Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sprucing up the Joint!

Saturday afternoon was spent doing some back-breaking labor of putting in new bricks around the landscaping. Luckily it was an absolutely gorgeous day & Cam decided to take a four hour nap. Not only did we get the old mulch scooped out, we had to dig a pit around the perimeter to get the bottom layer of bricks down & go ahead & lay the top layer down.

And let me tell you, those suckers were extremely heavy! And then we pulled weeds for over an hour. Whew! I even used proper form when picking up each brick to protect my back & ended up pulling my groin! I've been hobbling around work the past two days which has been pretty painful. Luckily I've managed to survive & am enjoying the fresh look of the house!

Here's the big guy! Just finished hauling a load in his truck. AKA - watching the guys at Lowes load up our SUV & driving back home.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Halfway There!

I can't believe that my littler stinker will be two in six short months!! Where has the time gone?! It seriously feels like we were just planning his first birthday party & pretty soon we'll be working on his second!

We enjoy doing so many things together. Such as working on our laptops; he was updating his blog while I updated mine! We're buddies like that. Happy half birthday, Cam, I love you with all my heart!!!

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What's For Dinner?

While at work today, I decided I wanted to make homemade macaroni & cheese to celebrate Cameron's 1/2 birthday tonight. Any reason to have a celebration in Cam's honor is fine by me! Anyway, while I was searching recipes, I not only wanted something that was pretty quick but also something that wasn't loaded with butter & cream.

I found a recipe from Good Housekeeping that couldn't have been easier & was close to half the calories as most other recipes. I only ended up having to buy three ingredients at the grocery store & I also made it with the Barilla Plus noodles so it had more fiber & protein. I didn't get home until almost 5:15 & the meal was completely done by 5:45.

I did end up adding more sharp cheddar cheese than the recipe called for & also topped it with a bit of cheddar cheese before popping it into the oven. The only other modification I made was to add a clove of garlic to the cottage cheese/milk mixture that I popped into the blender. It ended up having a yummy, cheesy crust & tasted very buttery even though it had no butter at all. Click here for the recipe I used. And here's an example of one of the top macaroni & cheese recipes I found in my searches today; you'll see that I saved us almost 600 calories per serving! Granted, this recipe was unusually high in calories, but it seems that the recipe I used was half the calories to most. If you're looking for a quick, healthier option to homemade mac n' cheese, I definitely suggest you give this one a try.

I'm pretty sure that Cam was a fan of the meal!

And we splurged with cookies for dessert to celebrate my big guy's half birthday. I wasn't about to make homemade cookies or buy any with hydrogenated oil/trans fat, so I found these at Super Target. I'd never heard of Immaculate Baking Company, but liked that it was natural & had zero grams of trans fats/no hydrogenated oil vs. 1.5g from the Pillsbury brand & was priced comparably. There's 24 cookies/package & you can bake all or just one at a time (70-80 calories per cookie).

Cam enjoyed his bedtime snack & Demps would have too if he'd have shared!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.
~Irish Blessing

Even though I think I'm only about 25% Irish, I've always had a love for St. Patrick's Day. It's a reason to be festive, eat some tasty food, learn about a different culture & drink some Irish beer!

After picking up my little leprechaun (aka Cam) from school, we enjoyed a delicious meal of bangers & mash that Mike prepared! He made the mashed potatoes last night as a short-cut so we could all eat together tonight before Cam went to bed.

Cam says, "May the luck of the Irish be with you & yours!"

Here's the master chef himself, MLP!

Me & my little leprechaun!

And here's our yummy dinner! Although, there really is no good way to photograph sausage since it never looks appetizing. I could mention a couple of things it resembles, but this meal would be anything but appealing if I did. And as tasty as this meal was, I have to admit that I'm pretty sure our house smells like B.O. from the sauteed onions.

Am I tempting anyone to make this yet? Hmm?

And here's a picture of the Chicago River I thought I'd throw in! It's pretty cool that they dye the river green each year in honor of St. Paddy's Day!

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dinner? Done!

As much as I love cooking, there are many days during the week that it's an extremely daunting task. The idea of coming up with an idea, getting the ingredients, cooking while simultaneously entertaining Cam & then cleaning up after the meal can be bit too exhausting! I try to plan my meals ahead & grocery shop on the weekends but that can be easier said than done!

Luckily Lauren invited me to a girl's night out to Dinner Done a couple of weeks ago. If you've never heard of this particular concept, it's really worth checking out. Most entrees serve at least four, so I split each into two since it would easily feed the three of us. I chose to make six entrees, so left with twelve which stocked my freezer & will supplement our weekly meals for at least a few months.

Here's Lauren & Holly "slaving away" in the kitchen! Luckily the Dinner Done employees cleaned up after us so we didn't have to worry about it!

Here are the Laurens! Lauren B has three children under three (twins are in the mix) so she goes every single month & this is what her family lives on. Luckily the menu changes on a monthly basis for variety! And since Lauren booked us a private session, we were given snacks and wine to nibble on while we prepared our meals.

Here's Lauren G's adorable mom Fran.

There's a station for each entree.

The recipe is above the station & you just follow along. Add more of something you love (cheese & garlic, in my case!) & less of something you may not love (nothing in my case!)

And this was our meal tonight; lasagna! I love the freezer to oven entrees like this one since there is no cooking involved, other than sliding it into a pre-heated oven. You can always serve garlic bread and salad to make it more complete, but we were fine with it as is.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Gram!

I have been so blessed to have grown up with such amazing grandparents! This past weekend we celebrated my Grandma Schuth's 92nd birthday & it was so great to spend the day with her as well as a lot of extended family I don't often get to see.

Growing up, my parents worked very long hours, yet we never had to be put into day care since they were always able to rely on both my mom's mom & dad & my dad's mom. Unfortunately, I was never able to meet my Grandpa Schuth who passed away before I was born, but I was blessed to be born on his birthday. Now that I'm a parent, I truly realize how incredibly lucky my mom & dad were to have such a strong support system while raising us.

My Grandma Schuth has always held a large piece of my heart & I have so many wonderful memories that include her. I remember during summer break, I would look so forward to the days when my dad would drop us off at her house & we would spend the day swimming. She always doted on us & made sure we were happy. But my favorite memories come from a time when I worked at my mom & dad's store when I was younger. My grandma would help out whenever she was in town from Florida & we would have an absolute blast "working", laughing, taking walks to the local stores & just being goofy. My parents rented a large building for their photo/framing shop & my grandma would push me around in a grocery cart that they "borrowed" from a local store. We still laugh about that to this day.

I have to say that my heart fills with love whenever I think of my grandma. I feel so blessed that Cameron has been able to meet her & get to know her. It seems like only yesterday she was making me cheese sandwiches & now she's meeting my son. Time is truly going by too quickly. But I thank God for blessing me with such an amazing person in my life.

Here's my pretty, little Grammy at her 92nd birthday party on Sunday.

I adore this picture & the way my grandma & Cameron are looking at each other & smiling.

And my heart just about melted when Cameron gave my grandma the biggest, sweetest smooch!

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Day at the Fest!

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful day & we were lucky enough to spend it outside at the Florida Strawberry Fest. It was a kind of a last minute plan, thanks to Lauren & Josh's invite! I've always wanted to check it out & I'm so glad we did!

Look at what caught Mike & Josh's attention... chocolate-dipped bacon!!

I can tell you one thing, this fest will help keep cardiologists in business! In fact, I think they should have been handing out certificates for 50% off angioplasties on our way out. They had fried anything at this fest; Oreos, cheese on a stick, Pop-Tarts & butter. Yes, you read correctly, they are now frying butter! It would be Paula Deen's dream come true.

What is this world coming to?!

Unfortunately Cameron wasn't feeling 100% since he got a cold since going back to day care after Grammy left. But, he was such a trooper & made the best of the day.

We even got to ride a bumble bee together! Although you can barely see Cam in this picture, I assure you I did not ride alone & get this excited about a children's ride. Although, come to think of it, that wouldn't be completely crazy!

Neither the weather nor the company could have been better. It was an awesome way to spend a Saturday!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Nothing is Sacred Anymore!

Since having Cameron, I've begun to get used to the major lack of privacy! He's often barging in on me when I'm in the bathroom, he sits with me as I put my makeup on & plays with my tools, rifles through my purse whenever he pleases & uses my cellphone as if it were his own.

Not only that, but he's also invading on my "girls" (uh, boobies, if you will)! He often gives people a free peep show by pulling any v-neck shirt I may be wearing down. And lately he's discovered my boobs & pushes on them! So not cool! I haven't breastfed since he was only a month old, so it's not like he often gets a peek at them, so maybe that's where the curiosity has stemmed from??

But, Sunday morning I had to snap a few pictures when I saw him walking around the house, swinging my bra around! I always tell him, "A lady needs privacy!" But, he doesn't seem to care! I guess that's what happens when I'm outnumbered!

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Dancing Fool!

I think one of the cutest things I've seen lately is Cam busting a move! His dance moves are absolutely hilarious; he puts his arms out & starts doing squats. We caught these pictures on Sunday, but last week, when I was getting ready for work, he cracked me up. I had put a Baby Einstein on for him to watch & when I peeked in on him, he was just squatting away!

Love it!

Now Cam is saying, "Okay, Mom, this awful Cubs hat has got to come off my head! I can't believe you would disgrace me in such a way!" And I totally understand where he's coming from. Go White Sox!

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