barley, greens, and sausage stuffed peppers

I'm usually a recipe follower.  I have stacks of recipes I want to try out and even more magazines and cookbooks that are packed with recipes I would like to make in the future.  I like picking up new techniques from recipes and understanding the process of how a recipe should work.  I like to mostly cook from recipes so that when I make something up on the fly I know it'll work.

Having four green peppers from our produce box, some mustard greens, onions, carrots, celery, and of course venison sausage on hand I decided to make up a recipe for stuffed peppers.  I had tomatoes and barley in the pantry and at 8:00 one morning whipped these up so that later on in the day we would simply need to reheat them.  

Follow this recipe but then again don't fret if you don't have all the ingredients or decide to add a few more things here and there based on what's in your pantry!

{Ingredients You'll Need}
  • 4-6 green peppers, tops cut off and seeds removed
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb venison sausage (or beef or other sausage)
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch mustard greens (or kale or chard), ribs removed and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a saucepan cook 1 cup of barley according to the directions on the bag.  
  3. Meanwhile heat some olive oil in a pan and add your celery, onion, and carrot.  Allow to soften seasoning with salt and pepper to taste then add in your sausage and cook until browned.  Next add in your greens, ribs removed and chopped, and let them wilt down a few minutes.
  4. Now add in your cooked barley and tomatoes and stir together.  Check for seasoning and then allow everything to cook a few more minutes to heat through.
  5. Take your peppers and stuff each one with the filling then place in a deep dutch oven so they won't tip over.  Top the peppers with some parmesan cheese and add about 1/4 cup water into the bottom of the dish so that they steam and don't stick.
  6. Cook at 350 for about 20-30 minutes until heated through and so that the peppers are tender but not too soft.
If you have more filling than you need go ahead and freeze it for an easy dinner some other night.  I froze some of ours and we'll be having these again tonight thanks to 2 more peppers on hand!

roasted corn with manchego and lime

I've got a side for you that is sure to send your meal over the top and have your guests, family, boyfriend, sister, or neighbor asking for more.  This dish is excellent on it's own or would really send tacos or a burrito out of this world.

This is a recipe I tore out of Bon Appetit last summer and it's really a shame that it's taken me this long to make it.  Thankfully I came across the recipe the other week and we had it as part of dinner earlier in the week.  This is a perfect dish to make if you have some corn on the cob left over, or go ahead and skip eating it as you normally would all together and try sauteeing it up with the cheese, jalapeno, chives, and lime zest.  Amazing.

{Recipe thanks to Bon Appetit}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 6 ears sweet corn, unhusked
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • kosher salt and ground pepper
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 cup finely grated Manchego cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced chives
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 and place the corn on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes until tender then allow to cool before husking the corn then cut the kernels off the cob.
  2. Once the corn is ready heat the oil in a skillet then add corn and allow to turn golden about 3-5 minutes.  Now add in your butter and season with salt and pepper.  At this point turn off the heat and either do everything in the skillet or transfer the corn to your serving dish.  Sprinkle on top the remaining ingredients and stir to combine then serve immediately.
This was so good I'm itching to make it again...this time along with some more fish tacos perhaps.

if I had a backyard. outdoor dining essentials.

This weekend will kick off grilling season, backyard barbecues, and a time to kick back and watch the kids chase fireflies.  It will also kick off the time you're allowed to wear white sandals until Labor Day.  The Midwest girl in me still thinks about this rule when it comes to Memorial Day.  

With summer about to be in full swing it's easy to think of backyard barbecue essentials.  We don't have a backyard and we may not have a barbecue soon, so I'm left to daydream and live vicariously through friends who do have backyards, patios, grills, and the need for some of these essentials.

Here are a few things I've come across that would be just lovely to have for long nights on the patio and under the stars.

  1. Blue Melamine Plates from Williams Sonoma.  
  2. Bug Melamine Plates from Anthropologie
  3. Green Plates from Target

You're set, right?  Lots of options for beautiful durable plates, glasses, pitchers, a caddy and tub for all your beverages, and some lights to give you the ambiance you're after.  As for the food to go on the table?  Well that's why you follow this blog, right?!

To follow more things I find follow my {outdoor living} board on Pinterest!

quinoa, chicken, and green olive stew

This stew is a real winner.  Even though the weather is heating up you shouldn't shy away from making it.  It's got the trendy member quinoa in there, along with chicken, and some chickpeas and olives that add a nice fresh taste.

I made this over a month ago and again this weekend for company.  It comes together fairly quickly and if you need to make it ahead of time you can make everything up until adding the olives and chickpeas before you're heating it up again so they don't get too soft.

Vegetarian?  You can easily make this without the chicken and thanks to the quinoa and chickpeas in there you'll still get all the protein you need.

{Recipe thanks to and loosely adapted from Sunset}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 lbs. boned, skinned, chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon each cumin, coriander, and dried basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each chile powder and cayenne pepper
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 (5.75) jar pimiento-stuffed olives, drained
  1. Bring broth to a simmer and add in the chicken.  Cook until done, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove the chicken and shred it.  Meanwhile pour the broth into a bowl and then either skim off the fat or pour the liquid into a fat separator.  
  2. In the same pot add the oil and onion and cook until softened, seasoning with the salt.  Stir in the cumin, coriander, and basil then add in the garlic.  After about a minute add in the chile powder and cayenne (adding less cayenne if you don't like a bit of heat), tomatoes, reserved broth, orange zest, and quinoa. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes to cook the quinoa.
  3. Now add in the chicken, chickpeas, and olives and heat through then enjoy!

salted caramel brownies

These brownies are what dreams are made of.  I made them yesterday for company last night and they were a hit.  I invited a friend over today for one and it's a good thing she came when she did or else they may not have been around. The fudgy brownie topped with the caramel and chocolate and salt make these melt in your mouth.

Curious about salt on your desserts? It's amazing.  If you have yet to try something that involves the word salted next to caramel you should go ahead and make it your mission to make these.  You won't be sorry.

{Recipe thanks to Cooking Light}

{Ingredients You'll Need for Brownies}

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
{Ingredients for Topping}
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/8-1/2 teaspoon coarse salt or fleur de sel if you have it.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 then combine flour through baking powder in a bowl.  In another bowl combine the butter through vanilla then combine the wet and dry and place in a 9-inch square pan that's been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 19 minutes or until the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs. Let the brownies cool completely.
  2. Once the brownies have cooled melt the butter in a saucepan then add the brown sugar and just 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk.  Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.  Remove from the heat then add the vanilla and powdered sugar and stir until smooth then pour on top of cooled brownies and spread evening on top.  Allow to cool for 20 minutes
  3. Now in a heatproof bowl place the chocolate and remaining 2 tablespoons milk and heat for 30 seconds then stir.  Stir so that it's melted and smooth and drizzle on top of the caramel layer. Sprinkle with coarse salt or fleur de sel.
  4. Cool completely then cut and enjoy!

sparkling raspberry lemonade

It's Saturday.  Get up, breathe in the spring air, and go make this.  Sure there's a little work involved but it's delicious and it can be all you do this weekend.  Make lemonade.

I'm not quite sure where this recipe was last summer when I was pregnant and wishing for something more exciting to drink than water.  Or where it was every other time I've had lady friends over and wanted to make something that I know they'd all appreciate.  The recipe here makes a large pitcher's worth of lemonade and it's quite refreshing on a nice warm day.

Next time I may try to skip the simple syrup and sweeten it with agave.  If that doesn't work, I may just half the recipe for simple syrup altogether.  It's definitely not too sweet and still has a nice pucker to it from the lemons, but hey, I'm actually not all about consuming white sugar that much.  Surprised?  Thought so.

Make this for an every day occasion or for a treat.  Whenever you make it, enjoy a glass for me.

{Recipe thanks to Cooking Light}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 3/4 cups lemon juice
  • 16 ounces sparkling water, chilled
  1. Combine the sugar and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil then stir for about 2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Combine the remaining water and the raspberries in a blender and pulse until well blended.  Pour the mixture through a sieve into a pitcher, discarding the solids.  Next add in your orange juice, lemon juice, water, and cooled simple syrup.  Stir to combine and serve immediately.
You can also make the raspberry-water concoction and simple syrup ahead of time and store in the fridge.  Have you lemon juice cold as well as the orange juice and just before serving combine everything.

peanut butter cup blondies

Oh readers, I love you. Yesterday I posted pictures on Facebook of homemade raspberry lemonade and then peanut buter cup blondies and today you're asking for the blondies recipe...not the homemade lemonade!  Well, I'm here for you and your wish is my command so as long as Anders keeps sleeping right now here is the recipe!

It's one I clipped months ago and given that I hosted some friends in the neighborhood for an official playdate yesterday I had a reason to make these.  I used Trader Joe's mini peanut butter cups but you could use 4 regular size peanut butter cups and just chop them up.

This came together quickly, and I needed it to as I made it around 7 am and was working with only a few moments before a meltdown and morning nap occurred.  The brownies came out golden after about 25 minutes but I started checking on them at 19.  They cut perfectly and had a nice soft center.  Make 'em, alright?

{Recipe thanks to and loosely adapted from Cooking Light}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, slightly cooled
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk (other kinds would work okay too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup mini peanut butter cups, plus a few more for the top
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 then whisk together the flour through salt.  In another bowl mix together the peanut butter through eggs and then combine the two.
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips and peanut butter cups and pour batter into a 9-inch square metal baking dish that's been coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 19 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Mine took about 25 minutes until they were done!
There you go!  Enjoy them while they last...

Sponsor Love: The Pilates Body Program. Registration Now Open!

After you have a baby it's known that you can start working out six weeks later.  Although we take a walk each day I'll admit that my gym membership is on hold and right now I care more about nap times than trying to get to a class in the morning that would interrupt the morning routine.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could do something from home that doesn't involve a DVD from an unrealistic fitness trainer in hot pink spandex?  Well, Robin Long of The Balanced Life has created just the ticket and then some.  Robin is motivational, inspirational, and most importantly realistic!  She's created many helpful quick videos on her You Tube Channel I've been known to do while Anderson looks on.  As far as I'm concerned Robin is Anderson's Pilates Auntie!

Robin not only has a great site with helpful content and encouragement, but she's created something called the Pilates Body Program and guess what?  Registration is NOW OPEN for the next session!  The program all takes place online so you can do it from your night, or when your baby looks on!  You'll receive Pilates Videos you can do from anywhere and a nutritional plan that has tasty balanced recipes!

In her own words...

The goal of The Pilates Body Program is to build healthy habits, follow a strategic yet manageable Pilates training plan and fill your diet with the most nutritious foods possible...Remember, it's is not just for those who want to lose weight. It's a lifestyle plan that will teach you how to nourish and care for your body so that you can look and feel your best from the inside out. 

To review the details of the program CLICK HERE

Robin isn't about gimmicks.  She's created a program that works, one that's realistic, and helpful nutritional information to go along with it.  I'm in.. are you?!  Program starts June 3!

rub a dub dub

Parker Catherine and Anderson shared their first bath together last night.  Clearly the main goal was who would get to play with the duckies.  Lucky for them they both got their own washcloth to suck on.

sponsor giveaway: Joy in the Small Things

I'm super thrilled today to be sharing with you a giveaway by the very sweet, kind, and talented Jill of Joy in the Small Things.  I first met Jill through our church in Santa Barbara and was happy to reconnect with her some time ago and learn of her Etsy Shop.

Jill had been in the teaching profession for years but a diagnosis with Crohn's Disease created a shift in her world.  Being the positive and inspirational woman that she is, Jill has taken this trial and found the little bits of Joy in it that she can.  She has chosen to turn something awful into a source of giving glory to God.

Here's a bit of her story in her own words....

I started creating folk art banners with a simple word or short phase that captured the quality or essence unique to each person after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was no longer able to teach.  During that year full of tests and pokes and sickness and ugliness, I thanked each person who helped our family by creating a banner for them. Eighty eight banners later, I find myself making banners for new friends and those interested in my work. While I am still not out of the woods and am learning to live with chronic pain, I have used this site to learn new ways to be grateful to God despite unpredictable and difficult life circumstances. I find there is a LOT to be thankful for and that is the essence of this site.  I have my friend Kim to thank for the name of this website. Recently she emailed me to encourage me during a hard week, pain-wise, and said “I am and will continue to pray for joy in the small things for you as so much pain is part of your daily routine.” Joy in the Small Things…yes, that fits!

Today for one lucky reader she's giving away One Banner... 
up to 8 letters in length.  That's a $60 value, but yours for free!


To Enter:  Comment on this blog post by saying something that brings you Joy!

Contest open to US Residents Only and open until Sunday May 20th.  Winner will be contacted on Monday May 21st!

Email me : to let me know if you did any of the extras above!

There you have it!  Now go enter and share what brings you JOY!

caramelized onion and olive tapenade lasagna

As far as I'm concerned this is the perfect summer lasagna.  It's very light and thanks to trader joe's easy to assemble.  Who doesn't love no-boil lasagna noodles, a jar of olive tapenade, and some fresh tomatoes?  Mozzarella is in there too of course, oh and caramelized onions.  Delicious onions that caramelize nicely thanks to the technique used in this recipe.  

I'll be making this again soon for those nights I know I don't have much time to put together dinner, or frankly want to make something that'll come together quickly.  When I make it again I won't worry so much about how many layers I use but focus on making sure there's enough sauciness so the noodles aren't too dry on the edges, as pictured above.  Rookie fail.  Better luck next time.

{Recipe thanks to and adapted from Country Living}

{Ingredients You'll Need}
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • about 12 lasagna noodles- no-boil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jar trader joe's olive tapenade (or similar)
  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 ounces mozerella, sliced or 2 cups shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a medium skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter then add the sliced onions and season with about 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Saute on medium-low for about 20 minutes.  Add the sugar, raise the heat to medium, and stir until onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons water and stir to deglaze then cook an additional 5-8 minutes.  When done remove from the heat.
  3. Brush the bottom of a 9x13 with 1 tablespoon olive oil then lay about 3 noodles side by side and top with one third of the tapenade, tomatoes, onions, and mozzarella.  Repeat layers and drizzle olive oil on top of noodles.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until cooked through.  Add more cheese if you'd like and bake without the foil until the cheese melts.  Enjoy!

rigatoni with sausage, peas, and mushrooms

We're still living off of the deer Benjamin got this winter which means whenever I see a recipe for sausage I tend to want to try it out.  Next time he gets a deer we'll opt for more sausage and less deer burger.  Although burger season is upon us I don't foresee eating deer burgers.  Beef please.

This recipe made me realize I need to cook with rigatoni more.  It really sucks up the sauce so well and I'll just say it, it's fun to eat.  If you don't have venison you could of course use any other sausage you like.  This is a great dish to make when you buy a large carton of heavy cream and need to use some of it up. don't do that?  I do.

{Recipe thanks to and loosely adapted from Country Living}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 1 1/4 pounds venison sausage or sweet Italian sausage
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 12 ounces rigatoni
  • 12 white mushrooms, sliced (or 1 carton)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • a few dashes of dried thyme or one sprig of fresh if you have it
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. In a large skillet saute the sausage, breaking it up into crumbles.  Meanwhile cook the rigatoni according to the package instructions, drain it, and reserve about 1/3 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Remove the sausage from the skillet then place the mushrooms in the same pan and cook until golden, about 8 minutes.  Add wine, scraping down any brown bits, then add thyme and garlic and the reserved sausage.  
  3. Add the reserved 1/3 cup pasta water and peas then simmer for 3 minutes.  Add the heavy cream and simmer until everything thickens about 5 minutes more then add in the pasta so that it all cooks together.  Season with salt and pepper and serve hot!

mother's day. what we did.

It seems fitting that after my rant about what I'd like for Mother's Day if I were a present liking person I share with you about what we really did.  It felt like the weekend was a big celebration, starting off with Friday.  Benjamin had the day off so he let me sleep after Anderson woke up and ate then I proceeded to go back to sleep after he went down for his morning nap.  I thought I might have another hour to slumber as Benjamin headed off to run some errands. I pulled down our room-darkening shades and proceeded to follow Anderson's lead and sleep for 3 hours!  Benny arrived home at 11:15 to find us both just waking up.  It was glorious.  The gift of sleep is an amazing one.

Later in the weekend we got take-out from our favorite Mexican restaurant in town and then ran into a wine shop while Anderson was still awake and not yet too fussy to grab a bottle of wine for dinner and much to my glee two cartons of Jeni's ice cream!  For awhile now I have been raving about this ice cream shop hailing from Ohio and little did I know there is a case stocked of all sorts of flavors just ten minutes from our house.  This discovery is dangerous.

After putting Anderson to sleep I came downstairs to our takeout, candles, wine, and ice cream.  A perfect date for us at home so lovingly put together by the husband.

On the actual day itself we headed out to Leesburg and after a lunch of steak, mushrooms, and corn on the cob we headed out to Sunset Hills Vineyard.  As Benjamin just said, "the white wasn't horrible..."  We're a bit snobby when it comes to Virginia wine but it's's making progress.  

The location was ideal for ending our day and very relaxing indeed.  It was a great day and weekend for me.  Dare I say it's my new favorite holiday? 

fish tacos. two ways.

Ever since living in Santa Barbara I've had a thing for fish tacos.  I know they should taste fresh and not fishy and that the toppings should really count.  To tell the truth I've been nervous to make them myself, afraid I couldn't attain the perfection it seems I've had in restaurants.  

Since Santa Barbara is thousands of miles away, and the next best spot I've found for fish tacos is 30 miles from our house, it was time I made them myself.  The recipe was a winner and I think this recipe will be a new summer staple for us.

I ended up making double the fish so that we would have leftovers, this time over polenta.  A bit of a fancy take on the standard, but still super cheap and easy to throw together.  However you decide to serve them up, I recommend the rub.

{Recipe thanks to Bon Appetit}

{Ingredients You'll Need}
  • 1 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, and kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 tilapia filets
  • corn tortillas or polenta 
  • tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, hot sauce for toppings
  1. Combine the paprika through cayenne and sprinkle over the fish.  Grill on a grill pan or in a saute pan just a couple minutes per side until done.  Once done place on a plate and shred into pieces with a fork.
  2. Enjoy the fish in your tortillas or over polenta with beans, cheese, tomatoes, cilantro, salsa...your call.
Get creative with the toppings, just don't hide the fish.  It's good.  Enjoy!

the day I became a Mother

It seems fitting that this year on Mother's Day I finally share Anderson's birth story.  It's been a long time coming and seeing as I have already forgotten some details, it's time I get it down in pen before more memories slip my mind.

Truth be told the past seven and a half months have been some of the most challenging, stressful, and without a doubt exhausting times of my life.  They have also been the most rewarding and joyful.  I've always wanted to be a Mom and I can say with confidence once again that it's really all it's cracked up to be for me.  It's the best job I've ever had and one I am honored to hold.  Being able to stay at home with Anderson is a blessing indeed and something I don't take lightly.

Looking at Anderson the past week with this day in my mind it's hard to believe how tiny he once was and how far he's come.  So, let's start at the beginning.

On September 22 I woke up just in time to throw some dry shampoo in my hair, a somewhat-cute outfit, and a little bit of makeup on.  I headed out the door in time to make it to the first meeting for the Mom's Group/Bible Study I planned to attend each Thursday once Anderson arrived.  I knew I would miss most of the meeting since I had my 39 week appointment that day but I figured I'd go and meet some people.  I went, sang some worship songs, met some nice ladies, then met my Mom and headed off to my OB.

Of course I was ready for Anderson's arrival, but didn't expect what was about to unravel.  We saw one of the OB's in the practice and she did the usual at this point- checked his heartbeat, and measured my belly.  I was measuring a bit smaller than they would have liked and there didn't seem to be much growth from the week before.  When asked if I felt like he was moving a lot I didn't have much of a response.  What was I to compare this to?  Sure he was moving, but not a ton.  Maybe he was just a mellow kid?  Napping a lot?  Needless to say she recommended I get an ultrasound to measure the fluid.  I wasn't too worried by this (I don't think) until I saw the nurse calling to get me scheduled for an appointment soon, and having the OB come out to reassure me they would see me shortly.  I liked the idea of seeing Anderson again as I knew he'd look so much different than he did so many weeks before at our 20 week appointment.  The nurse finally told me they could see me in about an hour so I called Benjamin to tell him the news then my Mom and I headed to lunch.

Somewhere between "how about you get an ultrasound" and "they'll see you in an hour" my head began to wander.  My Mom and I went to a restaurant and I ate a large meal like it might be my last.  I frantically texted with a friend who has 4 kids about what was going on.  We both agreed they should just get Anderson out if there was any concern.  I was nervous and giddy that I might be meeting him soon.  I was also a bit worried and emotional, trying not to cry in front of the waiter whenever bad thoughts entered my mind.

At the appointment the technician showed us all of his organs and measured the fluid.  She told me often how full his bladder was and how much he must have to go 'pee pee.'  oh dear.  We didn't get to see his face much as he was so big now it was hard to see that much.  She went back to do some math and came back with her boss, a very kind man who was also a husband and father.  He told us that the fluid didn't necessarily measure low, but it looked questionable to him.  He had me drink some juice to see if Anderson would move and kick a lot.  He didn't.  My Mom asked the doc what he would do if this was his wife and he told us that his wife had been in a similar spot and he would be surprised if they didn't admit me.

At this point I was excited about the thought of meeting him soon.  Potentially very soon.  My Mom and I had to go wait to hear from the OB on call about what her thoughts were regarding the test.  We sat in a nice waiting room with a closed door.  The kind of room where you know people have gotten bad news before.  It wasn't my favorite place to be...sitting there waiting.  Finally, instead of a phone call, the kind doctor came in and told us that my OB wanted me to go check in at the hospital.

Let the freaking out begin.  I seemed to sprint from that room to my Mom's car where I quickly called Benjamin and told him, through a cracked tearful voice, that I was headed to the hospital and my Dad would pick him up from work and take him there.  I sent an email to some friends who I knew would pray and before we knew it we were at the hospital and I was checking in.

We got to triage and saw the OB.  She was surprised Anderson's ultrasound test came back the way it did but told us that if we had the test done again there was no way to take an average score and go from there.  At this point it was best to get him out as I was 39 weeks and we were all ready.  I would be admitted and they would start the induction that night.

Once in the room the nurses were very helpful and said they were all confused about why we were there.  Anderson looked great but despite that I wasn't supposed to get out of bed.  I asked if I could take a shower but the moment I got out of bed his heartbeat dropped so to the bed I was confined.  He didn't respond well to the induction medicine so that was removed.

The next morning after a sleeping pill let me sleep some I was given petocin.  Again, Anderson didn't like the drugs and his heartbeat dropped.  At this point I don't remember a whole lot more.  I did want and get an epidural, something the nurses were all happy about.  As far as I was concerned no medals would be given out at the end of this and I knew my pain tolerance wasn't that high.

Once I started feeling the contractions coming on, and not knowing how fast they would progress and how much stronger they would get, I opted for the epidural.  Overall it was a great decision despite not being able to feel my legs and being pretty tired.  I napped a lot until his arrival which means when it was time to push I definitely had the energy to do so.

My Mom ended up being in the room with us the whole time.  My dad left as things got more intense and I got a bit shorter with everyone.  I remember getting a little (or a lot) self-centered as I anticipated his arrival and thinking that everyone else was watching TV.  I told them to turn it off, stand up, and focus on me!  yes- the brat came out. We all have moments we're not proud of.  Benjamin thinks this was hours before he was born.... oops. 

Around 6:00 PM there was a change of shift for the nurses and so they told me once that happened they would come in and we would start working on getting him out.  I now think, and after seeing his head, that he was ready at 6, or before then.  Regardless, he was born at 7:38 PM, healthy and as happy as a newborn can be.

My Mom's nursing background came in handy and she and Benjamin made a great team encouraging me as I pushed and anticipated Anderson's arrival!  He came out quickly and of course Benjamin and I cried and kissed and I held him close to me.  It seems like those moments didn't last long enough as he was soon getting measured and cleaned up.  Next he was held by his grandparents and Benjamin of course.  As I think about our next child I think I'll want to hold them longer those first moments.

That evening when we got into our room I thought we had the most beautiful boy.  We were a family and I was content as I lay there wide awake between my two sleeping boys.  Although I wanted to have Anderson in our room the whole time I decided I should try and get some sleep without worrying about him so I let the nurse take him.  I told her to return him in 2 hours so I could try to feed him again.  When she came back 3 hours later I had of course been up for an hour, worried that my baby had been taken.  A sleep deprived woman is risky business.

A lot has changed since that day in September, and all for the better.  We're not just a couple, we're a family.  We have a beautiful baby boy and I have a very content and grateful heart. I love being a Mom to Anderson and on this Mother's Day am so thankful to have the family and support that I do.  It's made the past seven and a half months the best of my life.

33 weeks

When did this happen?  Smiling at his grammy of course as she plants flowers in our little bed.  I wasn't going to plant much this year since all we get is shade and it's somewhat depressing for me.  In true Motherly form however she came over with plants and picked up some herbs too.  I'll try and find the sunniest spot for my basil and wish for the best.

Back to the kid...cute, right?!  Trying to eat some more but as we speak he's recovering from some more serious spit up, or rather throw up after eating.  He's just not too into it yet.  According to the nurse we should be trying three times a day.  Yesterday we tried twice and considering what just happened today we'll be trying only once.  This weekend I'll get Benny to try it with him.  The kid likes my milk and smells like it a lot today too.  Growth spurt perhaps?  Probably.

I hear a crying baby so this post must end.  Poor guy.  Growth spurt...teething...being a baby... your guess is as good as mine!

no-bake peanut butter rice krispy treats

I was having one of those days where I decided after making dinner, I should go ahead and make a dessert too.  I had to bring meals to a couple people this week and of course they'd want something sweet.  Selfishly, I'd be wanting something sweet too.

As I was looking through cookbooks I came across this recipe and was thankful to see I had everything I needed on hand, especially since I had just picked up some rice krispies for under $2.00 the previous day.  These treats were destined to happen.

fontina, artichoke, and sun-dried tomato stuffed chicken

I've made stuffed chicken before but this recipe is by far my favorite.  The fontina melts together so well with the artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes to the point that I've now made his dish three times in the past two weeks.  The fact that you can buy huge jars of artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes helps have all the ingredients on hand and makes this more affordable than buying a small jar of marinated artichokes which can run close to $10.

The recipe calls for making a double amount of filling so that later on in the week you can make a frittata with everything in it.  It's a good idea, but so as not to confuse you I'll share with you the recipe if you're using 4 skinless-boneless chicken breasts.

{Recipe thanks to and modified from Bon Appetit}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 6 ounces marinated artichokes, drained, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
  • 1/4 cup packed and drained coarsely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat your oven to 375.  Next mix in a bowl the artichokes, Fontina, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil.  
  2. Cut a slit in each chicken breast and then stuff the mixture into the chicken and press the edge to seal it in a bit
  3. Heat oil in a skillet and add chicken, cooking on one side for 2 minutes.  Flip the chicken and then place the skillet in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes until the chicken is done.

balsamic mushrooms

As part of our veg box last week we got a bag of button mushrooms.  Dirty mushrooms at that which I had to 'wash.'  Washing mushrooms isn't my favorite and I tend to leave some dirt on there and recite in my head, "God made dirt and dirt don't hurt."  Maybe not the best philosophy but then again, we've eaten the mushrooms and we're all fine.

I made this recipe during a nap time knowing we would eat them later on that evening.  The recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's Dinner at Home cookbook where she says they can be eaten at room temperature as well.  I liked mine warm although Benny ate his cold.  To each his own.

However you eat them, they're good.  I think I'll be using this method of cooking down the mushrooms and adding some balsamic and chili flake in towards the end a lot in the future.

{Recipe thanks to and adapted from Martha Stewart's Dinner at Home}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces- or one bunch or container of white button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  1. Heat oil in a skillet and then add in your mushrooms.  Stir to toss them and season with salt and pepper.  Once they start cooking down add your butter and allow to really cook down until golden, about 5 minutes more.
  2. Stir in the vinegar and red-pepper flakes and cook for about a minute.  Remove from the heat and serve warm or save for later.

32 weeks

Such a character.  This week marked the end of liking to be on his back.  He now rolls to his tummy and props himself up on his hands.  He doesn't have his hips up much so I figure I have a few more months before he crawls.  When I mentioned this to my friend who has a 15 month old she just laughed and said I maybe have a month.  Oh dear.  

This week also marked the first time he's put his head on my shoulder as he's getting tired.  So sweet.  I hope he falls asleep like that sometime soon.  

We love you sweet boy.  

what I'd like for Mothers Day if I were a present liking person

I'm not that big into presents.  My husband however is thanks to a Mom who gets really excited about them and wraps them beautifully.  Presents stress me out sometimes.  This probably relates to my love/hate relationship with shopping.  When I realized I needed to get Benjamin a present on our wedding day that was a big stresser.  Too much pressure it seemed, especially seeing as I wasn't about to get him the gun I know he wanted.   Starting out on a bad foot?!  Nope- we're fine.  

Now that I am married to someone who is often thinking of things they'd like, both practical and not, I too think of things that would be nice to have.   These are all of course on Pinterest for me to think I'll someday go back to and purchase.

Of course there are things that could really spruce up the kitchen.  Lovely plates from Anthro are totally impractical but gorgeous.  A cute pedestal cake stand would be nice because you can't ever have too many and maybe I'd use it to hold lotion and soap in next to the sink.  Or what about the cutest whisks you've ever seen?  Also from Anthro of course.

In a summer where I want to stay cool, look cute, but still be practical the lovely stripe seafoam dress would be awesome, or the blue button dress.  And as for the tunic?  I see it looking quite perfect with my white capris when we get a date night perhaps or are strolling the streets of Santa Barbara.

I have the Timex watch with a brown leather band but think the white one would be fun for summer.  It's reasonably priced so a good watch to wear around babies.  To be totally impractical that ring is amazing.  It's made by the same person who made our wedding rings and well, I wouldn't be upset if I ever got some more jewelry made by him.  

So, maybe I'm learning to like presents and want them too.  Thing is, I like to think of them in advance.  I like to know exactly what I should get someone and not just get things because I have to.  I also like when I receive something I actually want, as opposed to something I couldn't or won't use.  So, some of you (Benny) may have found this post helpful if you're in fact a present person...

Reality is, I don't need a present for Mother's Day.  I really didn't like the idea of a push present and I still don't.  I like words and hope to get some lovely ones from my husband on Mother's Day.  As for all this stuff?  I wouldn't turn it down, but also definitely not expecting it either.  

crock pot baked beans

I have a weakness for canned baked beans.  A barbecue isn't complete without them in my opinion but I've always wanted to master making beans myself.  That'd be much healthier and economical too.  This version maybe doesn't seem healthier to some people seeing as it's loaded with bacon, but I'm going to go ahead and say that it is.  There's got to be way less sugar in this recipe than the canned, less sodium, and all around you know what's in there.

This recipe is a great base that I'm sure I'll make again.  Next time I may add a bit more ketchup so the sauce is thicker and maybe even add some bourbon for a kick.  If the beans aren't the way you like them when they're all done you can of course add more salt, pepper, ketchup, or brown sugar.  You won't need to add more bacon though, that's for sure.

I made these the day before our barbecue and just had to reheat them on the stove the day of the party.  I like to think they were better than if I had made them the day of because the beans got to soak up the flavors even more.  Thanks to cooking these in the crock pot your kitchen will stay nice and cool as you too make these a staple for your kitchen cook-outs all summer long.

{Recipe thanks to}

{Ingredients You'll Need}

  • 1 1/2-2 lb. navy beans- dried
  • 1/2 lb thickly sliced bacon, roughly chopped
  • water
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 8 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 peeled onion
  1. The day before you're going to cook the beans soak them in water and baking soda.  You could also soak them for several hours.  Once they are soaked in the water and baking soda bring them to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Drain.
  2. Mix together the molasses through pepper.  
  3. In the bottom of the crock pot place half the bacon then top with the beans and molasses mixture.  Top with the remaining bacon pieces and stick a peeled onion into the beans.
  4. Cook on low for 10-12 hours or overnight.  You can add more liquid if you'd like- water or even ketchup will do.  Taste for seasoning and you're done!