A Healthy Slice of Life http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com Delicious recipes, healthy living tips, and fun food facts Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:27:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Keeping my Energy (and Sanity) as a Mom to Two http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/keeping-my-energy-and-sanity-as-a-mom-to-two/ http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/keeping-my-energy-and-sanity-as-a-mom-to-two/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:16:55 +0000 http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/?p=25847 I once heard a saying that any number of kids is a lot of kids. I get it now. One child feels overwhelming, then you add another and think, oh man, one was so much easier! I’m sure that continues with each child you add to a family. Veteran moms, you tell me. Like I’m […]

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I once heard a saying that any number of kids is a lot of kids. I get it now. One child feels overwhelming, then you add another and think, oh man, one was so much easier! I’m sure that continues with each child you add to a family. Veteran moms, you tell me.

Like I’m sure is the same for all of you, kids or no kids, life is full right now. Full in a wonderful, yet demanding, way. I learned early on that to function and thrive on a full schedule I needed to do some prioritizing to take care of my basic needs so that I could be there to help care for others. Now, somehow I’m waking up earlier than I ever have, packing my day full of more than I ever have, yet I probably feel better (mentally and physically) than I ever have as well. Dare I say I feel like I’m in my prime?

I am loving this phase of life, but know that I might fall victim to its craziness if not for a few things that keep me sane, healthy and on track. Here are the things I do to keep me rolling on a daily basis…

keeping up my energy as a mom

Prioritize sleep. Sleep, probably even more than food, is a non-negotiable for me. Though I’m sometimes tempted to stay up a little later, whether to get things done or to just veg out with a TV show, I know I’ll regret it in the morning. 7-8 hours does me right. If my nighttime sleep isn’t as smooth sailing as I’d like, let’s say hypothetically from a cute little baby who has a tough time with teeth, then I will sneak in a 20 minute power nap in the afternoon or force myself into an earlier bedtime the next night. When Kailtyn was a newborn, I’d sometimes go to bed at 8:00. No shame in my game. I’ve seen what my emotions do on too little sleep and it ain’t pretty!

Eat well but not perfectly. Perfection is a concept I thankfully let go of a long time ago. However, I know that food does affect my mood. Loading up with fresh veggies, lean meats and healthy fats, prepping food at the beginning of the week and sitting down at the table to eat it with real utensils is ideal, but I don’t always have time. I just focus on doing the best I can. Yes, I like to post pretty food pictures on instagram, but that’s because no one cares to see the leftover pizza I housed at breakfast or the spoonful of peanut butter I ate from the jar while chasing a squirmy 9 month old up the stairs.

peanut butter banana

Keep moving. At this stage of life, having a strict exercise schedule just doesn’t work for me. However, I do feel so much better when I exercise, so I’m scheduling in 2-3 real sweat sessions a week (loving Burn Bootcamp, even if I am having trouble walking today… I’m looking at you squats!) and considering anything more than that a sweet bonus. Outside of intentional exercise, I try to stay on my feet as much a possible- cooking, running up and down stairs, going on nature walks, an occasional youtube yoga video, trying to change Kaitlyn’s diapers (it’s like a full on wrestling match every time). Luckily the girls help with keeping me moving on the regular and I actually weigh about 5 pounds less right now than I did on my wedding day. I feel stronger too. I never would have thought it!

Fill in the nutritional gaps. My energy stores are constantly being depleted. I obviously focus on eating high quality food, but I also depend of a high quality vitamin to pick up the slack. I take my Vitalizer every day (as does David) and consider it my nutritional insurance plan. It helps keep my energy high and my immunity strong because let’s be honest, no one has time to be sick. Knock on wood, but I can’t tell you the last time I was sick. I’m such a firm believer that a quality multivitamin goes a long way.

shaklee vitalizer strip

Drink a glass of wine. Of course, I mean this a little tongue-in-cheek in the cliche ‘mama needs her wine glass’ way, but there is some truth to it as well. There is something about holding that splash of wine in a fancy glass at the end of the day signifies that beneath the yoga pants and the messy ponytail there is an adult woman that is working her tail off. It signifies it’s time for me to let go of the day, with all its wins or losses, and enjoy some time as an adult, chatting about this crazy life with my partner in crime life. It’s one of my favorite times of the day and does wonders for my mental health.

Keep a solid support system. Play dates and play groups, phone calls (or day-long text conversations) with friends, chatting (typing) with y’all, catching up with my parents, rare coffee dates sans kids- they all add so much to my life and I am so grateful for them all. Keeping supportive, positive people around me helps me to stay focused on all the good in life too. You are who you hang with after all, right? I’m lucky to know some really inspiring people that keep me striving to be better myself… and who let me vent a little if life gets tough at times too.

Let go of the small stuff. If you drop by unannounced, my house will have toys thrown about and googly eyes scatted everywhere, the floors will be decorated with puppy paw prints and pots and pans will cover the counters as they are drying. My home isn’t a show house (thank goodness). It’s where we live and life is sometimes messy.

Now you tell me…

What helps keep your energy up and your motivation high?

 

 

 

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Kaitlyn at Nine Months Old http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/kaitlyn-at-nine-months-old/ http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/kaitlyn-at-nine-months-old/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:59:45 +0000 http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/?p=25834 I’m a little behind on this update, but wanted to record it because Kaitlyn is growing like a cute little weed. She’s an incredible mixture of spunky and sweet and this picture epitomizes my sweet girl: EAT Eating is going strong (love, love baby-led weaning!). She has 3 food meals a day. As always, it is […]

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I’m a little behind on this update, but wanted to record it because Kaitlyn is growing like a cute little weed. She’s an incredible mixture of spunky and sweet and this picture epitomizes my sweet girl:

kaitlyn nine months old

EAT

Eating is going strong (love, love baby-led weaning!). She has 3 food meals a day. As always, it is usually bit of what we are eating, but I’ll show more of the meals themselves Thursday for Munchkin Meals. I’m not sure if it’s in my head, but I feel like she gravitates more towards carbs than Hailey did. She loves spaghetti, potatoes, bread, etc. She also loves frozen peas, blueberries, grapefruit, ground beef, eggs scrambled with veggies, cooked carrots and anything with a lot of flavor. She does not seem to get excited about cheese, bananas, or zucchini. It’s fun to watch her pick around on her plate and grab the bites she wants the most.

9 month old baby led weaning

Nursing is still going strong. In fact, I love it and already have a few sad moments when I think about weaning eventually. We aren’t there yet though. Unlike I did with Hailey, I nurse Kaitlyn on demand through the day. It ends up being about 5-6 times a day. Since she is on the smaller side and it’s been an especially germy winter around North Carolina, I feel comfortable nursing more often.

Kaitlyn has mastered the straw cup now and prefers it to the sippy. She can down pouches in a flash. Eating is still a messy affair, which Koda enjoys. I am excited for summer, when she can eat naked on the porch and we can hose her off afterwards!

nine month old blueberry lover

SLEEP

Though still slightly unpredictable, I’d say sleeping is going pretty well. She goes to bed at 7:00 and goes down rather easily. For all sleep/naps, we don’t bounce or rock her anymore. I snuggle her for a few minutes, then put her in the crib. She will sometimes cry, but usually not for more then 5 minutes until she’s asleep. Typically she sleeps from 7pm-6:30/7am, but this is a rather new development. She naps twice a day. In her ideal world her long nap is in the morning from 9-11, but if we are out, a short 30 minute car nap will suffice. She typically takes a second nap from about 2-3:30.

nine month nap

We are still using the white noise machine, though I’ve started turning it down. It’s time to pull out her sleep giraffe so we can start to phase out the white noise.

PLAY

My busy bee! I must say that a million times a day. She does not stop moving. I turn my head for a second and she’s up the stairs. I go to wash my hands and she’s in the dog’s water bowl, pulling everything out of the drawers or grabbing at whatever Hailey is playing with. She’s incredibly quick and gravitates towards anything she isn’t supposed to play with. It’s amazing how she can find the one thing she shouldn’t have amongst a sea of appropriate toys. I’ve had to fish many a small objects from her mouth.

nine month old ballerina

She’s a happy girl, unless I’m changing her diaper (because she has to stop moving and again, she hates that) or her teeth are coming through. She currently has 2 1/2 teeth, her two bottom ones are in and and her top right incisor is popping about halfway through. I can see her top two teeth starting to break the surface, so the gummy smile is almost gone!

nine months cute

She explores the world with her right little pointer finger and it’s adorable. That one tiny finger pokes at my eyes or in my mouth while nursing, pushes a single pea across her tray, pets Koda and everything. She always has that one finger pointed out.

Her current party tricks include: clapping her hands (she does this all day long), saying “BAH” over and over, shrieking, starting to stand up with out holding on, cruising/walking along the couch and table while holding on, making a mad dash for the stairs, screaming in the car seat until I give her a cracker to munch on, giving hugs and patting me on the back and keeping up with her sister.

sisters

She’s recently been a mama’s girl, which I can’t say I mind. For as busy as she is, she’s also a snuggler, so I pop her in the ergo quite often around the house.

Her 9 month check up is today, so I’ll come back and edit with height and weight. She’s a peanut for sure, but seems to be hitting a growth spurt, as I notice a few more adorable rolls in her thighs. She is still in size two diapers and wears 9 month clothing.

charlotte snow day 2015- 4

Bottom line? She’s so much fun and I just love seeing her smiling face every morning. She keeps me on my toes, yet is such a loving little baby. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up. I think she’s going to love summer- swings, pools, picnics, oh my! Bring it on.

For fun: Hailey at 9 months old

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5 Ways I’m Reining in our Grocery Bill http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/5-ways-im-reining-in-our-grocery-bill/ http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/5-ways-im-reining-in-our-grocery-bill/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:46:58 +0000 http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/?p=25820 Did you know it was possible to bake an entire loaf of bread with a giant bubble/hole through the center of the loaf? Well, it certainly is when you take the dough out of the bread maker and bake it yourself in the oven. But no worries, as the saying goes, when life hands you […]

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Did you know it was possible to bake an entire loaf of bread with a giant bubble/hole through the center of the loaf?

loaf fail

Well, it certainly is when you take the dough out of the bread maker and bake it yourself in the oven. But no worries, as the saying goes, when life hands you bread with a hole, make breakfast!

grown up toad in a hole

Not the saying you’re familiar with? (Shrugs shoulders)

I’ve been baking up a bread storm recently, which I need to get in check because eating a loaf every 2 days by myself is getting excessive. Still, I’m loving it. With the help of my bread maker (I have this one) I’ve enjoyed freshly baked bread for cheaper than a bakery and with no artificial ingredients whatsoever. It not only tastes (and smelllssss) amazing, but it’s saving us some money too.

Recently we’ve cracked down (yet again) on our grocery budget. It’s been rising (yet again) and we wanted to take a closer look as to why. I know one definite reason is we’ve been eating at home more, which we will continue to do for sometime after Saturday night’s circus at Bad Daddy’s.

bad daddys mooresville

High chairs are not Kaitlyn’s thing. The girl likes to be in the action. Maybe we’ll try dinner out again in about 3 years.

I digress…

The focus on the budget isn’t to make the bill as low as possible (though lower certainly is better, amiright?), but to be more aware of what we are spending and keep it in check. Here are 5 ways I’m reining in our grocery expenses…

1. Using up the freezer inventory. Recently we were gifted about 15 pounds of grass-fed beef in different cuts. I know, I know, incredible! I’m making sure to incorporate it into our weekly plan, but while filling the freezer, I came across some frozen chicken and a couple bags of frozen vegetables that had been in there a while. In effort to not let them expire and go to waste, I am writing them into the meal plan. That goes for the pantry too!

2. Making a list to avoid grabbing pricey extras. I’m pretty great at sticking to a list, but sure enough as I’m checking out I see one of these beauties and can’t help myself. Though I love them, I need to account for them in the budget and not just consider them a freebie, as tossing a few in the cart will jack up the bill quickly. So instead, I pull a Santa and make a list, write it out twice (I know I’m not the only one), then stick to it.

grocery list

3. Add in at least one cheaper meal per week. THIS IS BRAND NEW INFORMATION said none of you ever, but I got out of the habit of vegetarian meals, cheaper cuts of meat or leftovers and now that I’m incorporating them again, it’s easy to see a difference in the grocery bill. This crock pot black bean soup is a regular in the rotation, as David says it is his favorite meatless meal at the moment.

4. Buying alcohol separately. The grocery store really isn’t the cheapest place to buy beer and wine, but I find myself doing it anyway because, well, motherhood requires it but doesn’t allow for shopping at multiple stores on a regular basis. This month we created a separate budget for alcohol and bought it all ahead of time. I considered Total Wine, but actually found better prices at Walmart.

walmart wine

This bottle of Josh wine is usually $14-$15 at my grocery store.

5. Investing in from-scratch items. I groaned a little as I had to buy more flour (my favorite) and a new bottle of yeast, together totally about $10. However, once I considered how many pizzas or loaves of bread it would make me, I realized how it is saving me money overall, and for a higher quality product.

basil pizza crust

I hit up both Whole Foods and Harris Teeter for this week’s food haul and it totaled about $165, including 15 cans of no-salt-added green beans for Koda and a couple non-food items like tin foil and an aluminum pan to take some of these to a friend. I feel pretty good about that, especially since we are eating at home now for the foreseeable future.

BONUS: Along the idea of from-scratch, I like to use every ingredient to it’s maximum capacity. Last night’s roasted chicken remains went into the crockpot with my freezer broth bag (#8 here) and is now ready to be used in Thursday’s vegetable beef soup. Last Friday’s extra pizza dough was frozen, then used for Hailey and Kaitlyn’s dinner last night. Leftover rice can be put into soup, etc. I realllllly hate to throw away food and try to get creative about incorporating leftovers wherever I can.

*Looking for lunch ideas? I was too and y’all gave me a ton of great ideas (thank you!) on my facebook page, so check them out if you’re in a rut.

Do you keep a close eye on your grocery bill?

What do you find makes the biggest difference in how much you spend?

 

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Friday Mishmash http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/friday-mishmash/ http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/friday-mishmash/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:58:42 +0000 http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/?p=25807 Fun fact Friday? Friday randoms? Delayed Thursday thoughts? Call it whatever you like. I’m here to list off a bunch of life stuff that is completely unrelated to each other. Wahoo for the weekend! 1. A few people have asked for a Koda update and I’m happy to report that her treatments are going well! […]

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Fun fact Friday? Friday randoms? Delayed Thursday thoughts? Call it whatever you like. I’m here to list off a bunch of life stuff that is completely unrelated to each other. Wahoo for the weekend!

1. A few people have asked for a Koda update and I’m happy to report that her treatments are going well! Her lymph nodes are shrinking and the doctor thinks that by next week she could be in complete remission. I’m cautiously optimistic that she will be, but again, what is most important to me is that right now she is feeling good. She is being spoiled and is a happy dog.

snow vizsla

2. I am interviewing a woman today in hopes of getting a little help around here. I don’t really want to use the word nanny because I really am only looking for about 4-6 hours a week of helping hands, but I’m feeling stretched too thin lately. I have some guilt about this because my #1 priority is being with my girls, but I’m hoping that a couple hours of help will actually result in me being more present with them, mentally and emotionally. Hailey is at an age that can be demanding and Kaitlyn is just as sweet and busy as can be. Kaitlyn is usually up by 6:15, which means to get anything done, I’d need to get up consistently at 5:00 and still, that would only give me an hour a day since overlapping naps are becoming more rare. Over explanation? Yes, I thought so. It’s the guilt talking.

busy baby

3. Have you seen these?

kalettes

They are a hybrid between kale and Brussels sprouts sooooo yeah, pretty much the healthiest thing you could possibly eat, right? Also, they are delicious tossed in a little olive oil, sprinkled with kosher salt and garlic powder and roasted at 375 for about 10-15 minutes.

roasted kalettes

4. Did you know that next weekend is daylight savings? Does that seem incredibly soon to anyone else? Despite the fact I’m sure it will wreak havoc on Kaitlyn’s sleeping schedule, I’m really excited about the sign of spring. I know my northern friends are rolling their eyes hard at this, but this is why I live in the south. I can’t handle months and months of snow. A few fun days to check the box and I’m ready for sunshine.

2015-02-26 11.22.04 (1024x768)

Next Wednesday is supposed to be 71 and stormy. I’ll take it.

5. Completely random, but thoughts on pedestal tubs?

pedastal tub

Love? Hate?

I like claw foot, but pedestal is growing on me.

And one more design question for those that are savvy like that…

showers… door-less? Or not?

That’s all I can muster for today. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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10 Kitchen Tasks for a Three-Year-Old http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/10-kitchen-tasks-for-a-three-year-old/ http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/10-kitchen-tasks-for-a-three-year-old/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:38:57 +0000 http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/?p=25793 Yesterday was a doozie of a day! I did get in a serious arm/back/shoulder workout in the morning which has me barely able to type this morning. If only wordpress had a talk-to-text option like my phone…. Being that the weatherman predicted a few inches of snow, I worried I wouldn’t get Koda to her […]

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Yesterday was a doozie of a day! I did get in a serious arm/back/shoulder workout in the morning which has me barely able to type this morning. If only wordpress had a talk-to-text option like my phone….

Being that the weatherman predicted a few inches of snow, I worried I wouldn’t get Koda to her treatment today so I begged the doc to take her at the other office in Matthews, which happens to be a solid hour away. Blah blah blah, we basically ended up spending the entire day in the car and the girls were troopers. I asked Hailey what she wanted for lunch since she’d been so cooperative…

whole foods clt

Obviously the sushi obsession is still alive and well. The kids area at the Charlotte Whole Foods was perfect for a car break, plus I could stock up on a couple essentials (bacon and wine) while we were there.

Good thing too, because those few inches came. About 3-4 if I had to guess. I foresee a pajama day ahead. I am stocked up on glue and googly eyes so I imagine there are many crafts in our future, along with my favorite snow/rain/too hot day activity- playing in the kitchen!

There are so many ways to get kids involved and I wanted to share a few of my favorite ways Hailey helps me out in the kitchen.

kitchen tasks perfect for a three year old to help with

1. Pulling leaves off of herbs or kale. This task is super safe and can keep them busy for quite a while. Hailey also enjoys this one because we smell the leaves, taste them and she guesses which herbs they are, which turns it into a game as well.

picking herbs off stems

2. Using the salad spinner. This one is great starting at a toddler age. Now Hailey can rinse the leaves, shake them out and spin them. Watching it fly around in circles is always a hit.

3. Pounding chicken. I know raw chicken isn’t what you’d think of letting kids play with, but if you prepare it and have it wrapped in wax paper or plastic, it’s a lot of fun to let your child take a few swings with the mallet.

pounding chicken

4. Using the garlic press for things other than garlic. The garlic press is a really fun kitchen tool, though squeezing garlic can take some real hand strength. Instead, I’ve let her put avocado or fresh mozzarella in it to create “worms” that are easy to squeeze and fun to eat.

5. Cracking eggs. This one might have a bit of a learning curve, but I’m impressed at how well Hailey can now crack an egg. It’s one of her favorite kitchen tasks.

cracking eggs

6. Forming dough. Whenever we make pizza dough, I break some off and let Hailey go crazy with it. Playing with dough is great for developing hand strength, but it’s also fun to see what shapes she creates. Whatever she comes up with, we bake it, and she gets a big kick out of it.

7. Measuring ingredients. The secret with this one is to give them a separate bowl. If you need a tsp of baking powder and let them measure over the main dry ingredient bowl, you’re bound to end up with a 1/2 cup. I let Hailey practice by measuring tablespoons of flour into her own bowl.

kids measuring ingredients

8. Cutting soft foods. For Christmas, Hailey received a set of three Curious Chef knives. They are sharp enough to cut soft foods like banana, pears, avocados, etc, without posing a real risk of slicing a finger. This is one of my favorite learning tools!

cutting soft ingredients

9. Pushing the buttons. Hailey loves setting the temperature on the oven, pushing the blender buttons and setting the timer. I like that it helps her to recognize her numbers and understand how some of our appliances work. Plus, the loud noises that accompany most kitchen appliances always make her jump and laugh.

pushing buttons

10. Wiping down the counters. Making a mess in the kitchen is great fun… if someone else cleans it up! I started having Hailey help clean to teach her a lesson about cleaning, but it turns out she loves it. I use these green cleaners so I feel good about letting her spray like crazy.

Basically I try to pull her in the kitchen with whatever I am making. She loves to help while tasting every single ingredient. I like the help (most days) and believe that having her hands in the mix does lead to her being more adventurous in trying new foods.

Now to decide what to make today…

Did you help out in the kitchen as a kid?

What was your favorite task?

Do your kids help out in the kitchen?

What do they love to do?

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Girls Night In http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/girls-night-in/ http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/girls-night-in/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:54:19 +0000 http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/?p=25783 Yesterday’s snow took me by surprise.   A beautiful inch and a half that left me scrambling to rearrange appointments and scraping the bottom of our craft drawer. Fortunately it allowed me ample time to make breakfast.   And second breakfast. On snow days I eat like a hobbit.   I’m still digging the zoodle […]

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Yesterday’s snow took me by surprise.

lake norman snow day

 

A beautiful inch and a half that left me scrambling to rearrange appointments and scraping the bottom of our craft drawer. Fortunately it allowed me ample time to make breakfast.

breakfast

 

And second breakfast.

On snow days I eat like a hobbit.

lunch zoodles

 

I’m still digging the zoodle trend, this time with onions, tomatoes, red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of feta.

I felt a little wild and tried my hand at spiralizing a sweet potato, which turned out to be an epic fail.

baby food fail

Long, stringy pieces of baked sweet potato get stuck awkwardly in a baby’s mouth? Who knew. I took one for the team and gobbled them down myself.

The snow stopped by noon, but was still pretty to look at.

strawberry smoothie

 

I did my best to summon warmer weather by blending up a strawberry smoothie. Then I remember it’s only February and I need to just chill out (pun intended).

We had a couple contractors to the house yesterday, which made the day pass quickly. Before I knew it, I was downing a bowl of leftover black bean soup and getting the girls ready for bed.

black bean soup

 

I was grateful the streets were clear because even if they weren’t I probably would have risked going out after the girls were down. My play group has been trying to organize a girls’ night for some time and we were determined to make it happen, come h*ll or high… snow drifts.

girls night snack spread

 

We debated going out to dinner, but Alise offered to host us and how she managed this spread after putting both her kids down is beyond me. Did I mention her house was spotless too? Teach me your ways!

The night was awesome. Four of the six of us were able to make it, and though we wondered what it might be like to try and carry on a conversation without the screaming of preschoolers or the mischief of busy babies, we quickly found out that we are totally capable of adult conversation that didn’t 100% have to do with our kids. Who knew?!

girls night

 

Girlfriends are the best. Conversation flowed, as did the wine, from discussing marriage and family to a game (my first game) of Cards Against Humanity, so it’s safe to say we covered the full gamut of topics.

I didn’t get to bed until close to midnight, which explains why my wit is dulled this morning, but hey, I’m up and at ‘em and that’s half the battle, right?

We’re expected to get more snow tonight, so a trip to Michael’s is in order because we need craft glue and more googly eyes, perhaps some more sticker… and wine. Michael’s should really have a wine section. But first, I’m going to get my workout on at BBC if I can push through the DOMS I still have hanging around from my last class…

Work out then wine… balance.

How do you fill up snow days?

 

 

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Britt’s Bytes http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/britts-bytes/ http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/britts-bytes/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 12:17:28 +0000 http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/?p=25778 I woke up this morning to snow and writer’s block. Isn’t it funny how you can have a couple of weeks where your mojo is really flowing, then a day just hits you when … nothing. I spent 10 minutes combing through my list of blog ideas but nothing was really speaking to me, then […]

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I woke up this morning to snow and writer’s block. Isn’t it funny how you can have a couple of weeks where your mojo is really flowing, then a day just hits you when … nothing. I spent 10 minutes combing through my list of blog ideas but nothing was really speaking to me, then I got lost clicking through Lindsay’s Bean Bytes. Every week she lists links to great posts she’s found through the week. I have no idea how she manages to read so many great blogs on the regular, but it inspired me to share a few posts I’ve enjoyed lately too!

britt bytes

but first a random image I generated because you know how I feel about picture-less posts

Food 

Mushroom Pasta with Goat Cheese by Pinch of Yum

Coconut Butter Salmon by Peanut Butter Fingers

Curried Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls by Back to Her Roots

Spicy Roasted Garlic and Walnut Hummus by The Lean Green Bean

Sweet Potato Toddler Snacks by Little House Living

Cooking with Toddlers: Naan by Cooking with Toddlers

Family

Is It Worth It? by S/V Field Trip

Manipulative Math by Yes I want Cake

To Be a Mom by Sometimes Sweet

A Parent’s Marriage has a Significant Affect on a Child’s Brain Development by Dr. Stathas

Five Conversations to Have Before You Get Married by The Lunchbox Diaries

Adoption isn’t a Fall Back Plan by Delights and Delectables

Health

3 Supposedly Healthy Products You Should Rid From Your Kitchen by Eating Made Easy

Why Children Should Avoid Artificial Dyes by Mommy Run Fast

How to Choose the Right Supplements for Your Family by Mission: Healthy, Happy Life

What Kids Really Mean when They Say I Don’t Like It by Raise Healthy Eaters

Five Unexpected Things I Learned from Intuitive Eating by South Meets West Coast

Blogging

5 Ways to Improve Photography with Artificial Light by Pinch of Yum

5 Non-Obvious Things that Every Blog Needs by Oddly Lovely

How to Write a Recipe by Rachel Cooks

Share with me…

What’s a great post you’ve read or written lately?

I’m always looking for new blogs to add to my bloglovin’ so help a girl out!

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Weekend Rambles http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/weekend-rambles/ http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/weekend-rambles/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 12:25:13 +0000 http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/?p=25762 I’ve been sitting here thinking of a creative or fun way to share my weekend, but honestly, I’ve been staring at the screen for 10 minutes annnnnnnd nothing. I’ll come back and edit if the coffee kicks in, but otherwise, here is a non-cohesive jumble about my weekend… Friday was my birthday! Wait, no, that’s […]

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I’ve been sitting here thinking of a creative or fun way to share my weekend, but honestly, I’ve been staring at the screen for 10 minutes annnnnnnd nothing. I’ll come back and edit if the coffee kicks in, but otherwise, here is a non-cohesive jumble about my weekend…

Friday was my birthday!

Wait, no, that’s not until September, but it sure felt like it because my friend Jackie gave us a ridiculous amount of local, grass-fed beef. Cartwheels might have ensued.

grassfed beef

Did you know you could do a cow share? I love the concept and would have totally gone in on it if we had a large freezer. In the meantime, many virtual hugs to Jackie for pretty much making my month.

Last week David and I had a come to Jesus moment about our budget. We admitted we’ve been flying by the seats of our pants, and since I actually thrive on structure, I’m eager to welcome back a food budget into our lives. We’re increasing the grocery portion so we can significantly cut down on the eating out portion. And homemade pizza really is better than anything you can get out anyway.

homemade pizza

But the big event of the weekend was David’s work party in Charlotte on Saturday night. You know it was a big deal because I tried to curl my hair ala Courtney.

curled hair novice

Hmm… I would exactly call us hair twins, but at least my hair didn’t hang flat against my face, so I’ll take it.

We grabbed a drink before the event at Upstream in Phillips Place where the Moscow Mule knocked my socks off. I wish I remembered everything in it but I know it had pineapple Grey Goose and of course ginger beer. Delicious!

upstream charlotte moscow mule

The work event itself was a lot of fun. It was a casino night theme. I was surprised David actually brought me because when it comes to games, I can get quite intense. I basically set up shop at the Black Jack table all night. One of David’s co-workers was my guru and we raked in ALL the fake money.

black jack

Holding on 14 felt a little crazy but it worked more than once. Take me to Vegas!! (Or don’t…. that could be very dangerous).

The night was a blast. We felt Hailey was old enough to hold down the fort, so we stayed out until 1:30 (say whaaa??) then got to spend the night in a glorious, quiet, hotel room.

Kidding, obviously. I can’t tell Mema thank you enough (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU) for coming and not only wrangling the girls solo, but making it so much fun for them. Asking for overnight help is quite the favor at the moment, as Koda is getting up once or twice a night to go potty (hopefully that will be better as we continue to decrease the prednisone) and Kaitlyn’s new favorite breakfast time is 5:30am.

Mema handled it all like the pro that she is and David and I even got to experience a breakfast out, sans kids.

another broken egg cafe

Do have any idea how relaxing and wonderful that is?!

Plus, Another Broken Egg Cafe perfectly executed the poached egg on my black bean Benedict, pretty much making it the best morning ever.

perfectly poached

Back home, we fell into the normal Sunday afternoon routine of meal planning…

meal plan snuggles

And grocery shopping.

whole foods cart

Last week I spent about $200 for a big haul at Lowe’s foods, but was incredibly disappointed that several of the organic produce items I purchased were rotten. Seriously, 2 peppers were black and moldy on the inside and my baby kale was slimy and gross- that’s about $12 worth of wasted money. I returned to Whole Foods this week ($136 – adding in a vegetarian meal here or there proves to save some serious $$$) because I have yet to be disappointed by any of their produce.

We wrapped up the weekend with Mexican (these enchiladas never let me down)

enchiladas

and a little reading before calling it an early night.

This week I’m focusing on getting back in the workout game. After school being cancelled all last week, I fell off the wagon a little and I am anxious to hit it hard this week!

What’s your favorite weekend food?

Mine is clearly pizza and Mexican, so checking both these boxes this weekend was pretty stellar!

 

 

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Baby Led Weaning: A Blended Approach http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/baby-led-weaning-a-blended-approach/ http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/baby-led-weaning-a-blended-approach/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 12:08:58 +0000 http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/?p=25743 This post is brought to you by a Healthy Slice of Life Sponsor I love getting emails from y’all and use them as a compass to guide me towards topics you find interesting. One of the most common topics I get questions about it baby-led weaning. Obviously, we as parents care a whole lot about […]

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This post is brought to you by a Healthy Slice of Life Sponsor

I love getting emails from y’all and use them as a compass to guide me towards topics you find interesting. One of the most common topics I get questions about it baby-led weaning. Obviously, we as parents care a whole lot about our children. How to introduce solid foods is a big question in many new mom’s minds, and concerns about safety is definitely a top runner.

At 6 months old, the gag reflex in babies is located further forward on the tongue. This acts as a natural safe-guard against choking, as the baby is more apt to gag (which is not choking) and spit out a food that he or she is not prepared to handle before it gets to the back of the throat. Because of this, learning to eat solid foods closer to 6 months of age can actually be safer than delaying it a few months when the gag reflex has moved further back.

Still, I get a lot of emails asking if it is OK to take a blended approach to introducing solids. The answer is NO.

I’m kidding (winky face).

The answer is that you should do what makes the most sense for you and your family and for some moms, that means taking a blended approach between traditional spoon-feeding and baby-led weaning.

baby led weaning muffins

With Kaitlyn (and Hailey) I took a direct baby-led weaning approach, starting with baked sweet potato slices and steamed broccoli florets. However, Kaitlyn has experienced a spoon before, as I’ve helped her eat yogurt a few times, and she’s even slurped down a few purees (how many people are kicking themselves for not creating the genius little pouches or fruit and veggie puree? Just me?). I keep pouches in my purse at all times in case Kaitlyn needs a snack on the go.

Clearly I’m not opposed to more spoon-friendly foods and think that a blended approach to introducing solids can be a great method if it helps mom and dad feel more comfortable with the process.

Whatever approach you take, I do think that sticking with whole foods is a great idea.  For that reason, I was impressed when Plum Organics sent me their new line of Hello Meals to check out.

They are made entirely of real food, which you can see by reading the ingredient list or you can just look directly at the mix. Hello broccoli!

plum organic hello meals read food

Plum Organics, a brand I trust and that I’ve used since Hailey was a baby, recently released a new option for babies that are 6 months and older called Hello Meals. They are made with whole grains, real fruits and veggies and a hint of herb or spice. I’m talking REAL food like oats, quinoa, spinach, basil, pumpkin, chia seeds, banana and more.

It’s simple to add a bit of hot water, stir and in a few minutes you have a complete meal for your baby that is certified organic and nutrient-dense.

Personally I loved that there is still some texture to the meal too. If you are uncomfortable starting with a piece of steamed broccoli, I think this is a great middle ground, as your baby will still get to experience texture beyond a super smooth puree.

On their website, Plum Organics has some great videos showing how easy it is to mix in additional foods to create an endless combinations of nutritious meals from one of their 2 dinner or 2 breakfast combinations. I loved that concept and thought how great the mixes would be to keep on hand as a base for more advanced baby-led weaning meals, like muffins.

plum organics hello meals muffins- 1

When I saw the Apple Cinnamon and Quinoa Oatmeal pouch, I immediately thought of muffins. Easy to assemble, perfect for little hands to hold and packed full of goodness, including added protein and fat of an egg.

plum organics hello meals muffins- 2

plum organics hello meals muffins- 3

Three little muffins means that breakfast is covered for a day or two and I felt good knowing how these were full of real food, nothing artificial.

apple oat muffins baby led weaning muffins

Without any added sugars, these muffins are not very sweet, which I prefer for baby meals.

4.8 from 9 reviews
Apple Oat Muffins for Baby-Led Weaning
 
Serves: 3 muffins
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Packet Plum Organics Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Oatmeal
  • ¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Mix together wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, thorough combine dry ingredients.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Spoon batter into three silicone baking cups or a greased muffin tin.
  5. Bake for 14 minutes, until baked through.
  6. Let cool and serve.

I’ve given them to Kaitlyn whole or cut in half with a little butter.

hello meals muffins

With either method, she enthusiastically approves.

happy baby led weaning baby

Whether you prefer traditional spoon feeding or baby led weaning, these pouches make a great staple to keep on hand. I’m looking forward to using the Broccoli and Cheese Pasta pouch to create a simplified version of these broccoli cheddar quinoa bites, bypassing the finely chopping/food processing of the broccoli step.

If you are interested in trying these out, here is your chance, as Plum Organics is offering a giveaway!

Plum Organics- hello meals giveaway box

One of you will receive 4 boxes of Hello Meal packets (1 box of each flavor) plus a variety pack of 15 of Plum Organics puree pouches.

The giveaway will run through next Friday.

To enter, leave a comment telling me which Hello Meals variety you are most excited to try!

This post is sponsored by Plum Organics.Plum_logo_88x31

 

 

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My Spring and Summer Bucket List http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/spring-summer-bucket-list/ http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/spring-summer-bucket-list/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 12:10:51 +0000 http://www.ahealthysliceoflife.com/?p=25740 I’d never survive up north. Really. Kudos to all of you that are enduring a real winter. Down here we are on day two of really cold temperatures and I’m dreaming of sunscreen, lightning bugs and watermelon wedges. Weak, I tell you. Instead of fighting it, I’m indulging my warm weather fantasies by listing out all […]

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I’d never survive up north. Really. Kudos to all of you that are enduring a real winter. Down here we are on day two of really cold temperatures and I’m dreaming of sunscreen, lightning bugs and watermelon wedges. Weak, I tell you.

Instead of fighting it, I’m indulging my warm weather fantasies by listing out all the things I want to do so I can remind myself of them when I’m whining about bug bites, sticky car seats and humidity-soaked frizzy hair…. because you know it’s going to happen.

summer bucket list

1. Go to the beach. In the words of Chandler Bing, could I BE any more cliche? Luckily we already have one beach getaway on the books and I’m giddy. Something in me yearns to see the ocean stretched out endlessly in front of me. And if her adoration for snow activities is any indication of what is to come, I think Hailey is at a great age to enjoy the heck out of the beach!

2. Grow something. Fingers crossed that 2015 is the year I finally turn my black thumb green. I have my expectations set really (really) low because the last time I tried to garden, I believe I yielded a single green pepper, a couple strawberries and some cherry tomatoes all summer long. I killed my squash plant. People told me that wasn’t even possible (insert evil chuckle).

Right now I am considering cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and some herbs. David is strongly suggesting we add in a spicy pepper of sorts, too, but hey, let’s not get too carried away. My friend Alise suggested our playgroup (there are 6 of us) all switch up what we grow so we can have our own sort of crop share. I think it sounds like a fantastic idea! (If you are currently enjoying your glory days of youth and reading this, I’m sorry, but this is the excitement your future holds… giddy conversations about basil and summer squash. In the words of Mr. Mellencamp, hold onto 16 as long as you cannnn….).

Just kidding, I love it.

3. Go camping. If you are thinking that this sounds a bit adventurous considering we have a three-year-old and a 9 month old, you’re right. Still, as soon as we got Koda’s diagnosis this jumped to the top of our to-do list. Fortunately in North Carolina there are a plethora of gorgeous camp grounds within our reach. I’m hoping we can find a weekend in spring and go for a day/overnight trip. It’s sure to be chaotic and I think it sounds fantastic.

4. Can pickles and one other thing. I canned pickles two years ago using my Nannie’s recipe and they turned out great. We gave them away as Christmas presents and ate them ourselves, leading them to disappear quickly. We skipped last year because our hands were a bit full, but plan to return with a vengeance and make a couple different types of pickles.

Ideally I’d love to can ALL the things, tomatoes, peaches, jams, etc, but since I am at least hoping to make these realistic goals, I’m going to choose one other thing to start. I’m leaning towards jam, but only time will tell (I see you sitting there on the edge of your seat with excitement…)

5. Host a big cookout. We are fortunate to live in a pretty great summer time house and we just completed our screened in porch at the end of last year. We talk all the time about having people over, but rarely make it happen because… laziness? Exhaustion? This summer I want to plan a big ‘ol cookout, complete with jumping off the dock, kids and dogs chasing lightning bugs and David’s ‘lake mix’ playlist rocking in the background.

6. Make ice cream. We have an ice creamer maker that David’s parents gave us way back when. For some reason it intimidates the heck out of me, which is hilarious because I hear they are incredibly easy to use. So this summer, I want to conquer my fear and make some delicious ice cream! My mind is going wild with possible flavor combinations, but let’s be real. David is a vanilla guy (in the ice cream context, not a jab at his personality … which is sparkling in case you were wondering), so I foresee a lot of tries in creating the perfect vanilla, then tossing in some strawberries for H.

7. Go on a picnic. Honestly, it doesn’t even matter where. It can be in our front yard for all I care. In fact, it’s probably best to have it there so I can hose everyone off afterwards. One thing (among many) that is really cool about having kids is rediscovering the simple joys. We’ve taken endless ‘nature walks’ down the same paths around our house and each time Hailey is filled with wonder as she searches for clues and giddily points out colorful flowers or berries. Kids are so cool y’all. It’s totally worth me slapping together a few sandwiches and grabbing an over-sized blanket.

Feeling wild today and ending it at 7! Also, Kaitlyn is crying for me to get her so that helped convince me to stop here.

What am I missing?

What is on your warm weather bucket list this year?

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