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Costume Time…

October 6, 2015

Halloween, to me, is one of those holidays that really has gotten more fun with a kid.  We’ve had a great time picking out costumes with Lila over the past 3.5 years.  In addition to trick or treating, we have an annual Halloween party with our Little Gym friends—all of the kids dress up, and the adults usually do too.  Last year, we got creative with our “three cats” costume:

The year before that, there were multiple dress-ups as the Sesame Street gang:

…and the Flintstones, too:


And on Lila’s first official Halloween, we dressed her up as a lion…although it lasted all of five minutes.  Can you tell how thrilled she is?

This year, we wanted to do something just as fun, but we had to get a little creative—well, I did especially, since I’m packing an extra twenty pounds around the midsection these days.  Smile  Plus, the party was early this year because of everyone’s schedules, so we had to get it together pretty quickly.

Lila’s obsession with Aladdin is pretty intense…so it seemed only fitting to work that into our Halloween get-up this year.  Once we settled on it, the costumes actually came together really quickly (with the help of Amazon):

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I mean…I feel like this might be our strongest year yet, costume-wise. 

Happy Halloween! Okay, so the party was only October 3rd (“It’s October 3rd…”), but happy start of the Halloween season! Smile

A Tale of Two Soups

October 5, 2015

I thought I’d used that title before…but when I googled it, I saw that I’ve used A Tale of Two Balls (ha) and A Tale of Two Gluten-Free Brownies…but not A Tale of Two Soups.  So there you go.

Last week, we got hit with a bout of colder weather—like, SUPER cold, especially for Alabama in October.  The high over the weekend was a brisk sixty degrees.  Not to worry—the temps are supposed to be back up to eighty by Tuesday.   A little compromise would be nice—maybe some 70 degree days?  Eh, they’ll come eventually. 

Anyway, the colder weather was actually a really nice change of pace—it definitely feels like fall around here!  And of course, soup was on the menu—we eat SO much soup in the colder months, and we’ve been trying to make a lot of big-batch recipes that freeze well for after the baby gets here in December.  We eat our one-night serving of it, and then freeze what’s leftover for later use.  Our freezer is getting stocked, slowly but surely.

First up: this Asian Chicken Noodle soup that Ryan made—another recipe from the Cooking Classy blog.  It was (as the recipe name would imply) a fun twist on regular chicken soup—flavored with ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Yum!


This was full of vegetables, chicken, and ramen noodles—it was a hit with all of us!

On Thursday, Ryan headed out of town for a few days so Lila and I were on our own.  I cooked a basic beef and vegetable soup on Thursday morning, and when we got home from Lila’s ballet lesson later that evening, we served it over tortellini.  I see a lot of recipes for tortellini soup, but adding the pasta in separately was a good way to keep it from getting too mushy (which has happened to us before when making soup with pasta).  This way, I froze the beef and vegetable soup and we can add the pasta when we eat it again, or just eat it plain:


This one was especially popular with Lila.  Smile

Hope you’ve had a good weekend!  We have to teach for the first part of this week, and then are headed to the beach for fall break on Wednesday—ready for a break!

ASOP (as seen on Pinterest…)

September 22, 2015

I should start a new blog category for this, because I’ve been not just pinning recipes on Pinterest, but actually making them too—and with a lot of success!  Between the pregnancy, teaching, and Lila, the idea of coming up with something to cook on my own is overwhelming right now—I’m not improvising a lot in the kitchen, or getting very creative.  Forget about creating new recipes on my own.  But, through Pinterest, I’ve been seeking out pretty simple recipes—if I don’t have the energy to come up with meal ideas from scratch, I can at least muster up the energy to follow a few simple instructions.

Tonight, I made this soup— Cheesy Vegetable Chowder, from Cooking Classy– for us while Ryan took Lila to gymnastics—so, within about an hour.  It was very comforting and tasty—kind of a cross between broccoli and cheese soup, and a potato chowder.  I can think of a lot of additions and improvisations that you could do with this recipe as well.


And, just because I think they’re cute, here are some pictures from a creek in our neighborhood that we explored on Sunday afternoon—Lila loved catching the little crawfish:


Smile  Hope you had a good Monday!

A Fall Art Project

September 20, 2015

Every night after Lila goes to bed, while we’re relaxing and unwinding and watching tv, I’ll usually pull up Pinterest and spend 20-30 minutes pinning recipe, craft, and home ideas.  I’ll admit that I’ve actually gotten pretty good about cooking some of the recipes I’ve pinned, especially now that we’re using our slow cooker more often.  But the craft projects?  Those generally go TOTALLY unfulfilled.  I find so many cute ideas, but when it comes to actually *creating* the pinecone owl/toilet roll robot/handprint Christmas tree…well, that’s a different story. 

But, we were out in the backyard playing last week and we had a few hours to kill until Lila’s ballet class.  There were leaves everywhere, and I remembered a leaf canvas project I’d pinned a few nights earlier—it seemed easy enough.  So, I pulled out our paints (we’re STILL working through the paint we bought for Lila’s second birthday party) and we got to work.

The idea was to paint the back of the leaves with lots of colors, and then press the leaf print onto the canvas where it would leave the pattern of veins and stems:


The final result was really cute, I thought!  After printing a bunch of leaves on the canvas, we let it dry and then painted over it again with some glitter paint—because everything is better with glitter, right?

Lila was really proud of her final product:


Tenny was not as impressed:


Can’t win ‘em all. Winking smile

Frog Mush

September 17, 2015

After writing posts like this and this, where I bragged about what a great eater Lila is…it’s official: we’ve hit a major picky eating spell.  We’ve had some really tough dinners lately—while Ryan and I loved that pot roast that I made the other night, Lila barely ate two bites, and threw a HUGE fit about not wanting to eat…wait for it…a bite of potato.  Literally—ONE bite of potato.  I’m talking knock-down drag-out temper tantrum.  Hashtag fun times.  Hashtag blessed. 

Ryan and I have talked about different strategies for dealing with this—Lila has been snacking a lot and drinking a lot of milk in the afternoons, so we’re going to try to cut back on that.  I think that sometimes she just really isn’t hungry for dinner, and therefore isn’t going to try it—however tasty it is. 

This afternoon, we gave her a much smaller afternoon snack.  After a little bit of whining and begging for potato chips, she gave up and we went on a walk together.  When we returned home, she helped me make our dinner side dish: mashed cauliflower and broccoli.  I cooked the veggies in chicken stock and then pureed them in the food processor.  Lila then helped me to “mash” them and we stirred in parmesan cheese, butter, and garlic salt:



This was really tasty—a healthier alternative to traditional mashed potatoes.  And, I don’t know if it was the long afternoon walk or the fact that she helped me with the cooking, but Lila ate a bunch of it, happily.  She also called it “frog mush”—whatever works.

Any tips for happy family meals?  We’ve had too many lately that have ended in tears. Sad smile

Feels Like Fall

September 14, 2015

We got our first bout of true fall weather this weekend—temps in the high sixties/low seventies…beautiful sunny blue skies…NO HUMIDITY. 

We took advantage of it and spent a lot of time outside, hitting up the park:

…and taking a couple of long walks through the neighborhood.

This afternoon, I went into full-fledged fall overdrive.   I made this slow-cooker pot roast recipe, which ended up really tasty— just a classic, comforting meal.  It was a lot of food—enough for one more meal, plus some to freeze:

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While the meat and veggies cooked in the slow cooker, Lila and I decided to take the fall fun a little further (is it just me, or is there a lot of alliteration in this post?), baking up some pumpkin muffins.  We started with a basic recipe but changed it up quite a bit.  I have some different gluten-free flours in our pantry that I’ve been trying to use up, so I experimented a bit with that.  Here’s what we came up with:

Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup almond meal

1/2 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (I used a mix from Bob’s Red Mill)

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. each cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup oil


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through spices).  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.  Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined.  Distribute into greased muffin tins, filling cups 3/4 full. 

Bake 25-30 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack.

Optional extra step: leave the room while muffins are cooling on the table and come back after two bad dogs have devoured half of them.

Damn dogs.


Temps are supposed to get back up to 80 later this week, but this weekend sure was a nice preview of what’s to come in the next couple of months.  Hope you had a good weekend!


Maternity Workout Clothes

September 9, 2015

Hi friends!  I haven’t posted as much about the pregnancy this second time around, but things are going well.  We met with our doula yesterday—we’ll be using the same doula from last time, and we *really* loved her.  She made the whole birthing experience so meaningful and…well, I hesitate to say “easy,” but I guess as easy as it could be.  She told me at our meeting yesterday that second births tend to go faster than firsts, which makes me nervous because Lila’s birth was pretty quick, haha.  We checked into the hospital at 1 am and she was here by 3.  So I guess this time around, our goal is just to avoid an accidental homebirth. Winking smile 

Anyway, things are going well with the pregnancy and I’m staying active, trying to get some exercise on most days, whether that’s a walk or an actual workout at the gym.  I ran a little at the gym last week and was hitting about a 13 minutes mile (jogging and walking), which I guess isn’t too bad considering I’m almost in the third trimester.  Working out while pregnant is kind of a conflicting thing for me.  On the one hand, I feel very much like this:

You’re out of breath before you even step on the treadmill.  Your hips hurt…your back hurts…your pelvic floor hurts (#truthtalk).  Fun times.


It’s also the best stress reliever (you know…when you can’t have wine).  And I know that staying active was really a big part of an easy birth and a fast recovery for me last time, so it’s worth it in the end. 

I thought I’d post a little about what I’ve been wearing to workout in—some of it is maternity; some of it isn’t.


As far as shorts go, I’ve still been running in my Nike Tempo shorts.  They’re drawstring, so if I loosen the drawstring and just don’t tie it, the waistband stretches out pretty far.  Plus, my shorts are SUPER old, so I don’t mind stretching them out a bit during this pregnancy—I’ll probably have to replace a few pairs after I’m “back to normal,” but that’s okay. 


I also got a pair of maternity compression capris from Old Navy—it’s this pair, and they were on sale.  I love these and have been wearing them a lot for workouts—they’re SUPER comfortable and look cute with tank tops and t-shirts.  I had been wearing my regular workout capris before I got these specific maternity ones, and when they came in the mail and I tried them on the first time, I audibly sighed with pleasure.  They felt *that* good. 

I also have a longer pair of maternity workout leggings that I’ll hopefully wear in the fall/winter months for workouts, but it’s been too hot to wear them, so I’m not sure how I feel about them yet.


I have a few t-shirts that still fit (and look okay), but for the most part, I’ve outgrown most of my usual cotton tees—plus, they’re not the cutest anyway.  I ordered a few maternity tank tops from Old Navy that I really like—the maternity go-dry tank.  They’re really comfortable—not too tight but also not loose, and very long.  I think I’ll be able to wear these until the end of my pregnancy.  I wish they sold a long-sleeved version of it for fall/winter—maybe it will show up in the next few weeks?

I also have one of the ubiquitous “______-ing for two” tank tops from Fitness for Two.  Mine says “Sweating for Two,” and I’m kind of torn on it. 


(Get it?)  

I ordered it from Zulily and by the time I placed my order, they were out of the plain tanks and only had the “Sweating/Running/Lifting for two” stuff left.  Comfort-wise, I LOVE the tank top—it is stretchy and comfy and long and soft…ahhhhh.  And, truthfully, I always get compliments on it—people comment on how cute it is, etc.  But, I feel like there’s something annoying about wearing an item of clothing that says “Hey, I’m pregnant!”  that just kind of…irks me.  It feels like a slippery slope from a “sweating for two” tank top to becoming one of the pregnant women Garfunkle and Oates sing so eloquently (and accurately) about.

Anyway, long story short, I love the tank top…and hopefully the next time they’re on Zulily, I can order one without the smug pregnant message. Winking smile 

And, honestly, that’s about it as far as workout clothes go.  These bottoms and tanks have gotten me through the summer.  I’ll probably be picking up some long-sleeved shirts for fall workouts, but I’ve been doing most of my workouts inside anyway, so I can just cover up with a jacket or sweatshirt and keep using the tank tops. 

Any clothes for exercising that you loved when you were pregnant?


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