Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Menu Monday #24

Whew, what a weekend! As you can see, I am running a bit behind since it is Tuesday now! :/ Friday was absolutely gorgeous here. 82 degrees and sunny. Fast forward to today and it's now 30/40 degrees and rainy. Ugh. Thanks, Mother Nature! So on Friday, Josh enjoyed the afternoon outside with the boys, while I decided to have my hair stylist chop off my hair! I felt like it was time for a change, so I took off about 4-5? inches and I am now sporting a super cute bob with some darker lowlights for the winter. I love it!
Before and After Haircut
So much shorter!!
Side of haircut
Longer in front, angled up to my hairline in the back.
That evening, we got takeout pizza for dinner and watched our Bearcats game. Not the ending we were hoping for! :(

On Saturday morning, I tried a new recipe for Baked Pumpkin French Toast from Two Peas and Their Pod's blog. Yum. I had baked a loaf of French bread on Thursday, that I had planned to use that evening for grilled cheese sandwiches. Instead, we went out to dinner at our favorite local German restaurant, Freiberg's, with the guys hubby had been working with all week. It was a nice meal out with good food and conversation. I love their Paprika Schnitzel and Bratkartoffeln. So, I was left with a loaf of bread, which prompted me to try this new recipe! I put it together Friday evening, so Saturday morning was a piece of cake! I just preheated the oven, threw together the topping, and enjoyed the morning with the family while it baked. As every other pumpkin item we have eaten this fall has been, it was amazing. Noah seriously scarfed it down like he hadn't eaten in weeks. It was pretty amazing to watch! Haha!

On Saturday evening, we hosted a Halloween party for the boys' friends! I had spent the day finishing up costumes for them and Daisy. :) I can't wait to line them all up and get pics on Halloween! Here are a few sneak peek pics from my iPhone for now...

Daisy in costume

Ethan in costume

Noah in costume

For the party, we made a big pot of our Italian Chili, served Cincinnati-style, over whole wheat spaghetti, and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. On the side, I made some of my buttermilk corn bread. For dessert, we finished up with some pumpkin crunch. Of course! The kids all came in costume and one of the other moms handled games for the evening. Fun times! I sent the kids home with bags of autumn trail mix (peanuts, golden raisins, candy corn and Reese's pieces). More details and pics from the party to come.

On Sunday morning, we feasted on leftover Pumpkin French Toast again. It had made such a huge pan that it fed us all for 2+ breakfasts! Awesome.

Sunday: Leftovers
We had a refrigerator full of leftovers, so lasagna was dinner for hubby and me. The boys enjoyed hot dogs and mac 'n cheese. I tried Annie's organic version for the first time, and it was great! Looked just like Kraft, too, so Ethan was eager to gobble it up! :)

Monday: Pot roast, potatoes, carrots, onions
The perfect meal for a cold, rainy, dreary day! It was nice and warm inside, though, and the house smelled heavenly. I used some A1 sauce and a packet of Lipton's dry onion soup mix again this time because it was so tasty last time!

Tuesday: Cubed steak over rice, stir fried parmesan green beans
Another nice comfort food meal for another cold, wet day (with expected snow!!!)! I combine beef cubed steak, a family size can of cream of mushroom soup, and a jar of mushrooms (drained). This cooks all day, then is served over rice with beans on the side. This is a meal I grew up eating often in the fall/winter, so it always reminds me of home. :)

Wednesday: Leftover chili, grilled cheese sandwiches
We'll be eating the rest of the leftovers for a quick dinner before Trick or Treat! I plan to make a loaf of French bread to use for the sandwiches, and I'll cut out Jack-o-Lantern faces on the boys' sandwiches (so the orange American cheese will show through) to make them fun for the holiday! I'll use Provolone cheese for hubby and me.

Thursday: Takeout pizza
I'll be hosting a Mom's Night Out with my friends, here at our house, so I'm letting the guys fend for themselves with some pizza. ;) I'm having a Pinterest Party, where my friends will bring dishes they have pinned and we'll make a craft I pinned. Fun! I'll be making my favorite red sangria and another pan of pumpkin crunch. Yeah, my diet has been totally blown this fall.

Friday: Out to eat
Not sure where we'll go yet, but a night out will be nice.

Saturday: TBD
We'll either go out to eat again, or I'll make pizza here at home.

Happy meal planning to you this week! Hopefully the weather perks up for Trick or Treat on Wednesday and everyone on the East coast stays safe amidst the storm. Remember the time change is next weekend!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Noah is 15 Months Old!

Little Noah turned 15 months old last weekend. Can you believe it??

He's my wild and crazy tiny man!
Fifteen months meant that it was time to make a visit to the doctor's office for a well-check and vaccinations. So, that is where we spent our morning today! He weighed in this month at 20 lbs 8 oz (down to the 5th percentile), up just 8 ounces from his 12-month check. He measured up at 31.5 inches (in the 50th to 75th percentile), up 1 inch from July. This puts him in the 3rd percentile for height-to-weight ratio. He really is my tiny man!! His head was measured at 48.5 cm (75th to 90th percentile). With the 15-month check came 3 more vaccination shots (DTaP - diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis; HIB  - Haemophilus Influenzae Type b; and MMR - measles, mumps & rubella), but now he is done until he's 5! Yay! Since this appointment also coincided with the beginning of flu season, we also added that shot. Poor guy. Fortunately, he did great and just seconds after all the shots were done, the tears were gone and his gorgeous smile was back! :)


And just for fun, in case there are any questions about which parent this boy looks like, let's flash back 30 years...

Me at One!

I think it's safe to say that he is my son! ;) And how about 25 years before that?

Dad as a baby

I would say it's appropriate that Grandpa Frank is Noah's namesake! :)

Three generations
Three generations! Love it!
Noah is still doing great sleeping through the night. He sleeps around 11 to 12 hours at night. Most days he is still taking two naps (1-2 hours each), but some days he is taking just one longer nap (2-3 hours). On Ethan's preschool days, he really needs to take two naps, because trying to last until we make it home from preschool at close to 2 pm is too long for him to go without sleep. :/

He continues to try new foods, including Indian, Mexican, Japanese and anything else we eat! He is much better about trying new things than Ethan is right now. I guess he's still too little to be very picky yet? He has started to turn his nose up at the green veggies (hmm, like Mother, like son?), but does a good job eating the rest. Despite his drop on the weight chart, the boy really can pack away some food! He often eats more than his big brother, and has no problem letting us know he is hungry! Haha! He also continues to nurse 3 to 4 times a day, and still isn't really showing any signs of wanting to stop.

New accomplishments the past 3 months:
  • First haircut
  • Teeth 5-9 made their appearance!
  • Signing "more" and "all done"
  • Running!
We finally caved and cut his hair for the first time, just shy of 14 months old. I'm so glad that we did, though I do miss those sweet baby curls!

Before and after haircut - sideBefore and after haircut - back

He has been working on his top canines since around his birthday, I think. Finally, one of them made its appearance earlier this month! We're still waiting on the other. I have decided that the boy must not be affected by teething anymore at this point, though, because I just happened to notice today that he also managed to get all 4 of his molars already!! Um, wow! I'm not really sure when this happened, as I wasn't even looking for those to come in yet (with the lack of canines and all), but they are pretty far through, so it has probably been at least a month since they broke through the surface! Tough boy!

He is doing a great job signing "more" when he wants more of something at dinner time. He will also sign "all done" when he doesn't want any more food. We're still waiting on words aside from "mama," "dada," and "nana" (banana). He does like to "moo" when he sees cows in person, or in books, though.  He also loves making car/truck noises when he is playing with them. It is too cute! He understands most of what we are saying to him, and will follow directions when he's in the mood for doing so! ;)

The boy is running all over the place now! He desperately wants to keep up with his big brother, and there isn't much holding him back now. I love when they actually sit and play together fairly well, without any smacking, grabbing or yelling at each other. :)

Daddy and boys

I have decided that this age (around 12-24 months) is probably my favorite stage, for both of the boys, so far. They are so adorable as toddlers, learning and discovering something new every day and becoming more aware of everything around them. I love the innocence about them as well, and the fact that they haven't learned to talk back yet! ;) Even though little Noah has developed quite the temper this past month (I have no idea where he would get that from! Haha!), he is still one of the sweetest kids I have ever seen. His hugs are seriously among the best I have ever had, as he manages to wrap his little arms all the way around my neck and hold on for dear life. It is so sweet and melts my heart every time!

Fall Fun and Food!

I love fall. I love everything about it. I love the cooler temperatures outside, the changing leaves, pumpkin everything, cozying up around the fire pit and roasting marshmallows, football season, apple cider, etc, etc, etc. Fall is, by far, my favorite season of the year!

This is our first fall in Tennessee and it has been absolutely wonderful watching the leaves change on the mountains this month! We took advantage of the beautiful backdrops to get family pictures done with my side of the family and Kristy Vest Photography. We hadn't done it since Ethan was just 6 months old, and there were only 3 cousins. Now my sister and I have added 2 more to the clan. What a difference 3 years makes!

Family picture 2012
Family picture, Fall 2012
Family picture 2009
Family picture, Fall 2009
I think it's safe to say we all look a little better now, too. Haha!

Here are some of my favorite pics of my little family. :)

Family collage

And a couple of my favorites of the cousins...




And finally a sweet pic with our mom. :)

Mom and girls

Today I'll share some other things we have been enjoying this fall! First up, the most amazing pumpkin dessert you will ever eat. I promise. Pumpkin pie fanatics (my hubby included) have even declared it to be better than pumpkin pie and a suitable substitute for the holidays! Woo hoo! I was never a pumpkin fan when I was younger, but it has started to grow on me as I get older. I now enjoy pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cake pops, pumpkin cookies, and now pumpkin crunch! My dear sister introduced me to this recipe last fall, and I made it a couple times before the end of "pumpkin season." Now that fall is back, we can't get enough of this deliciousness! Without further adieu, I bring you the recipe for...

Pumpkin Crunch | more than 9 to 5: my life as "mom"

Pumpkin Crunch

  • 1 15-oz can solid packed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling; I use Libby's)
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg white cake mix (original recipe calls for yellow, but I prefer white)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (or enough to cover the top)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted (original recipe calls for 1 cup, but 1/2 cup is plenty)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of a 9" x 13" glass baking dish. Combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Once well blended, pour this into the pan. Sprinkle the dry cake mix over the pumpkin mixture. Top with nuts (I just sprinkle them evenly over the surface - not sure how much I actually use) and drizzle the melted butter over the nuts. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden brown and pumpkin mixture is set. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Crunch | more than 9 to 5: my life as "mom"

This is an awesome dessert. It even makes a good breakfast. ;) Once you eat it, you'll never look at pumpkin pie the same way again. It gets its name from the crunch that results from baking the cake mix and melted butter topping. The crunchy texture of the topping paired with the creamy, custard-like texture of the pumpkin filling is delightful. 

Pumpkin Crunch | more than 9 to 5: my life as "mom"

The sweetness of the cake topping paired with the earthy taste of the pumpkin filling is also pretty amazing. Excuse me, I have to go get a piece to eat now...

Pumpkin Crunch | more than 9 to 5: my life as "mom"

Along with some amazing pumpkin dishes to eat this fall, we wanted to take the boys to pick pumpkins from the patch! We started going two years ago, in Georgia, when Ethan was around Noah's size. Uncle Bob's Pumpkin Patch, in Newnan, was a good time. Last year, we went to Jack-O-Lantern Lane, in Alabama. We had an awesome time there! This year, we checked out Fender's Farm here in Tennessee. We had a pretty good time, but unfortunately, it wasn't quite as awesome as the other two we had been to visit. :( This farm was more focused on their corn maze. It was pretty impressive, but not really something a 3-year-old and 1-year-old are really into yet. 

Corn Maze
Ethan was navigating through the maze.
We took a short tractor ride around the farm to their play area.

Tractor ride
Here we go!

Ethan enjoyed the ride more than Noah.
It was a pretty decent play area with various things for Ethan to enjoy...

Go Karts!
Trying to figure it out!
Roping a steer
Roping his steer!
Slide time!
Noah loved the farm animals that we could pet. He just wanted to run around and "moo" at all of them. :) 

Noah petting goat
"Meh, meh" went the goat. "Moo, moo" went Noah. ;)
On our way back to the main area, we could stop to pick our pumpkins. Unfortunately, it was a really small patch and quite a few of the pumpkins were starting to rot already. :/ It was also getting dark and pretty chilly, so it wasn't quite the experience that I was hoping for this year. I may have to see if I can find anything else in the area to visit this weekend!



What fun things have you been doing and/or tasty pumpkin dishes have you been eating this fall?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Menu Monday #23

We enjoyed a nice, quiet weekend at home. We started the weekend off on Friday with a crazy sleep-in for Noah. When Ethan was younger, he was known to sleep-in until 11 am or 12 pm on occasion. The boy could easily sleep 15 hours at times and we'd think nothing of it. Noah, on the other hand, has never been a super sleeper, and while he does a great job sleeping through the night, 9 am was as late as he would ever sleep. So when he proceeded to sleep in until NOON on Friday, I was very concerned. I was certain that he must be sick (catching what his brother had earlier in the week) and would have an outrageous fever when he woke up. I was shocked to discover a normal temperature when I went in to get him from his crib!! Not sure if a growth spurt was the cause for this extra sleep? We should find out tomorrow when we head to the doctor for his 15-month check-up! Later that afternoon, we headed to a local farm for some fall fun. More about that soon! By the time we left, it was getting late, so we headed to Smokey Bones for dinner. There is never a wait and they are pretty quick with the food, so we thought it would be a good plan.

On Saturday morning, I made some more of my yummy whole wheat pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. Instead of using chocolate chips this time, I whipped up some of my favorite cream cheese icing to top the pancakes. Oh. my. gosh. It was heaven on my plate. For real. If you love pumpkin, you really must try this combo. We decided that it is definitely our new favorite pancake (even better than the whole wheat banana bread pancakes!!), and we wondered why I only make pumpkin goodies in the fall?!? I may have to re-think that idea. ;) The kids agreed, as they both devoured two entire pancakes each! Impressive since hubby and I had only three each! Haha! These pancakes will be getting a lot of rotation time for the next few months for sure!

We did some shopping later on Saturday, then headed to a local restaurant, Cootie Brown's, for a very early dinner since we skipped lunch. The place is always packed whenever we drive by, so we wanted to see what the fuss was all about, without having to wait forever to be seated. 4 pm was a great time to check it out! Haha! It was a great little place that offered "real food," as they make almost everything they serve right there in-house. I had the Caribbean Jerk chicken sandwich and roasted sweet potatoes. They were both very tasty and had some great flavor combos! Josh enjoyed a NY Reuben sandwich. I also loved how their pizza crust options included whole wheat and gluten free! Definitely a place we will return to in the future. :) Later that night, I finally made another pan of pumpkin crunch (hubby had been bugging me all week! Haha!) to enjoy since we had such an early dinner. Recipe will be posted soon, I promise!

On Sunday morning, I was feeling a bit lazy, and the pan of pumpkin crunch was looking pretty good in the fridge. So yeah, that was breakfast, too. Haha! Pumpkin and walnuts (and plenty of sugar) are healthy for a meal, right?? ;) Josh was busy most of the day completing one of the items on our house update to-do list. Can't wait to share pics of how it turned out!
I am so sad. This was an epic dinner fail! :'( Even more so than the awful seafood paella I tried about a year and a half ago. It sounded and looked so good in the pics (I linked to the recipe above), but it was so not good at all. I think the main problem was the rotisserie chicken that I bought to use, as the author had suggested. It smelled like formaldehyde. Yeah. Like those cats we dissected in college. Ew. I couldn't get past that and the flavor ruined the entire filling for me. It was so bad, I wouldn't even share  any of the leftovers with Daisy and I definitely didn't make the kids eat it! I had also used a cornbread mix, as the recipe directed, and it was pretty crappy after having made cornbread from scratch last week. It was, however, the only edible part of the dish. Sigh. Josh came to the rescue and made eggs for him and the boys. I think this meal could be good, if made from scratch, but would be quite time consuming, so I probably won't try it again. I really want my money back for that crappy chicken, too!

Monday: Lasagna
I haven't made this in awhile and it sounded good. I normally use the no boil noodles for my version, but my local store here doesn't carry them (major bummer!), so I bought some regular whole wheat noodles to use instead. This will make plenty of food so that I can serve it again later this week if I need to, as Josh will have some late nights at work-related dinners this week! :( I like to use lean ground beef, spaghetti sauce (I'll use Newman's Own this time), ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese and shredded and grated parmesan cheese. Super yummy!

This is another new recipe, so I am a bit wary now, after Sunday's disaster. This one, however, comes from Plain Chicken, and I love her recipes, so I hope this is another from her that we will love! It will be easy to throw everything in the slow cooker and have dinner ready in a flash. I thought that it might be nice with rice, so we'll try that, too.

Wednesday: Grilled pork chops, roasted butternut squash, whole wheat couscous
The weather should be cooperative to enjoy another meal from the grill this week. We haven't had squash since last fall, so I am excited to get it back into the menu rotation! When roasted in the oven for an hour or two, it is so delicious all on its own, without adding anything to it at all! Mixed in with some couscous, it makes a tasty side dish.

Thursday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
If I don't use leftovers, I'll make a loaf of my French bread and pair it with some provolone cheese to make a great grilled cheese sandwich. We'll have our favorite, Amy's organic tomato soup. The perfect fall meal!

Friday: Out to eat
Not sure where we'll go yet, but a night out will be nice.

Saturday: Halloween Party
We're excited about hosting a party for friends this weekend! My plan is to set-up a chili bar, using our special recipe Spicy Italian Chili as the base, with add-ins like spaghetti and shredded cheddar cheese, hot dogs, crackers, and buttermilk cornbread. For dessert, I'll make some more pumpkin crunch, and hopefully some pumpkin cake pops for the kids. We'll probably get a fire going in the fire pit and roast marshmallows and drink apple cider as well. I love fall!!

Happy meal planning to you this week! I must get busy this week getting the boys' Halloween costumes finished up! They will be going as their favorite animals this year, per Ethan's request. :) I'll post pics and tutorials after our party!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why My Hubby is Stuck with Me!

My husband is awesome. Yes, I realize I am risking him getting a huge gigantic ego by actually putting this in print, but it's time to give him credit where credit is due. Have I ever mentioned what an awesome husband and father he is? Not only does he work all day to support us (which included super long hours when we lived in KY and GA), but then he comes home and plays with the boys, often grills dinner, makes sure the boys' food is spoon fed or cut up as needed (at home and at restaurants!), works on house projects, vacuums the house (after I was told by a doctor that vacuuming is the absolute worst thing I can do for my back), and can fix stuff everything!! And he never gets mad when I spend ridiculous amounts of money on matching wardrobes for the boys. :) I seriously don't know what I would do without him. Back off, he's mine!! ;)

Boys in matching Christmas outfits
Who could get mad at that though?? Ridiculous amounts of cuteness here!
I'm not joking. From the time I met him in college, I realized he was not just a pretty face. ;) hehe. Even then, I noticed that he could build or fix anything. He can build computers from parts. He can build car engines and fix most things that go wrong with cars, too. He's really smart. That's probably why he's an engineer. :) He's probably one of the only people I know who might actually be more anal retentive than I am when it comes to attention to detail. I love it.

So I guess you are wondering, why am I now finally singing his praises? This is why...

Shattered iPad

Yes, that is a picture of my broken iPad. Yes, the incident was quite tragic. I found out the hard way that tile flooring vs. an iPad results in a win for the tile. :'( So, so sad. After 15 short months together (fortunately, I have managed to keep our youngest son safe in this same period of time!), I feared the worst...that I would be iPad-less for the rest of my life. Surely hubby would never agree to pay for a new one, especially since we had finally made the plunge and invested in iPhones just one week prior!! After hearing the news from Apple that it would cost $250 + taxes and shipping (!!!) to get a replacement from them, I was again distraught, as I knew he wouldn't go for that either. Ugh.

Enter my husband. After some online research and shopping, we managed to secure a new digitizer, the glass piece that sets on top of the LCD screen, and the only part of my iPad that was damaged.

The shattered digitizer is at the top of the picture, with the functioning LCD screen at the bottom.
Holding up the shattered digitizer after it was completely removed.
Replacing the digitizer was a process that required a lot of patience (much more than I possess!), meticulous attention to detail and a bit of electronic knowledge as well. With the help of some online tutorials, he was able to replicate the steps needed to remove the damaged digitizer and replace it with the new one. As you can see above, he had to scrape the shattered piece off first. It is stuck on there with a crazy amount of super sticky glue, so it was quite time-consuming to ensure that it was all scraped off without damaging the outer plastic lip and the wifi antenna.

This pic was after he had scraped the first edge off.
He is working around the wifi antenna here, with the batteries exposed, under the LCD screen.
Lining up the new digitizer with the LCD screen.
New glue strips set in place here, getting ready to secure the new digitizer onto the LCD screen.
By the end of the night, I had what appears to be a brand new iPad! Amazing! You can't even tell that it's been repaired!

Good as new!
So yeah, my husband is awesome. And he's never going to be able to get rid of me. I hope he knows that. ;)

Cute and handy...he's a keeper!
So, next time you break your iPad or iPhone, you know who to call! :)