work in progress

hello there!

I’ve decided to get back into frequent blogging. It’s something I love doing and I genuinely want to grow as a writer and WordPress user.

Please bear with me as the blog undergoes changes (adios, old posts!) and revamps into something new, unique, and of value to myself and to readers.

I’ve chosen “hello there” as the title of the new blog. In many ways, it is simple, clean and straightforward… exactly what I’m looking for!

hellothere

Hope you’ll join me!

-Andrea

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Five (Meals) on Friday | 1.19.18

Happy Friday! It’s sunny, and 53 degrees as I am typing this. Get outta here! That’s like, 50 — maybe even 60 degrees warmer than it was at the beginning of the week.

Seeing sunshine is such a mood-booster for me, especially since I am stuck in the office all day today.

Image result for sunny day quotes

I just finished up my online grocery shopping, and wanted to share what’s on our menu for the next several days. Ideally, I would have purchased enough groceries to get us through the end of the month but I have learned my lesson and have had so much produce spoil that I can only shop for a week or week-and-a-half at a time. Of course I could order the pantry staples and such but I do best when I shop (and think!) in complete meals.

Make sense?

New recipe for us – Italian Vegetable Soup

30 minute Italian Vegetable Soup – This is the BEST version I have tried – my family begs me to make this soup! hearty, comforting chunks of ground beef and veggies in an Italian spiced tomato broth - SO good and easy!

Doesn’t it look so good, and filling? (Click the photo to read the recipe.)

I’ll make a few changes… like using ground Italian sausage instead of beef, omitting the cabbage, and adding more onion. Although I am not using ground beef I will be using beef base and probably organic vegetable broth because I know I have it in my pantry.

Another new recipe to try – taco casserole

Easy Weight Watchers Casserole

In an attempt to jazz up a regular old taco meal, I’m making a taco casserole inspired by the Weight Watchers recipe linked to the photo.

I’ll make my own blend of yumminess with ground chuck, black beans, corn, onion, taco seasoning, and Rotel tomatoes layered between flour tortillas. Of course, I’ll top the casserole with cheese, sour cream, green onions, and diced tomatoes.

Can you tell that we really like onions?

You could totally use chicken in this recipe and I probably will in the future. We’ve had chicken a lot lately, so I’m choosing beef/pork for our next few meals.

Old favorites

For another meal, I’ll pan fry thinly-sliced pork chops seasoned heavily with Cavendar’s (a hubby fave). For sides we will have steamed broccoli and baked sweet potatoes.

BLTs made the menu this week, and I will probably add avocado slices to mine! The BLTs may accompany leftover soup, too. Otherwise, we’ll have fresh fruit salad as our side dish. Maybe mac & cheese if the little man requests it.

Zoodle love

Have you had Zoodles? If not, you are missing out! My husband found one of these in his stocking this Christmas, and we used it for the first time recently.

As zucchini lovers, I knew there was a high probability that we would be hooked on zoodles. I was right!

Image result for veggetti

We have the traditional “As Seen On TV” Veggetti, which is $9.99 at Walmart or Amazon.

I’ll cook these in olive oil and garlic for 4-5 minutes, using tongs to toss them around a few times. It’s really quick and I’ve learned to not overcook them.

I’ll make my usual spaghetti sauce with ground chuck, and will serve it over zoodles. Such a fun and healthy alternative!


So that’s it for the next several days in our household. I know the soup and casserole will make leftovers, and I bought a few other staples to bring for lunch, etc. My goal is to be healthy (within reason), and to make filling meals that don’t break the bank.

Because let’s face it, we all want the rich, cream cheesy delicious pasta recipes on Pinterest that always call for sun-dried tomatoes + artichokes + bacon + asparagus that would cost about $25 to create that one insanely good looking meal. Oh, I want it, but my pants and wallet don’t!!

Have meal ideas to share? Please do!

Five on Friday // 1.12.18

I’m back, baby! I have a few minutes to squeeze in a quick FOF post, so let’s save the “so sorry I haven’t blogged in months” post for another day.

1. these pants

Image result for agnes and dora jeggings distressed

Have you heard of Agnes & Dora? It’s one of those brands you have to buy directly from a rep. Some styles are similar to Lularoe, but they have better prints, prices, and style… in my opinion. I was lucky enough to snag a pair of BLACK distressed jeggings from my local gal Courtney and let me just say, they rock.

The 2″ elastic waistband that is mid-rise is a life saver for my mom belly that never got quite right after pregnancy… not that I’ve tried.

All in all, I think these jeggings would flatter all body types, and they come in a few colors and sizes. I am not a fan of colored jeans, but I do have my eye on that denim-ish gray pair.

At $44, these are a great buy!

Shop her site here: shopcourtneyargo.com

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2. so happy the bachelor is back!

Image result for bachelor

Yep, we are Bachelor junkies! My husband and I totally look forward to watching on Monday nights and joke that it is the best part of our Mondays. I am not familiar with Arie, as I didn’t watch the season of The Bachelorette he competed on. So far, I really like him and think he seems pretty normal. Well, as normal as you can get for being on a reality dating show!

3. scents we are loving

Back in November, my husband had oral surgery and while he was in the middle of that I took a quick trip over to Target for some solo browsing. *praise hands*

The Gaines’ Hearth & Home with Magnolia line had just launched and I was dying to see what was in stock. I came across this lovely scent and it wasn’t like anything I had smelled before. It is subtle and one of those ‘barely there’ warm scents. Why is describing scents so difficult?

Next time you’re at Target, give this candle a sniff! I am happy with how slowly the soy candle is burning, and I will definitely repurchase this Christmas gift.

In case you were wondering, this is our favorite Christmas evergreen scent and this is our favorite year-round wax melt scent. While I do love Scenty’s Mochadoodle and Pumpkin Roll in the fall, I always come back to the Soft Amber Cashmere and it is so cheap and easy to find.

4. online shopping… for eye glasses?

As I was squinting as hard as I could the other day to read the computer screen I came to the realization that my vision may not be as great as it once was. I was prescribed glasses for reading when I was 8 years old… I have vivid memories of my glasses fogging up in the afternoons in second grade. My classroom was upstairs in a red-brick school building with no air conditioning. Wouldn’t people riot these days if schools didn’t have air conditioning?

Anyway, from that point on I usually had an exam and got new prescription glasses every 2 years or so. I would wear them any time I was doing extensive computer work or reading. Fast forward to now… and I think the last eye exam I had was 5+ years ago. Yikes! So my glasses are 5 years old and I’m afraid it’s time for a new prescription.

Online eye glass retailers seem to be super popular these days. I’ve heard good things about Warby Parker & Zenni Optical.

Actually, the last time my mom got a new prescription, her optometrist suggested she go to Walmart and find a pair of frames she likes and he would order her lenses. I think she said her frames were under $20!

If you have purchased glasses online I want to hear about your experience!

5. date night

The past 4 weeks have been fairly hectic for our family, because besides all the hustle and bustle of the holidays… our little Samuel has been sick. A few days before Christmas he was diagnosed with his first ear infection. I told the nurse practitioner, “Well, it was a good run” and she thought was pretty darn funny. It’s so true, he had only been to the doctor a couple other times other than for his well checks. Those two times we were just told he had a cold, and took him for peace of mind.

With his first ear infection came 10 days of amoxicillin. He started acting better within hours of his first dose, it seemed. I threw the bottle of amox away on New Years Day after we were done with our 10 day episode… and I found myself back at the pediatrician office on January 5th to be told that he had “mild pneumonia”.

I was feeling so frustrated and defeated. I do my absolute best to Clorox wipe, GermX, Thieves, and wash my hands so many times a day they are literally cracking. And, I can’t beat the germs! Ugh!

More antibiotics, of course. I am so thankful that he did not require chest x-rays or any intense diagnostics.

But man, having a sick kiddo is exhausting… for mom, for dad, for grandparents, and we all hate the fact that little man isn’t feeling well.

Saturday, my husband and I are rewarding ourselves with a date night because we need it. So badly. We can’t even remember the last time we had dinner at a restaurant together, alone.

I picked this new-ish Italian restaurant to check out. The reviews are fantastic and honestly, I am just looking forward to having quality conversation and a glass of wine… or 3.


Cheers to the weekend!

Andrea

my future farmer

Quickly sharing a few photos from our most recent trip to Arkansas to visit my other set of in-laws. Sammy REALLY enjoys the animals, as you can tell!

Prepare for animal cuteness…

Luckily, Aunt Morgan (sheep & goat extraordinaire) snagged a baby for us. These babydoll sheep are adorable and so soft.

Then, daddy had a wonderful idea… (insert eye roll). Boys will be boys!

This boy is so comfortable around farm animals. It’s amazing!

In the photo above, he is pelting the goats with feed. Maybe he’ll be a pitcher πŸ™‚

He also loves laughing at the dogs splash in the water!

Cooling off with Grandma after a hot afternoon taking care of the animals. Farm life!

We are so thankful and blessed to have so many people that love and deeply care for our little Sammy. Wherever we go, he lights up others’ faces!

Here’s to a relaxing weekend at home preparing for the little one to turn 2 next weekend…

XOXO

 

Things I want to remember about this age: 23 months

It may seem silly to post an update just before the big ‘2 year milestone’… but if I don’t document life with Sammy right now, I will regret it. I write this blog mostly for myself and absolutely love going back and reading about what we were doing a few months ago.

Things I want to remember about Samuel Hayes at 23 months old:

  • You are FUNNY! What a sense of humor you have! Your favorite thing to laugh at spontaneously, is people falling down. In fact, you laughed at one of your classmates in gymnastics when she toppled off of the balance beam this week. Hehe!
  • Speaking of gymnastics, your gross motor skills are progressing so well. You can jump and jump well! You will hop, gallop, run, crawl… do it all. You are now walking on the balance beam by yourself at gymnastics, making it from one end to the other without holding on to my hand. Wow!
  • You are so cute when you are pretend-playing. You pretend to pick grass to feed horses in books, pretend to eat and drink foods in books and offer me “soup” out of a plastic bowl. You are talking to your toys and understand when I play with you and the toys talk to each other.
  • Most of the time you love to sing songs! Some faves are Itsy Bitsy Spider, ABCs, This Little Light of Mine, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Wheels on the Bus, Jesus Loves the Little Children, and when daddy sings the National Anthem. I can usually count on you to start yelling “no! no way!” when I sing Jesus Loves Me because you associate it with going to sleep. You know the tune to most of these songs and do a good job singing along.
  • Big trucks, diggers, trash trucks, cars, tractors… okay, anything with wheels… really interest you! Total boy.
  • You are a very good eater and tend to prefer fruits to vegetables. Meats are becoming more popular with you, especially when you can dip them in something!
  • We are making progress when it comes to transitioning you to whole cows milk. You will drink it out of a small juice glass and do a great job of not spilling. We don’t offer milk every day, and there are still many times where we pour it for you… and then you ask for water. You are nursing, still. When you wake up, at times when I pick you up after work, and before bed. We don’t really have an exit strategy for weaning and aren’t in a big rush to figure that out.
  • Your vocabulary has exploded over the past month. You are putting words together and it is simply adorable to hear your sweet voice. Except the days where all you say is “no way! no way! no way!”. I love hearing you say “help please momma”, “big truck!” and “thank you”.
  • You always want to help and be involved. If I ask you to do something and you say no or are not excited about leaving the house, etc. all I have to do is ask for your help with a task… when you say “no” I say “okay, Mommy will do it”. Boy, that sends you running my direction and quick!!! “Me! Me! Me!”
  • Potty training has definitely stalled and you almost always say no when I ask if you’d like to sit on the potty. Sometimes I can convince you to do so if I promise to do a silly dance while you sit. It’s pretty funny because you sit and watch for maybe 10 seconds, then you want me to sit on the potty while you do a silly dance in the doorway.
  • Blues Clues is your favorite TV show right now. Hands down.
  • Favorite color is green. Well, it’s your most common answer at least.
  • You know all of your family member’s names and talk about them at home. You have an impeccable memory and can tell me who gave you certain toys, etc.

What we’re looking forward to:

  • This month you’ll turn 2! We’ll celebrate with family and friends by having a pool party at our neighborhood pool, just like last year. It worked out so nicely that we’d be fools not to repeat it!
  • Seeing you enjoy and interact with the few toys we’ve bought for your birthday… and what we know others are buying for you. (Note to self: Go through all the toys at home when Sammy isn’t there so I can box up a few oldies to make room for new ones.)
  • More evening walks as the weather cools down in the evenings, as well as making more connections with our neighbors as this has been a focus at church.
  • Speaking of church, we are working on having better experiences when leaving you at the nursery in preparation for you starting at an in-home daycare 1 day a week. That begins later this month.
  • Watching you grow more and more, and loving you more and more each day – although it just doesn’t seem possible!

Five on Friday | 6.23.17

Finally, we’re at the end of what seemed like the longest.week.ever!

I’m excited to have a chance to post on Five on Friday, because I’m seems like it’s been forever.

I’m linking up with other fabulous bloggers, listed above!

Lovin’ Lavender

This past week, I had family in town visiting from Ohio. One thing we wanted to do is hit up a local lavender farm that has recently opened up the the public. Lavender Falls Farm is a cute little farm in the middle of nowhere (Jamesville, MO to be exact). You can read more about the farm here and here.

My cousin Jenna, Sammy, and myself

One thing that surprised me about Lavender Falls was the smell. Of course, we all know what lavender smells like… but this was different. When we got out of the car, the fresh air was a lavender and cinnamon-spice swirl! Really cool, and I would totally want to bottle that up.

The farm has a natural waterfall, small cafe serving lavender infused dishes and drinks, and a small area to walk around the lavender field, pictured above.

The drive to Lavender Falls was very scenic… we even came across a huge Holstein cow in the middle of the road!

Note: I also learned that my brain wants to spell the word lavendAR instead of lavender. I keep struggling to spell it correctly.

Summer Swim Lessons

We were very excited to enroll Samuel in swim lessons at our city pool again this year. Last year he seemed to really enjoy it and progressed over the 4 sessions.

This year was a different story… He just wasn’t into it. He wanted to get out or sit on the steps. Or get out and hang out with daddy, as pictured.

He did not want to attend the last 2 sessions when I asked if he wanted to go. But, we stuck with it.

Sam is really experimenting with independence right now and everything is “me! me! me!”. That phase along with the class time (7:20-8 p.m.) is just rough on a little guy.

Now we are searching for the best lifejacket/floaty/suit with floaties in it for our boy so he can go to our neighborhood pool and still be independent. Please email me your suggestions! andreagraddy1@gmail.com

What we’re baking this weekend

Cookies! Our neighbors just added a sweet little girl to their family and I want to bring them some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies Β to their doorstep. This is my go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Our Best Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies

I baked a lot as a kid (and teenager) and used my mom’s Better Homes & Gardens cookbook 99% of the time. That’s why their recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and almost anything, is my favorite!

Yes, I do think the invention of Pinterest has been phenomenal for DIYers and those who like to spend time in the kitchen but I certainly think there is a lot to be said about opening up a cookbook with splattered-on pages and dog-eared corners.

The BHG recipe makes floury, cake-like chocolate chip cookies that are so stinkin’ good. Our grocery store had a 2 for $3 deal going on so I grabbed a bag of semi-sweet chips along with a bag of butterscotch chips. I think I’ll mix both of those together and deliver them to the new parents (are you still new parents if you already have a toddler, because they do?) and maybe Old Man Andy next door.

Keeping your neighbors on your good side is a good thing… especially when you’re too busy to mow the grass. Eeek!

 

Going Barefoot tonight

I told the hubs we were having a date night at home tonight after the little one goes to sleep. I’m picking up groceries after work, and added a couple bottles of wine to our online grocery order. White Zin for me and Cab for him!

Image result for barefoot wine zinfandelWe’re having a “big salad” for dinner, and wine for dessert. We just might bust out some of our favorite 2-person board games. I always tell engaged couples to add board games like Trouble, Stratego, Mastermind, Etc. to their wedding registry because nothing tops a date night at home with a little booze and a little friendly competition!

I told him of my plans last night, and I think he’s really excited. We’ve had one thing after another in the evenings the past 2 weeks it seems, so we are both looking forward to being home and just relaxing.

We don’t have anywhere to be in the morning either, so maybe just maybe Sammy will let us sleep til 7:30. That would be a real treat!

 

Coming up…

There are a few posts I’ve been working on (mentally) that I plan to share in the coming weeks. Topics I want to cover: Extended breastfeeding, decorating our guest bedroom, and goals for the second half of 2017. Anything you’d like me to write about?

I hope you have a restful weekend! XO

thursday thoughts | a little update

Oh my sweet forgotten blog – life happened, and blogging certainly has not.

Things that are currently being neglected (other than this blog): laundry, vacuuming, the ever growing pile of junk mail sitting on my counter.

Things that we are spending our time doing: sidewalk chalk, playing in the dirt, playing with the wooden train set (Thomas), and watering the flowers (aka spraying mom with the hose)! Now doesn’t that sound more fun?

Perfecting the “corn on the cob” hold to get every little bit off the stick.

We have visited our neighborhood pool once, and are gearing up for parent/child swim lessons starting next week. Since the schedules conflicted, we dropped out of gymnastics for a couple months to enjoy the water and sunshine!

Samuel continues to be such a joy and quite the funny boy. He is talking more every day and is incredibly independent. Far more independent than I was at his age, which makes me wonder what the toddler years will be like for the three of us πŸ™‚ He is so curious, involved and helpful. I would much rather hear his “Me! Me! Me!” and have him engaged with what Jeremy and I are doing, rather than having him sit in front of the TV, iPad, or whatever…

He is constantly learning and never forgets a thing.

OUR SUMMER TO-DO LIST:

  • Swim!
  • Spend time with family
  • Socialize with friends our age, and Sammy’s age
  • Travel… While we don’t have a major family vacation planned for this summer, we definitely want to take day-trips and see new things together
  • Go camping!
  • Take Sammy to the ballpark
  • Hit up Farmers’ Park on Saturday mornings
  • Go fishing!
  • Take photos with the camera… not our phones

I’ll do my best to share those photos here, because it’s the best archive I have right now.

Cheers to Thursday, and being one day closer to Saturday!