Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sloppy Joes

I love using fresh hamburger, but it always seems to take longer to make meals. So instead of using fresh hamburger, I buy a bunch, fry it up, and freeze the hamburger into meal sized portions. This saves me a lot of time with a little one, and a baby. Anyway, Sloppy Joes are a great summer meal to serve at a picnic, get-together, or just because they are so tasty.

Sloppy Joes:

1 lb Hamburger
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 lg Onion
1 C Mushroom, diced
1/2 C Celery, sliced
1/2 C Catsup
1 C Tomatoes
3/4 C Water
3 tsp Taco Seasoning
Salt & Pepper
2 Tbs Tapioca (pudding powder)

Brown the hamburger in a skillet, and drain any left over fat. (If you're using frozen and already cooked hamburger, just toss it in the microwave to thaw while you work on the onions.) While hamburger is browning, in a separate skillet caramelize the onions in the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and celery until browned. Combine the hamburger and vegetables into one skillet. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low to medium heat for 15 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Serve warm on hamburger buns, with fresh sliced vegetables and a fruit salad. Serves 6-8.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dragon for Dad

As you know, I was working on a bunch of Christmas gifts in the months prior to Christmas so that I could get them off before the rush of the season. I wanted to wait until after Christmas to post them so as not to spoil the surprise. So you should be seeing some of my Christmas gift ideas soon.

One of the gifts I made over countless hours was a Dragon for my Dad. He has always loved dragons, and likes to collect them. Here are the pictures of the dragon I made for my Dad. I apologize, there will be no instructions for this due to the fact that it is so detailed, and it's a special piece for my Father, but I hope you enjoy the pictures. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Baby, New Adventures

With the birth of our second son Christopher on January 24th, I have been adjusting to our new family life with our precious little one. As many of you know, the first few months are the hardest with the lack of sleep and a constant juggling act with chores, meals, naps, and the ever elusive quality time with each member of the family. But despite the challenges, I count my blessings daily! We had a successful vaginal birth after a c-section, breastfeeding is going well in comparison to a very traumatic experience with our first, and overall, our new baby is a little angel!

I am excited that we are on the road to many new adventures and fun experiences. I am also excited for the chance to pick up where I left off in creating new sculptures, recipes, and other fun things along the way. Please bear with me as I am still getting into the swing of things. But I should be posting about what I made during the Christmas season soon. (I didn't want to spoil the surprise, so I wanted to wait until after Christmas to share my ideas with you.) In the mean time, please enjoy looking around at the things I have posted already, and feel free to comment on anything you like or don't like, I'd love the feedback!
As always, have fun expressing your creativity!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Graham Cracker Crust

This year I made three different pies for Thanksgiving. A pumpkin pie, a pecan pie, and a blueberry pie. I have yet to find the perfect, easy to follow pie crust recipe for regular pies, but I have definitely tweaked enough graham cracker pie crust recipes to find one that is just right. I like to use it for berry pies, meringue pies, cream pies, or my Key Lime Pie. It's easy, and delicious! 

Graham Cracker Crust 

1 Package Graham Crackers
2 Tbs Sugar
1/8 tsp Salt
6 Tbs Butter

Crush graham crackers until fine. Mix in sugar and salt. (I combine them all in a large plastic bag and crush the graham crackers until there are no chunks larger than the size of a pea. You could also use a blender or food processor, if you wanted a really consistent texture.) 
Melt the butter and pour over the graham cracker crumbs, stir until moistened. Pat firmly into a 9" pie pan. 

If using for a meringue or cream pie. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. (Cover with foil if you don't want it to turn brown too quickly.) Remove from oven and cool before filling. 

If using for a berry pie or one that needs to bake for  20+ minutes, there is no need to bake the pie crust separately. Just fill the pie crust, and bake at the allotted time for the pie you are making. 

Broccoli Salad

With my Husband being a pilot, we had to postpone celebrating Thanksgiving to last Saturday. But it was fun to tweak a few recipes for Broccoli Salad into a killer one that I just couldn't resist sharing. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!

Broccoli Salad

3 Broccoli florets (medium) finely chopped
8 Bacon slices (crushed/finely chopped)
1/3 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1/3 Cup Dried Cranberries (low sugar)
1/3 Cup Cheese (shredded)

3/4 Cup Miracle Whip (mayonaise, but it has a little more kick) (If you use regular mayo, you may need to use a little more apple cider vinegar to get the right amount of zest in this dish)
2 1/2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together broccoli, bacon, sunflower seeds, cranberries, and cheese. In a separate bowl, blend together miracle whip, apple cider vinegar, sugar, pepper, and salt. Toss dressing into the broccoli mix. Refrigerate until ready to serve, can be made the night before. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Planning Mode

Ok, so I've been a little lame lately. Being 5 months pregnant with a 21month old can take it's toll on how creative one can be. Most of my days consist of cleaning, spending time with my boy, dishes, napping, laundry, picking up toys, and I bet you guessed it, more cleaning. Ok, occasionally I/we get out of the house for some sanity, but it seems far and few between. So when I do get some free time, I usually take a nap, spend some much needed time with my angel Husband, or plan. Yay for planning! Now that baby boy is big enough that I'm feeling him move around and start to kick, I have been going crazy planning where he will be sleeping, getting our house organized for when he comes, packing hospital bags for myself, baby boy, my husband, and a care pack for my oldest.

I've also been planning for Christmas far in advance so I don't have to stress out when I'm 8-9 months pregnant, huge, and uncomfortable. It's sooo much easier to get it done with time to spare, and be able to enjoy the holidays and remember the true meaning behind it all. Thanksgiving isn't just about food, and Christmas isn't just about presents. They are about being grateful for all the bountiful blessings we have been given, spending time with loved ones, helping the needy, and rejoicing over the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. So for me, I love to get things planned, in order, made/bought, and sent a month or two ahead of time so I can not only make the holidays fun, memorable, and magical for my family, but less stressful for me too.

I've been wanting to post the things I've made for Christmas gifts, but that would give away the surprise for the ones I've made them for, so you'll just have to wait until after Christmas. But my Ultimate Pregnancy Check List is something that I thought new moms, or pregnant moms would enjoy. Let me know what you think!

Amy's Ultimate Pregnancy Check List

Amy's Ultimate Pregnancy Check List

Wish list for Mommy:
  • Breast pump
  • 6-8 bottles, nipples, and a bottle brush
  • Breast milk bottles, and freezer bags
  • Nursing pads (disposable, or washable-get 20, you will use them up quickly in the first months)
  • Lanolin cream
  • Dresser
  • Changing station
  • Changing pads (one for home, one for on the go)
  • Crib, mattress, bumpers, 3 fitted sheets
  • 3 water proof mattress pads (layer 3 under sheet, baby pee's, take sheet off with one pad, put another sheet on, and you're good to go)
  • Car seat and base (be sure to have it inspected so it is installed correctly)
  • Nursing bras (3-4)
  • Nursing nightgown(s)
  • Nursing shirts (2-3 for the first months help a bunch for when people come over)
  • Nursing cover or large receiving blanket (2, one for living room when guests pop in, and one for diaper bag for outings)
  • Toiletries (disposable underwear for first few days when flow is  really heavy, and maxi pads for the first week)
  • Witch hazel (sore? pour some onto a maxi pad, put it in the freezer, and pull out when you need one) 
  • .
  • .
  • .

Wish list for Baby:
  • Diapers (12 per day) cloth?? disposable??
  • Disposable wipes
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Vaseline!! (slather on for the first few diapers, and that sticky mess is much easier to clean off their cute little newborn bums! It also helps prevent diaper rash)
  • Rectal Thermometer
  • Gas Drops
  • Baby Tylenol (for later when teeth come in, or if baby gets a fever at some point)
  • Baby teething gel (for later when teething begins)
  • Alcohol, bandages, and q-tips for belly button
  • Baby Shampoo, cleanser, and lotion
  • Baby nail clippers and a glass* nail file (glass is much softer on the babies new fingers and nails, plus, if you're not comfortable using the clippers, the nail file is effective enough, but gentle enough to do the trick)
  • small, soft toys for baby to look at or hold
  • rattles
  • activity mat/ baby gym
  • white onesies (12-24 put under baby's clothes, to help hold in inevitable leaks and explosions. White so you don't feel bad about bleaching the heck out of them. :) )
  • hand socks/mittens for hospital so baby doesn't scratch up their cute little face
  • Winter baby - hats, socks/booties, warm blankets
  • Summer baby - summer hats, baby sun block, light blankets
  • .
  • .
  • .

To Do:
  • Make dental appointment (hormones can make cavities more prevalent, best to get checked and be safe)
  • Start taking monthly belly pictures
  • Baby budget (approx. $6,000. 3 for one time purchases, 3 for on going purchases
  • Start a routine to think about and connect with baby
  • Talk with daddy about parenting and life after baby comes
  • Track food and water intake to make sure weight gain is healthy
  • Schedule daily exercise (either personal time for pelvic tilts, squats, and stretching, or sign up for a class i.e.. prenatal yoga, water aerobics, etc...)
  • Consider a baby moon (a chance for you and your spouse to have a last hurrah before baby comes)
  • Purchase a baby book (or a few for future babies) and combine with pregnancy mementos
  • Narrow in on a few baby names
  • Go on dates!! (it's important for your and your spouse to stay close throughout the pregnancy so you can talk about life after baby, challenges that may come up, and just to let your hair down every once in a while)
  • Sign up for infant CPR and newborn-care classes
  • Tour Birth/Delivery Center(s)
  • Create a baby registry
  • Start a college/mission/marriage fund
  • Make baby shower plans
  • Send thank you notes
  • Get and test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
  • Create a will with your spouse (nothing should happen, but it's good to know who you would like to have take care of your precious little one in case something does)
  • Talk about work plans, maternity leave and paternity leave 
  • Assemble baby gear (crib, bouncer, stroller, car seat, etc...)
  • Talk to your baby (you might not have a name picked out yet, but it's good to start a relationship now)
  • Stock up on household supplies (better to have it now, to avoid sending an already exhausted husband to the store for a late night pick up)
    • Pantry items
    • Frozen food/freezer meals
    • Toiletries, toilet paper, bathroom items
    • Cleaning supplies
    • Medicine cabinet
    • First aid/emergency kit
    • Diapers/wipes
  • Clean house, or have it cleaned
  • Baby proof and do a safety check (crawl around on your hands and knees, look for anything that could fall, get knocked down, poke or scrape easily, or entangle)
  • Ask for helpers for when baby comes
  • Get a haircut
  • Keep up on car maintenance/ fix anything if needed
  • Keep up on home maintenance/ fix anything if needed
  • Is your ring tight? (Get a larger temporary ring, or take it off. Much better to not have to get your ring cut off, or worse, have a finger amputated. Yikes!)
  • Count fetal movements daily:
    • Look at the clock and begin counting every motion your baby makes.
    • When you have counted 10 movements, not the time.
    • Generally, you should notice 10 movements in 10 minutes, although it may take longer of your child to move or for you to notice the activity. 
    • Have a little snack if you haven't noticed that much activity; then try counting again.
    • If two hours pass without 10 movements, call your practitioner, just in case.
    • Make a habit to check in regularly with your little one as your due date gets closer.
  • Find a pediatrician (talk about circumcision)
  • Write a birth plan. Discuss with your spouse about the option of cutting the umbilical cord, and circumcision. Talk about cost and coverage. Also, make a plan in for a cesarean section. I know from experience it is better to have talked about it than to go in thinking all will be fine. I had a C-section thinking that I would go all natural, talk about it, for your sake!
  • Pre-register at hospital or birthing center.
  • Sign up for breastfeeding class (knowing from experience, it is better to know before hand how a baby should latch on.)
  • Purchase a few different types of nipple shields to try at the hospital. 
  • Find out where the breastfeeding groups get together, and how often. Make sure you know where to get help if you need it! 
  • (Also know that it's not always a mother's fault that a baby is not latching correctly. My son had a tight jaw and tongue, and he also couldn't coordinate sucking, swallowing, and breathing. We had to go to a Cranial Sacral Therapist for a few months to loosen his tight jaw and tongue, but as his latch improved my flow became too fast, and he would refuse me after let down. Ultimately we chose to switch to bottle feeding after 2 1/2 months. If you want to breastfeed, do what you can to learn about it now, and make sure you have resources handy. If in the end you are not able to breastfeed, you are not alone, don't get down on yourself! Sometimes it's better for you and the baby to go to bottle feeding, that doesn't mean you are any less of a mother, or that you failed. No matter how you feed your baby, you can still be a wonderful, loving, and successful mom!)

  • Pack Hospital bags
    • Mom's Bag
      • Flip flops for shower /slippers/ no-slip socks
      • Breast pads/lanolin/nursing bra
      • Nursing pillow
      • Paperclip or bobby pin (track which side your on)
      • Empty bag and folder for items you get from hospital
      • Baby book
      • Birth plan
      • Pics of family to help through labor
      • Shampoo/ Conditioner/ Lotion/ lip balm
      • Hair bands, barrettes, pins, comb/ brush
      • Toothbrush/ toothpaste/floss
      • Deodorant
      • Makeup
      • Witch Hazel/ Disposable underwear/ Maxi pads
      • ID & insurance card(s)
      • Hot pack/ Ice pack/ Stress ball (for labor)
      • Homecoming outfit (loose)
      • Nursing nightgown (so you can be comfortable, but modest when visitors come)
      • Bellyband (no one likes to have a floppy tummy after birth)
      • Robe (Hospitals are cold, and it's nice to cover up sometimes)
      • Towel & Garbage bag for car. Lay the garbage bag over the seat and put the towel over the top. This saves you from cleaning your car if your water has already broken or if it breaks on the way to the hospital.
      • .
      • .
    • Dad's Bag
      • Change of clothes (or 2)
      • Pajamas
      • Pillow
      • Toiletries (toothbrush/toothpaste/deodorant)
      • Camera/Video Camera/ Cell phone
      • Chargers
      • Cash & change (if the hospital's cafeteria is closed, you might want something out of a vending machine)
      • Snacks/Candy/Drinks/Gum (for you and him)
      • .
      • .
    • Diaper Bag
      • Homecoming outfit (newborn if small & 0-3 if large)
      • Socks/onesies/hat/mittens
      • Diapers/wipes/sacks for dirty diapers (6 is plenty, the hospital will provide you the rest that you may need)
      • Burp cloth(s)
      • Nipple shield & lanolin
      • Pacifier & pacifier clip
      • Tissues & nose bulb (the hospital usually gives you a bulb)
      • Baby nail clippers and glass file
      • Blanket/receiving blanket
      • Toy or anything you want for hospital pictures
      • .
      • .
    • Care Pack for older children
      • If being watched at home
      • List of Emergency contacts (Hospital, parents phone numbers's, pediatrician, poison control center, etc...)
      • List of allergies and things they can have instead
      • List of foods and activities they like
      • List of daily routines (when they usually eat, any special bed-time or nap time routines or things that help them go to sleep)
      • If kids are in school, bus schedule and when they need to be dropped off and picked up, plus school lunches or home lunches
      • It never hurts to lay out an outfit or two so that it's easy to grab and go
      • .
      • .
      • If being watched at someone else's house
      • List of Emergency contacts (Hospital, parents phone numbers's, pediatrician, poison control center, etc...)
      • List of allergies and things they can have instead
      • List of foods and activities they like
      • List of daily routines (when they usually eat, any special bed-time or nap time routines or things that help them go to sleep)
      • If kids are in school, bus schedule and when they need to be dropped off and picked up, plus school lunches or home lunches
      • Clothes, underwear, socks & shoes
      • Pajamas
      • Sleeping bag(s)/blanket(s) & pillow(s)?
      • Diapers/wipes
      • A few favorite toys/books/coloring books & crayons/stuffed animal/blanket etc...
      • Toiletries (toothbrush/toothpaste/floss/shampoo/conditioner/soap/lotion etc...)
      • .

  • Know Signs of Premature Labor
    • Leaking or discharge (clear, bloody, or brown) 
    • Loss of mucus plug 
    • Contractions every 10 minutes or more.
    • Cramps with or without diarrhea
    • Pelvic Pressure (baby dropping)
    • Backache
    • WHAT TO DO
      • Lie down and relax
      • Drink water
      • Rest & wait, if symptoms don't get better in an hour, call your doctor!
      • Lay low if symptoms go away, be sure to put feet up, & talk to your doctor!
  • Know Stages of Labor
    • First Stage: Start of contractions that cause effacement and dilation of cervix. 
      • Early Labor - cervix effaces and dilates
      • Active Labor/ Transition - cervix dilates more rapidly, contractions are longer, stronger, and closer
    • Second Stage: Labor begins when fully dilated and ends with birth
    • Third Stage: Right after birth, and you deliver the placenta
  • Learn about coping with Labor pains
    • Early Labor
      • Time Contractions!
      • Take a shower or bath
      • Listen to relaxing music
      • Have a gentle massage
      • Try slow, deep breathing
      • Change positions
      • Drink water, juice or other clear liquids
      • Eat light healthy snacks
      • Apply ice packs or heat to your lower back
    • Active Labor/ Transition
      • Massage
      • Change positions - if pressure in lower back, get on all fours
      • Cool cloth on forehead/ cold pack or warm compress on back
      • Rock in rocking chair
      • Roll on birthing ball
      • Take a warm shower or bath
      • Take a walk
    • Second Stage/ Pushing Baby Out
      • Focus on the fact that the hard contractions are helping your baby move down and out with each contraction
      • Stay Positive!! You have made it this far with or without meds. You can make it one contraction at a time. Remind yourself that you are doing a great job and that the baby's arrival is near
      • Relax your upper body and focus on pushing where it counts
      • Find a comfortable birthing position: Squatting, sitting, kneeling, or hands and knees.
  • Practice relaxation and breathing techniques
  • Make a plan for when you go into labor (who will you call, where will you go, and at how long will you wait until you go to the hospital)
  • Make a list of who to contact when baby arrives w/ phone #'s &/Or e-mails. (Think about delegating to someone who would love to get the word out... i.e... your mom/mother-in-law :) )
  • Make birth announcements (paper or electronic)
  • Learn what your body will be like after birth and what you can do to prepare
  • Wash linens and just enough baby clothes for a few days. If baby is big, you may need to return some of the clothes that were given to you.
  • Do exercises that will prepare you for Delivery
  • Call insurance to find out when you can add Baby to the policy
  • Review Baby Registry
  • Review Birth Plan
  • Enjoy the last few kicks & the feeling of having baby inside of you. 
  • Do squats to prep for labor
  • Be ready for water to break/ mucus plug/ bloody show
  • Take time to rest
  • If baby is over due, try tricks to bring on Labor

I hope you like my list! I'd love to hear what you put on your list, reply or send me an e-mail about your pregnancy check lists and things that made life easier for you pre and post baby!