Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bringing Your Own Food

Thanks for all of the wonderful comments on Friday's post. The graduation went really well! It's still hard to believe that my brother is a college graduate.

Here are some pictures from the day:

Me, Mom, Kevin and Eric

Mom and Kevin right after the graduation ceremony
There were about 300 graduates, and the ceremony was over in less than two hours.  It was pretty impressive!

After the graduation, my mom had a party for my brother at her house.  I had convinced myself that I needed to bring my own food to the party for two reasons:

  1. I knew what my mom was having and I knew it would be very difficult to have a decent portion size of the stuff.  (Roast beef sandwiches, potato salad, fudge and yummy snacks anyone?)
  2. I wanted to weigh in on Saturday and not be disappointed that I overate the night before.  For some weird reason, if I overdo it on a Friday night, I'm prone to do the same thing on Saturday and Sunday.  I'm strange, I know!
I ended up bringing some couscous with veggies and I ate some of the broccoli salad that my mom made (it's one of my favorite foods ever!)

I left the party feeling good about myself and my choices.  That feeling of knowing that I didn't "pig out" around some of my favorite foods was pretty incredible.

So, what's cooking in my kitchen this week?  I'm still on my vegetable kick, so I made some roasted tomatoes with cheese.  To make these, you'll need:

  1. Three tomatoes
  2. Mozzarella cheese (I used a little more than an ounce)
  3. Parmesan cheese (just a sprinkle)
  4. Italian seasoning
Cut the tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non stick cooking spray.  Next, top the tomato halves with mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle Italian seasoning on top and bake in a 450 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese melts.  I like crispy melted cheese, so I let the tops brown a little bit.

If you are following Weight Watchers, 1 tomato is 1 PointsPlus. I've been using these to add to my salads for lunch. Delicious!

Question of the Day:
Have you ever brought your own food to a party?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, January 27, 2012

The College Grad

Happy Friday! I'm off of work today because I'm headed off to somewhere special.......my youngest brother's college graduation.

For the first time in a long time, I'm at a loss for words. My baby brother is graduating college. Where did the time go? Wasn't it yesterday that he called me "Bee Bee" because he couldn't say my name the right way? (Some people still call me that nickname to this day).  Didn't we just open a "restaurant" for my mom complete with a banana and peanut butter appetizer on the menu? Gosh, time flies.

Despite the 6 year age difference between us, my younger brother and I almost always got along. We weren't ever into the same things (although there were a few rare instances where I could convince him to play Barbies with me) but for one reason or another we always seemed to work together. He'd look out for me when I was about to get in trouble (meaning he may have told a lie or two to get me out of trouble - sorry Mom!) and I would do arts and crafts with him while my Mom worked her part-time job for a few hours.

Go Temple Owls!
Even though he's 22, whenever I look at him, I still see that 6 year old boy who was into Thomas the Tank Engine, Fred Penner and the Frog and Toad books.
At Kevin's 21st Birthday
And yet, here we are....getting ready to watch him him graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Accounting.  Even better?  He's graduating as President of his Honor Society.
Down the shore
I'm incredibly proud of Kevin.  He's been through a lot in life but yet he always comes through it with a smile and a "no worries" attitude. 

Somehow, Kevin juggles being a wonderful brother, boyfriend, employee, Eucharistic Minister, and helper to my Mom without batting an eye.  He's not known to complain and takes everything with a grain of salt (compared to me and my older brother who are more of the spazz-tastic people in our family).

At Kevin's High School Graduation
Being installed as a Eucharistic Minister at Church

And, as if that wasn't enough, Kevin is a fantastic Godfather to the little guy.  For goodness sakes - he slept outside in the car overnight with my Mom waiting for the little guy to be born. 

At the hospital, the day the little guy was born

Excited much? (At the little guy's Baptism)

So today, Kevin, it's all about you.  Congratulations, Buddy.  May you continue to dream big, reach for the stars, and keep a good head on your shoulders.

P.S.  When you hear all of the loud cheering today, that would be me and your brother.  We'll try to make sure we out-scream everyone else. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!
It figures that as soon as I decided to cut the caff, the little guy decides it's time to wake up earlier and earlier each night. Today he was up every five minutes from 4:15-4:45. I'm fighting the urge to make myself another cup of caffeinated coffee but I keep telling myself that I'll only feel worse if I do.Happy Thursday!

It's Thankful Thursday, though, and it's time to be grateful. Today I'm grateful for taking the time to paint my nails.

I wouldn't consider myself a girly girl - heck my nails are hard to paint because they are so short - but taking the time to paint them was something I decided I needed this week.

I did it when the husband was working his second job and the little guy was asleep for the night. It only took 10 minutes but it made me feel special. Weird, right?

Who knew that a little coat of nail polish could change someone's outlook on things? 

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

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

P.S.  Please stop by tomorrow - I have a really special post planned!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cutting the Caff

Happy Wednesday! Hope your week is treating you well.

Lately I've been tired beyond belief. I chalked it up to working during the day and chasing a toddler at night but over the weekend, despite extra hours of sleep and naps during the day, I couldn't shake it. I was exhausted and I didn't like it one bit. I know I have a busy life, but that excuse wasn't going to cut it.

After much thinking, I thought I figured it out - I have been slowing adding more and more caffeine to my day. Little guy up early? Add another cup of coffee to my day. The last time I cut out caffeine was two years ago when I found out I was pregnant.   I never felt better.  I remember being tired from the general ups and downs of pregnancy, but it was natural and expected. 

I decided to test out my theory this week and see how I felt.  I started my day off with one cup of caffeinated coffee and drank decaf the rest of the time.  One word describes how I've been feeling - amazing.  I had my first "caffeine withdrawal" headache yesterday but other than that, my energy has resurfaced and *gasp* I can actually stay up until 9:30 before getting tired.  It doesn't sound like that big of a deal, but I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open at 8:00.  I'm getting old, I know!

So yeah, I'm going to continue this trend for a little while.  It's unbelievable how caffeine affects your system.

For dinner last night, I made some of Gina's Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken.  The little guy wasn't a fan, but the hubby and I both enjoyed it.

My only gripe about this was that it was more soupy than I expected. I think the reason that happened was because I didn't drain the black beans. When a recipe doesn't say to whether or not to drain a can of something I usually don't. Lesson learned!

Question of the Day:
Are you a caffeine drinker?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The 20 Minute Nap Maximizer

Happy Tuesday!

Look at this - me blogging on back to back days....that hasn't happened in a long time! I guess work has finally calmed down enough for me to stop by today.  Thank goodness!!

Many of you know that I'm a cook once, eat all work week cooker, so I thought I'd show you some of the "madness" behind my cooking schedule.  Lately I'll throw something in the crock pot on Saturday and make some sort of casserole dish for the rest of the week.  However, with the little guy eating "regular" food, I've been forced to make some alterations to my cooking schedule.  (i.e. one casserole dish of "insert meal here" will no longer feed me and my hubby and the little guy for three days).  I know eventually I'll have to make an entirely separate meal, but until that time comes, I've been getting by with being a nap maximizer.

What is a nap maximizer you ask?  Simple - a nap maximizer is someone who makes the most out of nap time.  I'm very lucky that the little guy still takes two naps a day.  His morning nap is the short nap - ranging from 20 minutes to an hour.  Most of them fall in the 40 minute range, but he has his moments of longer sleep.

If I have the opportunity, I like to take the shorter nap to do some quick cooking - the longer naps are reserved for relaxing or doing something that I enjoy.  Take last weekend, for example.  As soon as we got home from Church, I put the little guy down for a nap.  Not knowing how much time I had before he woke up, I got right to work.

I boiled water for elbow macaroni, hard boiled some eggs for my lunch and made scrambled eggs for the little guy's lunch for the following day.
I don't really have three burners in the front - I was letting the hard boiled eggs cool off.

While the pasta was boiling away, I had time to make the hubby's lunches for the week. This particular week he wanted tuna and some sandwiches. Typically the hubby helps with making his own lunches but this weekend he was off doing house stuff.

The little guy decided to take only a 20 minute nap, and right after I snapped this picture, he woke up.

Lunches, little guy's eggs and elbow noodles for him for the week
I consider that nap maximization a success!  In twenty minutes I had enough food to stretch us for the week without taking a whole lot of time.  Of course, the sink was a mess by the time I was finished, but I'll take it!

Getting the most out of my time makes me feel incredibly productive.  Too bad I can't be the same way when it comes to cleaning the house!

Question of the Day:
Do you consider yourself a time maximizer?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm a Stressor

Happy Monday!!

So yeah, I'm a complete stress bucket. I take the train to and from work. Through my job, I receive a discount on my monthly pass. It gets mailed to me each month. Today I walked in and two of my co-workers received their passes and I haven't gotten mine yet. I don't think I'd normally worry....except that we always get our passes at the same time. I don't want to put out the extra money and then go through the refund process but I guess if it comes to it, I'll have to do it. I know in the end it's nothing to stress over, but it's what I do.....and I hate it!

Most of my weekend was an even balance between cooking and relaxing.  The hubby took the little guy out on his first solo shopping trip.  At first I was hesitant but I was at the point where I needed some time to relax.  If you're a momma, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  When I get to this point, it's either "give me some time away" or "I'm going to get angry over stupid little things".  All I need is a half hour to an hour and I feel rejuvenated.  I took advantage of the boys being out of the house by taking a bubble bath and catching up on a good book.

By the time they came home I was refreshed and ready to take on anything that was thrown my way.

Over the weekend I made some awesome shredded chicken with peppers and onions.  The secret to the "awesome" was Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce.  Why am I so late to this game?  I think I may have been the last person to try this stuff but now, I'm a convert.

It's got a sweetness with a hint of spice that's outta this world!

Question of the Day:
Are you a stressor? Please tell me to stop stressing over the little things! haha

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, January 20, 2012

Roasting the Veggies

Happy Friday!  If I could do a dance right now for you, I would.  I love Fridays.  I mean really, is there a reason not to love them? 

Something else I'm currently loving?  Roasted vegetables.  I've been doing a lot of thinking about the whole trying to lose the rest of the baby weight thing.  What did I do the first time I joined Weight  Watchers that made me so successful?  What foods did I eat?  After some searching, I found my answer - I ate a lot of fruits and veggies.  I have no problem getting in my fruits.  They're sweet and easy for me to pick up on the go.  Veggies, on the other hand, are an "issue" for me.  I'm more of a "make a salad and be done with it" kind of girl.  I know it's time to get back into eating more vegetables, and so last week I headed out to the local Giant grocery store and picked up peppers, onions and cauliflower. 

I chopped the veggies, coated them with some salt, pepper and chili powder, stuck them in the oven and anxiously awaited them to be done.  When I say anxiously, I mean I waited by the oven door with bated breath.  I could smell them cooking and I couldn't wait to eat them.  Obsessive much?  Yeah, that's kinda who I am sometimes.

OH.MY.WORD.  Delicious!!!  I'm officially hooked.  Hooked as in I literally ate an entire head of cauliflower in 3 days.  I ended up using the last of the roasted vegetables on a....you guessed it.....salad.  I mostly ate the rest of the vegetables directly out of the container when the little guy was eating his snack. 

So yeah, I'm basically having a love affair with vegetables right now and I'm not complaining.

Question of the Day:
Anything fun planned for the weekend?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!

How has your week been treating you?  The little guy developed a cold over the last few days, so it's been rather cranky in my household.

Yeah, remember the Elmo hat I made for the little guy?  Well my aunt has been pushing me to start a little "side business" of making/selling the hats.  I mean yeah, it would be cool to make something someone else would enjoy, but I'm not so sure I could actually do it.  That's when all the negative thoughts hit and my brain shuts the idea out of my head for a while.  I mean really, is there a viable market out there for these things?

Too much to think about for me right now, so I'm choosing instead to focus on what I'm thankful for. 

Today, I'm thankful for a short work week - one that allowed me a little bit of relaxation.


My day of relaxation was spent with the little guy. Even though he constantly keeps me on my toes and my days with him would hardly be classified as relaxing, I wouldn't want to spend the time any other way.

Besides, how else would I have gotten to see him do this?

I kept telling him all morning that he was too small to fit in that basket. Mid-morning he decides to prove me wrong and you know what? I'm so glad he did.

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

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Fake Monday

Happy Monday Tuesday!  I feel like I've been operating on a fake Monday schedule since being off yesterday.  Today has all the look and feel of a Monday (i.e. crazy busy at work, having a hard time getting out of bed, etc.) but thank goodness it's actually Tuesday!

On Friday I mentioned I was trying to finish up an Elmo hat I was working on for the little guy.  I'm happy to say I was able to complete it during my lunch break - here it is!

This hat is the first thing I've made that I'm truly proud of.  That's probably because it was made with the little guy in mind.  Of course, I had to get a picture of him wearing it.   

I think he likes it, no?
I had a stellar weekend.  The hubby was off from work all weekend which meant that we got lots and lots of time to spend together as a family.  When he works his second job over the weekend, it's not only hard on me but also on the little guy.  He is constantly asking where his "dada" is. 

Saturday night was "taco night" at our house.  I've been craving tacos like crazy ever since the hubby asked for them a few weeks ago.  I browned up some ground turkey, fried some peppers and onions, grated some cheddar cheese and emptied a can of diced tomatoes.

I thought the little guy wouldn't like the turkey with taco seasoning on it but I was wrong - he could hardly keep his fingers out of it!

The wraps I bought were very large, so I suppose we made more of a "burrito" type of meal rather than taco.....

It was a good meal regardless of what you call them!

And with that, I'm back to work.  Enjoy your day!

Question of the Day:
Burritos or tacos?  What's your preference?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Friday!

Is it wrong that I'm excited to shop for veggies later tonight? I've been waiting for this day since last week! (I'm a huge nerd, I know!)

Fridays are my favorite day at work. Not only do I have the weekend to look forward too, but it's also one of the quietest days here. I've been using the time to catch up on the rest of my work. Once that's done, maybe I'll get some time to finish up crocheting an Elmo hat for my son. Yeah, I'm trying to do it before the weekend is here. Nothing like pressure, right? haha

This week in the house we've been eating spinach pie. I thought it would be perfect for the little guy....except he hated it. Bummer!

In other news, I've been trying to add new songs to my IPod.  The hubby got me a gift card for my birthday.  Whenever I'm in the car I keep thinking "I need to download that song" but of course now that I actually have a gift card to spend, I can't think of anything worthy of downloading.  Any suggestions?

Question of the Day:
Give me some song suggestions, please!

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday (+ Blogging, How I've Missed Thee!)

Happy Thursday!  I can't believe we're already at Thursday.  Work has been just as I predicted - BUSY!  The first few weeks of class is always busy.  It sure makes my days fly by, though!

I have to say that I've missed blogging so much! 

So, what have I been up to the past few days other than working?  Not too much, really.  Hanging out with the little guy and the hubby, doing a little batch cooking for the week and having the urge to experiment in the kitchen.  Last week I was craving roasted veggies in the worst way.  I took a trip to two supermarkets and both of them had overripe/almost rotten veggies.  How annoying!! Tomorrow night I'm stopping by another grocery store to check out my options.  It's a little out of the way but it will totally be worth it just to get some fresh veggies.

On to Thankful Thursday....

Today, I'm thankful for two things: kindness and (surprise, surprise) the little guy.  Yesterday someone was hit by one of the trains I take into work (not the one I was riding on). This meant that the trains on my line were stopped completely and I had no idea how to get to work without venturing into some not-so-great neighborhoods.  Some lovely woman took pity and me and drove me to another train station to catch a different train.  I am so thankful to her for her kindness.  There are still wonderful people in the world!  This little lesson was a reminder to pay it forward.

Secondly, I'm thankful for the little guy's love of learning.  Check out this video of him finding the letters "A" and "O".  Please disregard my high pitched voice (I'm learning I have said high pitched voice whenever I'm talking to him!)

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

Until next time!
~Anne Marie 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Just One of Those Days.....

Happy Monday!

It was one of those mornings where I couldn't remember what day it was.  Wednesday?  Friday?  Sunday?  Then it hit me that it was, in fact, a Monday and I had to get up and go to work.  I heard the little guy say "mama" over the monitor rather than the alarm on my cell phone.  It was music to my ears. 

Did anyone else enjoy beautiful weather over the weekend?  It was in the 60s on Saturday.  The hubby and I were commenting on how this time last year we were walking through the snow.  I could live with winters like this.  

On Saturday night I decided it was time for the hubby to take charge of dinner.  On the weekends I feel lazy and I don't like to plan my meals in advance.  It almost always comes back to bite me because I can't decide what I want for dinner and inevitably we end up having either eggs, pasta or tuna with soup.  I am so sick and tired of having the same things over and over again!  The hubby is an amazing cook but he doesn't like to cook very much.  He told me he would take charge of dinner so I plopped back down on the living room floor and hung out with the little guy.

So....what did he make?  He found a frozen General Tso's meal for two kit in the freezer.  Within 15 minutes, he had it ready to go except that the bag stated there were two servings.....such a lie!  Really, the meal was enough for one.  There were literally 6-7 pieces of chicken in the entire bag.  How that feeds two people, I'll never know.

It was insanely delicious, but next time I'll be throwing two bags of this stuff in my cart instead of one.

Well....I'm off to help the professors get ready for class.  I hope you have a fantastic day!

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

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Friday, January 6, 2012

It's Stew Time!

The little guy made out very well at his 15 month check-up yesterday. The doctor said that he's functioning at an 18 month old level. I couldn't be a prouder parent. He received two shots in the arm and while that wasn't the highlight of the visit, he took them with some tears that were quickly followed by smiles. Only one more round of shots and then he's in the clear until he's 4 years old. Phew!

Yesterday I mentioned that I FINALLY got the little guy to eat veggies by making a stew.  Today I'm here to give you that recipe.

In the crock pot went:

1 package of baby carrots
2 chopped green peppers
1 bag of frozen peas (I added these at the beginning but I later learned you shouldn't add these until the very end because adding them at the beginning makes the peas lose their nutritional value)
5 pieces of chicken breast, chopped small
2 onions, chopped
2 jars of pasta sauce

I cooked it on low for almost 9 hours.  By the time it was done, the chicken was ready to fall apart and the veggies were incredibly tender....just how the little guy likes it.

Looks like I'll be making another type of stew this week as well.  I consider it a "must" when it gets the little guy to eat his veggies!

Question of the Day:
Any fun weekend plans?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thursday!!

I'm leaving work early today because the little guy has his 15 month check-up.  Seriously, where is the time going?  Along with his check-up, he's getting his shots as well.....yeah, no fun!!

Today, I'm thankful for two things:

1.  Work has been swamped - classes start up again next week so the professors have been giving me loads of things to get done.  Today, I'm thankful I have a chance to catch up a little bit while most of them are at a conference.  This week it feels like the second I get my head above water, someone else would need something. 

2.  The little guy has started eating veggies again!  He was very opposed to eating most vegetables after we stopped giving him baby food.  You know how I got him to eat his veggies?  I made a stew.  The veggies were soft and delicious.  In fact, he kept asking for more peppers!

Stew face

Veggies everywhere....even in his hair!
The recipe for the stew is coming soon - be on the lookout!

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

Until next time!
~Anne Marie

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's Good to be Back!

Hello everyone!

Long time no blogging!

The last week off has been incredibly nice.  I got some quality one-on-one time with the little guy, which is always a treat.  It seems that as soon as I got into a pattern of being home with him, BAM back to work I go.  I am incredibly thankful, though, that my work was closed the week between Christmas and New Years.

So....what have I been up too? Good thing you asked because I have some pictures (mostly of the little guy) to share with you!  Be ready.....this could take awhile!

For those of you who were wondering, I finished the stocking!

The little guy was MUCH more interested in the wrapping paper and boxes than the presents.  I wish he would always stay that innocent :)
Showing him his Santa stocking

Christmas day, at my aunt's house.  It was so hard to get a picture of him standing still!

Little guy with his New Year's hat on.  He wasn't too happy about it, but he was a trooper.

The day after Christmas, the hubby, little guy and I went out to a park by our house to see the Christmas lights.  It was freezing, but it was worth it!
Charlie Brown was the star of the show!
Yesterday I gave the little guy some toaster cakes - basically, it's a corn muffin top.  I transitioned him from the bottle to the sippy cup this week and I thought this would make him drink some milk.  He loved these things!

Of course there was tons and tons of good food that was consumed over the past week. (So much good food that I actually gained 4.8 pounds.....yikes!) New Year's Eve, I made some pizza. I figured I would start the year off with a bang!

It's so good to be back!! I'm looking forward to getting into the blogging swing of things!

Question of the Day:
How were your holidays?

Until next time!
~Anne Marie