Tuesday, November 5, 2013

7 More Crock pot freezer meals + Shopping List

So I am loving my time at home with Peanut and Pumpkin. I can't believe that it is going so fast; Pumpkin is already one month old today!

Sadly, the time is of course short before I have to go back to work, so I'm trying to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible. Even though it takes some prep work, I decided to do another round of crock pot freezer meals so that on those days all I can manage to do is keep us all alive, we still have dinner ready.

Just like before, I followed the same steps. I looked at what I already had in my cupboards  (mainly canned veggies) and the sales flyers and came up with my plan. Like before, I tried to keep as many of the ingredients similar to help keep the costs down. This time I didn't double the recipes because I simply didn't have the freezer room and we still haven't picked up a freezer (yay tax refund season is a few months away!). 

With my recipes planned out, I went grocery shopping using the following shopping list. I already had basics like broth, spices, sauces and other pantry staples. Add these to your list if you don't.
I didn't have the room or time to lay everything out like before, so here's a shot of my crock pot in action. Yup, that thing has lasted a good seven years now, best black friday buy ever! Any who, below is the shopping list for making the 7 meals.

18 chicken breasts

2lbs chuck roast
48oz chicken sausage
1/2lb fully cooked ham
16 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
3 medium onions
3 bell peppers
4lbs carrots
3lbs potatoes
32oz green beans
2 15oz can of sweet corn
1 15oz can of black beans
1 15oz can of kidney beans
2 28oz can of diced tomatoes
10 oz spinach
4 10oz cans of condensed cream of chicken soup
2 8oz package of cream cheese
8oz shredded swiss cheese
1 12oz jar of beef gravy
9oz of frozen tortellini
1 box dry stuffing
8oz uncooked barley

The total cost of my groceries was $68.50 for 7 meals. Adding another $5 for items I already had on hand like the cans of corn and beans, it brought me to a total of $73.50 or about $10.50 for each meal. Each meal has at least 6 servings, which makes each serving about $1.75 each.

I will still need to pick up extras for each meal, for example with the creamy chicken pot pie soup I will make biscuits and the BBQ sausage, onions and peppers I will serve on crusty french bread. I figure this will add another $10-$15 for my family to round out the meals. 

I did want to add that some of these recipes include dairy this time. Some people do not like to freeze their dairy products as it can and does change the texture. I for example would freeze blocks of cream cheese to use in recipes but would not freeze it to use as a spread for bagels, as I think it messes with the texture. If frozen dairy isn't your families thing, just add it the day of and leave yourself a note on the outside of the freezer bag.

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Soup

6 chicken breasts
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups green beans
1 15oz can of sweet corn, drained
3 10oz cans of condensed cream of chicken soup *add this the day of if it won't fit
2 cups milk *this too
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Cook on slow for 6 hours.

Creamy Taco Chicken

6 chicken breasts
1 15oz can of sweet corn, drained
1 15oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15oz can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes plus juice 
1 8oz package of cream cheese
3 tablespoons taco seasoning

Cook on slow for 6 hours.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

6 chicken breasts, cubed
2 cups cooked ham, cubed
8oz shredded swiss cheese
1 10oz cans of condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup water
1 box dry stuffing *add this dry as the topping right before cooking 

Cook on slow for 6 hours.

Roast Beef and Veggies

1lb chuck roast
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon steak seasoning

Cook on slow for 8 hours.

Beef and Barley Stew

1/2lb roast beef, cubed
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups green beans
8 oz mushrooms
1 cup uncooked barley
6 cups beef broth *add this the day of as it won't fit in the bag
1 12oz jar of beef gravy

Cook on slow for 8 hours.

Creamy Veggie and Sausage Tortellini Soup

12oz chicken sausage, sliced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
10 oz spinach *if using fresh you will have to add the day of
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes plus juice 
1 8oz package of cream cheese
6 cups chicken broth *add this the day of as it won't fit in the bag
9oz of frozen tortellini *keep this separate and add in the day of

Cook on slow 6 hours. Watch the tortellini, they bubble up to the top so you may have to stir it all back together. Also if your weary that they will end up mushy, add them the last 2 hours.

BBQ Sausage, Peppers and Onions

36oz chicken sausage, sliced *beef sausage works great too, chicken was just on sale
3 cups bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 cup onion, sliced into strips
1 cups BBQ sauce

Cook on slow 8 hours.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin's First Halloween

I'm feeling so blessed that I am on maternity leave right now. I will have to return before Christmas but for Halloween and Thanksgiving I get to stay home with both kiddos and we're having a blast!

We started with carving pumpkins.

We've always had pumpkins, this is just the first year Peanut has scooped out his pumpkin.

He wasn't so sure he about the slimy pumpkin guts.

When I assured him that this was indeed a fun project he seemed a bit skeptical.

Then we moved to taping off our pumpkins with masking tape so we could paint them.

Peanut thought the idea seemed a bit crazy but once I reassured him that painting pumpkins was indeed a good plan, he quickly got to painting the three tiniest pumpkins.

We let them dry as we decorated our porch and Nana helped carve the pumpkin.

Our final pumpkins!

Which Batman approved of.

And Miss Kitty Cat slept thru.

Happy Halloween!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Let's talk about my religion

I still plan on writing about Pumpkin's stay in the NICU and mine for postpartum complications but while it's on my mind, I wanted to get this out too.

I've been honest about my search for religion. I've always been interested in religions, both the histories of them, dogmas and the current ways in which religions are worshiped. I think learning about what other people think about religion is also very interesting, as everyone brings something different in forms of understandings and perspectives.

That being said, after nearly 3 years, I find that I am not Jewish, as I thought I might. I find myself in a more peaceful place however. I felt very strongly at the beginning that Judaism may have been the right path for me. Perhaps it still is. I'm just not sure anymore. I do feel that it is the closest organized religion I have studied so far to come close to what I feel I can believe in, but yet it's still not the fit I want. The fit I need.

I'm honestly not sure that I will ever find the fit I think I need. My Mom informs me that at some point that's where the word faith comes in. I'm not sure I'm like that though; to have faith that in the end, it will all make sense. If I can't make the ideas make sense in my head, now, then I simply can't find meaning in the ritual, holiday or law.

So our family is back to where it began, agnostic with an always open mind. The Husband and I have discussed it, especially with the holidays coming up, and we will continue to celebrate the commercial holidays with the kids. Santa and his other holiday friends like the Easter Bunny will always be welcome. We will also continue to celebrate religious at our parents and families homes. 

In the future, I'm sure I'll revisit religions again. I seem to go in cycles every few years. Each cycle I find myself restless with my current thoughts, I then search out a new religion, never fully committing (one could argue there is my actual issue, but moving forward...) to it but researching and learning from it. I then find that it isn't the fit I had hopped for and move back to agnostic. I can now add Judaism to my short list that includes Christian Reformed and Wicca. 

Do I feel I "wasted" my time learning, going to services and practicing at home the ideas and rituals of Judaism? No, not at all. This cycle has been my most eye opening one of them all. I feel more rounded as a person and feel that my ideas about religion and spirituality as a whole has broadened and matured because of the ideas I learned while studying Judaism. I feel the journey was very rewarding, even if I didn't end up where I thought I would.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

She's Here!!!

I am overjoyed to announce that I had our daughter three weeks ago on October 5th!

My due date was October 24th but because of the complications I was having she was first scheduled for delivery on the 17th, then bumped up to the 10th (my amniotic fluid was rising rapidly). Well, she decided she wanted to pick her own birth date and came even earlier than we had expected at 37 weeks and 2 days.

I had not been feeling well since about week 35 when I felt like I had the flu. From experience with A. I knew that this was probably the end in sight for me. I had felt the exact same way the two weeks before my water broke with him at 39 weeks 4 days. I wasn't overly concerned as I had my repeat c-section date scheduled for 38 weeks 0 days. 

The morning she was born I felt achey and dizzy. The Husband recently switched jobs and shifts and now works 3rd, so our sleeping schedules are a bit different so I had asked him if I could please just sleep in that Saturday morning and delay his going to bed like normal. He agreed and I fell fast asleep only to be woken up at 11:57 am with a sudden, never had one like this before, kick to my crotch. The kind where it wakes you up from a dead sleep and you very lady like, grab yourself and tell your unborn child to calm it down. 

I tried to go back to sleep but at 12:07 I had an intense contraction. I patted my belly and told her to relax, it was only five more days till she was here. At 12:17 and 12:27 I felt more contractions. I was used to contractions every 10 minutes for 2-3 hours at a time, as they had been happening for the last month, but they always went away so I really wasn't that concerned until I felt a sharp stabbing pain at 12:37 on my right side. I actually started crying and called for The Husband who was in the middle of giving A. a bath. I asked him to help me roll over and get up from the bed, thinking if I could just change positions it would go away.

As soon as The Husband helped me roll over my water broke all over the bed. I was so thankful I had remembered to put a waterproof liner under me the week before. This by the way, is now the second pregnancy where I am one of those lucky women whose water breaks naturally and early. We had been warned that my water breaking early was likely due to the high fluid levels. Thankfully, the water was clear and the most serious complication we had been warned about, cord prolapse, didn't happen. 

I called the OB on call to let them know I was on my way in. My in-laws and SIL came and stayed with A. as we headed in. Despite drenching a towel and having to wear a newborn baby diaper in my panties to labor and delivery, we still had to wait for the lab to confirm my water had indeed broken as the tester strips weren't picking it up. 

Once confirmed, they wheeled me down for my c-section. This time because it wasn't an emergency like it had been with A., the entire experience was different and even lovely. The OB was wonderful, the nurse was fantastic and our anesthesiologist even had a mp3 mix he uses to time the procedure (think songs like don't worry, be happy to the happy birthday song). And so, our daughter was born.

Unlike with A.'s, The Husband was clear headed and unrushed so he was able to get pictures of her right after her birth. She had a powerful cry and scored 8's and 9's on her APGAR scores. 

She was beautiful. Here is the 3 of us. 

Overall, she was a big, beautiful girl. The Husband named her, as I named A. Of course, now you can see that I have two A.'s in my life, well actually three as The Husband's name starts with A. too, so I will have to change how I refer to them on here. A.'s nickname, which has no originality at all, just what I call him, is Peanut (which at almost 5 and 48" and 52 pounds is of course, not at all Peanut like) and I've come to call her Pumpkin. 

This is the first photo I have of just myself and Pumpkin, in all my puffy, just gave birth, after-pregnancy glory. I mean, seriously, look at my hands!

I was able to nurse Pumpkin much quicker than Peanut, right at the 1 hour mark. I was in surgery a bit longer than normal as I had my tubes tied, so as soon as I could and felt up to it, she nursed. And the best part? She's a natural nurser! Her latch is perfect. It was right from the start. I know I had my hesitations and really didn't even want to try to nurse again but I am so relieved that I gave it a try. Nursing is going fantastic.

The Husband helped get us all settled and then fell promptly asleep. By this point the poor man had been awake for nearly 21 hours. Poor guy.

After about fours hours or so, we let our families know they could come and meet her. My Mom was first and even though this picture is a bit blurry, it captures My Mom's smile so well.

My Brother and His Wife also came to see her. 

My In-Laws then brought Peanut up. I was originally going to have him wait till I was disconnected from my IV and moving around, so the next day, but I'm so glad I decided against it in the moment. He didn't seem upset at seeing me with the IV, I simply explained it was medicine and that it didn't hurt. I did remember to not being holding Pumpkin when he first came in and allowed him to snuggle as best as he could with me on the bed first. That seemed to help as he was able to tell me about his afternoon before his sister "barged in". He adored her from the start.

Almost all the next shots are blurry, what can I say, I was on drugs :) This is my sister-in-law or better known as AunTie, emphasis on the T because her first name starts with T and Peanut can't say it.

My mother-in-law, or Yaya. She was a ball of emotion and tears. 

And my father-in-law, or Papa, who is finishing his nursing degree, giving her reflexes a thorough look over.

Eventually I was able to get a quick picture when The Husband was in a picture friendly mood.

Pumpkin's story doesn't end there of course, she actually found herself briefly in the NICU and on the peds floor. I found myself admitted for postpartum complications. But that's her story of getting here. I'll fill the rest in later... when I'm not sleepy and shirtless from nursing. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Pregnancy that keeps on giving: Polyhydramnios

If I believed in such things, I would think that the universe is making sure that my last pregnancy is one not to forget. On top of normal pregnancy issues that pop up towards the end of pregnancy like insomnia, flu like symptoms and braxton hicks, my pregnancy is now handing out a hugely uncomfortable pregnant belly due to high amniotic fluid, or polyhydramnios.

My high amniotic fluid is being caused by my gestational diabetes and my number last week was still in the mild category, 29, so thankfully it's not that severe of a case right now. That being said, my goodness, I look like I swallowed a beach ball. My skin is stretched so far it itches and I'm getting new stretch marks.

On top of that, Baby Girl is measuring large. And by large, I mean she's measuring full term now. A. also measured large but only by 2 weeks, Baby Girl is measuring 4+ weeks ahead. What size she really is, who knows? 

This week brings the now normal routine of biweekly NSTs and BPPs but also gets me one week closer to meeting her. I can't wait :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Gestational Diabetes and what I'm actually eating

So I passed my gestational diabetes screening, just barely at 138 so my OB had me do the 3 hour test - which I failed about a month ago. I then met with the diabetes educator and the dietitian who explained what my "rules" would be. Having a personal explanation made it seem easier and really, the "rules" about what to eat and how often make a lot of sense. That being said, it is certainly a different way of eating for me.

My "rules" are:
  • 1 serving of carbs = 15g of carbs
  • No fruit, milk or cold cereal for breakfast
  • Juice is not allowed at any time
  • Avoid foods that are pure sweets (candy, cakes, cookies)

After that, I'm then supposed to aim for the following number of servings for each snack and meal with the following additional rules.

7AM breakfast: 1-2 servings
9AM snack: 1-2 servings ***add protein if eating a starch
12PM lunch: 3 servings
3PM snack: 1-2 servings ***add protein if eating a starch
6PM dinner: 3-4 servings
9PM snack: 1-2 servings ***add protein if eating a starch

The times are approximate but the point is the dietitian said to try and make sure to eat something every 3 hours.

I will be honest and say eating on a schedule has been the hardest part and something I'm still struggling with it. I am nauseous all day, every day, so my strategy up to this point has been to eat when I can, what I can keep down. This usually meant I had a smoothie for breakfast, fruit like apples as snacks, soup with crackers for lunch and dinner. 

The good news? There are many "free" or "low carb" options where as long as I stay in the serving size, I don't have to count the carbs for towards my overall numbers. These include anything not in yellow for the diagram below:

On top of the rules, I check my blood sugar four times a day, when I wake up and then an hour after each meal. My target numbers as 90 for when I first wake up and 140 for each meal.

I have kept very close to the rules, but sadly, had to go on an oral medication, glyburide two weeks ago, with last week it increasing to 2.5mg daily, as diet alone was not keeping my numbers low enough. Since adding in the medication, the diet seems to be working. I am hoping to avoid insulin but of course, I will do whatever needs to be done to keep us both healthy!

Now to what I am actually eating, because as silly as it sounds, thinking of actual meals I can through together quickly was the one thing I spent the most time on with the dietitian. As far as drinks go, I only drink water, up to two cups of coffee without sugar but with sugar free creamer, unsweetened tea and milk. I can't lie, I'm getting pretty sick of water but I know it's important so I drink it like crazy.

Know that I am not the most creative person for meal planning and while these meal ideas are not complete meals, this is the food I am actually eating. I could lie and say I eat a handful of baby carrots or celery with each meal, but yeah, I suck at lying. Mainly everything below is food I can manage to keep down and that involves the least amount of prep time as possible, as I still get dizzy when I'm on my feet for more than 15-20 minutes.

Breakfast: 1-2 carbs *to get to two carbs, I usually just double everything below

Lunch and Dinner: 3 carbs for lunch and 3-4 for dinner

  • 1 serving of fruit (1) + 1 cup Special K Protein Cereal (1) + 1 8oz glass of milk

  • 1 cup of Beef with Veggies and Barley (2) +  23 Mini Saltine Crackers (1)

  • Wrap (crispy chicken (1), spinach, dressing (0) + 1 small tortilla (1)) + 1 fruit (1) 

  • 2 chicken quesadilla (chicken, cheese, 2 small tortilla (2)) + 1/3 cup rice (1)

  • 4 pieces of California Kitchen Thin Crust Pizza (pizza is cut into 12 pieces) (3) 

  •  Smart Ones:

  • Sweet and sour chicken (2) + 1 8oz glass of milk

  • Chicken Santa Fe (1) + 1 small tortilla (1) + 1 serving of fruit (1)

  • Chicken Parmesan (2) + 1 serving of fruit (1)

  •  2 cups chili (2) + sour cream, avocado + 1 serving of tortilla chips (1)

  • 1 cup of cold shrimp and veggies pasta  (3)

  • 3 mini chicken taco cups (3) 

  • Snacks: 1-2 carbs *I add the "freebies" here like cheeses, jerky, nuts and veggies

    And there you have it, that's about all I eat. Mainly if it's a meal I don't make myself (if My Mom is helping or we go to my in-laws) I just try to stay away from the starches and eat the meat and veggies.

    Saturday, September 14, 2013

    7 Crock pot freezer meals + Shopping List

    Okay so my bad, I wrote this post a million years ago and forgot about it... opps! It's good timing though, as now that I'm off work for the rest of the pregnancy and we need to be more careful with our money again, it reminded me I should do a large crock pot freezer meals session.

    When The Husband and I were first married, I was going to school as well as working and The Husband was in the Reserves and working. We were busy and made much less money then we do now. I was psychotic about our spending, especially with our food budget. I planned every meal and never bought groceries from any where besides Aldies and without a very specific detailed shopping list. I made many things in the crock pot so that food would be ready whenever one of us was home; mine automatically switches to warm when the timer goes off, I love that feature!

    Since going to work full time with the State, I've gotten lazy, especially with dinner. I try and glance at the sales ads but don't do a great job. We eat out too much and I spend way too much money on groceries that I pick up after work. So I decided to go back to my roots, crock pot freezer meals. We have a small fridge which means a small freezer so I really only have room to freeze 2 weeks worth of meals at a time if I play freezer tetris when the freezer is near empty.

    The first step in making crock pot freezer meals is planning. I took a look at what I had in my cupboards, the sales flyers and a look at recipes I know we will eat. After doing this, I came up my list of 7 freezer crock pot meals.

    With my recipes planned out, I went grocery shopping using the following shopping list. I already had basics like spices and spice mixtures, broth, mustard, sauces like bbq and teriyaki marinade and other pantry staples. Add these to your list if you don't.

    Below is the shopping list for making the 7 meals only, double everything below if you are making 14 meals like I did.

    18 chicken breasts
    64 oz meatballs *I use premade ones but feel free to make your own
    2lbs sausage
    16oz shrimp, raw with shells off
    3 lbs carrots
    1 lb potatoes - any variety
    5 medium sized onions (I don't measure my onions, I just say 1 medium equals 1 cup)
    5 green peppers
    1 small zucchini
    1 small summer squash
    32 oz spinach
    1 head of celery
    1 fresh, cored pineapple *1 16 oz can of pineapple chunks + juice works also
     4 29 oz cans of tomato sauce
    12 whole roma tomatoes
    1 64 oz can of vegetable or V8 juice
    8 oz greek yogurt
    1 8oz package of cream cheese
    16 oz (or 1 pint) heavy whipping cream

    The total cost of my groceries was $116 for 14 meals. Some of the things I bought on sale were chicken for $1.89 a pound, 2lbs of organic carrots for $1, 1lb of potatoes for $1, tri-colored peppers for $1 each, 16oz shrimp for $5.50 and 12 oz chicken sausage for $3.

    I already had on hand the roma tomatoes and tomato sauce (my in-laws went a wee bit crazy during canning seasoning and my cupboards are overflowing with canned tomato in every form plus frozen whole tomatoes, so yay for me!). Adding another $10 for these items and to get to a nice number for each meal, I figured total was $126 or about $9 for each meal. Considering that each meal has at least 6 servings, that makes each serving about $1.50 each.

    The meal extras like rice and other sides I did not include in the costs because depending on what you serve with it, this is going to vary widely for each family. I figure I will still need to pick up between $5-$15 a week for the add on's for my families dinners.

    Once I got everything home, I sat down and labeled all of my ziplock bags. I put the recipe and the directions for the slow cooker as well as any notes about what should be served with the meal. This serves as a reminder for me in the morning to pull out whatever needs to go with it.

    The next part is the biggest time consumer besides the actual grocery shopping and planning. Pealing veggies blows but watching Netflix helps. I used my food processor to speed up the process where I could (carrots, onions, celery and green peppers). I chop all of my veggies the same, slightly chunky, no matter the recipe. It saves time and for crock pot meals, it helps them all cook the same (carrots though are the slowest cookers).

    I didn't keep track of how long it took because honestly, I prepped these all over two days. But I will be honest and say there is no way it only took me 2 or 3 hours like most freezer meal posts say they should take you. They must be more motivated/less ADHD than I am.

    Once all of the veggies were prepped, I put the meat in the bags, added all the veggies and any sauces or spices that will fit. Some people do it veggies, seasoning and then meat on top so when you dump it the meat is on the bottom, I find it makes no real difference. Sometimes not all of the ingredients will fit in the bag, but I have noted that below. I take each bag out the night before and by the morning they are ready to be poured into the crock pot! Sometimes the recipes are more watery or liquidy than I expected so I just leave the lid off the last half an hour to reduce it down.

    These meals are more than enough for dinner for the 3 of us, with lots of left overs for lunches the next day for The Husband and myself*. I planned on doubling each recipe to get to 14 freezer meals.

    *Updated: Ok so when I said this all makes a ton of food, I mean, A TON. Like barely fits in the freezer bags and fills up my huge crockpot to the top, we have 2 nights of dinners and a day of lunches to pack for each of us for work, full. You could very easily split each recipe below into 2 bags, for a total still of 14 bags, using just the list below without doubling it. Because really, you know your family... add less meat, add more, whatever works for you.

    Below are the recipes for a single bag only. Although I doubled each recipe to make 14 bags total, each recipe below is what actually goes in one gallon size freezer bag.

    About freezer bags, I don't know if there is a better, eco-friendly way to store freezer crock pot meals with raw meat, but this is how I store mine. I try not to feel too bad about them because I wash and reuse them as long as I can.

    Ranch chicken

    6 chicken breasts
    2 cups carrots, sliced
    4 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
    1/2 cup onion, diced
    1 cup greek yogurt *sour cream works just as well too
    1 8oz package of cream cheese
    1 packet ranch seasoning
    1 cup powdered parmesan cheese

    Cook on slow for 6 hours.

    Shredded Teriyaki Chicken

    6 chicken breasts
    2 cups carrot, sliced
    1/2 cup onion, diced
    1 cup fresh, cored pineapple, cut into chunks
    3 cups teriyaki marinade
    1 tablespoon minced garlic

    Cook on slow for 6 hours.

    Butter Chicken *this is not at all authentic and very insulting to a former boyfriend from Madras who taught me the real version but is my quick version I've adapted over time cause I'm not 19 anymore with loads of downtime.

    3 tablespoons butter
    3 tablespoons garam masala 
    1 cup onions, diced
    2 29 oz cans of tomato sauce
    8 oz heavy whipping cream
    2 tablespoons honey
    6 chicken breasts

    This is the only slow cooker recipe I don't dump right in; the sauce makes the difference and takes 10 minutes to make. Melt the butter on low in a pot and add in your garam masala; stir the butter and spice mixture until it begins to bubble but not burn. Add the onions and saute them in the butter spice mixture. Add the tomato sauce, heavy whipping cream and honey and mix well. If you are freezing at this step, let the sauce cool completely before adding chicken breasts and then freeze. 

    Cook on slow for 6 hours.


    1lb sausage, sliced
    16oz raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
    29oz tomato sauce
    6 roma tomatoes, diced
    1 cup onion, diced
    1 green pepper, diced
    1 cup celery, diced
    3 cups chicken broth *add this the day
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
    1 tablespoon creole seasoning
    3 bay leaves

    Cook on slow for 6 hours. If you are worried about rubbery shrimp or you are going to cook this on high wait towards the end of the cooking time (we don't seem to mind in our hoyse but you may). If you are going to add rice to this, make the rice right before you eat and add to each bowl. Cooking it in makes gummy and gross.

    Zuppa Toscana

    1lb sausage, sliced
    1 cup onion, diced
    3 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
    16 oz spinach
    5 cups chicken broth *add this the day of as it won't fit in the bag
    8 oz heavy whipping cream
    2 tablespoons minced garlic

    Cook on slow for 6 hours.

    Meatball and Veggie Soup

    32 oz of meatballs *add this the day of as it won't fit in the bag
    6 roma tomatoes, chopped
    2 cups carrots, sliced
    1/2 cup onion, diced
    16 oz spinach
    2 cups green peppers, diced
    1 cup zucchini *this will be mushy and soft, add the last hour if this bugs you
    1 cup summer squash *same here
    1 64 oz can of tomato or V8 juice *add this the day of
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    1 tablespoon dried basil
    1 tablespoon dried parsley

    Cook on slow for 4 hours. Add all final ingredients the last half an hour if you're opting for that. To change up the leftovers, I will boil rotini pasta separate and add it in at the end, but it's great soup without noodles too.

    BBQ Pineapple Meatballs

    32 oz of meatballs
    1 cup fresh, cored pineapple chunks
    2 green peppers, diced
    1/2 cup onions
    2 cups bbq sauce
    1 cup water

    Cook on slow for 6 hours.

    And there you go! We don't eat all of these in one week, it is a lot of food for us when taking into account the leftovers.

    Thursday, September 5, 2013

    Gestational Diabetes + Glyburide = biweekly NST's and weekly u/s

    Still here. Still pregnant. Today marks the 33th week of pregnancy. Yay!

    My gestational diabetes isn't working out so great, my numbers aren't horrible with the diet alone but they aren't in the ranges my OB would want so she added in the oral medication, glyburide. With the addition of medication, it also means that it is the beginning of my weekly trips to my OB's office for biweekly NST's and weekly u/s (these are biophysical profiles, also known as BPP). She passed with flying colors so far and no indication that we should expect anything else.

    Baby Girl is doing fantastic and that's all that matters :)

    Sunday, August 25, 2013

    Pretty Pastel Nursery

    There are hundreds of ideas I have for this babies nursery. I'm still considering the mermaid nursery, rainbow unicorns, hot air balloons, rain and clouds and sleeping beauty. Choosing one nursery idea has proven harder than I imagined!

    I don't know what this little girl's final nursery will look like, as I don't even intend to put it together until after she's out of the bassinet, but I'm sure it will be a combination of all the ideas. Mixed with items we already own and a few new ones, whatever nursery she ends up with will be hopefully one she likes.

    My favorite nursery idea right now is simply pretty pastels in shades of pink, yellow and blue. The fact that The Husband's Grandma (or as she's known to A., Papa's Mommy) made our little girl a beautiful hand crocheted blanket with these exact colors, is helping sway me towards this design the most.

    6. Pressed Flower Knobs - $6 each or 2 for $10
    8. Mae 11x16 print - $35
    11. Bird Nightlight - $11

    Saturday, August 24, 2013

    Off Work

    Just a quick update, my OB took me off of work back on the 14th. With my constant migraine and blurred vision with spots despite a fantastic looking CT scan and neuro check, recent gestational diabetes and blood pressure they are trying to stabilize, she said it's best if I focus on just relaxing, taking it slow and staying pregnant.

    The first week I was on bed rest but she already took me off! Yay! My blood pressure has come down a bit and stabilized at 120ish/80ish since being off of work for just a week and a half. I still can't drive (not safe for anyone) and I still get dizzy to the point that I get light headed and have to lay down if I'm on my feet for more than 20 minutes, but I can get up and move around if I feel up to it. So yay!

    Baby Girl is doing fantastic, big, measuring 3-4 weeks ahead now because of the gestational diabetes, but is good. Heartbeat is always fantastic and strong movements. She moves around so much for the NST's they often have to re-position the monitors several times!

    There are some other random things going on, like developing restless leg syndrome this past week (holy spastic annoying!) and I ended up in labor and delivery again this Friday morning for left side facial tingling and numbness. Baby Girl and I ended up checking out okay and it went away after 3 hours. In the end, this pregnancy is just proving to be unforgettable!

    In the end, it's all worth it and I will keep handling any other weirdness this pregnant has to hand me. We spent so long wanting her and while it hasn't been the simplest path, it isn't the hardest either. 

    And besides, any discomfort I might be having is worth it. After all, look at that face :)