Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Make these. Trust Me.

Some people are gifted in the kitchen.  They can just walk in, throw some ingredients together and whip up a delicious meal.  I have a couple of friends that are like that.

I am not one of them.

I'm a recipe girl.

Don't get me wrong... I can follow a recipe with the best of them.  But when it comes to instinctively knowing what will go well with what, I'm lost.

Thankfully, the internet and Pinterest keep me filled with plenty of instructions.  However, not all Pinterest and internet recipes are winners.

Have no fear.  These recipes are DELICIOUS!  So much so that I am chronicling them here so that I can look them up at a later date.

-  Which is exactly what I did with these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I have made these the last 2 autumns and they are always a hit.  I couldn't remember where the recipe was the other day, so I googled my own blog reference and found them.  I make them with whole wheat flour so I can pretend like that are healthy.

--Henry's daycare has a policy that for lunch you have to send at least 4 food groups.  If you don't, they can write you up and I don't know what the ultimate punishment would be.  I'm a rule follower so I have ZERO intention of finding out.

It was pretty easy when Henry was on an all breastmilk diet.  And it was still fairly simple when he ate baby food.  But now that he is 100% on people food (baby-led weaning and all that jazz), he has turned into a bit of a picky eater.

Mainly, he doesn't really eat meat or vegetables.  There's where the next 2 recipes came in:  Pumpkin Pancakes and Black Bean and Quinoa Casserole.

The pumpkin pancakes are a feeble attempt to sneak in my veggies (I count squash as a vegetable not a fruit).  Again, I use whole wheat flour to throw in some extra nutrition.  These things take FOREVER to cook.  I make a batch on the weekends and we put them in the fridge to heat up for his breakfast all week long.

The black bean casserole is so easy and pretty darn good.  In an effort to make it not too spicy for Henry, I used about 1/3 of the chili powder it called for.  And because I am lazy and hate chopping up cilantro, I used way less of that as well.  Plus I only had 1 can of enchilada sauce.  It was still a hit with Henry.

-  I have a small obsession with buffalo wings which is why this recipe for Popcorn Buffalo Bites was right up my ally.  They are pretty easy to make (although time consuming when making them popcorn size) and WAY healthier than traditional buffalo wings because they are made with chicken breasts and baked, not fried.  I have made them again, making chicken strips instead of popcorn bites (because I am lazy).

What's not healthy is the amount of bleu cheese dressing I dipped them into but we just won't talk about that.

-  Fall just wouldn't be fall without pumpkin bread, right?  My mom makes THE BEST pumpkin bread.  But I am pretty sure the 2 main ingredients are sugar and butter (read: NOT PUMPKIN).  I just can't eat very much of that, so I found this Low-Fat Pumpkin Bread recipe.  I omitted the pumpkin seeds.

My coworker brought me a piece of Starbuck's Pumpkin Bread and we had a taste test one day.  No joke, there was almost ZERO DIFFERENCE between the two.  And I doubt the Starbuck's version was only 100 calories a serving.

-  Zucchini is almost out of season, I know but while you still have some in your garden make this Zucchini Casserole.  Trust me.  I found this recipe a couple of years ago and we loved it so much we ate it about once a week for a month.

-  Even though it is still in the 80's here (and sometimes in the 90s), I am breaking out the crockpot.  Throw in the fact that I have been hankering for Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana and we have a Google search on our hands.  After looking at several different recipes, I was not at all surprised at the amount of whipping cream required.

Gross.

I like to operate under the "ignorance is bliss" camp when it comes to my food sometimes.

So my Google search got modified.  HEALTHY crock pot Zuppa Toscana.

That's how I found THIS recipe.  It is currently in my crock pot so I have no idea how it will turn out.   But I am optimistic and will keep you posted.



So there you have it!  Some relatively healthy recipes that have been a success in the Janney household as of late.  If you have any wonderful recipes, I am all ears (or eyes).  I really don't like being in a food rut.  For some reason when I don't have a plan for what to cook I can only ever think of spaghetti.  And you can only have so much spaghetti.




{Don't be fooled... He threw a lot of it on the floor} 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Saturday Night Church

For once, we had a weekend that I didn't feel like flew by in a flash.  Our church started a Saturday evening service this week and since the church service we usually attend is RIGHT at the beginning of Henry's weekend nap time (he has a different nap time for daycare and for us, completely self imposed), it can make church a little... distracting.

As in Phil and I spend the entire hour passing Henry back and forth to each other while he does a crocodile death row.  We also attempt to distract him and keep him quiet through any means necessary included books, drawing, and food.  Whatever scenario takes place, it isn't super conducive to paying attention to the sermon.  Most of the time, we leave and I have no idea what the sermon topic was about.

We could take him to the nursery, but he already spends all week away from me at daycare.  I'm not too keen on having him with someone else watch him for any more than I have to.

Long story short, we went to church Saturday night.  It was excellent.  The service was nice and relaxed.  Henry was calm.  I think we found a new church service.

Another bonus... we had Sunday morning totally free, both in terms of time and guilt (I've got the guilt thing down.  I would have made a great Catholic).


We didn't go anywhere.






Eventually, I will learn to use my camera.

Oh and I gave Henry a haircut.  And cut him.  Mother of the year.

After a rough couple of weeks feeling like we are drowning a little, we had a nice relaxing weekend.  And I even feel like I am mentally prepared for the week ahead.

I'm still working on getting our house more organized.  I have a couple of ideas in the works, I just haven't gotten a chance to get them totally figured out.  But when I do, I will share them.  Secrets don't make friends.  :)

Friday, September 12, 2014

5 Things Friday: Migraine Edition

So my grand plans to type up my 5 Things Friday last night was thwarted by a migraine.  Nothing like a visual aura and really bad headache to knock you out for the night.  Poor Phil had to deal with me saying things like, "Please don't bang the dishes" and "Don't move the bed, please."

It was a fun night, for sure.  And you know what helps you be productive?  It certainly isn't a migraine.

It's a little better today, but definitely not gone.  I have a feeling the gym is out for lunchtime today.  Pretty much anything other than laying down is out for lunch today.

So in honor of the current state of my head, today's 5 Things Friday are my tips for dealing with a migraine.

It was this or nothing.  I probably should have stuck with nothing.

{Image stolen from the Wall Street Journal}


1.  Take something

Excedrin Migraine works really well, but sometimes I just can't take it.  First of all, we don't have any at our house.  Second, the caffeine has proved to be too much for me.  The last thing I want when I'm dealing with a headache is to be jittery.  Plus my headache came on at 8:30 at night and I like sleep.  Excedrin Back and Body contains the same acetaminophen and aspirin dose as it's migraine counterpart without the caffeine.  Score.

Or if you are like me and foolishly took straight Tylenol thinking it might help and therefore can't take something else containing Tylenol (because I like my liver), I like to throw a dose of Advil in there as well.  It was my saving grace last night.  Took away just enough pain so that I could sleep.


2.  Cold wash clothe

Phil seems to fight me on this one when he gets a headache, but really a cold wash clothe on your temples/eyes/sinuses/forehead is nothing short of magic for headache relief.  Doing this early in the headache process seems to keep it from getting worse (sometimes).  When Phil starts to get his headaches, I usually don't even ask if he wants the wash clothe.  I just get it for him.

When I reached for the wash clothe last night, Phil knew I meant business.  I think until then he thought I just had the aura without the headache (which happens for me sometimes).  Nope.  Not this time.  Lucky me.


3.  Loose hair, no socks

It's amazing what a difference cool feet and no tight hair makes.  Loosen the pony and air out the toes.  Trust me.


4.  Caffeine

I didn't have any caffeine last night (because I wanted to sleep) but you'd better believe I will be having coffee this morning.  In migraines, blood vessels expand and caffeine helps to constrict the blood vessels thereby helping relieve migraines (hence why it is in Excedrin Migraine).  Or vice verse.  Whatever.  It counteracts whatever causes migraines.  That's all you need to know.

I just used hence and thereby in the same sentence.  Can you tell I don't feel well?


5.  Cool, dark, quiet room

Most migraines are made worse by loud sounds, bright lights, and heat.  Let your body cool off and relax as much as possible.  This can't always be helped.  Thankfully last night, my migraine started after Henry had gone to bed.  But if he had been awake, I wouldn't have been able to do the quiet room thing.


And here's a bonus since I know nobody is still reading this...

Avoid migraine triggers as much as possible at all times, but especially right after having one.  Typical triggers include alcohol (especially red wine), chocolate, MSG, dehydration, changes in sleep, hormones (i.e. some birth control), etc.  I am pretty sure mine was caused by the weather change and not eating/drinking enough.


So there you have it.  I'm off to drink more coffee and slowly make my way through the work day.  I hope everyone is feeling well today!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

If we are being honest...

... I would have to tell you that I am struggling.

I do not have this working mom, graduate wife down.  AT.  ALL.



I am 5 minutes late to work more days than I am not.

I've had laundry clean, unfolded on the couch for at least 2 weeks.

In the last 2 weeks, we have had to eat fast food for dinner (Phil and I) twice because I was too tired and we literally had NO FOOD.

Today marks basically the 1,400th day I haven't gone to the gym in the morning.

We won't even talk about the last time my house got really properly cleaned.  
As in completely dusted, vacuumed, bathrooms cleaned, dishes done all at the same time.

There are so many projects that have been started and then never finished.  
I actually think I bought a photography tutorial a year ago.  Still haven't gone through it.  
As a self-motivated person, I hate that.



I go into kind of a panic when I think of adding in another baby to the mix.  I don't think we are quite ready for that.

I feel like I am just putting out fires and trying to do what I need to do to survive the week.  I can't seem to get ahead of the game.  The other day, Phil and I were talking about getting new phones and I almost don't want to do it because I don't want to deal with learning a new phone.

That's dumb.

But I'm not throwing myself a pity party!  Nobody ever said being a working mom was easy.  And I've never really heard anyone talk about how easy it is to have their spouse near the end of their dissertation.  But just because something is hard doesn't mean it isn't worth doing.

I'm determined to not sacrifice my family's health, our relationships, or our finances as we navigate the next 3 months.  We can't eat fast food all the time.  We can't be so stressed out that we are grumpy to each other or other people.

The truth is that we are in the home stretch.  This is the hardest part, not only because we both just want it to be over, but also because it is when a lot of the work has to happen.


I'm going to figure out a plan.




I just haven't figured it out yet.

My mom reminded me of the phrase, "You can have it all, but you can't have it all at once."  And I am minding of feeling like that is true.

So what do I give up?

...

I'll keep you posted on what I figure out.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rubbing it in

This is my nephew David:



He's been the subject of many a blog post around these parts.  It's because he says the darndest things.

He's the type of kid that when you give him the consequence ahead of time, you can actually see him thinking about whether or not the punishment is worth committing the crime anyway.  Mischievous.  But he also has a huge heart.

Before Henry came around, during the infertility and cancer, David helped fulfill my desperate need to nurture.  He was also so sweet when it came to my neck scar.  I mean, this very restless, rambunctious little boy would very gently touch my neck and be very careful around me.  I never had to worry about him.

He was the youngest person in our family for quite a few years before Henry came around.  I was kind of nervous that he would resent Henry a little for taking his place as the "youngest" but I think the opposite has happened.

He likes the Henry looks up to him.  And boy... does he ever.  Plus I think he likes that his isn't the baby anymore.

David and Henry are buddies.




Henry and David went to the same daycare center last year.  And I would always ask David to "check" on Henry for him.  Their classrooms were right across a little lawn from each other.  David did a great job of checking in on Henry at least once a week.  When he graduated kindergarten, I was a little sad.  I miss having David there to keep tabs on Henry.

But I think it helped form a special bond between them.  Henry LOVES him.

Anyway, I have more stories about David on my blog than the other boys simply because I didn't have a way to document all the funny little stories about the older boys.  And I'm pretty glad I have this space because I can reread THIS STORY.  And THIS STORY.

So here's another sweet David story to add to the mix...

David and I have this routine.  I go up and give him a big kiss on the cheek.  He then takes his hand and wipes his face (for the nonexistent spit I leave behind I guess).

Then I say to him, "Are you wiping it off or rubbing it in?"

He always replies, "Rubbing it in."

It's our thing.

So a couple of months ago, before we said good-bye we went through our little routine.  At the end he said, "You ALWAYS do that!" which I took to mean that he was getting too old for me to kiss his cheek.

:(

But I don't want to be that super annoying relative that he dreads seeing, so I decided to give him some space in the future.  The next few times I saw him, I would just give him a hug and say good-bye.

While we were camping on the beach, we were getting ready to head home on our last day there.  After I gave him a hug, David turned to me and said, "You haven't given me a kiss in a long time!"

"Do you like it when I give you a kiss," I ask.

A cute little grin came across his face and he said, "Yes."

I quickly ran over and gave him a nice, big kiss on the cheek.  And you can bet money on it that I will every time from now on.  :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I swear it must be Friday yesterday

Sometimes I wish I could blog about work.

I really can't.

But this week would be a great source of blog material if I could.

Honestly, blogging about work would probably be fine because I'm sure NO ONE would read it.  I mean who really wants to read about an engineer anyway?

Let's just say, it's been a long week, even though it's been a shorter week.  And I've felt that way since yesterday morning.

Since there are still 2 whole work days left in the week, I have decided I need to do a couple of things to make myself feel better and to get through the week.  It's not time for 5 Things Friday, but frankly, it feels like Friday so here it goes.


1.  I need one of these:



PRONTO!

One of the things I love about our house is that it has a nice, big bath tub.  This thing is calling my name!


2.  I'm not going to lie... I couldn't wait until September for my first Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I went ahead and got one last Thursday.  And then my coworker brought one to work for me on Friday.  Then Phil and I split one on Saturday.  I tried to make one at home on Sunday, but forgot to add sugar (kind of an important ingredient).  And then I got another on Tuesday (which was the original plan).

But I kind of want another one.  Like NOW.


3.  Time with this guy:



4.  What cheers you up better than a little retail therapy?  Nothing, that's the answer.  We are going to get family pictures done next March (I like to plan ahead) and I am already thinking about what we will wear for them.  Henry and I have super blue eyes, so blue is obviously a good choice.  But Phil is a fan of earth tones.  So far, I am OBSESSED with this sweater for Henry:


{Sweater from Gap}

If only it weren't $37.  But I am kind of having fun window shopping for the moment and thinking of combinations of outfits for the photos.


5.  Last night, I went to bed early with a cup of hot chocolate, some fleece pants, and a book. It was wonderful.  I'm trying to read through all of the books I have before I buy too many new ones.  The one I am reading right now is kind of weird.  I threw away the book jacket, so I don't know where it is going.  Once I told Phil what was happening with the plot, he suggested I just stop reading.  But now I am just curious what happens.  Only 300 pages left.


When I first started this list, I was a little concerned all 5 things were going to be food related.  Comfort food is fine, but not when it is the ONLY thing.  Then I might have a bit of a problem.

I hope your week is treating you well!

What do you do to relax after a tough day?  I could use all the suggestions you have.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

APPLES

Three day weekends are so wonderful.  And they don't come around often enough.  Amiright?

Of course I am!

In addition to the plethora of sales we took advantage of this past weekend, we added some additional things to our to-do list.

Ok mainly one thing.



Apple picking.



Nothing says fall like apple picking, right?  Especially when it is 80 degrees outside and you are sweating.

We live not too far from a u-pick orchard with dwarf apples trees.  And it is only $10 for a 5 gallon bucket of apples.  We picked a bunch of hone crisps, gala, and smoothie (an early golden delicious) apples.

Henry wasn't so into picking the apples.  He had more fun picking the leaves.  But he did enjoy throwing (and I mean THROWING) the apples into the bucket.


 And, of course, eating them.



 And feeding the same apple to Phil.



I was kind of nervous for him to eat apples.  I don't know why.  I guess I was just worried they would be a choking hazard.  He did fine.  The fact that he has at least 4 teeth coming in right now is even more reason I shouldn't be concerned.  And no, that's not an exaggeration.  We can feel at least 4.

Henry's method of gently throwing the apples into the bucket left about half of them very bruised.  I was forced to make THESE.  I used a cup of liquid (part water, part grape juice), added a tsp of vanilla, used white sugar instead of vanilla sugar, and about 2/3 the cinnamon listed.  They are SO GOOD!



Here's what Henry thought of them:

{"Mo.  Mo.  Mo."}


Hated them obviously.

We are hoping we can get through all the apples we picked in a couple of weeks so we can go pick more!
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