shopping for the majority of the ingredients. Considering there are nine ladies in the group, that’s a lot of food! She also tells us what we need to bring to “the” event. This month, everyone had to bring one pound of raw chicken breasts, two cups of cooked cubed chicken, one pound of cooked Italian sausage, and one pound of thinly sliced raw steak. The meat cost me about $25, and we all owed (super) woman $28! Only $28! Seven meals for under $60!

This month’s night of assembly met on the last day of February at 7:30pm. You can tell these are all moms because it starts after the kiddos go to bed. Unfortunately, this was the day Finley had a fever and went to the doctor. It ended up being teething and has been the beginning of a very rough time for her (and us).

Anyways, back to the food. My meals were put together by the rest of the group, and a friend dropped them off after around 9:30pm. Apparently the whole production is like a well-oiled machine, and I can’t wait to be a part of it in March.

Here are the recipes and links to the freezer meals from February:

Teriyaki Pork Chops
*I used chicken breasts but they dried out a little. I’d like to make this again but with boneless pork chops.

Szechuan Steak Stir Fry
*I made this already and it was really good. However we used frozen veggies, and if I made it again, I’d use fresh or somehow get some of the water out of the frozen.

Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup
*I’m making this for dinner tonight!

Chicken Pot Pie
*This one is SOO good! I made it for dinner on Sunday and have been eating it for lunch. Not the healthiest but great comfort food.

Parmesan Sage Meatloaf

Baked Brownie Oatmeal
*I’ve been eating this for breakfast and loving it. This morning I heated up a square and then added a dollop of peanut butter to the top. Finley likes it too!

Quinoa Chili

If I didn’t add a comment under the recipe, it’s because I haven’t made it yet. This month I’ve been a little too excited to try everything – next month I may need to pace myself and spread the meals out. Or not.

It’s been so convenient to have these meals all ready to go in my freezer. Although it does require a little planning ahead (i.e. taking the food out to thaw), everything is done! No extra runs to the store for a missing ingredient. Not that that’s ever happened to me. Not like that happened last week when I was making tacos and didn’t have seasoning…and had been at the store earlier that day.

I hope to share the freezer meals I come home with every month.

Questions:
Do you stock your freezer with food or meals?
Are you or do you know someone in a freezer meal group?

WIAW: Finley and My Eats

“Hello, little person. How are you today? Is your mood quite terrific, or only okay?”

Who can name that quote?

I’ve doing pretty well, between terrific and okay. We’ve been having a rough time with Finley’s nighttime sleeping (which I’ll address in a future post), and last night I got about seven hours of sleep in three chunks. Compared to other nights, that’s actually pretty decent. During one of the awake times, I worked on this post. Might as well do something productive, right?

Thanks to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting!

Breakfast: brownie baked oatmeal and a fried egg
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This was such a yummy way to start the day! It came from a Freezer Meals group I’m in now. (I’ll also discuss this in a future post.) This wasn’t a very Paleo/Primal meal, or day for that matter, but at least I snuck in the egg fried in bacon fat for some good protein and fat.

Finley’s breakfast: brownie baked oatmeal and mango
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This was Finley’s first time eating mango on her own. Back when we first started solids, I gave her mango mashed into a purée, but as you can see I cut it into matchstick size pieces. She loved it! I think she enjoyed the slippery texture as well. Although not a ton of food made it into her mouth, she played with and explored her food.

Snack: chicken sausage
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A few hours later, I needed something. When I met Mel (who eats Primal) for lunch a week ago, she mentioned eating chicken sausages from Costco. The next time I went, I found them and bought the 24-pack. They’re precooked, so after thirty seconds in the microwave, it was ready to eat.

Lunch: chicken pot pie and (unpictured) strawberries
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My lunch was also from this month’s Freezer Meal bounty. I made the pot pie for dinner Sunday night and have been enjoying it for lunch every day since. Brody doesn’t eat leftovers, so it’ll last me at least through Thursday. At this point in the day, I realized that every meal of this day would be from Freezer Meals as I had taken the bag of teriyaki chicken out of the freezer yesterday to throw in the Crock Pot for dinner.

Finley’s lunch: turkey meatloaf, steamed broccoli, and mango
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Finley again didn’t eat a whole lot, but she’s bringing more food to her mouth area. It’s so cool to watch her eat real food like a little person!

Snack: whole milk plain yogurt, shredded unsweetened coconut, blackberries, and almond butter
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At Woodman’s, blackberries were 79 cents – amazing! I bought two packs and ate both this same way. It made me super excited for all of the summer fruits; I’m sick of oranges, apples, and bananas.

Finley’s snack: puffs and yogurt
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I hadn’t planned on giving Fin any food, but she was reaching for my yogurt mess bowl. We sat at the table, and she ate a bunch of puffs and a few spoonfuls of her own yogurt. Up until now, she had never eaten any puffs, just played with them, but she was shoveling them into her mouth.

Dinner: teriyaki Crock Pot chicken, white rice, and roasted asparagus

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Although I cooked the chicken on low for an hour less than suggested, it was still too dry for our liking. The flavor was good, though. The recipe actually calls for pork chops, so I’ll have to try those next time.

Finley’s dinner: cottage cheese, broccoli, mango, puffs, yogurt, apple cranberry purée
*no picture – sorry

This girl loves cheese! She’s been eating pieces of medium cheddar and, like tonight, cottage cheese. I bought the Daisy brand 4% milk fat because it only has four ingredients – thanks again to Mel for this suggestion! Finley went for the cheese first, ate a little mango, briefly touched the broccoli, and ate a few spoonfuls of yogurt and fruit purée.

Post-dinner sweet treat: dark chocolate covered coconut

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After putting Fin down for the night, I had a small handful of these. I bought this bag from Costco a few weeks ago, and it’s been just the thing I need to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Well that’s a wrap! Hope you enjoyed my eats from yesterday. Have a great Wednesday!

Happy Weekend!

1. Yesterday Finley and I hosted our weekly play group! It was a great time, and about six mamas and their babies showed up. Finley slept through the first 1.5 hours of it, but woke up in a happy mood and played with her friends. Actually, the playing looked more like baby fight club as they’d steal toys from each other or play tug of war with them.

2. My mom is coming to visit for the weekend. She hasn’t seen Fin since the end of December, and I know she’ll be excited with how big and mobile (read: rolling, not crawling) she’s becoming. She also made her amazing sugar cookies – yummy!

3. Speaking of cookies, kind of, Brody and I are considering experimenting with a Paleo or Primal diet, which cookies would not be a part of. Initially he suggested vegan because our friends Bridget and JP are doing a vegan and juice cleanse, but I think Paleo or Primal makes more sense for us. I’ve been doing a little research online learning what each eating lifestyle allows. Really I think the most important part is that we cut out processed foods and gluten. I’ll keep you updated.

4. I made a Paleo friendly meal yesterday: PaleOMG’s spaghetti pizza pie. I really liked it, and ate it for lunch and dinner yesterday. It may be smart for me to find a handful of Paleo/Primal meals before we start. Brody hasn’t tried this one yet, but I think he’ll like it.
Note: I tried linking this recipe but that function in WordPress is not working. Grrrr…

5. My favorite cooking show is The Pioneer Woman. She’s so relaxed, her recipes always look delicious (and not Paleo/Primal – see how this is going to be so hard?), and her life on the ranch is pretty cool. I don’t follow her blog but I do visit to her website for recipes from time to time.

6. Brody got me a FitBit for Christmas, and I love seeing how active I am. On the days I exercise, I almost always get to at least 8,000, and many days (like yesterday,) 10,000 steps. Sometimes, though, I’m pretty lazy. Those days tend to be the ones I don’t leave the house.

7. Finley didn’t have the best night of sleep last night. She went down easily at 7pm, I dream fed her at 9:15pm, and she woke up at 12:45am. I fed her but could tell she was awake. After an hour of rolling around and talking to herself loudly in her crib, I changed her diaper (not poopy) and fed her again (she didn’t eat much before), and she fell asleep while nursing. This was around 2am. She woke up at 4am, and I was tired having been awake for an hour and a half in the middle of the night, so into our bed she came. She slept until 6:45am.

8. Moose and Frankie have had a rough winter. Pre-Finley, I took them to the dog park almost daily. Because of the cold and Finley, they now get a couple ten minute walks a day and maybe one trip to the dog park on the weekend. It’s so sad. We’ve gotten them into daycare every so often but not enough. Spring and summer, and the daily walks with Finley in a stroller, can’t come soon enough for them.

9. Tomorrow is Brody’s birthday. Finley and I are very excited to give him his gifts!

10. I pulled out my baby photo album and a couple of Brody’s baby pictures to see who Finley looks like. What do you think?

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I’m six months old here, and Brody is five months.

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This is Finley today right after she spit up all over herself.

Have an awesome day!

WIAW (but actually WIAFriday) and Day in the Life

I’m finally doing a WIAW! It’s been a very long time. Thanks for Jenn for being such a gracious host.

Finley wakes up around 7am. She gets a clean diaper and nurses. Then it’s my turn to eat!

Breakfast: coconut Chobani, banana, and Eat Live Run’s granola
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That was the last of the granola – sad. It was my second batch, and you better believe I’ll be making another one next week. As I eat, Finley plays in her exer-saucer thing.

We go upstairs to her room to play and read books before nap #1. I enjoy a cup of coffee with a little cream and milk.
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Squeezing a workout in during this nap is the best chance of it happening. I had picked up a Jillian Michaels’ Last Chance DVD from the library, so I give it a whirl – the workout I choose is a good one!
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I take a bird bath (shower without washing my hair) just as Finley wakes up. After feeding her, she plays on the family room floor as I Swiffer our wood floors.

Now it’s lunch time. We’re eating a little early because I didn’t have a morning snack and we have errands to run before nap #2. Finley eats avocado, egg yolks mixed with plain whole milk yogurt, and pear.
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Lunch: two egg scramble with salsa and cheddar cheese, quarter of an avocado, two pieces of wheat toast, and some canned pineapple

Finley and I pack up for an afternoon away from the house. Our adventures begin with a Woodman’s run.
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I quickly drop the groceries off at home while Fin stays in the car, and then we take off for a coffee shop. I’ve timed it so that Finley’s nap #2 will happen in the car. She took a good morning nap, so I’m okay if her other nap(s) isn’t as great. As expected, she sleeps on the drive to the coffee shop and wakes up as I park.

Friday afternoons we go to a play group formed from the Mother Baby Hour we attended. I really like the moms, and Finley likes looking at the other babies and sharing toys.
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This was also the time I needed a snack.

Snack: chai latte, kombucha, and an unpictured banana
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We stayed at play group until 4pm and then headed home. Once again, I timed it so Fin would take another cat nap in the car.

Surprise, surprise – I’m hungry again. As I eat, I prep an apple for Finley for the next few meals.

Snack: apple and peanut butter
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Brody gets home around 5:30pm, and his dad and stepmom arrive soon after. We all watch as Finley eats her dinner. Her grandpa and step-grandma try to hold her, but she gets pouty. Like many babies, she isn’t always okay being held by new people. I’m hoping she warms up to them before they leave.

After a quick bath and nursing session, I put Fin down for the night. She falls asleep within five minutes a little after 7pm.

I join everyone downstairs and stuff my face with three pieces of pizza. This is one more than I normally eat, and in the end, a mistake. I also drink half a bottle of wine.

Dinner: Salvatore’s pizza and red wine
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My father-in-law and his wife drive back to their hotel; they’ve been awake for almost 24 hours (they live in Switzerland). Brody and I plop on the couch and watch The West Wing. I fall asleep during the second episode (we’re already in season seven!) – wine does that to me.

It was a good day: a workout, errands, friends, good food, and family.

A Day of Firsts

Thursday was a BIG day and so much fun.

First of all, Miss Fin turned six months old. We celebrated that morning by taking her six month photos. She was in such a good mood!

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After her second (short…grrr) nap, Fin and I drove downtown to pick up Brody to go see Santa! A friend told me the Santa at Hilldale Mall was free. We got there around noon and had no idea what to expect. There was no one there! I brought Finley up to the strange, bearded man, not sure how she’d react. We’ve all seen the crying-baby-in-Santa’s-arms photo, and we thought we might end up with a similar photo. But no – she did great! However, I don’t think she was exactly aware of who was holding her.

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I wonder what she told Santa she wanted for Christmas…

Because the Santa experience was over and done in about thirty seconds, Brody had time to have lunch. We walked over to Pasquals. Before our food came, Brody and Fin played with some paper.

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While we ate, Finley sat in a high chair at a restaurant – another first!

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We said “bye” to Dad and went home. Finley fell asleep in the car, and I somehow managed to bring her upstairs to her room and not wake her up. She slept in her car seat in her room for an hour, and after waking, I brought her into our bed and we both napped for another hour. It was glorious.

The last and biggest first came next – eating solids! She’s getting to be such a little person. How is this happening?

I read Baby Led Weaning, and after explaining it to Brody, we decided we’d give it a shot. *Click on the link to Amazon to read the summary. I steamed broccoli and carrots into matchstick-size pieces and had banana and avocado.

Once Brody got home from work, it was time to eat. I placed all four foods in front of her.

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She went for the broccoli first and sucked on the floret. The carrot sticks were also easy to hold, but nothing was eaten. We knew this would happen – the book explains that for a while, babies won’t really eat much. The banana and avocado were too slippery, so I broke off little pieces and fed them to her. Feeding the baby is not true BLW (baby led weaning), but I see no problem with doing a hybrid of “strategies,” especially in this beginning phase of food exploration.

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As expected, Finley made a mess of herself and needed a bath. Once clean and in her jammies, I fed her the food she’s used to and she went down for the night.

It was a great day of firsts with my little family!

Questions:
Did you visit Santa as a kid?
Do you know what your first food was? Or, what was your kid’s first solid?

Wine and Recipe: Crock Pot Chicken

Oh hey! Long time no chat (other than the very quick Finley Photo Dump post from yesterday). I didn’t plan on taking such a long break from posting, but it happened. I’ve had ideas for posts floating around in my brain for the last few weeks, but actually writing them out has been pushed aside. I swear “Blog post” has been on my daily to-do list for a while now. This is one I’m super excited to share because I think it may be useful to some of you!

Last month’s Wine and Recipe was a winner. Some may even say “Winner winner chicken dinner!” Ha! Such a bad joke but so appropriate. Mel hosted, and as a working and pregnant mama (her daughter is 19 months and she’s due in March), time is precious. Plus, using a Crock Pot is so dang easy!

I have to admit, I wasn’t overly psyched for this Wine and Recipe initially. I was worried all the dishes would be too similar. Was I wrong! The food was amazing, and I’ve already made four of the recipes. Brody has also been a fan, which has been a welcome surprise. He’s not a huge fan of the Crock Pot (texture issue and the infamous Crock Pot smell). But, he’s gobbled all of these up with a smile on his face. So without further ado, the recipes!

Crock Pot Thai Chicken
This was my contribution, and according to Mel’s husband (who sampled all of the dishes), mine took first place for the night. Considering there are THREE ingredients, one of them being the chicken, I’d say that’s pretty awesome. There are more ingredients if you make the rice…which I highly recommend you do. Instead of TJ’s peanut vinegarette, I used a peanut dipping sauce by Bankok. Love this dish! The link above brings you to Iowa Girl Eats, the creator of this yummy concoction.

Enchilada Crock Pot Chicken
This one is also way easy and has a short list of ingredients. We ate this chicken deliciousness, courtesy of Nicole, on sliced baguette rounds and tortilla chips. When I made it a week after W&R, I also ended up eating it in a whole wheat wrap. There’s a container of it in my freezer, and I’m hoping it thaws well for a future quick appetizer.

Ingredients:
-2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
-10 oz. can red enchilada sauce
-2 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
-4 cups Monetary jack cheese

Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken
Everyone loves buffalo sauce, right? Another easy-peasy recipe for you. Thanks, Amber!

Ingredients:
-3 lb. bag frozen chicken breasts
-1 packet ranch dip powder
-1 bottle of Frank’s hot sauce

Place frozen chicken, ranch powder, and Frank’s hot sauce in the Crock Pot and cook on low for 10 hours. Shred chicken and serve with crumbled bleu cheese, chopped celery, and lettuce leaves.

Crock Pot Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
Kathy likes bacon. How can you go wrong with bacon? This is a heavy dish, but in a good way – definite comfort food. Unlike the buffalo chicken recipe, this is not one you’d make in the summer. This is a winter dish all the way. I made it for Brody and I the week after W&R, and we both agreed it’d be nice with some peas mixed in at the end for some vegetables and pops of sweetness.

Ingredients:
-3 cloves of garlic
-1 package of ranch dressing mix
-1 10.75 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
-1 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
-1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
-1/2 cup of bacon
-3 cups of pasta

Spray inside of Crock Pot. Cook and chop bacon. Add chicken breasts. Mix together garlic, ranch dressing mix, cream of chicken soup, Greek yogurt, and bacon in a small bowl. Pour mixture over chicken. Cook on high for 3.5 hours or low for 6-7 hours. When chicken is done, cook pasta and mix into chicken.

Spicy Ginger Chicken
Laura has this recipe in her regular rotation, and with three boys, she’s got lots of mouths to feed and keep happy. We love ginger in our house, so I knew I’d be making this one. It was a great, healthy, and surprisingly light dish.

Ingredients:
-2.5-3 lbs. drumsticks and/or boneless, skinless thighs
-2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
-2 tbs. quick cooking tapioca
-1 tbs. grated fresh ginger
-1 tbs. fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
-4 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 tsp. packed brown sugar
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

Place chicken in Crock Pot. Drain tomatoes, reserving juice from one can. In a medium bowl, combines tomatoes and reserved juice, tapioca, ginger, cilantro/parsley, garlic, brown sugar, salt and crushed red pepper. Pour suave over chicken and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-3.5 hours. Serve chicken over couscous or rice.

Chicken Risotto
I know what you’re thinking: Busy moms don’t have time for risotto! You’re right. We don’t. This faux risotto won’t fool anyone, but it’s still a great meal. Thanks for sharing this one Emily!

Ingredients:
-1 1/4 lbs. chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
-1/2 cup finely chopped onion
-1/2 cup shredded carrot
-1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
-2 cups of water
-2 cups uncooked instant white rice
-2 tbs. butter (which Emily actually didn’t include)
-1 10.75 oz. can of cream of chicken soup
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Mix chicken, onion, carrot, garlic and water in Crock Pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours. Stir in rice and butter. Increase heat to high, cover, and cook for 5 minutes until rice is tender. Stir in soup and cheese. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes.

I have a few more to share, but I think I’ll do a part two post to share those. It’s almost 9pm, and I need to dream feed the little lady before I turn in for the night. I really hope you try one, two, or all of these amazing chicken recipes! We have another Wine and Recipe next week already, and the theme is pizza. I’m so excited! I like food way too much.

Thanksgiving Part I and II

Doesn’t it feel strange to have had Thanksgiving and December so close to each other? I didn’t have any time to mentally prepare for December, Christmas, and everything that comes with this time of year. Heck, my mental capabilities aren’t what they used to be, so I doubt I have the ability to mentally prepare for much at this point. However, in case you’re wondering, Finley – and subsequently me – has had a two really good nights of sleeping and that does wonders for my mental state.

I was lucky enough to once against celebrate Thanksgiving twice! I say “I” and not “we” because Brody doesn’t love Thanksgiving foods. But Thanksgiving isn’t just about the food (did I really just type that?!?!), and we both enjoy the opportunity to hang out with our friends and family.

THANKSGIVING PART I

Our group of Madison friends get together every year for Friendsgiving. It’s always fun to see everyone, enjoy good wine and food, and catch up.

At last year’s Friendsgiving, Brody and I announced I was pregnant. It was also a different crowd as there were three babies.

This year there were four (and later five)!

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Brody, Finley and I got to Mel and Tim’s house a little later than planned due to Miss Finley’s two and a half hour nap (which hasn’t happened FOREVER!). No way were we going to wake her. At least we made it before dinner!

Check out the spread: turkey, casseroles galore, carrots, mashed potatoes, rolls, and more.

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After dinner, Finley was pooped and took a thirty minute cat nap in Brody’s arms.

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Brad and Jess’ little lady, Hadley, is such a doll. She just started crawling, but instead of using both legs, she keep one leg straight out to the side and drags it along, pirate style.

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Unlike two years ago when I drank WAY too much wine in Mel and Tim’s basement, I only had a couple glasses throughout the night. Nursing and being the DD kept me in check. It was a great time! Thanks to Mel and Tim for hosting.

THANKSGIVING PART II

Brody’s mom arrived the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It was nice for all of us to have a few days of downtime with her. Finley, unfortunately, took some time to get used to Grandma.
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By Friday, though, Brody’s mom could hold Finley and no pouty lip or tears would appear. Sadly, this was also the day she flew back to Ohio. We decided we need to FaceTime more often to get Finley used to the faces of family members she doesn’t see regularly.

My family (my mom, sister, and grandparents) came for the day on Thursday. Finley got lots of attention.

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You know what that is? The bag of giblets.

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See, I’ve never done the turkey myself. I knew there should be a bag of the icky stuff, but it wasn’t in the big cavity of the bird. What was in there was a part of its intestine still attached – gross! I put on my big girl pants, covered my hand with a paper towel and plastic bag, and squealed to my mom on the phone as I detached it from the turkey. But back to the bag. Apparently, there’s another cavity. Who knew? I bet the fine folks at Butterball predict geniuses like me (remember my introductory paragraph?) will make this mistake and design the bag to withstand the cooking.

We had a very traditional meal: turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, roasted broccoli, buns, pumpkin pie, and pecan bars.

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Finley was napping during the first part of our meal but woke up in time to join us at the table for a bit. She was a happy girl. I can’t wait until she can eat with us next year!

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Don’t think the dogs were forgotten; they each got a plate with a little of everything. Surprisingly they both even ate the broccoli.

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After our meal, we relaxed into food comas. I didn’t feel uncomfortably full until three hours after I was done eating. Does that happen to anyone else?

Finley spent a little time with her great-grandparents, my mom’s parents.

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My grandpa is a hoot and has always been a jokester. My grandma, sadly, has dementia and short term memory problems. She never remembers who the dogs are and often makes the same comment multiple times. She did really well, though, and was in a good, social mood. It’s hard to see someone you love deteriorate mentally.

We can’t end this post on a downer, so here are ten happy things (in no particular order) I am so very thankful for:
1. Brody and Finley
2. Coffee
3. Family
4. Naps
5. Fuzzy blankets and socks
6. Target
7. Mother Baby Hour
8. My Crock Pot
9. Wine and Recipe (the event, the food, the wine, and the ladies)
10. The West Wing

A Day in the Life with Finley [11-11-2013]

Just over a month ago, I did one of these posts. Not only are things changing a little as Finley gets older, but I’m now watching a 17 month old part time. This shows what a pretty typical Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday (the days I watch Adalyn) is like for me.

6:33am I hear Finley talking to herself. She slept very well last night: 6:15pm to 2am (with a dream feed at 8:30pm), 2:30am to 3:45am (Brody got her back to sleep – yay Dad!), and 4:15am to 6:30am. Brody goes to get her and bring her to hang out in our bed for a bit.

6:35am Finley soaked through her diaper so I get up to change her while Brody showers. Question to moms: During the night, if your little one didn’t poop or have diaper rash, do you change his/her diaper?

6:45am I brew coffee, pick up clutter, and do a few dishes while Finley hangs out in her Bumbo. Brody comes down to make breakfast and “chat” with Finley.

7:10am My coffee is done, and I pour myself a cup to sip on while I nurse Fin.

7:20am She’s not very hungry and barely nurses, so into the bouncer she goes.

7:30am The dogs get let out to pee, and I make a yogurt mess bowl for breakfast and continue drinking coffee.
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8:00am Finley and I play on the floor waiting for Adalyn.
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8:18am Finley rubs her eyes, and it’s been over an hour and a half of awake time. I put her down for nap #1. As an experiment, I use the swaddle strap to see if it makes any difference in the length of this nap.
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8:25am Adalyn arrives, and I put her in the high chair to finish eating her breakfast. However instead of eating the English muffin with peanut butter, she licks the peanut butter off and gets it all over her face.

8:45am The rain has turned to snow. Adalyn and I stare out the window at it (while I cry inside a little…I dislike the cold that comes with winter and snow).

9:03am Finley is awake. It’s a 42 minute nap – better than last week’s 28 minute ones. Maybe the strap did help.

9:35am Finley nurses. Adalyn has started carrying around her blanket – her nap time is coming up soon.

9:55am I put Adalyn down in the pack ‘n play in our guest room. Finley and I play in her room. I put away her clothes from the laundry basket.

10:15am It’s impossible to shower when both Finley and Adalyn are awake. I bring the bouncer into the bathroom for Fin to play in while I shower. She starts to fuss right as the conditioner (and fistfuls of my hair) go down the drain.

10:30 Fin and I read books in her room after a failed attempt to nap. She’s not ready yet.

10:45am Now she’s ready for nap #2. I put her in the swaddle strap again.

11:15am FOOD! I need food badly. My small-ish breakfast four hours ago wore off an hour ago. I make egg salad and put it on a wheat high fiber tortilla and have a small apple on the side.
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I’m still hungry (no surprise) and eat a Sierra Trail Mix Clif bar. It satisfies my sweet tooth and fills me up.
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12:15pm I get dinner cooking in the slow cooker; we’re having Iowa Girl Eat’s Crock Pot Thai chicken.

12:30pm Adalyn wakes up from her nap, and it’s lunch time for her.
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12:45pm Finley wakes up, gets a clean diaper, and plays on her favorite mat.
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1:00pm I clean up Adalyn’s face and hands and change her diaper. Finley hangs out on a blanket on her tummy.

1:20pm Adalyn’s mom, my friend, arrives and we catch up.

1:54pm Finley nurses and I respond to text messages.

2:10pm We go upstairs to have some quiet time in the nursery. I read a few books to Fin, including one of my favorites: Hand Hand Fingers Thumb.

2:33pm Nap time for Fin.

2:45pm Snack time for Mama! I have a handful of tortilla chips with a BLT dip and then an orange. I definitely did not eat enough fruit this weekend.

3:10pm After folding a load of laundry, I sit down to watch an episode of Parenthood.

3:20pm Finley’s eyes open. I attempt to soothe her back to sleep but to no avail.

3:30pm We bundle up for a trip to Woodman’s.

4:22pm We’re home from the store. I put away the groceries and Finley jumps around.
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4:45pm I nurse Finley. She again eats for a short period of time – strange.

5:06pm Diaper and outfit change required – poop everywhere.

5:15pm I attempt to put Finley down for a nap (it’d be #4) but she was not interested. I decide to not fight it and let her have a longer awake period. This means she’ll be ready for bed around 6:20pm (three hours after the last nap ended).

5:20pm Brody gets home!

5:45pm Rubba-dubba-dub, Finley’s in the tub.

6:00pm Brody reads a few books to Fin before saying goodnight to her.

6:15pm I change Fin’s pajamas (she spit up all over the first pair she was in), put her in a sleep sack, and sing “Twinkle Twinkle” to her.

6:35pm Finley falls asleep.

6:45pm I finish making dinner, and Brody and I eat while watching The West Wing.

7:30pm We continue relaxing on the couch but switch to The Voice.
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8:49 Normally I dream feed Finley around now, but she has woken up, and instead of soothing her back to sleep, I feed her.

9:30pm Bedtime for Mama.

Questions:
What’s the best part of your day?
What’d you eat for lunch and dinner yesterday?