Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday Favorites

I can't believe it's our last weekend here in Buffalo. It's been a glorious vacation and I'm so happy we decided to take a much needed and well-deserved vacation. We will be busy celebrating Elizabeth turning two this weekend. Her actual birthday isn't until get end of the month but since our family is up here in Buffalo, I wanted a special party for her.  So here's this weeks favorites! 1. Etsy for Birthday Invitations Elizabeth's party theme is The Little Mermaid and I knew I could count on Etsy for invitations. I love buying one, downloading the invitation, and then just sending to Walgreens for printing. Makes life easy peasy lemon squeezy. I actually had a tough time deciding which invite to go with because the options were endless! 
2. Baby Hugs
I love all things baby -- knowing that Katherine is our last baby, I am soaking up everything. I hold her a little bit longer every night before bed, I give her extra kisses, and I try to capture special moments between us. Her latest thing is hugging and I am enjoying every second of it. I'm starting to notice she'll intentionally start to hug me after nursing her and it warms my heart!

3.  Working Out

With being in Buffalo and having my parents around, I've been able to hit up the gym 4-5 times a week. I haven't been eating all that healthy with being here, so spending a little bit of time at the gym in the morning has helped to balance things out. I love that I have access to any LA Fitness and don't have to worry about getting a guest pass at a local gym.

4. Fresh Air

Living in Florida, I don't spend a lot of time outside. Actually I don't spend anytime outside. It's just too damn hot. The weather in Florida has been wonderful -- some days are warmer than others but it has only rained one day in the two weeks we've been here. Elizabeth has enjoyed being outside too -- we've visited the community pool, going to thr park, and yesterday afternoon she ran through the sprinkler. She loved it! 

5. Baby Clothes

Thanks to Instagram and Facebook, I'm always slammed with advertisements for the cutest kids and baby clothes. With being on maternity leave, I unfortunately can't buy the majority of what I see. But this adorable outfit came across my Facebook feed this morning and I just had to buy it for K. Plus I'm loving black and white clothes lately. 

I hope you all have a great weekend! I'll be back Monday with a recap from her birthday party! 




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Chicken Vesuvio

   I'm all for chicken dishes because I'm not much of a red meat eater. My mom has the best recipes so when she told me she had a new recipe she wanted to make for me, I gladly accepted her offer to make dinner (actually she's made dinner every night since we've been in Buffalo and it's been amazing).  I told her I was going to share he recipe on my blog but promised her that I would give her all of the credit -- as she was making dinner I was snapping my camera and totally getting in her way.  My punishment? Doing the dinner dishes -- blech! But dishes duty was worth it once I tasted the meal!

 This recipe actually comes from one of her newly purchased cookbooks America's Test Kitchen - The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook, which can be purchased on Amazon. She altered the recipe a little bit since there was three of us eating the meal. It was the perfect amount and left just a small portion of leftovers for me for lunch!  

 Chicken Vesuvio 
 Adapted from America's Test Kitchen 

 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6oz each)
 1/4 cup flour (we always use unbleached) 
 5 teaspoons olive oil
 3/4 lb baby red potatoes, washed and cut in halves  
 1 garlic clove, minced 
 1/4 tsp dried oregano 
 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary 
 1 cup chicken broth 
 1/4 cup dry white wine (we don't ever use cooking wine -- get the good stuff and pour a glass for yourself while cooking) 
 1 cup frozen peas, thawed 
 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice 
 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
 Salt and pepper   

 Dredge chicken in flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place chicken in a hot nonstick skillet pan (heat with one tablespoon of olive oil) and brown chicken over medium-high heat, 4 minutes each side. Remove chicken from pan.   
  Add two teaspoons of olive oil to skillet until hot -- then add potatoes and cook. 
  Stir frequently so the potatoes don't stick to bottom of the pan. Cook until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in oregano, garlic, rosemary, and salt -- once it starts to smell absolutely amazing, stir in broth and wine.

 Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan during the process to prevent brown bits from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Add the chicken back into the pan and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken reaches 160 degrees (12 minutes -- flip halfway). 
  Remove chicken from pan and loosely cover with aluminum foil.  Increase heat to medium and simmer potatoes and sauce uncovered until potatoes are tender (sauce will be slightly thickened). Move potatoes to the plate with the chicken. Turn heat off, add peas, butter, and lemon juice to pan. Add salt and pepper to season. 
Pour sauce over chicken and potatoes and enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Favorites

I actually hadn't planned on blogging today because I find it maddening to blog from my iPad but I love doing my Friday Favorites, so here we are.
We've been in Buffalo for almost a week now and I am absolutely loving it. I keep telling my husband that the girls and I aren't coming home (kinda sorta NOT kidding on that one). He had to go back to Tampa last Sunday because of work but he's surprising Elizabeth next weekend at her 2nd birthday party! In fact, he's surprising my parents too! What a weird conversation that will be next weekend when at midnight I'm like "um mom, I kinda need to go to the airport to get Shaun". But in reality, I'll probably tell her and my dad sometime during the week.
With all of that being said -- sorry for the tangent -- it's time for my Friday Favorites. 
1. Modern Luxuri Lip Conditioner 
For some reason, my lips are so chapped lately. I think it's because I've been awful at drinking enough water. It's easy for me to drink water while at home but apparently not while I'm on vacation. I ran to Tony Walker's beauty store earlier this week and asked for their recommendations and the sales associate mentioned this lip conditioner. I love it because it's nice and light, doesn't feel like it's caked on, and gives me lips a shiny glossy look! 
2. Grilled Chicken Salad
It's no secret -- Buffalo is known for their yummy food.  Unfortunately the food isn't always the healthiest. I told my mom I was craving a tasty salad so we threw together this yumminess earlier this week. I ended up eating the leftover chicken over  another salad for lunch the next day. Give me allllll the greens!
3. Buffalo's Weather 
Gorgeous. That's the only word I have for the weather so far in Buffalo (minus the clouds this morning). The girls and I have spent almost every day outside and they are loving it too. It's actually been fairly warm, but being a Floridian for nine years has made me used to hot and humid! I will say, it's definitely a different kind of humid here -- I find myself still driving in the car with the windows down, which means obviously it's somewhat bearable!
4. Summer 2016 Olympics in Rio
While the results for almost ALL of the gymnastics events were ruined for me due to people posting on Social Media before it aired here on television, I've been loving watching the USA athletes kick butt in all of the events. I can't believe how talented and strong these athletes are. It kinda makes me want to run back to the gym for a second workout today. But instead I'm sitting here, blogging. But for real... Phelps and Lochte, yes please! 
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5. Birthday Party Planning
Since we're in Buffalo so close to Elizabeth's birthday, I decided to throw a small party up here for her. My cousin (who is also Elizabeth's fairy Godmother) was planning on having a family BBQ, so we decided to roll it all into one! I wanted a Little Mermaid theme since that's currently Elizabeth's favorite so we've been busy planning the event. Planning has kind of spiraled out of control but I can't wait to see everything put together! I'll be sure to take lots of pictures next weekend! 
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Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friyay!!! I'm so excited because my family and I will be boarding a plane this evening and jetsetting off to Buffalo! Ahh, home sweet home! I spent the entire week making lists and packing and preparing the girls and myself for our trip. Packing is a lot of work in and of itself but when you add two girls, it's a tad overwhelming! I actually ended up packing up some toys, sippy cups, toddler plates, spoons, and forks, and mailing them to my parents house earlier this week. I knew our suitcases would be tight on space and I didn't want to forget anything. Luckily I have family and friends up there who will be loaning us car seats and a pack and play and a friend here in Tampa is loaning me a stroller for our trip.

My Friday Favorites today include a variety of things -- baby/toddler things, mama things, and everything in between! So here's my list! :)

Although I'm still longing for the diaper bag I talked about last month,  I do love the one I received while I was expecting our first baby a couple of years ago. It's the perfect size and can be worn over the shoulder or across the chest. It also fits underneath our stroller or can be hooked on. I spent naptime yesterday organizing it for our trip. 

2. Textbook Buyback
With me not working, I'm always looking to sell things to make a little bit of spending money. Over the past several weeks, I was able to sell about $200 worth of things around the house so I wouldn't have to be using my debit card the whole time we're in Buffalo. Face it, I'm more likely to be more careful spending cash than I am to just whip out my debit or credit card. Since my husband and I both have a ton of textbooks on our office bookshelves, I decided to spend the afternoon on Sunday entering ISBN numbers and figuring out which sites would offer me the most money! The two sites that were offering the most money were Sell Back Your Book and I highly recommend both sites if you have some books you're willing to part with! 

3. Zip-Up Canvas Bags
My girls both have a TON of hair accessories and since we're going to be on vacation for almost three weeks, I needed to pack more than just one bow and hairband. My mom bought this for Elizabeth for Easter and it's the first time we're using it. I will eventually get one for Katherine, but for the meantime, both of their hair accessories fit perfectly inside! It's perfect to just throw into their suitcase and not have to worry about losing any of their adorable accessories. 

4. Starbucks Gold Card
I have a huge coffee obsession this summer. It's actually kinda out of control. I've already met the required spending for another year of gold card status and I feel like a VIP! Ha! I try to limit my trips to Starbucks to only once or twice a week, and I do only get a basic hot or iced coffee, but it does add up.  Luckily by having a gold card, I get deals and freebies all the time! I actually have multiple free items just waiting for me! I wanted to use them this week but I decided to save them for when we're on vacation! I'm about as basic as they come! 

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5. Bad Moms
Last night I went with a group of mommy friends to the CineBistro theater to see Bad Moms. It was absolutely hilarious! Deep down we're all bad inside, aren't we? If you're a mom, I highly recommend the movie! It'll make you feel way less guilty for some of the things you think are "bad" when compared to the movie, they aren't bad at all! 

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

My Breastfeeding Journey

My sweet little Katherine is four months old (well four months and one week to be exact) and we are four months into our breastfeeding journey. Our first daughter, Elizabeth, was formula fed after six weeks because I was completely clueless when it came to breastfeeding and I gave up far too soon because I was engorged and overproducing (because I was overpumping). I didn't listen to my body, I didn't listen to my baby -- I just jumped to the "I can't do this" conclusion and turned to formula instead of seeking the help of a lactation consultant once I was home from the hospital. There's not a day that goes by that I don't regret this decision. But when I found out we were expecting baby two, I promised myself that I would give breastfeeding another shot and wouldn't give up.

After some initial difficulty (thank you inverted nipples) and having to briefly (24 hours) supplement with formula due to Katherine's jaundice, we are well on our way in our breastfeeding journey. After using formula with Elizabeth, I can honestly say how much easier breastfeeding is. With the exception of breast pump parts and the occasional bottle, it's just so much easier! I just whip out the nipple shield, grab my nursing pillow, and my sweet little nursling goes right to work! Luckily she has a very efficient suck. so our nursing sessions range from 12-25 minutes -- sometimes a little bit longer when she becomes distracted and decides to be absolutely adorable and flash her pretty little smile!

In my experience, a well-fed and taken care of baby is a healthy and happy baby. This can be done with breastfeeding or formula. As a mom who has done both, I would never say "breast is best" -- because for some moms, it isn't best. It wasn't the best for me with our first daughter because it was causing emotional and bonding issues. But what I will say is that the time my little Katherine and I spend together nursing are some of my most favorite moments. Sure, I am typically scrolling through my IG and Facebook feeds (hello short attention span), but it's the middle of the night nursing sessions that tug at my heart. It makes me so proud of my body for not only carrying a baby for nine months, but for being able to provide all of her nutrients as a baby.

There are a few items that I think make breastfeeding a little bit easier for myself -- and I thought I'd share them with you!

1. Medela Nipple Shield
As I mentioned earlier, I have inverted nipples that prevent Katherine from being able to latch. I do occasionally try to have her latch without, but we are still unsuccessful. I'd honestly rather just keep using the shield than have a batch latch which would cause a whole bunch of issues - cracked nipples, clogged ducts, etc. While in the hospital recovering from delivery, the lactation consultant brought me a couple and I was able to try them on and see which size works. I suggest having a bunch of these, especially in the beginning when you're nursing what seems like every hour. It's also nice to have a few ready to go in various rooms in your house -- the nursery, your bedroom if you're baby sleeps in the same room as you, as well as the diaper bag and the car!

2. Nursing Pillow
A friend of mine gave me this nursing pillow and it's perfect. I'm a petite person, so I didn't want a big, bulky pillow (I ordered the Ergo one and I hated it once it arrived so I ended up returning it). This pillow is perfect and is also great for tummy time! I know breastfeeding can be done without a pillow, but I couldn't imagine not using it! Plus it's so comfortable for baby Katherine to lay on!
 I think she likes the soft pillow!

3. Nipple Cream
Although I've only needed this a few times, it really comes in handy! Cracked/irritated nipples are an awful thing to experience and it's something you need to address immediately so it doesn't lead to an infection and/or thrush. In addition to nipple cream, I also used coconut oil. Both work to coat the nipples and make that initial latch less painful if you have cracked nipples. The nipple cream I turned to was Lanolin which can be purchased on Amazon. It's important to remember that nipple cream, no matter what the brand, doesn't "cure" a cracked nipple. It just makes breastfeeding more comfortable for you while it heals.

4. Baby Scale
Now I know not everyone is crazy obsessive I am, but I wanted to see exactly how much milk my little sweetie was getting (type A much!?!) and so I used a baby scale quite frequently the first few weeks (okay, I still use it occasionally) before and after feedings. It was a lifesaver because I was able to be confident that she was getting enough milk from me and I didn't have to worry about her gaining the right amount of weight. There are some pretty high tech scales available on Amazon (one that is wireless and records the data onto an app on your smart phone like this one), but I have just a basic, regular baby scale. You can find two examples here and here.

 Our little peanut! :)

So many people have asked me how long I plan on breastfeeding for and I don't have an answer. Every breastfeeding session is a celebration of success to me, so I will take it day by day and not set a long-term goal. I will be returning to work in November, but thankfully I have a job that gives me the flexibility to pump as needed, so that is definitely one huge stress relief. I know I'll be dreading the sound of the pump several times a day, but if my schedule allows me the chance to pump, I will be taking full advantage of that so my baby can continue to get all of mama's milk!

For the time being, I will enjoy having the ability to nurish my sweet Katherine and realize that she solely relies on me for all of her nutritional needs! In just a couple of months, she'll be moving onto solid foods like oatmeal and fruits and veggies, so I'm going to soak up all of the moments I have alone with her!

What made breastfeeding easier for you?

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Kickin' Peach Chicken

There's just something so yummy about firing up the grill for a tasty summer dinner.  It's HOT as heck in Florida lately and we're trying to make meals that don't involve having the oven on.  While my husband was at Publix earlier this week, they were giving away samples of one of their signature summer dishes - Kickin' Peach Chicken (served with Chargrilled Asparagus) and he came home with rave reviews. I'm always up for grilled chicken so last night we recreated the dish and it was seriously amazing. 
You'd think it would be spicy with the name 'Kickin' Peachy Chicken', but surpiringly it wasn't spicy at all. Maybe it's because we're used to spicy foods? Who knows -- but for real -- it's amazing and so, so, soooo easy!
My husband isn't a huge favor of asparagus and I'm only a fan if it's cooked like perfectly -- so we opted for a side of carrots instead and mashed potatoes (I cheated and bought premade potatoes because who has time to peel and boil potatoes when you're leaving for vacation in five days!). I'm fairly certain I ate my piece in record time and wanted more! 
You can find the entire recipe here which includes the Chargrilled Asparagus, or you can follow my adapted version below because I did change up a few things (and I also totally forgot to add the minced garlic -- whoops). 
Kickin' Peach Chicken
(Adapted from Publix Aprons Simple Meals)   
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (who knew such a thing existed!!?!)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup peach preserves (oh my YUM!!!)
2 tablespoons presliced green onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (I bought a garlic chili pepper flavored Sriracha sauce and maybe that's why it wasn't as spicy)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic(totally forgot this and it was still delicious)

Preheat grill (or grill pan).
Season chicken with paprika, salt, and pepper.

Place chicken on grill - grill 14–16 minutes, turning often, or until chicken is 165°F.

Whisk remaining ingredients until blended.

Brush 1/4 cup glaze over chicken during last minute of cook time. Slice chicken and serve with remaining glaze for dipping.

I found that this made enough sauce for way more than two chicken breasts so next time I'm making it for my husband and myself, I'd definitely cut the sauce ingredients in half -- except the onions -- I would probably add even more green onions because I just love the flavor they give off!

I think this chicken would go great with grilled corn on the cob and roasted red potatoes -- I think I'll share this recipe with my parents while we're on vacation!

Have a great week! 

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