Our Independence Day + Weekend Rewind

Friday, July 6, 2018

Happy Friday!

We've been enjoying the HOT weather and celebrating all the things the last few days, so I wanted to share a little recap:

Rick had to work on the 4th of July, but I was off and daycare was closed, so I got to spend the entire day with this little dude.

We obviously dressed for the occasion and were all decked out in red, white and blue! 

It was ridiculously hot out, so we spent the good part of the day lounging in the pool at Grandma and Grandpa's. This was Little Man's first time in a baby pool and he loved every minute of it.

We also visited with Grandma Libby, who had some fun beads that were very tasty to chew on, despite the numerous times Mama tried to take them out of his mouth.

Over the weekend Little Man got his first taste of ice cream.

He was highly offended that his first taste was Salted Carmel. He was like "where's the cookies and cream?!?"

We also visited Grandma and Grandpa on the farm and Little Man got to meet all the farm animals, including some new baby chicks.

He was very intrigued by them and loved petting their soft feathers.

It has been a fun couple of days, and we are so excited the weekend is here once again!

Currently: July 2018

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July! I thought it would be fun to kick-off the holiday by participating in Anne's Currently Link-up.

Our 4th of July celebrations will be low-key this year. Rick has to work, and Little Man is still too young for the parades and fireworks. We are going to grill something yummy for dinner, and I've got a fun cocktail I'm hoping to try. 

Over the weekend we visited Rick's family on the farm and Little Man got to meet all the farm animals for the first time, including the baby chicks. He was very intrigued by them and did try to pull on their wing a little. He didn't seem as interested in the cows or the goats, but there was a lot to take in, so he might have just been a little overwhelmed.

This afternoon we are visiting my family and we are going to have a little "pool party" (i.e. enjoy cooling off in the baby pool). It should be fun for Little Man to splash around in, and I'm sure I will be sharing pictures and/or video over on my Insta account if you want to check out all the fun. We sure know how to party!

I have not baked in forever, but I am loving that blueberries are in season. I'm craving either blueberry cobbler, or a pie or something. The Pioneer Woman made this Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Bruschetta on her show last weekend and I seriously can't stop thinking about it. Or maybe even this Blueberry Lemon Bread. If you have any delicious recipes that use blueberries, please share as I'm hoping to make something this weekend with the big batch of blueberries from Costco.

Little Man will be sporting his 4th of July muscle shirt today, and I will be wearing this cute tank from Target with these chambray shorts that I've been living in this Summer. I love that they can look somewhat dressy, but are super comfortable and not super short. I'm also loving this chambray shirt, which I pair with white jeans, and this fun flamingo tee that I get compliments on it every time I wear.

One of the things I'm really loving lately is that we are finally having family dinner time at the table. Pre-baby, we would sit on the couch and bing on Netflix or spend time on our phones. Now we all sit at the table, and well sometimes we still watch a show, but at least we made it to the table! We realized if we sit our little guy in his high chair and eat the same time he eats, or shortly after he eats, we get to enjoy our dinner without a kid jumping all over us (not rocket science I know). Give him some high chair toys (we have this, this and this) and some puffs, and we can get at least 10-15 mins of quiet time after he is done eating.

Another thing I'm loving lately are listening to podcasts. I cannot find the time to sit down for more than 2 mins to read a book, but have been enjoying listening to podcasts while I get ready in the morning or am cleaning the kitchen at night. Some of my favorites so far are: Young House Love, Sorta Awesome and The Girl Next Door. I'm looking for more, so if you have a favorite podcast, please share. 

If you are visiting from the link-up, thanks for stopping by! Hope you have a fabulous 4th! 

Life Lately: June Recap

Monday, July 2, 2018

A few highlights from our first month of Summer:

New Foods:

Little Man loves to eat! I believe it's his favorite part of the day, besides play time. We started introducing fruits and veggies in May, but started adding a lot more variety and some blends in June. He is currently eating 2 tbs of oatmeal with 2 tbs of a fruit or veggie, 4 times a day. We also introduced puffs the middle of June, but it wasn't until a few days ago that he finally got the hang of eating them without choking. It took a while for him to understand he could not immediately swallow them whole like he does the baby food.

First Family Vaca:

We went on our first family vacation to Kelly's Island. Despite all of the prep, packing, loading up the car, and coordinating travel time with eating and pumping schedules, it turned out to be a really good time. We had our first experience feeding Little Man at a restaurant and learned that he would prefer to flirt with anyone that would walk by than eat his own food. Little Man also got to sleep in the pack and play for the first time, and although he did wake up a few times throughout the night, he did much better than we expected. I'm hoping to share a dedicated post soon with more details.

On the Move:

Little Man just started crawling this weekend! He has been rolling, spinning, and pushing himself to get around for about 2 months. This month he finally figured out how to get on his hands and knees, and was trying to coordinate moving his knees with his hands. He also started doing planks to obviously work on his fitness, but in reality he was just trying to figure out how to get his legs moving. 

4 Year Anniversary:

Not pictured, but the hubs and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary this month. This year we chose to celebrate with a staycataion. We dropped the boy off at day care 2 days in a row and enjoyed having a day date. The first day we went day-drinking and enjoyed a delicious lunch and some yummy wine at Coppers Hawk. The second day we went to the movies and saw Jurassic World, which was really good but much scarier than I remember the previous movies. We both agreed we needed to get out and enjoy dates a little more often, and we need to take advantage of our daycare situation more.

Life Update - A New Family Member

Monday, June 25, 2018

It's been well over a year since I visited this space. On the day of my last post (April 5), we found out we were expecting a new member in our family. Extreme nausea and exhaustion took over, as well as a few other events, and then before we knew it our little man was here. 

{ 2 weeks }

It's been almost 8 months and I can't believe my baby is growing up so fast. I thought I would share some of the questions I'm continually asked on how we are adjusting.

Are you all getting any sleep?

For the most part. He was born six weeks early and needed to catch up with his weight, so up until he was 4 months old we were waking him up at 3 am to eat. Then at around 7 months we were cleared to finally cut out his 10 pm feed. So for the last month we have been putting him to bed around 8:30 or 9 pm and then he typically sleeps until 7 am. Sometimes he will get up at 6 am and I will bring him into bed with me to snuggle until I get up at 6:30. Snuggling in bed are some of my favorite moments because our mornings can be so chaotic trying to get us both ready in the morning.

The last few weeks he has been waking up a few times a night, but we can quickly get him back to sleep by either rubbing his back or picking him up and rocking him for a few minutes. I'm not sure if he is going through a sleep regression, or if we just need to sleep train, but some nights it's only 1 time and some nights it's every hour...woof!

{ Memorial Day @ 7 months }

How are the dogs adjusting?

The first 7 months they stayed with Rick's family on the farm. Between spending extra time in the hospital due to the boy's early arrival, and then going into a very cold Winter, we wanted to make sure they were getting the attention they needed and we had the time we needed to adjust. Since they have been back all seems to be ok for the moment. At first the pups kept their distance, but they are slowing starting to get interested in the baby and I think once they realize he is going to be their new source for table scraps, they will become the best of friends. Our little man loves them and we got our first belly laugh from him laughing at the dogs playing with Rick.

Is he moving?

Yes...all over the place! He has been rolling over, army crawling and pushing himself backwards for a few weeks now. If he wants to get somewhere, or get something, he will find a way to get it. He is a very motivated baby. Two weeks ago he learned how to get on his hands and knees, and he has been rocking back and forth, but he hasn't figured out how to move his knees forward. He seems super close and everyone seems to think he will be crawling soon. I'm kind of excited about it, but it also makes me sad my baby is just growing up so fast.

He definitely likes to play and play hard. He is obsessed with his toys and has to have something in his hands at all times. The majority of the time they go straight into his mouth. It's so cute because he tends to fall asleep with at least one toy in his hand every time. Sometimes he even has a toy in each hand.

{ Mother's Day weekend @ 6 months }

How are we adjusting to work and daycare?

We are adjusting. Part of me enjoys a reason to get dressed and out of the house, and I enjoy interacting with other adults and stimulating my brain. I was really feeling brain dead with the monotony of diaper changes and feedings and being stuck inside, but that was also likely due to my maternity leaving being in the middle of Winter. We all got a little cabin fever this Winter. The other part of me misses watching my baby grow up and I just want to spend as much time with him as possible.

He absolutely loves going to daycare and loves all of his teachers. There have been a few times when he gets more excited to see his teachers than me. Although it's reassuring that he is in a good place with good people, it's also a little heartbreaking when he doesn't miss me. I might feel differently when he starts to go through stranger anxiety, but so far we don't seem to be experiencing any of that as he loves to flirt with all of his teachers. I think daycare has also helped him so much developmentally. His school has a good curriculum, but I think also being around other kids his age has helped him so much! Being a preemie, he is expected to be about 6 weeks  behind developmentally, but I think he has totally caught up to where he should be at almost 8 months, which is very reassuring.

What is the biggest challenge so far as a Mama?

The first 6-8 weeks were tough dealing with sleep deprivation. I was extremely lucky that Rick was able to take about a month off work. The first few weeks Little Man had his nights and days mixed up and would scream all night long if we put him down. So Rick and I took shifts and I would stay up for 4 hours holding the baby and he would then stay up for 4 hours holding the baby. Luckily around 6 weeks we started to get this all straightened out, just as Rick was going back to work, but I had many days where anxiety would set in around 10 pm knowing that we would have such a rough night ahead. I really don't know how mothers with a toddler and a newborn do it, but props you you!

Now the biggest challenge is getting everything done. Between trying to keep up with housework, laundry, dishes, fixing dinner, preparing everything for daycare the next day, pumping and taking care of the boy (oh and myself!), there never seems to be enough hours in the day to do it all. And Rick helps out a lot, but I still feel like we need at least a third person to help us out. With the boy going to bed a little earlier, it does help out by giving me a little time in the evening to catch up, but then I feel guilty I'm not getting to spend much time with him every night. The Mom guilt is real y'all!

We are all adjusting and learning how to parent a little more every day. Hopefully we will have it all figured out by the time he goes to college.

Dinnertime with Hello Fresh

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I love meal planning and I've shared many recipes and some of my meal plans before. Lately I've been in a bit of a rut and have been struggling to find new recipes to try. Enter Hello Fresh!

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I've actually been doing Hello Fresh off and on for about 6 months now. I usually only order from them 1 or 2 times per month. I typically order from them when I am really interested in multiple recipes, as you have to order 3 meals, and when I know that I'll have time during the week to make the meals. If I'm having an extremely busy week I'll opt for crock pot meals or some of my easy standbys like a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, but if I feel like I can spare 30 or 40 mins a few times a week, I love trying out new recipes. I also love that they are pretty healthy meals and use simple fresh ingredients. Perfect for a clean eating lifestyle. They also have gluten free, vegan and dairy free options, and recently have started offering a breakfast option (which I'm super excited to try!).

I've shared some of my meals on Instagram stories, and my friends and family are always asking me about the service, so I thought I would share my thoughts and some of my favorite meals.

When you sign up, you pick a day of the week for your delivery. I originally choose Wednesday because that was Rick's day off and I knew he would be home during the day to accept the delivery. We have to decide by Friday which meals we want, or if we want to pass for the week. Our delivery shows up around 4:30 pm and is in a large insulated box with large ice packs. So even if we cannot get it immediately in the fridge, the food is cool and safe for at least a few hours.

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Once you open the box, there are 3 smaller boxes that have the portioned out ingredients for each meal. The meats are in the very bottom of the box under the ice packs, to keep them really cool. I like how everything is organized and easy to store in the fridge. Then when I'm ready to cook one of the meals, I just pull out one box and everything is included.

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Each meal includes a recipe card with a large color picture of the meal, with the cooking time and calories on the front, and all of the instructions on the back. I love that I can keep these recipe cards and make the meals another time if I really like it, I just need to purchase the ingredients myself.

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The recipe cards break down the recipe step by step, and the recipes aren't too hard to do. Every once in a while I come across a recipe with a new cooking technique I've never tried before. I've also learned about interesting things like Potato Rosti (crispy potato pancakes, made the Swiss way), and Gremolata (a condiment made of parsley, lemon zest and garlic)

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I love using the Hello Fresh app, which I have downloaded on both my phone and my iPad. This makes it really easy to choose my meal selections when I'm meal planning and I can also easily reference back to my previous recipes and favorites. I can also go about 6 weeks out and decide if I want to skip for the week. Right now I tend to go ahead and mark skip as far out as I can just so I don't accidentally forget to skip. Then I can go back in and unskip when I'm meal planning. The only issue I have with the app is that it is always logging me out, so I have to log in every time I go into the app. But I like that I have it on my phone as well so I can reference recipes when I'm out shopping.

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One thing to think about when trying Hello Fresh: Each recipe takes about 30-40 mins of active cooking time. So they are not a quick prep and then throw in the oven and multi-task type of recipes. You will spend the full amount of time actively cooking.

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The majority of the recipes we have tried we have both loved. Some of my favorites include:

Lean Mean Chicken and Greens

Meatloaf Balsamico with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

New York Strip Steak with Truffled Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans Amandine

Mustard Pork Chops and Potato Rosti with Green Beans

New York Strip Steak with Balsamic Reduction over Polenta, Blistered Tomatoes and Green Beans

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The puppies love when I'm cooking Hello Fresh meals because usually there are a few stray veggies that fly off the counter.

I'm trying a few new meals again this week, and will be sure to share everything on my Instagram stories, so make sure the follow along. I also have a few discounted and free meals that I can share so if you are interested in trying Hello Fresh, feel free to email me at lifeloveandpuppypaws@gmail.com and I'll send you a code.

New Babies on the Farm

Monday, April 3, 2017

Last weekend we visited Rick's family and hung out on their farm. Over the last year they have gotten various livestock, and they just got a few babies that I was super excited to get to meet.

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Although not babies, the goats are always my favorites. They are super friendly and will follow you around all over the place hoping you will either feed them, or give them neck scratches. They will nibble on you a little, but it doesn't hurt and is kind of funny. As you can see I'm wearing my goat shirt in honor of my favorite little buddies.

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Here is one of babies (#socute). They got 3 baby Scottish Highlander cows. They are all between 6 and 9 months old. This one is Gwendolyn, which is the one that I got to name and she was the most photogenic of the 3 (loved getting her picture taken).

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The black cow is the boy and his name is Finian. The two brown cows are girls, and I'll be honest I can't remember the other girl's name (I'll update later). We chose Scottish names for all of them.

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They were a little skittish, but they had just been taken away from their mother, and were now in a new place with a bunch of other animals (chickens, goats, turkeys oh my!)

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But they all allowed us to feed them later in the day, so I think they will warm up to us soon.

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The goats weren't sure what to think of them first, and they were sticking to one side and the cows on the other. Eventually they will all be good friends I'm sure.

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This is Rey. He is my favorite of the 3 because he is a nubian goat (which are my favorites, love their ears!) and I got to bottle feed him when he was only 2 weeks old.

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The two white goats are females and they are super sweet too. I'm hoping they have babies in a few months because baby goats are just the cutest!!

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Rick's parents also have chickens and turkeys, and they sent us home with 8 dozen eggs! We eat a ton of eggs, so we will likely go through all of these in a month or so. Check out this ginormous egg from one of their chickens!

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To get a better idea of size, here it is next to a regular egg from the grocery store. The egg on the left is 1.9 oz and the one on the right is 4.2 oz! All of the eggs from their farm are free range and they are so fresh and good. They have the clearest egg whites and the creamiest yolks that are bright yellow/orange.

Flowers and Coffee

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I am one of those people who gets a lot of joy out of simple pleasures. And two of my favorite simple pleasures are coffee and flowers. If I'm having a bad day, grabbing a cup of good coffee and having fresh flowers on my table, or at my desk, can really help to raise my spirits. So when I came across a new bakery Flowers and Bread, I totally had to check them out.

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Flowers and Bread is a unique concept because not only is it a bakery, but they also sell fresh floral arrangements, as well has have cooking classes and floral arranging classes.

Rick and I stopped by on Saturday morning around 10:30 am, and although it was busy, we were able to quickly find a table to sit and enjoy some coffee and a yummy bakery treat.

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I had a mocha, which was so rich and decadent because it was made with almond milk and chocolate ganache. Rick had a regular coffee with cream, and it had a really unique spicy flavor to it. We also tried the carrot cake, and Rick had the egg in a basket. His egg in a basket was covered in gravy, and it also had an interesting flavor (like thyme or sage) to the gravy that we could not identify, but we both thought was pretty yummy (and I'm not even typically a fan of gravy).

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I loved all of the cute floral arrangements on the tables, perfect for taking lots of Instagram pictures.

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As I mentioned, they also sell fresh floral arrangements, and although they were a little on the pricier side, they were so beautiful that I had to pick up one.

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The arrangement I picked out had blush pink roses and parrot tulips, which are my favorite, but I never seem to find in arrangements.

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Flowers and Bread is a fun little place, and although it is not really close to our neighborhood I can definitely see this place as a fun treat every once in a while, or a fun place to meet up with a girlfriend or to take family when they are in town. I'm also really interested in trying one of the cooking classes or floral arranging classes. I'll be sure to share when I do!