Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: Food Network Healthy Eats Blog

I know it's Thursday, but I didn't get around to doing this yesterday. So sue me.

OK...don't really sue me. Just read this and pretend like it's Wednesday. Then read my next post and pretend like it's Thursday. OR...just read the next post and know that it really is Thursday. Your choice.

I happened to stumble upon the Healthy Eats blog from Food Network. I pretty much love all things Food Network, and this is no exception! I found it on Facebook, so I ventured over to check it out and proceeded to waste a good amount of time. I liked it so much, I thought I would share it with you. That way you can waste time...or you can check it out when you actually have time to sit and read awhile. It's full of lots of good information!

If you're interested in healthy eating, it's a great resource. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tip-Worthy Tuesday: Freezing Cooked Meat

I know some of you will read my tip today and go "Duh." That's ok. It took me a long time to figure this out and maybe there are a few other people out there who haven't thought of it either.

My very simple tip for the day is...cook your meat before you freeze it. Genius, right? It seems so simple, but it's something I just started doing. It takes a little bit of planning and preparation (not much!), and it is such a time saver.

It seems like I was constantly forgetting to thaw the meat I was planning to use for our meal that evening. Then I would have to microwave it, stick it in water, or just cook it from its frozen state. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like the meat has a different texture when you implore one of these thawing/cooking methods rather than letting it thaw completely before cooking.

Because this was an issue, I would occassionally resort to buying (don't judge me)...canned chicken. Honestly, I don't think canned chicken is that bad...other than the smell. For me, though, it seemed ridiculous to spend $2.00 or more on a can of chicken when I already had chicken in my freezer.

Finally, a solution! It took me awhile, but I finally had a great revelation. Instead of cooking just one or two pieces of chicken at a time...I could cook the whole bag! Instead of cooking just part of that ground beef...I could cook all of it! Sometimes the simplest things are the most exciting to me.

So now, I frequently cook big batches of meat at a time, and freeze them after they have been cooked. For the chicken I usually drizzle it with a little olive oil, sprinkle it with salt and pepper, and bake it. For my ground beef, I usually brown it in the skillet, seasoning it with just salt and pepper as well. If you had certain dishes in mind, you could season the meat any way you wanted. I just find it easiest to keep it simple and add seasoning or other flavors later on.

I put the cooked meat in freezer bags and label them, so I know how long they've been in the freezer. Then, when I'm in a pinch, I pull out whatever I need, and it's ready to go.

Hope this helps you like it has helped me!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mommy Monday: Getting Back on Track

Happy Monday! So, I already missed a few days (can't say I didn't warn you!), but I was doing more important things like having play dates and spending time with my parents. Anyway, I'm back now with a few thoughts for Mommy Monday.

I previously wrote about trying to be more flexible and not worrying too much about our schedule. We had a few weeks in a row that were just those kinds of weeks where it was really hard to stick to our schedule (VBS, wedding, travelling, etc.). I hoped these weeks would teach me a little bit about being flexible, and they did, but they also taught me the importance of being consistent.

I would love to say after we got past those few weeks, we got home, got back on our schedule, and things easily returned to normal. However, that is NOT AT ALL the way things went. Instead, the next few weeks were hard. Really hard. And frustrating. Really frustrating.

My typically happy, easy-to-handle, low-maintenance baby was suddenly my fussy, difficult, not-so-happy baby. It was all because our schedule was off, his naps were inconsistent, and his nighttime sleep was not good at all. Even though I was hoping things would instantly go back to the way they were, it actually took a lot of hard work and patience (NOT my strongest quality).

I am happy to say things have finally returned to normal, and my happy baby is back! Here are a few things I learned throughout this process:

- BE CONSISTENT - This was the most important thing I took away. Yes, it is ok to have days where you don't stick to your schedule. In order to get back on track, though, you have to be consistent...even when it's not easy. There would be days Will wouldn't want to nap at all. He would fight it as hard as he could. The more I gave in, the more difficult it was to get him to nap the next day. When I finally decided to be consistent (despite his protests), putting him down for a nap got much, much easier. I had to endure a couple of hard days, but having a baby who goes down for regular naps is well worth the effort. He is happier. I am happier. The world is a better place.

- DON'T STRESS IF THINGS DON'T GO EXACTLY THE WAY YOU PLANNED - This one is hard for me. I like to have a plan, and I like that plan to work exactly the way I want it to. Unfortunately, babies don't always do everything they are "supposed" to do. Some days I would want Will to nap for an hour, and he would only nap for 40 minutes. I would get so upset and so frustrated, even though he was waking up happy and didn't seem to be tired. After much stress, I decided just to quit worrying about it. Turns out, he really does know how long he needs to sleep most of the time. Somedays he needs a longer nap. Somedays shorter ones work just fine. The important thing is to pay attention to if he seems well rested no matter how long he actually sleeps.

- FIND A BALANCE - As with most things in life, I think this is key. As much as I would like to sometimes, I can't stay at home all day every day just so Will can nap and eat at exactly the same time. Honestly, I would go crazy! However, dragging Will out of the house every day with no consistency doesn't make sense either. I try to protect his schedule as much as I can, while also trying to be flexible here and there.

All of this is a work in progress. I'm sure this is much easier for most people, but for me, it truly takes a daily effort. I SO wish I had that easy-going, laid-back attitude I see in other people, but I don't. I am a high-strung, control freak, perfectionist, and it takes everything I have in me to just RELAX. Isn't crazy that it requires so much effort for me to relax!?!

This is something I've struggled with my whole life, but being a mom has taken it to a whole new level. Being a parent definitely reminds me of all my imperfections on a daily basis! But I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: No Excuses Workout

I came across this SUPER fast workout on Pinterest a couple weeks ago. My favorite excuse for not working out is...I just don't have time. This workout totally eliminates that excuse. It is fast. It is hard. It is well worth it.

No time to workout? Try this today!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tip-Worthy Tuesday: Grocery Shopping without Coupons

I had a difficult time deciding what I wanted to write about for my very first "Tip-Worthy Tuesday." The options are limitless. I come across all sorts of amazing "tips" every day, and obviously, I am not the best with decisions.

I finally decided that I would write about something I actually do (instead of something I just want to try).

We all know that couponing and even extreme couponing have become all the rage. I am not against coupons, but I do think some people are taking it a little too far. It seems that some people have turned it into more of an obsession than a money-saving strategy. If couponing works for you...awesome! However, if you're NOT the coupon queen (like me), I have some tips for grocery shopping on a budget without coupons.

1. Plan your meals and make a list - Whether you plan your meals weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly really does not matter, but making a meal plan can help you save money. I do weekly meal plans because that works best for me. When making my meal plan, I take into account what I already have on hand...what's in the freezer? the pantry? etc. I try to plan meals that make the most of the ingredients I already have. Then, I make a list of everything I need (NEED being the key word here), and I stick to my list.

2. Write your list by aisle - I am very familiar with the places I normally grocery shop, and I'm sure you are too. So, when I'm making my list, I walk through the store in my mind and write down what I need aisle by aisle. Sometimes I'm off a little, but it's usually pretty close. This keeps me focused while I'm in the store, so I go down only the aisles I need (there's that word again!). By avoiding other aisles, I avoid throwing extra items into my cart. If I don't see it, I don't buy it. Making my list in this way helps me stick to just the items I actually came to buy.

3. Pay attention to prices - I always look at prices and make mental notes of them in my head. I suppose you could actually write them down if you wanted to. Then I sort of know what things cost at each place I shop. If I know something is much cheaper at another store, I'll make a special trip for that item. If I know I'll only save a few cents, I don't waste my time. Being aware of prices at the places you normally shop can help you make good decisions on future shopping trips.

4. Pay attention to sales ads - Know what stores have on sale and plan accordingly. If a certain item (or items) you know you'll use have been marked way down, buy them...even if you don't necessarily need them right then. This goes back to paying attention to prices. If you are aware of what things normally cost, you will be more aware of when they are on sale. I also try to limit the number of stores I shop at each week (another reason I'm not a fan of couponing) and paying attention to the sales ad helps me decide which place would be best to shop that week.

5. Limit the amount of processed foods you buy - People always complain that eating healthy is too expensive. I agree...IF you are buying all of those so-called "diet" products. It is true that buying things marked low-fat, fat-free, reduced calorie, or any of the pre-packaged meals or 100 calorie snack packs can get very expensive. My solution? Stop buying them...along with lots of other processed foods...and buy fresh, whole foods and ingredients to make your own food. Buying fresh produce can get expensive, but if you buy it in place of processed foods you are buying, it can drastically help your spending, and you eat healthier, too! Have fun in the kitchen and see what "packaged" foods you can make yourself.

6. Don't be afraid of generic brands - I rarely buy name brand anything. Generic brands are usually just as good and sometimes, they are even the exact same foods processed in the exact same manufacturing plant! Don't let the plain packaging scare you away. Of course, there are some things where the generic is just not as good. However, most things, especially the basics (frozen/canned veggies, flour, sugar, pasta, etc.) are just as good and cost much less. Don't pay for the pretty outside when you're getting the exact same thing on the inside.

7. Make the most of what you buy - In general...don't waste! Use what you buy and only buy what you will use. Buy products that you can use or store before they expire. Don't stock up on something just because "it's a good deal" if you know you won't be able to use it before it goes bad. Sometimes, buying in bulk can save you tons. Sometimes, it just creates tons of ways. Get creative and figure out how to use up everything you buy. This makes your food and your dollar go further.

8. Use coupons when it makes sense - If you have a coupon for something you are planning to buy...use it! Like I said, I'm not against couponing. Every cent you can save helps. I always try to find coupons for the items I need or items I buy frequently. I don't go out of my way to clip coupons for products I never buy, never use, and don't need 100 of. Coupons are good, but you can shop wisely without them.

I hope these tips are helpful whether you're a coupon lover or not. What tips do you guys have for saving money at the grocery store? I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Starting Fresh

So, instead of trying to catch up...again. I'm just going to start fresh. And this time, I have a plan. Taking the lead from several other bloggers, I decided I need a schedule (you all know my love for schedules!). I think this will help me decide what to write about each day and keep me more consistent in my posts. I'm sure I will still miss a few days every now and then because that's just the way life works. Hopefully, this will help me post a little more regularly, though.

Here's the schedule:

Mommy Mondays - On Mondays (other than today) I'll share my own mommy stories and other helpful tips, articles, and other mommy-related things I might come across.

Tip-Worthy Tuesday - I'm always finding great tips for saving money, being organized, DIY projects, etc. On Tuesdays, I will share some of my favorites with you.

Wellness Wednesday - Wednesdays will be related to health and wellness. It could be any kind of health...physical, spiritual, name it. I hope to include things about fitness and healthy eating, but I want to throw in some other types of wellness too. We'll see.

Random Thought Thursday - This day is for all the things I want to write about that don't fit into any other category. Trust me. I have plenty of random thoughts in my head at all times. This day should never be difficult to find something to write about.

Foodie Friday - On Fridays, I'll feature a recipe or a restaurant/food review. I'm hoping to start posting A LOT more recipes. I've tried some good ones recently!

Then, I'll take the weekend off to spend time with my family and to do some computer detox. I could really use it!

Since today is Mommy Monday, I'll just mention that I officially have a crawler. He is an awkward crawler, but a crawler nonetheless. He makes his way around the house, dragging that poor left leg behind him. But, he gets where he needs to go and lots of places he doesn't! I'm loving that he can get around all by himself, but I'm noticing that the word "No" comes out of my mouth a lot more frequently. It is so much fun to watch my little guy explore his surroundings. Everything is so new and interesting to him, and you can just see the curiosity on his face. I love each new stage and this one certainly is a fun one.

Happy Monday! Hope you have a wonderful week!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

7 Months Old

Thursday, June 30, Will turned 7 months old. Each month seems to go by faster than the month before! I can't believe he is more than halfway to his first birthday...that seems so crazy to me.

No check up this month, so I don't have an official weight, but according to our bathroom scale he weighs about 16 pounds.  I can also tell he's getting longer because all of his onesies are too short! Right now he wears mostly 6-9 month onesies and rompers and 3-6 month shorts. The kid has no waist or butt, and unfortunately, he comes by that quite honestly.  He is still wearing size 2 diapers, but I think we'll be moving up to size 3 pretty soon.

One of the major developments this month was his ability to be much more mobile (say that three times fast). He wants nothing to do with the traditional method of crawling and has established his own unique combination of crawling and scooting. It looks like he's going to crawl, but then he pulls his bottom forward and scoots. As soon as he reaches his desired destination, he rolls over to his back and then pushes himself back up to a sitting position. The great thing for me is that he really doesn't move around too much unless he needs to get something (a toy, a bug, a piece of paper, etc.). Once he gets what he wants, he is very happy to sit there and play with it until his mean mom comes to take it away (only the bugs and sometimes the papers). He gets very frustrated when he can't get himself back up to sitting, but he is getting much better at it.

He has also started pulling up on things. He loves standing up, and even though he thinks he can stand by himself...he can't. He will pull to standing and let go of whatever he pulled himself up on. This has resulted in a few falls and minor crashes, but hopefully he's starting to get the message! He still loves to jump, and I truly believe he might hop instead of walking. No joke.

Will got to swim in the big pool for the first time this month. To say he loved it is an understatement. He was content in his float for quite awhile, but I wanted to really let him play in the water, so I got him out. He thought it was the best thing ever! He kicked his little legs as fast as he could, and he could not get enough of splashing. I'm not sure who was more worn out at the end of or him. Either way, I can't wait to go again.

Eating and sleeping are still going great. We haven't met a food he doesn't like. He also started eating finger foods this month, which is nice for both of us. Right now he is mainly eating Cheerios, Little Puffs, and small pieces of banana. I love it because this is a great activity for him while we're eating or while I'm trying to cook. His sleep schedule hasn't really changed, although, we're starting to phase out the third nap. Some days he takes it...some days he doesn't, and he seems to do fine either way.

Will really loves to "talk," especially in the morning. Right now his favorite thing to say sounds like blah...blah...blah, which absolutely cracks me up. He has thrown in a few mama's and dada's, and even though he doesn't know what he's saying...we still love it!

He is a little bundle of energy and his sweet personality comes through more and more each day. I can't get enough of his hugs and his slobber-filled kisses. His sweet smile absolutely melts my heart.

Happy 7 months Will Cooper Stoltzfus! I love you more than you'll ever know!