Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Week Thirty-Three

I'm really behind in posting this, but I wanted to get it up anyway!

This was a bit of a harder week for me, and I'm not totally sure why.  I am thankful that I can feel Mango moving a lot, but the really sharp kicks in the ribs are pretty constant now and sometimes catch me off guard.  I feel huge at this point, and my back hurts some from all of the extra weight in the front. 

Still, I am so blessed to be having a healthy pregnancy and to only be experiencing minor, normal pregnancy symptoms!

My mom said I'm carrying high, like she always did with her babies.

Week thirty-three with Vera.

A Cute Cloth Diaper

I'm over at She {hearts} It today reviewing a really cute cloth diaper!  Check it out here.  P.S. There is a giveaway!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Vacation

I'm taking this week off from posting on our blog (though I may pop in once or twice) so that I can continue to celebrate Christmas (and New Year's!) with my wonderful family.  I'll be back with lots of holiday pictures after the New Year!
Christmas morning at church

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Not a Silent Night

I've posted this video before, but it's one of my favorites to watch around Christmastime!  Hope you enjoy it as well!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tutu

Aunt Angela made this sweet little Christmas tutu for Vera.  She thoroughly enjoyed waltzing around the living room in it this morning!
 
 
 
 
 

We think she's pretty cute!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Week Thirty-Two

I feel like we're definitely on the "home stretch" now towards meeting our baby girl!  She could be here anywhere from six to ten weeks from now, so that is very exciting.  I'm guessing she'll be here towards the later end of that spectrum, since Vera was so "late" and because I'm against unnecessary induction.

I feel somewhat depleted of energy lately, but I think that's party due to how busy I've been with Christmas preparations, parties, baking, and gift-making.  In the mornings when I wake up I often feel like I've been hit by a truck... not the best way to start the day!  Hopefully I'll be able to rest up some in January to prepare for labor! 

I experienced excruciating back pain last night (I woke up crying around midnight from the pain so Tad went and got me some Tylenol PM, which I almost never take).  It could have been from sitting on the floor wrapping presents or from poor posture at my desk, but I think maybe Mango was pushing on a nerve or something.  It feels fine this morning!

Mango is a busy girl just like her sister, and because of how the placenta is positioned this time (at the top of the womb, under my ribs), I can feel her limb movements more than I could with Vera.  It's fun to "see" a little elbow/knee poking out now and then!  She's actually moving now as I type this.  :)

I haven't yet:
-packed a single thing for the hospital
-purchased any necessary baby things (newborn disposable diapers, disposable nursing pads, etc.)
-made any meals for the freezer
-gotten the nursery ready for two
But I still have plenty of time, right? :)

Week thirty-two with Vera.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Easy Last Minute Christmas Gift: Vanilla Sugar Scrub


Here's an easy, last-minute Christmas gift idea for you to make!  (You don't even have to be "crafty"!)

Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Combine 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract in a bowl.  Stir well.  Add enough olive oil to give it the texture of wet sand.  Place the sugar scrub in small containers. (I used clean, dry baby food jars.)  Decorate the containers as desired!  (I used scrap paper for the lids and made labels with directions.)
Include these directions with your gifts:  Rub a small amount of sugar scrub into hands for sixty seconds, then rinse with warm water.

I gave these to some of my girlfriends, as well as to Vera's Sunday School/AWANA teachers.

I love that it...
1) is easy to make
2) uses simple ingredients I have on hand
3) isn't edible, but is consumable (no clutter!)
Are you still making any Christmas gifts or are you all finished?  I made a lot of baked goods this year (and by a lot I mean 33+ dozen cookies)!
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Ho Ho Ho

I'll be back later today with a quick and easy (and nearly free!) Christmas gift for you to make.

Until then, I'm finishing up the last of my Christmas shopping (stocking stuffers for Tad and Vera)!

Hope all of your Christmas preparations are going well too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ladies' Christmas Party

I was so excited to have a fun group of ladies over to our house last evening for a Christmas party!  Several ladies had children get sick at the last minute, but we still had a great time with those who were able to make it!
Kelly, me, Carrie, & Heather

We had lots of yummy cookies and fruit to eat...


...plus hot chocolate and coffee to drink!

I'm so thankful that the Lord brought each of these ladies into my life!
does anyone else think pomegranates look like big Christmas ornaments?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Popcorn in the Microwave


I mentioned last week in my real food post that we make popcorn in just a bag in the microwave instead of buying bags of microwave popcorn.  I hope it will interest some of you to learn exactly how we do that!

Place a small amount of kernels in the bottom of a brown paper lunch bag.  Don't put too many... any more than a single layer is too much.

Fold over bag twice.  (You may use one staple to secure it if you think you need it, but we usually don't.)  Place bag on its side and shake it around a little so the kernels are once again in a single layer.

Place bag in the microwave and set it for about 4 minutes (you will not leave it in that long).  Listen as it pops and remove it as soon as you hear it slow down (the first 3-4 second gap).  If any kernels do get burnt, you can remove them and the rest of the popcorn will still taste fine.
Pour popcorn in a bowl and top as desired.  Some of our favorite combinations:
-melted butter and popcorn salt
-melted butter and jalepeno popcorn salt
-melted butter and cinnamon sugar (or sugar alternative)

Let us know if you try making it this way!  Enjoy!

(We also make it another way too, using coconut oil heated in a large pan with a lid on the stovetop, but that method will have to wait for another post.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Week Thirty-One

At my appointment on Monday, everything was fine! I'm measuring at thirty weeks and Mango's heartbeat was in the 140's.  I'm thankful for how healthy our baby girl seems to be.

I've been sleeping well at night, so I'm also thankful for that.  I don't have a lot of negative pregnancy symptoms right now, so that's awesome.  I am very blessed that I can nap in the afternoons (several days each week) while Vera is sleeping.  Naps are the best!

My belly looks a little smaller than it did last week, so maybe Mango is curled up a little more today.  I can really feel her "bearing down" at times, which I think is good and may help labor to progress more quickly when that time comes.

Week thirty-one with Vera.

My Musical Daughter

Vera loves this new musical toy set!  She loves playing with all of the different instruments.

I'm posting a full review over on She {hearts} It today!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Garlic & Spinach White Cheese Pizza

(aka the Best Pizza with the Worst Photos Ever!)

I made this pizza for dinner last night, and I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty amazing!  I just HAD to share the recipe with you even though the photos are terrible.  (It's hard to take good pictures of dinner now that it's so dark so early!)
 Garlic & Spinach White Cheese Pizza

1 crust recipe here (or your favorite crust)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz. or more, grated)
ricotta cheese (about 4 Tbsp., crumbled)
parmesan cheese (grated, not from a green can)
spinach leaves (a few large handfuls, torn)
mushrooms (about 4 oz., sliced) - optional
fresh basil leaves - optional

Prepare your crust as directed here.  (I used freshly ground soft white wheat flour last night and it was GREAT!).  Bake crust at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes by itself.  While it's baking, you can prep your other ingredients.

Combine minced garlic with olive oil.  Brush onto partially baked crust as soon as you remove it from the oven.

Layer your toppings on your crust in this order: mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, spinach, and mushrooms (optional).

Bake pizza for 12-16 minutes until crust is baked through and cheese is melted and bubbly.

Slice, and serve sprinkled with fresh basil leaves and crushed red pepper flakes.

Enjoy!
Like this recipe? Follow me so you never miss a new recipe post!
For more of our family's favorite recipes, click here.

Linked to:
Must Try Monday
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Tuesdays at the Table
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Tatertots & Jello
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eBook Sale

For those of you who have eBook readers, I thought I would let you know about a great sale going on right now!

At Shepherd Press, all their eBooks are currently on sale for $.99 through the end of December!  They offer versions for the iPad and for the Kindle. 

Tad and I highly recommend these titles:
-Don't Make Me Count to Three (review here)
-When Sinners Say "I Do"
-Get Outta My Face
-Shepherding a Child's Heart

I believe physical copies of their books are also on sale for only $4.99 until December 15.

*I was not paid or perked in any way to write this post... I just wanted to share a great deal with you!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Play

Vera was in a little Christmas number at church yesterday!  The little ones sang a few songs at the beginning of the service.
 
 
 

It was really sweet... and Miss Ritchie managed to keep her up on stage for the whole thing!  

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Real Food Baby Steps

We've been slowing changing our shopping, cooking, and eating habits to be more healthy.  We are trying to eat more real (not processed) foods, so that involves a little more footwork when it comes to both shopping and preparation.

I really believe that it is worth it for our family's health!  While it does take more time to prepare real foods from scratch, everything tastes so much better and I am willing to devote that time to my family.  I really do feel better when I am eating real foods!

Real foods seem more expensive at the onset, but I am realizing that as I cut out more convenience foods (frozen meals, canned soups, etc.) and junk foods (ice cream, chips, etc.), I can still afford to stay within my grocery budget (which is $50/week, by the way). 
making turkey stock after Thanksgiving

Here are a few of the ways we have recently shifted to more real foods:

-switched from white rice to brown rice (not a huge deal, except brown rice takes longer to cook)
-switched from store-bought whole wheat bread to homemade bread made with freshly ground wheat flour
-in the process* of switching out all of our white flour with freshly ground whole wheat flour
-in the process* of switching from regular pasta to whole wheat pasta (there is a cost difference, but we're making it work)
-in the process* of switching from flour tortillas to whole wheat tortillas (they actually taste better, but they also cost more)
-I switched from coffee to tea in the mornings when I just want something warm to drink :)
-switched from sugar to honey in my tea (if I sweeten it at all)
-switched Tad from sugar in his coffee to organic evaporated cane juice (still not the best, but better!)
-switched from oatmeal sweetened with brown sugar to oatmeal lightly sweetened (if at all) with honey or pure maple syrup
-switched from pancake syrup to pure maple syrup (yes, expensive - but we eat less of it and it's a treat)
-in the process* of switching to all-natural sweeteners for everything (sucanat, honey, and pure maple syrup instead of white or brown sugar)
-switched from highly processed hot chocolate mix to homemade hot chocolate 
-switched from table salt to sea salt
*by "in the process" I mean we are still eating the rest of what was already in our pantry so no food goes to waste
whole wheat waffles

Things we were already doing:

-drinking water at all meals
-reading ingredient labels when we shopped
-rarely eating fast food
-drinking whole milk most of the time
-using butter (never margarine)
-buying blocks of cheese and grating it ourselves
-eating oatmeal made with just oats (instead of those little packets)
-making most foods from scratch (spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, pizza crust, mashed potatoes, hummus, cornbread, waffles, macaroni and cheese, etc.)
-making our own spice blends (taco seasoning, chili seasoning, meat rubs, etc.)
-rarely eating chips (with the exception of our favorite organic blue corn tortilla chips)
-only eating lunchmeat (on the rare occasion we do buy it) without nitrates
-eating fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned
-avoiding high fructose corn syrup
-avoiding soy as much as possible
-using olive oil most of the time
-not drinking soda
-making popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave instead of buying microwave popcorn
-making our own chicken stock
-buying wild caught fish (Alaskan salmon is our favorite)
salmon cakes (Jamie Oliver's recipe)

Things I would like to still do:

-adapt our favorite dessert recipes to use natural sweeteners and whole wheat flour
-soak and cook my own beans (I currently use canned - rinsed, of course)
-buy more local produce
-buy more local farm eggs
-buy local farm-raised chicken and beef (this will require saving up some money!)
-experiment with different grains (barley, spelt, millet, etc.)
-make my own salad dressings (trying this this week!)
-completely cut out canola oil
-use more coconut oil (and also try sesame oil)
-switch to organic popcorn
-make homemade applesauce (it's not hard - I just haven't done it yet!)
-make my own peanut/almond butter (apparently you can do make in a food processor)

We're definitely not perfect in our eating habits by any means, and we certainly do not aim to be legalistic.  Nothing about the way we eat is earning us "more favor" with God or gives us any license to act like we are superior to anyone else around us.  We have just personally been led to make some of these choices for our family, and we understand that the way we do things may not be how everyone else does them!

What baby steps are you taking in your family towards more healthy eating?

A lot of the inspiration for this post came from Modern Alternative Mama and 100 Days of Real Food.

We Need a Little Christmas

We haven't totally decorated for Christmas yet (we were the only house on the block with a pumpkin still on the front porch last week), but we have done a few things!  Here are a few pictures to tide you over until we get the tree and mantle finished.
 
 
 
 
 
 Have you been decorating for Christmas too? 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Starbucks Knock-Offs

via
Lately we've been trying some new espresso drinks (we serve them to our youth who come over for Bible study), like this awesome Salted Caramel Mocha.

Up next to try:
via

this Gingerbread Latte
via
and this White Chocolate Mocha

These are, of course, special treats that we do not have on a regular basis!

Do you like to make your coffee drinks at home?  There's something special about going out for coffee, but at almost $8 for two tall drinks, we'd rather make ours at home!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Week Thirty


Wow! Thirty weeks already!  Where has this pregnancy gone?  Baby Mango will be making her appearance before we know it.  We still have a LOT to do to get ready, so she'd better hang tight for a while longer!

I read that my baby girl is about three pounds now.  I feel her moving around a lot!  You know how you are supposed to count kicks and make sure you feel 10 in an hour?  Well I usually feel those 10 in 20 minutes or less!

I still feel sooo tired all the time, but I'm trying to get as much rest as I can.  That's hard to do sometimes with this busy season!  I'm a little dizzy occasionally, and I have to eat very regularly so I don't get cranky. :)  This week I also started breaking out in hives randomly (on my hands and arms), which apparently can be caused by the pregnancy.  Anyone else ever experience this?

We are thankful for our little blessing and can't wait to meet her!

Week thirty with Vera.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas in Narnia

The Christmas celebration with Tad's family over the weekend was themed "Through the Wardrobe" - aka "Christmas in Narnia"!  His parents did a great job decorating for our celebration!
"snow" fell from the ceiling, with their lovely tree illuminated in the background
a lamppost, Aslan, and some gifts from Father Christmas
a sleigh (not the White Witch's, because it has bells!)

everyone had to walk through the wardrobe to enter Narnia!
Aslan is on the move!
We dined lavishly on a Feast of Aslan - roasted meats, wheat cakes, oaten cakes, honey, pyramids of fruit, and many more delicacies.  We of course had Turkish Delight as well (though not of the enchanted kind)!

"I’ve come at last. She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening." (Father Christmas, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Ch. 10)
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