Happy Friday!

Hey there! Happy Friday. I hope you guys have had a good week – mine has been good, it’s felt really long but overall it’s been a pretty good week! Work is busy, life is busy, life with a toddler is fun and a little crazy and well I haven’t had much to say around here in a lot longer than I would like. Sorry about that… definitely, my bad. So what’s up? A lot, but also nothing at the same time. Mostly just run of the mill life stuff…

Two weeks ago I became an Aunt for the first time and I have to say I love it. When I was pregnant with Sydney I loved her from the second I found out we were having a baby and that love grew and grew until she made her entrance in to the world and my heart nearly exploded with all the love I felt for her. We had been patiently (& then not so patiently when she was a week late) waiting for baby H to come in to this world and she finally made her appearance with some force but she’s here, she’s healthy, and she’s amazing. I can’t believe how much love I have for that little nugget already but boy am I glad she’s apart of our lives and our family. I have been in Heaven with her in my arms (the fever is real folks!)

Sydney meets Baby H for the first time.

Sydney meets Baby H for the first time.

Sydney was enamored with her the first day (seriously. that face. she was amazed that the baby we’ve been talking about for months was a real baby!) and then we gave her a new baby doll “from baby H” and she was more excited about that than anything. By Sunday she was helping Grammie feed the baby and then wanted to take her own turn with “holding” the baby. It was adorable. Sydney actually sat really still with her and did not want to let her go for a second. I have no doubt that these two will grow up to be the best of friends. I can hardly wait to see them actually play together.

Shopping with Nana

Shopping with Nana

Sydney and I had a girls day with my mom – we did a little shopping. While I was browsing, my mom was in charge of keeping an eye on the toddler running amuck… I turned around and this is what I saw. I remember FREAKING my mom out when I was little by playing in the racks of clothes while she shopped but now apparently my mom thinks it’s awesome. I have a feeling Sydney is going to pay me back tenfold now that she thinks this is a game!

Shopper in training.

Shopper in training.

Sydney was quite the little helper when we were out shopping with my mom. She took that bag from me and wanted to carry it… for like a minute. And then she wanted it in the stroller. Not on the handle, but in the seat. So then I was pushing around a shopping bag while she ran around like a crazy person. I’m sure we were a sight to see!

Helping Papa with the snow!

Helping Papa with the snow!

We got some snow earlier this week and Sydney was a delighted big helper as my ILs shoveled out their driveway. I hate the snow very much and I have this fear that this little girl will love it so much that we will be out playing in it every chance she gets. Anything to make her happy… as long as I can get some hot chocolate as a reward haha!

That's how glasses work...

That’s how glasses work…

Sydney has been playing (much to her chagrin) with my MILs glasses… she likes to wear them & then “work” on the computer (while she’s really watching Mickey Mouse Club House… preferably her favorite Minnie episode!). Thankfully, MIL only uses reading glasses so they’re just magnifiers but we do try to encourage her to NOT play with them on her eyes so they don’t do any damage and also so she doesn’t think glasses are toys since there are quite a few of us who need them for real!

So that’s what’s up around here… exciting right? I know you wish you had my exciting life! What’s been going on with you… I’d love to hear from you!

Tasty Tuesday: Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Do you enjoy buffalo chicken dip? If so then this is the perfect dinner recipe for you – buffalo chicken sandwiches. They are delicious AND another crockpot meal so that makes them super easy.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 skinless chicken breasts
  • one bottle of Franks Red Hot buffalo wing sauce
  • one packet of ranch dip mix
  • Hoagie rolls

Directions:

Chicken soaking up all the delicious Frank's Red Hot Sauce.

Chicken soaking up all the delicious Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.

Put the chicken breasts in to the crockpot
Pour in entire bottle of Franks Red Hot sauce
Add the Ranch mix
Mix it all together
Cook on low for 5-6 hours
about an hour before its done shred the chicken and return to crock pot

Shred the chicken and return to crockpot.

Shred the chicken and return to crockpot.

I like to serve my sandwich on toasted hoagie rolls with melted cheese and ranch dressing for dipping. It can be a bit on the spicy side, not overwhelming, so the ranch takes the edge off of that spice without dulling the flavor.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.

Tasty Tuesday: Meatloaf

I had been craving some good meatloaf and really I wanted some Boston Market meatloaf so I did some internet digging and found a recipe!! I was so excited that I had found one and really hoped it would taste pretty close and IT DID!!! This will be my meatloaf recipe from now on!

Ingredients:
Meat Mixture
1 1/2 lbs lean ground chuck
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2/4 cup drained diced tomato (crushed tomato works too)
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (I used Italian breadcrumbs)
1 egg

Topping
2/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tbsp sugar

Prepped and ready.

Prepped and ready.

Directions:
Mix all ingredients for meat mixture together until well blended.
Place in a lightly greased bread pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes
Remove oven and drain excess grease from pan
Mix tomato sauce and sugar together and pour over the meatloaf and place back in the oven to finish baking until done (about 1/2 hour depending on the oven).

Ready to be delicious!

Ready to be delicious!

I think the next time I make this I’m going to make a little extra of the topping so that I can serve it with the meatloaf too.

This is a really, really easy meal to make and if you like Boston Market you’ll love this. If you don’t know what that is then you’re definitely missing out!

Happy eating 🙂

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Pork Tenderloin

This is actually an old recipe that I haven’t made in a while, but digging it up has made me want to make it so bad. I’ll get around to it, eventually, but it is too good not to share with you all. I know it sounds weird mixing soy sauce and apricot preserves…but, seriously, you have to make it for yourself to realize how amazing that combination really is.

Ingredients:

2 lbs pork tenderloin
1/2 lb bacon, sliced thin
1 large onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup soy sauce
12 – 16 oz apricot preserves (you can use regulary, light or surgar free it doesn’t really matter)

Direction:

Wrap tenderloin in bacon
Place onions in bottom of 9×13 casserole dish
lay tenderloins on top of onions
mix soy sauce and apricot preserves and pour on top of wrapped tenderloins
bake at 350 for 45 – 60 minutes (you can broil it for 5 – 10 to crisp the bacon at the end)

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

Oh Hey Friday.

LThis Friday feels very much needed this week. I never realize how hard coming back after two partial work weeks in a row can be until that first full week of work feels like it is never going to end. Except this week I had a work-from-home snow day thrown in there so maybe next week will feel longer than this week. I wish I hadn’t just thought of that haha. Oh well, moving on.

I can’t actually remember the last time I “resolved” to do something for a whole year. I do not believe I have that type of attention span. I do have some goals in mind that I’d like to work on this year. They’re nothing life changing, I guess, but maybe they will be.

One.

Write a book. I have always had this dream of writing a book – ever since I was younger, I’ve always wanted to be a novelist. I have so many notebooks filled with my random ramblings that I figure one day maybe I’ll actually do something with them. Part of the reason I blog is because I love writing and putting my thoughts out there on the internet for the world to read at will is helping me to conquer this fear I have of actually writing a book that people might actually read. I recently put pen to paper (literally) and started writing a book that has been an idea in my head for a few months now. I don’t know that I have any real expectations as far as it being the next best seller or anything like that but I would like to say, one day, that I wrote a book.

Book writing in progress.

Book writing in progress.

Two.

Move. We have been talking about and planning to move “next year” since we had Sydney. In 2012. The distance between our home and our jobs + family is about an hour. When we first moved out here we loved it – and it isn’t that we don’t love our home or the area but it is that our lives have changed and our situation has changed and living out here is no longer something we love as much. When we first brought up the subject, right after Sydney was born, I was an emotional, hormonal mess. I wasn’t ready to leave the house so we put it on the back burner. In the last few months, especially with my new job, it just feels so much more right for us to move. I’m ready now. Technically, I’ve been preparing for this with all my purging efforts but we do have a couple projects we need to complete before we can do anything with the house. We’re still not completely decided on whether or not we will rent or sell our house because a couple houses are up for sale, and have been, for a while and I’m not sure how long I want to sit on our house when I’m so ready to move (& so uninterested in keeping it “show” quality for too long – there’s the real truth folks. I think I’m too messy to sell our house haha.)

Three.

Learn something new. I’m not sure what yet. I think I want to learn how to crochet. I tried knitting and that was hard and I have heard crocheting is easier & easier means that I’ll actually do it because I get annoyed and frustrating when something is too hard for me to figure out and I tend to give up on those annoying and hard things so if crocheting is easier than annoying & hard knitting maybe I won’t give up on crocheting. I do have intentions of taking a class with a friend of mine so that is definitely “learning something new.” And maybe I’ll decide this is the year I go back to school (for what? no clue… that’s why I haven’t done it yet.) The possibilities are endless and I’m excited to pick up a new skill or craft.

Four.

Do more stuff. We live in an area with so many opportunities to do stuff – from exploring the Shenandoah Valley, to spending time at our favorite winery or exploring a new winery, to getting our butts in to DC and taking it in. There are festivals and fairs and other random stuff going on that we can experience but we generally do not. I want to get out and do stuff. I hate to be constantly on the go, but at the same time I get super bored when we don’t do anything but sit around the house. I want to take advantage of the stuff around us and go out and explore. Plus, I think it would be good for Sydney to get out and see more of the world around her. I understand that she’s still little but we don’t necessarily have to do stuff that she won’t be interested in (or well behaved for). I want to do stuff with her and without her. I don’t have anything specific in mind but let me tell you this year I’m doing stuff.

Five.

Day one of Insanity Max 30.

Day one of Insanity Max 30.

Stay active. Last year I found a love of Beachbody products – from Shakeology to a variety of the workouts they offer (I have tried, and loved, 21 Day Fix; T25; PiYo; and Insanity Max 30). I started running again for the first time since before I got pregnant. I got active and I feel great about myself. I really let my love for Oreos dominate my pregnancy with Sydney and then I let having a baby be my excuse for being as lazy as possible so even though I was able to shed my pregnancy weight I never quite got the motivation to actually be healthier. I have spent countless hours “getting strong” (which is what I am trying to convey to Sydney because I don’t have any “I’m fat and need to lose weight” feelings about myself so I don’t want her to grow up thinking her Mom was so in to working out to be skinny but rather I wanted to be strong… we’ll see how that works out haha). She likes to “work” with me and will bring me my shoes, my yoga mat, or my weights. Sometimes, if I’m doing something like yoga or sometime that just involves jumping, she’ll get in to it with me. I’m currently working my way through Insanity Max 30 and it’s hard. So hard. But a good kind of hard that makes me feel pretty awesome (& a lot like jelly) when I’m done. When I’m done with this program I want to work running back in to my routine (it’s cold so I prefer inside workouts where it is warm and I do not feel like I’m freezing to death.) I want to run a 5k this year (currently running around a 10 minute mile on average) so we’ll see how that works out because I do have a history of running injuries so the last thing I want to do is push my body to run a 5k when it really shouldn’t. So while running a 5k is something I really want to do it is also something I am perfectly fine with letting pass me by to keep myself healthy & my body happy.

So there you have it. Five random things I am hoping to focus on this year. I’m kind of excited to see where this year takes us. I know it’s taking us somewhere I just don’t know where that is yet.

Our Holiday Celebrations.

I hate to draw out the holidays, but I did want to capture the memories of this holiday season because Sydney was so in to it even though I’m fairly certain she didn’t really know what all the actual excitement was about.

Helping Mama decorate the tree

Helping Mama decorate the tree

First, our tree. Sydney was in love with our tree. I had her “help” me decorate and while I normally wouldn’t be so careless with my precious ornaments I opted this year to not put my most special, valuable, or breakable ornaments on the tree. I did include some that were breakable, at my own risk, but kept them up towards the top of the tree. We also talked a lot about how we weren’t supposed to touch the tree or take anything off of it. The first week we had the tree up she was all about bringing me ornaments, but after that she seemed to understand Mommy meant business when she said stop taking things off the tree! She really loved the lights – whenever we would come down in the morning over the weekend or got home during the week the first thing she wanted to do was turn on the tree. We have a little plug that has a button on it so it was easy for her to turn it on and off. We also had to work on not turning it on and off over and over again… I definitely underestimated her excitement for the tree and I’m kind of glad I did because seeing the excitement on her face when it was all lit up for the first time was amazing and hearing her exclamations of “tree!” all month long was really adorable, too.

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah started mid-December this year and I think it was the perfect timing for this year because it was over before Christmas started so they both had their complete separate celebrations. Not that I think she understood what was happening on any day of Hanukkah or Christmas but I think it helped to lessen the overwhelming feelings of presents (& toys!!) that I had haha. Each night we would light our Menorah, FaceTime with Steve’s parents and then open our gift for the night. On Sydney’s birthday she was completely uninterested in opening gifts so I didn’t think she would have much interest in opening them for Hanukkah or Christmas but apparently a lot can change in a month and she LOVED opening presents. So much so that she was very eager to help us open our gifts too. I let her open a couple of mine which is shocking but I got more joy out of watching her open gifts than I did from opening them by myself. I’m excited that next year we will be living much closer to the in-laws so we will have the opportunity to spend each night with them. FaceTime was nice because they were able to see her open their gifts, but I think being able to actually do that in person, together, as a family will be much more special. Especially next year when she probably will get it a little more.

Opening presents with Aunt Heather

Opening presents with Aunt Heather

We also enjoyed a night of Family Hanukkah – which is just when we celebrate with the whole family as opposed to celebrating by ourselves each night at home. Sydney was definitely overwhelmed with all her wonderful gifts – she was also completely spoiled loved by her Aunts but I’m not sure who had more fun with her gifts – them or her! I’m looking forward to next years celebration when we will have the opportunity to spoil love our niece as much as they love theirs. & I’m really excited to see Sydney & Hadley tear in to presents next year and be the absolute centers of attention!

Opening presents with Aunt Mel

Opening presents with Aunt Mel

As we always do, we celebrated Christmas with my parents but we did something a little different this year. We had a Christmas Eve sleep over at my parents house. Since I started a new job I ended up having to work on Christmas Eve and without knowing if we would get off early (we did! yay!) we decided that it would be a bit ridiculous to drive all the way home Christmas Eve just to wake up, open presents, and basically turn around and head back that way to my parents for the day. We figured we would get much more celebration and family time if we just stayed and it was also the last Christmas we’ll celebrate in my parents (childhood) home since my parents are moving this summer to being their retirement years!

Mom was busy making side dishes for Christmas Dinner and Sydney pushed a chair up right next to her to help. My Grandmother on my Dad’s side passed this recipe for potato salad down to my Mom and my Mom has since shared it with me. I’m excited for the day I get to really share it with Sydney and continue the tradition, but for now the adorableness of Sydney helping my Mom make it is a memory I love.

Helping Nana make potato salad

Helping Nana make potato salad

We mostly relaxed Christmas Eve night and just enjoyed our time together. My mom got to read all of us The Night Before Christmas which is something she has done for as many years as I can remember (side note: one year she gave me a book that she had recorded herself reading and it’s definitely something I’m happy to have and know one day I’ll be happy to be able to hear her voice when I can’t.) She was overjoyed to have this moment with her children and granddaughter. It was probably her favorite moment of the night.

Reading the Night Before Christmas with Nana

Reading the Night Before Christmas with Nana

After we tucked Sydney in to bed we just kind of relaxed and waited for Santa to make his appearance. We headed off to bed early (well, late for me but I was trying to finish watching Elf lol). I had this wonderful feeling as I anticipated how surprised and excited Sydney would be in the morning and she did not disappoint me at all. She was in awe of all the presents spread out in the living room. We opened her stocking first and she was THRILLED there were two babies in there just for her.

Presents! YAY!

Presents! YAY!

I believe she was a little overwhelmed all morning with her presents and she didn’t seem to understand that she was supposed to open them all on this very morning when she had been opening one present each day for the last week. She did do a lot of “ooohhhing” and “aahhing” over her presents and that was super adorable.

Big girl opening presents!

Big girl opening presents!

She got a lot of fun pretend play stuff that has already been a big hit for her. She kind of lost interest in opening presents after a while so we tucked the unopened presents away for her to open at our house over the weekend because we had planned on having a small “Christmas” there to give her the big gift we’d gotten her & didn’t want to haul to my parents and back. We had a pretty low-key Christmas Day. My Aunt and Cousins came over and we also got a visit from Steve’s family which was a surprise because Mel and Heather usually spend the day with Heather’s family but they had kind of split up their day and ended up being able to spend some time with us too which made Sydney a very happy little girl. Overall we had a really wonderful day and it’ll go down as one of my favorite Christmas memories because of all of Sydney’s excitement. I know next year I’ll probably say the same thing, but for now, it’s my favorite!

Over the weekend we ended up having our own little Christmas morning for Sydney because I had made her a dress up cabinet with my dad and we were pretty sure that it wouldn’t fit in our car with all the rest of the gifts she would end up with (and we were so very right!). It was also nice because she didn’t open everything Christmas morning and this time it was a little less overwhelming for her because it was just the three of us and there were a lot less presents and chaos going on.

Extra Christmas Morning!

Extra Christmas Morning!

Overall we had a happy and wonderful holiday season. December always feels a bit chaotic (for me anyway) because there are so many celebrations going on between both our families but I do always feel really grateful that we have a close family that we are able to celebrate with every year without too much traveling hassle. I am, however, very much looking forward to next year when there won’t be an hour drive between us and our family. It really isn’t much but I’m sure being much closer will make things so much easier!

Tasty Tuesday: Stuffed Peppers

Who doesn’t love stuffed peppers right? I found this recipe years ago and it’s basically my go-to stuffed peppers recipe. This recipe is for 2 so it’s easy to double if you’d like.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Ingredients:
2 large green peppers
1/2 pound ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce, divided
1 cup cooked rice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds. Place peppers in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place in ice water; invert on paper towels.

Browning meat and boiling peppers.

Browning meat and boiling peppers.

2. In a small skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1 cup tomato sauce, rice, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Spoon into peppers.

Stuffing peppers.

Stuffing peppers.

3. Place in an ungreased shallow 2-qt. baking dish. Drizzle with remaining tomato sauce. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until peppers are tender.

Ready to go.

Ready to go.

They were really good. Try them. Enjoy them. And let me know if you like them!

Yum!

Yum!