Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Healthy Chicken Parmesan

Have I ever talked about the first meal I ever made for Brandon (not counting the burned popcorn)?

It was Chicken Parmesan.

Brandon had just returned home from Afghanistan and came to Hays for a few days to visit me and other friends. Since this was the first meal I'd be making him, I wanted it to be extra special and delicious--I decided on making this Chicken Parm and it was excellent! We had dinner by candlelight, drank wine, listened to Sinatra, and just talked.. it was a wonderful night that will forever be etched in my memory.

Fast forward four years and we had this again while we watching Duck Dynasty in the living room and listening to Jackson yelling at the cat.. what a difference a few years make (but I wouldn't trade it for the world)!

Now that I'm a health conscious mamma with a slowing metabolism, I try to prepare dinners that are light, nutritious, and tasty--and the way I prepared this Chicken Parmesan was just that! Here is the recipe I used with the alterations:

Chicken Parmesan (Adapted from Southern Food)
Anngredients:
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • seasoned bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese (made with skim milk)
  • 1 jar (16 oz) heart healthy spaghetti sauce
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Whisk together the egg and milk. Dip the chicken breasts in milk and egg mixture and then in bread crumbs. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in the hot oil on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Set chicken in a baking dish.
  2. Slice 8 pieces of mozzarella cheese and put two on each chicken breast. Pour 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce over all. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a little more mozzarella and bake at 350° for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly. 
  3. Serve with whole wheat or garden vegetable spaghetti and a spinach salad. 
By using skim dairy products like milk and mozzarella cheese, you're cutting out a significant amount of fat from the dish; the garden spaghetti and heart healthy spaghetti sauce are both low in fat and each contain at least 40% of your recommended daily vegetables.

This recipe is rich, delicious, and perfect for picky children (or husbands) who refuse to eat their vegetables!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jackson's 7 Month Update

Didn't I just post Jax's 6 month update?!

Where has this month gone??

Ugh!

This has been a crazy busy month with lots of new and exciting adventures for our boy. Jackson is seriously the perfect baby; he's laid back, always smiling, and sleeps like an angel. He brings so much joy to our lives and I can't imagine life without him.

Here's what we've been up to this month:

Weight: 17 lbs. (50%)

Length: 28 1/2 inches (75%)

Nicknames: Jax, Stinker, Bubbas, Fun Size Brandon, Kiddo, Cheeks

Wearing: Mostly 9 Month clothes & Size 3 diapers.

Sleep: He's still an excellent sleeper (since he's sleeping with us..)! A friend turned us on to breathable crib bumpers so we bought one and plan to start crib training soon.. just like every other month

Jax likes: Bitsy, little kids/babies, phones, rolling around, talking, mommy's slippers, being interacted with, peek-a-boo, story time at B&N, weekly music class at the library, books, running errands, "helping" with laundry & dishes, Sesame Street, eating big boy food, when daddy gets home from work.

Jax dislikes: Being left alone for too long, being tired, when Bitsy sits just out of his reach, being bored, loud noises.

Food: We're eating solids! I've been feeding Jax solids at lunch time and so far he seems to really like it. His favorites so far are Greek yogurt, banana, Greek yogurt with carrot, pretzels, and pickles. I'm hoping to begin incorporating more finger foods into his diet in the next week.

Mom & Dad's Favorite Things: How funny & laid back he is, his giant smile first thing in the morning, listening to his jabbers and giggles, and watching him explore the world around him.

Teeth: Nada. I thought for sure his two bottom teeth were poking through but they haven't.. Poor drooly guy!

Happenings: First weekly story time at B&N; first non-family babysitter; first time on the (golf) course; Uncle Joey's 21st birthday; first real foods; first 4th of July; lots of family time with Grammy, Papa Tony, Uncle Joey, Great Aunt Nancy & Uncle Rolf, Great Aunt Brigette & Uncle Ed, and cousins; first weekly music class at the library; meeting cousins Sam, Sydney, & Scott; lunch with Julianne, Taylor, and his new friend Daniel. 

~I can't get over how sweet and good-natured Jax is! I was severely colicky and needy as a baby/toddler (which I am often reminded of by my parents..) and thought for sure that I'd have the mother's curse and would end up with a difficult baby. Jackson is the exact opposite of that, thank goodness! He smiles at everyone, hardly ever cries (except in church--it never fails!), and is easy to entertain. He really is the perfect baby! 

~We celebrated Jackson's first 4th of July with my parents, brother, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Rolf, and dear family friends--it was a lovely evening! Jim & Ilse (our friends) hosted us at their beautiful home; we spent the entire evening in their HGTV-esque backyard and enjoyed lots of good food & drinks, laughter, and fireworks. My little social butterfly loved siting on everyone's lap (and by social butterfly, I mean Jax--not Brandon), listening to Jim play the harmonica (adorable video below), staring at the fire pit, and gazing up at the colorful fireworks. 
Also: Jax is now (kind of) sitting up on his own.
~As I previously mentioned, I've started taking Jax to story time at Barnes & Noble every Monday and to music class at the library every Thursday--I'm pretty sure it's the highlight of both our weeks! Jax loves watching and interacting with other kids and I like being able to get out of the house for a bit and talk to other moms. I have also decided that the cutest thing ever is when a toddler sees "Baby" (Jax) and comes over to talk to him/pet his hair/smile at him; Jax and I both always get a huge kick out of it! 







Monday, July 21, 2014

The Best High I Ever Had.

Have you ever gotten a really amazing high that lasted the entire day?

I have--and it was the best ever!

In fact, it happened just a few weeks ago.. let me tell you all about it.

Two Saturdays ago, I had that itch that I just couldn't scratch; you know the one I'm talking about? I tried convincing myself it wasn't worth it.. we're trying to save for a house and I didn't need to be spending our hard earned money on my bad habit.

I tried to distract myself but it didn't work.

When Brandon woke up Saturday morning, I told him I needed to get my fix.

I needed to go thrifting.

Wait.. what did you think I was talking about?!

Brandon, Jackson, and I headed out of the house late Saturday morning on a mission to find some "new" pajamas for Jax (we're very blessed in that we were gifted with boxes of our nephews old baby clothes.. however, Mr. Jax continues to grow and is too big for most of the pajamas now). The first stop on our trip was the gigantic Arc down the street--I figured they'd have tons of pajamas at a good price!

Nope. Not at all.

The plan was to get 12 Month PJs (Jax is a tall guy and currently wears 9 Month everything) that he could start wearing in the next month or two.. Arc had nothing.

Bummer.

The next closest thrift store was (Habitat for Humanity) ReStore--we'd never been to a ReStore before but we'd heard they have nice furniture at a decent price so we figured we'd at least go in to peruse.

You guys; I have a new favorite thrift store.

ReStore was HUGE and had tons of furniture, clothes, appliances, cabinetry, and more--for next to nothing!
I loved this desk.. I'm in desperate need of a desk/home office space but we literally have NO room for any new furniture. *sigh* Wouldn't that be gorgeous repainted white with black hardware?
The price of that desk.. it pained me to leave it! Stupid tiny apartment..
Anyway, after scouring all of the furniture we made our way back to the clothes.

I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of baby clothes but we hit the jackpot.
Kinda hard to see but the boy's pajamas were $1.25 each. Boom!
We went through the boy's pajama drawer and found 7 different pairs of like new Carters brand PJs for $1.25 each. SOLD! We grabbed all of the 12 Month ones and made a quick beeline over to the women's clothing to see if anything caught my eye. 
They had several shirts from The Loft for only $2 each.. not bad!
After making a quick trip around the outdoor and cabinetry sections, we headed to the cash register to pay for our purchases and received the surprise of a lifetime. Our total for 7 pairs of gently used Carters brand pajamas and my adorable cupcake shirt was $4.87. 

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?! 

Come to find out, Saturdays are $.50 baby clothes and $1 adult clothing day. 
$3.50 for the lot.
I was seriously on Cloud 9 the rest of the day and had to text my mom and Mamma Nancy to brag about our purchase (I am not a humble person when it comes to finding a good deal). After leaving ReStore, Brandon and I celebrated with Burger Saturday at Rock Bottom Brewery. 
The Bourbonzola Burger--BEST burger ever!
Brandon and I were both really impressed with ReStore and plan to frequent it often--I also plan to donate all of our clothes, furniture, and whatnot to them in the future. If you have one in your area, I highly encourage you to check it out; you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book List 2014

Reading is one of my favorite hobbies.

My mom and aunts instilled a love of reading in me when I was young and it's something I've carried with me my entire life and hope to pass on to my children.

Speaking of children, having a curious baby makes it really, really difficult to read as much as I like. The second I pull out my Kindle, Jax stops whatever he's doing (whether it be nursing, playing, or sometimes sleeping) and grabs for it.. I have to wait until the kid is in a deep sleep before I can begin to immerse myself in the (virtual) pages.

Oy!

With all of that being said, I haven't been able to read as much these last 6 months as I normally do which is a bummer. USA Today just released their best-selling books for the first half of 2014 and I was kind of surprised to see that I've only read a few of the best sellers! Here's the list:

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
4. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
6. Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
8. Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson
9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
10. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
11. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
12. Divergent Series Complete Box Set by Veronica Roth
13. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
14. Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts
15. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
16. Sycamore Row by John Grisham
17. The Target by David Baldacci
18. Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss
19. Looking for Alaska by John Green
20. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
21. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
22. Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
23. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney
24. Inferno by Dan Brown
25. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I've read Gone Girl, The Husband's Secret (which is the best book I've read in awhile--if you haven't read it yet, you must!), and am almost finished with The Fault in Our Stars

That's it. 

I am slacking! 

In my defense, I've also read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (which was just okay), Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (wasn't a fan), That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay (meh), One More Thing by B.J. Novak (a collection of quirky short stories; I liked it!), and several issues of Country Living magazine.. but I'm still way behind on my yearly average!

Which books on this list have you read? And which do you recommend?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thumb Print Tea Cookies

Have I ever mentioned how much I love tea and anything tea related?

I have?

Oh (Was it the tea party bridal shower that gave it away?).

Anyway, today I'm sharing a sweet, buttery, and oh so crumbly thumb (fork) print cookie that's perfect for your next tea party, special occasion, or crummy Monday.

Adapted from All Recipes
Yields 5 dozen cookies
  •  1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Shape cookie dough into balls. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Dent each cookie with thumb.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
Serve these thumb (err.. fork) print cookies with a cup of black tea and enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Baby Food Bonanza

Well, it finally happened.

Jackson turned 6 months old and continues to get older and older (against his mama's wishes)..

..psh, kids.

Jax's doctor told us at his 4-month well check that we could start him on solids whenever but I just wasn't ready for that he just didn't seem ready at that point; he'd been thriving on a diet of breast milk alone so solids didn't seem necessary. Anyway, I'd decided that 6-months seemed like a good time to start him on purees, so that's when we began.

These past few weeks have definitely been an adventure.. a messy, messy adventure.
Mmm.. pureed carrots (and on an unrelated note, whoever came up with the idea of dividing up/storing baby food in ice cube trays is a freaking genius)!
I decided right off the bat that I wanted to make Jax's food because:
  1. Pre-made baby food is expensive and I am cheap.
  2. I have control over what goes into his food--the pureed carrots are straight up organic carrots and water (no added salt, sugars, artificial enhancers, etc.).
  3. The foods are kind of fun to make! Upon the suggestion of another mamma (the fabulous Ruthie Hart), I have been using Wholesome Baby Food for recipes and tips--it's so simple, convenient, and so far I'm loving it!
What does Jax think of solid foods, you ask?
(Clockwise from top right: Banana, pretzel, Organic Greek yogurt)
Loves: Banana, Greek yogurt, salt off pretzels, pickles
Meh: Carrots, Greek yogurt w/carrot mixed in
Hates: Sweet peas, organic green beans, watermelon

So yeah... we're not off to the best start in the healthy green vegetable department (he must take after his dad?) but we're working on it! Jax enjoys "helping" me feed him (refer to picture of him w/Greek yogurt) and thinks he's such a big boy eating solids. I'm looking forward to continuing on this exciting new journey with my little guy.. I just wish the time wasn't going by so dang quickly! 

What foods did you start your baby on? Any tips for this first timer? I need all the help I can get!

P.S. We need a high chair. Pronto. Off to Target I go! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Funnies

No need to adjust your screens, folks..

..the Funnies are indeed here again!

Since I'm getting back into my blogging groove, I figured it's time to bring back the FFs.

Enjoy these summer themed Memes & eCards--I'll see you back here on Monday!
That's my kind of camping!
This is how I felt about summers in humid Kansas!

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