Friday, January 29, 2016

Five on Friday!

Happy Friday!

one. We made it two whole weeks before throwing in the towel on the shared nursery. We really, really, really wanted this to work so bad and still hope that we can give it another shot in a few months, but the reality was Thomas was waking Caroline up too many times throughout the night. During the first year there are so many growth spurts and sleep regressions so Thomas' sleep is just too unpredictable these days. He'd wake and cry for a bit and Caroline would get super upset which would result in both of us having to get up, each take a baby and rock them back to sleep. Then we'd do it all over again a few hours later. Since we've moved Thomas into his own room, Caroline has gone back to her 12 hours of sleep (for now anyway) and we've been able to let Thomas cry it out a bit which has really helped stretch him from 7 pm - 6 am. Any mamas with advice on timing for room sharing?
two. Since our main changing station is in Caroline's room we'll continue to change all diapers in there so I don't have to stock both rooms with all our necessities. Because we have a LOT of "necessities." I love talking to other moms about their must-have products, I thought I'd share some of my diaper station essentials today!

First up, we have the diaper genie and love it although these days we find ourselves bi-passing the genie with some of Caroline's diapers and heading straight to our outside trashcan. There is nothing worse than toddler poop. My only complaint about the diaper genie is the cost of the refill bags. We've tried all sorts of cheaper bags including the Target brand (strongly suggest not wasting your money on these) and the cheapest good quality alternative we've found are the Nursery Fresh refills

Another most used item for us are diaper changing pads...because washing, changing and buying a dozen changing pad covers is annoying, expensive and time consuming. 

We also have the OXO Perfect Pull Wipes Dispenser which semi-perfectly dispenses one wipe at a time. I say semi-perfect because on occasion a few will come out with one pull but not nearly as bad as the long strand of wipes you get from the plastic dispensers. For $20, it's worth it.

And a few of our favorite items we keep on the shelf include Mustela Physiobebe No-Rinse cleanser for quick wipe downs on skipped bath nights, the very best diaper cream ever - Triple Paste, Eucerin Baby for Thomas' sensitive skin and Noodle & Boo Lotion for Caroline, Aquaphor for winter chapped cheeks and lots of DISTRACTIONS!

Changing Caroline's diaper can be a full blown fight these days. The second we even mention a diaper change she turns into a ninja and a simple task of changing a quick diaper turns into either a negotiation or meltdown. Sooooo, it's extremely important that we keep a fresh rotation of distractions available to both kids to make diaper changes as bearable as possible. Our current distraction line-up consists of Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, Sophie the Giraffe, VTech Baby Phone and Bella Tunno Dream Bunny

Last but not least, odor eliminators for the aforementioned toddler diaper bombs. I recently received some products from Fresh Wave to put to the test in the nursery and I have been pleased with the results. I keep a tub of the odor removing gel on the shelf (out of reach from the kiddos), throw an odor removing pack at the bottom of my diaper genie, and freshen up the room with odor removing spray after each #2 diaper. You can find these products at Target!

three. I recently made the Pioneer Woman's Linguini with Clam Sauce recipe and loved it. This meal is inexpensive, is thrown together quickly, tastes delicious, is toddler approved and fed us for 2 dinners and 1 lunch! So I recommend throwing it into your next meal plan!

four.  This week was so incredibly long. Thankfully I had the most amazing cheesecake to look forward to each night after dinner. I already raved about this on SnapChat but I'll post it again because it is so dang good.

five. A few weekends ago we finally took the kids to Discovery Place Kids and I'm kicking myself for not doing this sooner. With the winter months keeping us cooped up inside it takes Caroline about 22 minutes before she's bored, cranky and coloring the walls. Out of desperation one morning we packed the kiddos up and trekked out to Huntersville to the most amazing "children's museum" aka a magical place of unending activities and rooms to explore. There's a huge firetruck, a toddler sized grocery store, a mini deli, an underwater aquarium, the most impressive water table of all time and so much more. There was even a large area for kids under 3 that Thomas was able to play in. If you're a mama in Charlotte, I highly recommend making a trip to DPK! Caroline could not contain her excitement.

Wanna join Darci, April, Natasha and I on the Friday fun? You can link-up on any of our four blogs every Friday! All you have to do is...
1.) Write your post about five things you're lovin' this week (or any five things you want to share!).
2.) Share the logo on your blog and link back. 
3.) Link-up at the bottom of the post so some new readers can check out your five things and say hello!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Valentine's Day Round-up!

I am so ready for Valentine's Day! Even though this holiday has become very low key for us and I definitely don't spend any time cutting out paper hearts for seasonal decorations or securing reservations for a fancy dinner out, I still really love this Hallmark holiday. So today I wanted to round up some of my favorite Valentine themed posts over the years.
We have our annual Valentine bake sale coming up at school and I really can't decide what I want to make. I have to individually package each item, can't use peanut butter and I need a large quantity so I can also share with the teachers in both Thomas and Caroline's class room too. Would love to know your go-to bake sale item.

A few of my past Valentine sweet treats...

First up, Valentine Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing! I made these a few years ago and they were pretty awesome but not exactly quick.
Valentine Heart Brownies are pretty easy. I made these in cupcake tins and sprinkled powdered sugar on top!
 And I can't forget about the crowd pleasing Chocolate Heart Peanut Butter Cookies!
I am so excited that Valentine's Day falls on a weekend this year. This means I can actually make a fun breakfast for the fam. One of my favorite Valentine breakfast ideas is my 5 minute waffles. Seriously, this is so easy and I know Caroline will love these this year.
For any of you expecting a sweet floral deliver, get your vases ready!!!
Lastly, I've shared this before but it's worth mentioning again! One of the best things that has ever happened to our marriage was the book The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who is married (newly or decades in), engaged or wants to get married in the future! I also love to give this book to my friends as an engagement gift. This book sits on my nightstand and there's no better reminder than Valentine's Day to flip through all of our highlighted, underlined and scribbled notes inside.
Happy Valentine's Day!


Monday, January 25, 2016

A Long Snowpocalypse Weekend

We are recovering from cabin fever over here! It was one heck of a loooooooong weekend! On Thursday I got a call from daycare that Thomas had a fever and needed to be picked up. He turned out to be just fine thankfully. With two kids in daycare there's a 30% chance every single day that I'll get the dreaded call that one of them is sick and needs to be picked up (and can't return for 24 hours). So we cuddled until daddy got home...and then I ran out the door for Supper Club!
Sara kicked off our 2016 Supper Club and it was absolutely awesome. It took me a whole 2 minutes to get to her house since she lives a few streets away and a nice large glass of wine was ready for me when I arrived!
For dinner she served the yummiest chili and paired it with salad and mini cornbread muffins. So good. And I am still dreaming about her oreo cake dessert.
The next morning we were surprised with a snow day! 
We got 3 inches of snow in Charlotte which is actually enough to shut down our entire city and send everyone into panic mode. No bread on the shelves. Milk sold out. Schools closed. It was a true snowpocalypse.
By Saturday the snow had melted just enough that we decided to brave the roads for our sanity. We ventured out to Trader Joes to replenish our wine supply snacks.
Later that night we ubered out to dinner to celebrate Restaurant Week at my favorite place ever - Dogwood! When we arrived we were seated at the same window table we sat at for my birthday which was pretty cool. But what was even cooler was Ron Rivera sitting a few tables away from us. Every night before game day he dines at Dogwood specifically for their unbelievable bacon jam for good luck. So in true Panthers fan fashion, we ordered some bacon jam too!
On Sunday we ran our usual errands, meal prepped for the week, celebrated another Panthers win and watched Caroline turn her kitchen into a jungle gym.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Creamy Zuppa Toscana Soup {Olive Garden Copycat} & Cheesy Rosemary Crescents

We have been on a soup kick recently. On the weekends I've been making large batches and freezing for later so we have a nice soup variety for the cooler months. Most recently I whipped up a batch of Creamy Zuppa Toscana Soup and it was so good we didn't have any left over to freeze! The soup is actually an Olive Garden copycat recipe. And since you can't eat an Olive Garden soup without breadsticks, I served Cheesy Rosemary Croissants on the side! So good. I mean so, so, SO good.
Zuppa Toscana Soup
Adapted from The Recipe Critic

·         4 slices bacon, diced
·         1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
·         1 tablespoon olive oil
·         2 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 onion, diced
·         4 cups chicken broth
·         3 russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
·         3 cups baby spinach
·         1 ½ cups heavy cream
·         Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a large skillet, cook bacon until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble and set aside.

2. Add Italian sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, crumbling the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat and set aside.

3. Skin and cut potatoes in ¼ inch slices.

4. In a large stockpot, add garlic and onion, and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil.

5. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
6. Stir in sausage and spinach until spinach begins to wilt, about 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in heavy cream. Cook until heated through, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

7. Serve immediately, garnished with bacon.

Print recipe for Zuppa Toscana Soup 
Easy Cheesy Rosemary Crescents 
From Pillsbury

·         1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
·         4 sticks mozzarella string cheese, cut in half
·         2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
·         ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with cooking parchment paper.

2. Separate dough into 8 triangles.

3. Place 1 piece of string cheese on wide end of each dough triangle. Sprinkle each piece of string cheese with 1/4 teaspoon rosemary and 1/4 teaspoon Parmesan cheese.

4. Roll up each, starting at shortest side of triangle, gently wrapping dough around filling and rolling to opposite point. Place on cookie sheet.

5. Top each crescent with some of remaining rosemary and Parmesan cheese.

6. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.


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