Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from this crazy bunch of clowns!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Grandmom!

Happy Friday!

Is anyone else supposed to see snow this weekend? It's only October! What's up with that?

I have an exciting weekend coming up. Tomorrow's my grandmom's 84th birthday! We're all headed to her house on Sunday to celebrate her special day.

In honor of her birthday, today I'm taking this opportunity to tell you all about my fabulous grandom and how wonderul she is.

The first thing I should tell you is that my grandmom is a sewing genius.  Her father was a tailor, her mother was a seamstress and so my grandmom was always making things for me - she even made my junior prom dress in high school.  One of my favorite things she made for me was a Cabbage Patch doll.  When they first came out, Cabbage Patch dolls were super expensive, and my parents really couldn't afford to spend that much money on a doll.  My grandmom made me one - and I was the only kid on the block to have a doll that looked very similar to me.

When I was little, my grandmom used to let me play "hairdresser" and style her hair however I felt fit.  I had endless access to hairbrushes, hair curlers and everything in between.  When I was all finished, my grandmom would be quick to admire her new 'do in the mirror and tell me how beautiful she looked.

I fondly remember grandmom teaching me such songs as "Round ball, round ball" and "See-saw, knock at the door."  I'm not sure if those are the actual titles to the songs, but that's how I remember them.

When my older brother and I would go over for a visit, grandmom always had things to play with....whether it was her jump ropes made from old clothes lines or tennis balls that we could throw against the wall.  In fact, grandmom taught us a game she used to play as a child using tennis balls and a wall.  Essentially, you would throw the ball against the wall and before it came back to you, you had to do something like clap three times, turn around, etc.

Grandmom is an amazing cook.  She makes the best green spaghetti ever.  Every holiday we would eat green spaghetti and meatballs.  I actually have a hand-written recipe for green spaghetti that she wrote for me when I got married, and it remains one of my most treasured items. 

My Grandmom has a beautiful faith in God. Whenever I'm struggling with something, I know I can ask her to say a few prayers for me. I personally think she has an "in" with the Big Guy - He always seems to answer her prayers.

If there's one thing I've learned about my Grandmom it's that she loves spending time with her grandchildren (and now great grandchildren!) And you know what? We love spending time with her too.

Perhaps the neatest thing, however, is seeing my grandom interact with my son.  It's amazing to see the smile that crosses her face when she sees him.  I love watching the two of them in action.

Oh yeah - and one more thing? My grandmom has a silly side. I believe this picture remains my favorite one ever. It's pretty classic!

Happy 84th birthday, grandmom!! May you enjoy another beautiful, blessed year!

Question of the Day:
Anything fun going on for you this weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

Yesterday I still wasn't feeling so hot and was definitely not in the mood to talk, write or think about food.  That's so unlike me, I know!  While I was Googling cartoons about feeling better, I came across this and find it mildly amusing.

Today, obviously, I'm thankful for feeling much more like myself.  It's amazing how one can take health for granted. 

I've really missed catching up on reading blogs - I'm off to go do some of that right now!

Hope you have a fabulous Thursday!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Super Simple Sloppy Joes

Happy Tuesday!

I'm feeling a little under the weather today - yuck! I'm ready to get this day over with!

Last night when I got home from work, the little guy was fast asleep. He's started saying "night night?" when he gets really, really tired. It's super cute but I'm completely biased.

The hubby had dinner heating on the stove when I came in, and it was just what I was craving - super simple sloppy joes. While this recipe doesn't use your traditional sloppy joe sauce, it uses something equally delicious - salsa!

I took one pound of ground turkey and cooked it until it was no longer pink. Next, I added a container of salsa and mixed it with the turkey until it was warm.

I served mine with a piece of bread underneath the sloppy joes.

Not the prettiest of meals, but yummy nonetheless!

Question of the Day:
Are you a fan of sloppy joes?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Recap and Tervis Tumbler

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend? Mine flew by even though I had a three day weekend.

On Friday, the little guy and I headed over to visit my Grandmom and Uncle Joe. It was great to catch up with them! The little guy loved seeing his GiGi and Great Uncle Joe!

On Saturday night, the hubby had to work, so I took it as an opportunity to follow the little guy around with my camera all night. I needed some updated pictures and he was more than willing to appease me some of the time.

Yesterday was our family day and we spent it seeing the little guy take his first steps. The hubby and I were extremely thankful that the little guy waited until we were with him to take his first steps.

I'm not so good at transitions, so consider this your warning!

As part of Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program, I was given the opportunity to sample a Tervis Tumbler cup.  I think I am in love with this cup.  It's pretty much indestructible and won't chip, melt, shatter or crack.  That's a blessing in my house - especially with a 12 month old running around.

Best part of this picture?  The party hat and Advil in the background. 
Can you tell that this was right after the little guy's birthday party and just as he was getting sick?
Tastemakers who received the Tervis Tumbler were asked to concoct a drink recipe.  I'm not much of an alcoholic drinker (in fact, I couldn't even tell you the last time I had an alcoholic drink) so my drink involves apple juice and sparkling water.  Classy, right?  haha.  Combine the two in whatever combination works for you and you have a refreshing, tasty drink.


Question of the Day:
Do you have a favorite cup or mug to drink from?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

The sun is semi-shining, the breeze is blowing - my oh my is it a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Mr. Rogers reference, anyone?

I digress.  Today is once again Thankful Thursday - the day where I sit back and reflect what I'm thankful for.  I've been thankful for large things, small things, everyday things - this tradition has kept me truly tuned in to the little blessings God offers me.

I've noticed that since having a baby, my Thankful Thursdays revolve around him.  It's amazing how much joy one tiny person can bring into your life.  So, in true form, today I'm thankful for having the day off tomorrow to spend with this bundle of joy.
This morning, I asked him if he wanted to watch Sesame Street.  He looked at me and said "Sheet! Sheet!"  Pretty flippin' cool in my world.

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Let's Talk: Body Image

I've been saving this topic in the back of my mind until I was ready to discuss it. Today is that day.

As many of you know, growing up, I was always a heavy-set kid. My problems with weight followed me into my teenage years and my early 20s. If I was hungry, I ate. If I was sad, I ate. Angry, depressed, excited? Yeah, I ate during those times too.

High school photo - I'm in the middle
Almost at my heaviest weight - Tulsa, 2005

On the left - Fall Ball, 2003.  See the girl on the right?  She lost a lot of weight too....wait till you see her picture!
Six years ago, I decided enough was enough and I joined Weight Watchers. One year and 70 pounds later, I reached my goal weight and felt on top of the world. It was one of the most amazing times in my life.
My best friend and I

Here's my friend from a few pictures above - both of us lost a lot of weight!
In 2008, I was married and was happy that I didn't have to lose weight for my wedding. It was one less stress I had to endure. Sounds funny saying that losing weight would be a stress, but every girl wants to look her best at her wedding, right?

Wedding Day, 2008
Two years later, I announced that I was having a baby and my body began to change. I promised myself I would enjoy every second of the pregnancy and wouldn't freak out about my weight gain. I didn't give much thought about my weight and ate my way through the pregnancy. Imagine my "surprise" when I realized that I wasn't, in fact, giving birth to a 70 pound baby. Oh, and when people say that the baby weight comes right off? Well, they didn't have my body.

Around 8 months preggo

With my nephew 2 months post baby, Christmas 2010
This long story leads me to a point, I promise!! You see, I still have 18 pounds to lose before I get to the weight I was when I made my lifetime goal at Weight Watchers. To me, 18 pounds sounds huge, and looking at my body post baby, I don't think I'll ever look the same as I did all those years ago.

I still feel as if I have a ton of weight to lose, even though I changed my goal weight at Weight Watchers based on my height and age (10 more pounds until I'm officially back at the new goal!). My pre-pregnancy clothes are more than snug and I have my moments where I want to throw my hands up in the air and give up.

Hubby, Little guy and Me at little guy's birthday party, October, 2011
And then, something happened. I was at a family party two weeks ago and my grandmom made a comment to me. She said "Anne Marie, you look great - you're really losing weight." Funny thing is, my grandmom reads my blog, and I'll bet money on it that she doesn't realize how much that comment meant to me. It made me step back and realize how far I've come, and how when I look in the mirror, all I see are those pounds I have to lose. My body image is distorted, and very much so. My grandmom made me realize that even if I never fit into those really skinny jeans or heck, if I stay at the weight I am now, it doesn't matter.  I look great.  My body did an incredible thing - it gave birth to a baby.  At the end of the day, the number on the scale is just a number.  Self worth? That's worth everything. Truly seeing things for how they are - that's success.

So today, I ask you to do something - check yourself out in the mirror and remember that you are beautiful. You are amazing, and you are worth it.

Question of the Day:
What do you like about yourself?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, October 17, 2011

Healthy Caprese Style Pizza

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend? Mine was eventful. I had to take the little guy back to the doctor's on Saturday and was able to get him on an antibiotic. Phew! Hopefully he'll be back to himself in no time.

I was given a really neat opportunity through Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program and Newman's Own to create a recipe using a Newman's Own Product.  After much thought, I decided to make a healthy caprese style pizza.  Comfort food in a healthier way?  Yes, please!

While making this video, I learned a few things:

1.  I am completely and utterly awkward.
2.  Talking to a camera is a lot harder than it looks.
3.  I have entirely too much baby paraphernalia on my kitchen counter.
4.  Count how many times I repeat things in the video!

Without further ado, enjoy the video!

Both the hubby and I enjoyed this pizza.  The dressing gave the pizza an entirely new flavor!

Question of the Day:
Tell me a fun fact about you!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, October 14, 2011

Home Remedies

Happy Friday!

I've been doing a lot of reading about cough and cold remedies since the little guy got sick on Monday. While a few seemed kooky, one in particular caught my eye.  Apparently, if you put Vicks Baby Rub (it HAS to be baby rub, not regular Vicks, which can be dangerous to babies) on the baby's feet and put socks on them, the baby will not cough the entire night.  No coughing = a baby who sleeps through the night peacefully.

I wanted to give it a try because I've been hearing the little guy coughing throughout the night and he's exhausted when he wakes up.  I'm proud to report that it actually worked!!  The little guy slept straight through the night - his first cough was at 5:15 this morning, right when he woke up.

Crazy, right?

Last night, I sat down to a delicious dinner of shortcut chicken parm and asparagus.  It made me feel all warm and toasty inside.

I wish every meal were as tasty as this.

I made the little guy his own version, and I had to share it with all of you.

The little guy LOVED it. He couldn't shove it in his mouth fast enough! There's something incredibly satisfying about making something for my son and having him enjoy it.

I couldn't be more excited for the weekend. The hubby and I have a lunch date tomorrow followed by my cousin's birthday party.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Question of the Day:

Any home remedies you'd like to share?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

I apologize for being MIA for the past two days - the little guy got sick and I needed to take a day off from work.  The doctor diagnosed him with a throat infection and chest congestion.  Yuck.  This morning was the first time he was actually grumpy.  I could tell his throat was hurting him and he was generally uncomfortable.  Poor little guy.

When the little guy gets sick, I'm always reminded how thankful I am when he's healthy and how easy it is to take it for granted.  Thankfully, he's healthy most of the time with little spurts of being sick here and there.

Oh, and one more thing - today is my cousin's 16th birthday - happy birthday, Allison! Hope you enjoy your special day!

I promise I'll be back tomorrow with a full post.  Enjoy your day!

Question of the Day:
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, October 10, 2011

One Pot Pasta (And Giveaway Winner!)

Happy Columbus Day!  Did anyone else have to come into work today besides me?  It's funny because the entire University has off today except for my section of the office.  We do get a comp day though, which is an added treat.

At the little guy's doctor's appointment last week, she told us that we should start transitioning him off of baby food and formula.  She said that he should be off of formula in two weeks and baby food shortly after that.  Is it just me or does it seem like a quick transition time?  The whole milk transition isn't going so well - the little guy isn't the biggest fan. 

Food, on the other hand?  Well, that's pretty much touch-and-go.  One minute he's scarfing down sweet potatoes like it's his second job, and the next he's looking at me like I'm crazy when I try to give him something new.   It's a learning experience, right?

Like a good Italian, the little guy LOVES pasta.  I'm hoping  this meal is also a score - I'll report back tomorrow!

This one pot pasta dish has broccoli, parmesan cheese, olive oil and garlic.  The smell of this cooking on the stove was amazing.  I got this recipe from Gina's blog.  It comes in at 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus.

And now for the giveaway winner........

Congrats to Erica from Itzy's Kitchen!  Erica, please e-mail me your full name and mailing address to

Question of the Day:
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, October 7, 2011

Taco Soup

Is it 5:00 yet? No? Darn.

It's already been one heck of a morning and it's only 9:45. The little guy did really well yesterday with the shots. The doctor advised me to give him Infant Tylenol once after the shot, once before he went to bed and once this morning. Sounds like no big deal, right? Well, there's one teeny little problem - the little guy gags on medicine and sometimes makes himself sick.

The first two doses went down just fine. No gagging - more of an "eww" face. This morning? Yeah, not so much. He got sick EVERYWHERE. Lesson learned - no giving medicine on a fully belly.

Consequently, I was really late to work (thankfully my boss doesn't care about things like that) and my whole day just seems "off." Things like this shouldn't happen on Fridays!

Now that that's off my chest, I'm here today with a great recipe for Taco Soup. I'm so excited for the kind of weather that's soup worthy. There's something about a big bowl of hearty soup and crusty bread that makes this girl happy.

I got the recipe via Pinterest, originally posted here.

Taco Soup
Recipe from Our Best Bites

1 lb. extra lean ground beef (93% lean or or leaner)
1 onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1.25-oz. packet taco seasoning (about 1/4 c.)
3 c. water, divided
2 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
2 15-oz. cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained

Toppings: Pico de Gallo, light sour cream, shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, tortilla strips, guacamole, etc.

Heat a large soup pot over medium. When ready, brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic. When almost brown, add the taco seasoning and 1 c. water. Add the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 2 c. water, bring to a medium boil, then, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for at least 15 minutes. Serve with desired toppings. Makes 10 12-oz. servings.

Slow Cooker Instructions: After browning the meat, place all the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for about 6-8 hours.

I made it using the slow cooker instructions and it turned out fabulous.

It was incredibly filling and left my belly satisfied. 
Well, that's all from me today.  I hope you all enjoy your weekend, and if you haven't entered my giveaway yet, you have until Sunday night!
Question of the Day:
Anything fun planned for the weekend?
Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday (and a Giveaway!)

Happy Thursday!

Today, the little guy is going to the doctors for his 12 month check-up.  This visit includes multiple shots - I hate shot time!  I know it's a good thing to give him vaccines, but watching his little face tear up breaks my heart.

Since that's kind of crummy news, I thought that I'd liven things up by having a giveaway.  So today, I'm thankful for the opportunity to give you some fun stuff. 

I received three boxes of cereal and a $25.00 gift card to Walmart for free from General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

I felt like a little kid when I opened up the package and saw these three cereals starting at me.

Hello 10 year old self - nice to see you again!
I can't tell you how much Cinnamon Toast Crunch/Honey Nut Cheerios I ate as a kid.  What I can tell you is that it was a ridiculous amount.  Lucky Charms didn't make an appearance into my house until my younger brother was born.  He loved a bowl of the stuff every once in awhile.

It's pretty cute when you turn the boxes around, they form a Star Wars poster.  Growing up with two brothers who are obsessed with those movies, this made me smile. 

In addition to all the deliciousness, there's also a $25.00 gift card to Walmart included in this giveaway. 
Crummy picture but great gift card!
So to recap, the prize pack contains:

One box of each of the following cereals to form your own Star Wars panoramic poster:
-Honey Nut Cheerios
-Cinnamon Toast Crunch
-Lucky Charms
$25 Walmart gift card

By now you may be asking yourself "how can I win this giveaway?"  Simple, my friends.  All you have to do is answer one of the Questions of the Day (yup - there are 2 today!)  One winner will be chosen on Monday morning.  U.S. residents only (so sorry, but it's not my rule!)

I hope you have a great day! 

Questions of the Day:
What was your favorite childhood cereal?
What are you thankful for today?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Birthday Party Recap

Happy Wednesday!

After having the day off on Monday, I came back to work with lots to do and no time to blog. I'm back today with a recap of the little guy's first birthday party!

Everything worked out really well from the decorations to the food to the crazy amount of people who attended the party. It was a whirlwind of a day and thankfully I put my brother and cousin on video camera/photo camera duty so I would have one less thing to worry about.
The theme for the little guy's party was Sesame Street. He can't get enough of the characters (especially Elmo) and when he saw all of the decorations, he seemed happy!

One of the biggest hits were the Elmo cupcakes I made.  My mom frosted them with red icing while I made his face out of white icing with chocolate chips (for the eyes) an orange dot candy for his nose and half of a mint patty for his mouth.

They turned out much better than I expected!

Of course, you can't have a birthday party without birthday cake - Sesame Street related, of course!

The cake was half vanilla/half chocolate with buttercream icing.  I ordered it at BJ's and both the hubby and I LOVED it.  The little guy loved the Elmo and Big Bird cars that came off of the cake.

 When everyone came in the door, they were greeted with this Elmo poster.

I asked the guests to sign it so that the little guy will have something to treasure.  Fun fact - this was supposed to be a "pin the hat on Elmo's head" game.

Before we knew it, it was time for cake!! We gave the little guy one of the Elmo cupcakes to try, and be the judge - did he like it or not?

His arms were stained red from the food coloring for two days - no lie.

And, because we're super cool parents dorks, I made sure someone took a picture of us in our birthday hats.

All in all, it was a great day!

Question of the Day:
Would you rather throw a party or attend one?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, John!

Today, my baby turns one years old. I have a hard time typing that because it seems like just yesterday, I was seeing him for the first time.

Everyone told me that time goes by quickly.....and you know what?  They were right.  I look back on this past year and remember what it was like was he was a newborn.  I could sit and stare at him for hours, watching the rise and fall of his tummy - just waiting for him to open his eyes, smile or yawn.  When he did any of those things, I was there with  my camera ready to capture it.

This is one of my favorites!
As he began to get older, I started to see bits and pieces of his personality.  I've been so blessed - John is such a happy, even-tempered baby.  He smiles A LOT (unless he's hungry - that's another story!) and he loves to cuddle. 

I smother him with kisses and he gives me this look like "really, mom?  are you done yet?"  I can't help it.  I'm experiencing a love I never thought was possible.

Now that John's mobile, his world is even more fun. He's able to crawl from one end of the room to another, climb to a standing position and make his way across the coffee table. His legs wobble a bit, but he's getting stronger and more confident. The littlest things he does are the biggest accomplishments to me. When he claps his hands, says a new word or brushes his hair when I tell him he's holding a brush, I'm incredibly proud of him. Each stage he enters is my "favorite" and just when I think I couldn't possibly love him any more, my heart opens even greater.

This past year has been nothing short of amazing. As I'm watching him transition from infant to more grown up infant (I can't bring myself to use the word toddler just yet!), I realize how precious this time is.

Doesn't he look so old?
Happy birthday, my dear, sweet John.  I love you more than you'll ever know!