Sunday, January 29, 2012

Work it out!

Exercise has become such a challenge for me. I work 40 hours a week at a job, then I come home and take care of my precious family. I think I can find time to squeeze something in, but the challenge has been what to do. I don't want join a gym. I don't like the thought of taking time away from my family to go to one. I don't have exercise equipment at my house and I sure don't have room for any. I started a "Pre-Baby Body" board on Pinterest to gather a collection of exercises to do at home. Ask me how many I've done. None. It's easy to forget them when they are tucked away on the computer.

Tonight I decided to get serious about my workout plan. I printed off a collection of workouts I pinned and organized them in this binder.

Don't mind the baby arm.

I sorted them in a way that makes sense to me...whole body/circuit, arms, abs, and legs. Now, I have no excuses for not exercising. All of the workouts are quick and can be done at home with minimal to no equipment. They are also easier to access.

Do any of you have a favorite workout that you do at home?

I have all of these exercises saved in a word document on my computer. If anyone is interested, leave me a comment or email me and I will be happy to send them your way so you can start your home exercise collection!

Top 10

Top 10...Round 2!

1. My friend, Leah, has this super cute blog. And soon...she will be doing a giveaway! She is such a crafty, creative person so I can't wait to see what she will be giving away. She also has a super fun Etsy store. She let me practice taking pictures of her cute family this weekend and it was so much fun. I still have a looong way to go in my photog skills...but hopefully she got a few she likes:)

2. Speaking of blogs and giveaways, check out this one! Gallomore West is such a cute blog and I'm so glad Leah mentioned it on her blog! If I don't win a burlap wreath....I might be making one myself.

3. Hayes has a raging ear infection. He has not been the happiest baby. I hate seeing him sick. I don't particularly like waking up 12 times during the night either. I hope he starts to feel better soon!

4. I bought a Cricut. I mentioned it in the last Top 10. I decided it would help me simplify my life after all. Don't ask me how. Just trust me.

5. My Lia Sophia jewelry came in and I am so obsessed with it.

6. I've been craving hot chocolate every night and I keep not buying mix at the store. So..I make my own. I use milk, sugar, and cocoa powder. I should probably just buy some mix.

7. I am not ashamed to say that I own 2 pair of jeggings. And I love them. They are so comfortable and they are so easy to wear with my boots. And I think I pull them off. No one has told me otherwise yet...

8. Hayes's big birthday present came in this past week. Of course it is already assembled and in "wood floor" room. And it may or may not be on "Kourtney and Kim Take New York." Is that weird? I'll post a picture soon.

9. Children's TV shows are crazy. I hate hate hate when characters on these shows have speech impediments or bad grammar. Do we really want our kids to learn to talk the wrong way? The only one I have approved of so far is The Backyardigans. Hayes digs them too.

10. Leah and Gallamore West have both inspired me to do a giveaway. It makes me nervous....what if only 3 people enter? I guess those people will have a really good chance of winning...Leah, I'm going to stop making excuses too! A giveaway is coming soon!

DIY Storage Baskets

This project has been on the docket for far too long. We have a great shelf in "wood floor" room from Ikea. It has lots of cubby holes and I picked it out for the purpose of storing toys in cute baskets. I was having a problem with the cute baskets part though. I found plenty, but they were kinda pricey. Then...Pinterest saved the day. I saw a project where a lady had created fabric covers for diaper boxes and turned them into storage baskets. The whole sewing fabric covers sounded a little advanced for me, but I thought I could handle covering them another way. I started saving our diaper boxes and had the girls at daycare set some aside for me as well. I got fun scrapbook paper and contact paper and went to work.

Here is the before...

And here is the after!

It was so simple. I used double-sided tape to cover the box in scrap book paper. I then covered the whole box in contact paper and added a fun bow. Ryan thinks the big bow is a little girly. I love it. But I am sure Hayes will un-tie it as soon as he realizes he can. My next step will be to make a fun bowtie to replace the girly bow with.

Here it is on the shelf! This project was super easy and super cheap compared to store-bought baskets.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Avocado Chicken Parmesan

Found this little gem on Pinterest, made it tonight, loved it. Here is the original recipe link. This meal was actually quick and easy to make. It took me about 30 minutes total to complete. Enjoy!

Avocado Chicken Parmesan

2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1/2 - 1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 avocados, sliced
shredded cheese

Pound your chicken until it is super thin. I sliced mine in half before I beat the tar out of it. Salt and pepper your chicken. Spread the flour on one plate and breadcrumbs on another plate. Mix eggs and milk in a shallow dish. Coat chicken in flour, dunk in milk mixture, and coat in breadcrumbs. Lay chicken on a foil lined baking sheet. I coated the foil with cooking spray first. Bake at 400 for 5 minutes. Flip chicken and bake for another 5 minutes. Top with tomato sauce, avocado slices, and cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes. Serve with salad and enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Awesome Blog!

I recently came across this blog on pinterest. It was posted as offering weekly lessons on using your DSLR camera to get amazing pictures. Aimee is a mom with a photographer hubby who is teaching us how to use our fancy cameras...without the fancy, technical terms.

The second week focused on aperture. Here is what I learned. Aperture regulates how much light is let into the camera. The lower the aperture, the more light that is let in. And vice versa. Following Aimee's instructions, I set my ISO and white balance to auto and turned my command dial to A (aperture priority). This lets me change my aperture as I wish. I took a couple of test shots while changing my aperture. Here are just a few!




See how the background becomes more in focus as I raise my aperture? Interesting...very interesting.
Also interesting, the higher my aperture, the slower my shutter speed.

I love Aimee's explanations! They are so easy to understand. It's exactly what I needed, a mom teaching me how to use my opposed to a photography teacher teaching me. This weeks assignment focuses on shutter speed. Go check her blog out!

I think I will start thinking of names for my future photography business now....

Top 10!

I often have lots of random thoughts to share. So I am starting a new post series...Top 10. Here is the first Top 10 post!

1. Hayes just realized he can walk from one room to another and now wanders all over the house like a tiny drunk robot.

2. I just finished a banner for Hayes's first birthday. Next, using cardboard to make some more fun decorations. Can't believe his bday is so soon!

3. I recently got a new lens for my camera. I am very out of practice with manually focusing, but I am loving the pictures I am getting so far! Here is the lens...50mm f/1.8.

4. I have now been to my first Lia Sophia party...and I'm hooked. I haven't always been a jewelry girl, but I am starting to enjoy accessorizing more. I'm having a Lia Sophia Cinco de Mayo party...get ready girls!

5. My go-to invitation girl and friend, Melanie, is working on bday invites and vday cards for Hayes. They look amazing so far! I'm so glad I have an "invitation girl."

6. I want a Cricut...or some machine like it. I now have a really long list of things I would do with it. That means it's ok to buy it, right? Or does it go against my "simplify" plan?

7. I never knew how happy a pair of boots could make me, until I bought a pair a few months ago. I love planning outfits around my boots.

8. We watched the Justin Bieber Never Say Never movie last night. I really do adore that kiddo. And I don't really know why I don't have his cd downloaded yet...

9. I made Hayes some yummy Broccoli Cheese nuggets. He loves them...and so do I. It's a good mommy and baby snack.

10. I have been thinking about Courtney a lot lately. I know her heart is broken and I can't even imagine her pain. I'm also glad to know that Tripp is in heaven and no longer in pain. I encourage everyone to read her story. It will inspire you and make you realize how much we all have to be thankful for. Courtney and Tripp can teach us all about true faith.

Hope your week is fantastic!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Reasons why pulled pork is awesome...

Remember the pulled pork I blogged about? Well it is awesome.


Because it is like the pork that keeps on giving.

We ate it one night with potato salad. The next night, we ate it with a side of roasted cabbage which I will share the recipe for because it is also amazing. Tonight, I substituted pork for chicken in an enchilada lasagna recipe. Amazing again. I was able to put the two packs of chicken breasts I bought last weekend in the freezer! Someone's grocery bill is going to be cheaper this weekend. (Ahem..simplify)

 Anyway, I love that this meat has served so many purposes in our menu, that we can eat it different ways, that it was so easy to cook, and that it made my house smell so good while cooking.

Now...roasted cabbage. Remember the roasted broccoli I blogged about? Same concept, but with cabbage. So simple and soooooo tasty. It is cabbage at its finest. Found this on pinterest, compliments of Martha Stewart.

Roasted Cabbage

1 head cabbage (obviously)

Preheat oven to 400. Brush oil over a rimmed baking sheet. Slice cabbage into 1 inch rounds. I only sliced what I wanted to cook for that meal. Place the cabbage rounds on the baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and desired seasonings. I used my fantastic seasoned cooking oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Should be dark golden around edges. Yum!

Pork Enchilada Lasagna...from Mogwai Soup

1 lb pork
(could use any meat if your fridge isn't overflowing with pork like mine)
corn tortillas
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of celery
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 can green chilies
4-5 cups shredded cheese

If you are using raw meat, cook in oil and seasonings and chop. Mix soups, sour cream, and chilies in bowl. I added extra chilies because I had them. And green chilies are delicious. Fill a baking dish with water to dip corn tortillas in. Now time to layer! In a casserole dish,spread a third of the cream mixture. Dip corn tortilla in water and layer on top of cream mixture. Spread meat on and top with cheese. Repeat for 2 more layers. Top with lots and lots of cheese. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes. I finished mine off for a few minutes under the broiler for a crispy top. It tasted so good and made tons!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pulled Pork!

Yes, I am aware I appear to be over-blogging today. In my defense, I had started several of my posts and just not finished yet.

I saw The Pioneer Woman making this on her show yesterday morning...just around the time I was making our menu for the week. I knew we had to make it for two reasons. 1. It looked sooo good and sooo easy. 2. It was made in a cast iron dutch oven, which I happened to get for Christmas and am obsessed with. I changed her recipe a it is!

pork shoulder (I picked out the smallest, which was 7lbs...)
2 onions, quartered
2 cans coke
1 large can diced green chilies
4 tbsp brown sugar

Place your onions in the bottom of the dutch oven. Salt and pepper your pork, and place it on top of the onions. Top with green chilies. The Pioneer Woman used Adobo chilies, but I had these in my pantry already. Pour coke over top everything and add brown sugar. Place the lid on and bake in the oven at 300 for 6 hours. I flipped it twice during the 6 hours. Our house smelled like heaven all day. Once it is done, take it out of the pot and shred with forks.

I wasn't intending to get such a large piece of pork...but it was the smallest option available. The good thing is, it gives us lots of meat for leftovers. Later this week I am making enchilada casserole. Tonight, I threw the chicken for that dish in the freezer. Looks like pork enchiladas for us!

We made potato salad to enjoy with our shredded pork tonight. Make this on your next weekend at home! You won't regret it!

My word for 2012

So I follow lots of fun blogs. Mo Joy is written by Melanie Massey, a physical therapist, owner of multiple therapy clinics, crafter, and mom. She encouraged all of her readers to pick a word for the year, instead of a resolution. I thought long and hard about it...and here is my word.


Some of you may laugh at my choice. In some of my endeavors, I can be anything but simple. But this is what I want for me and my family. I want us to de-clutter and enjoy the simple things in life. I want to start pinching pennies and building our savings. I work in a beautiful assisted living community and trust me, retirement can be expensive. I want us to start living a healthier lifestyle so that we can set the best example for Hayes.

I started my simplify kick by attacking my arts and crafts room/guest bedroom. I threw away enough stuff to fill our big the one we put out for the garbage men to dump. I have also started a stack of things to sell in a garage sale that we will be having this spring. I never thought I would want to have one...but we have so much stuff to get rid of! I decided that it could go if it has been in the same place since I moved into this house in 2009.

Another area that could use simplification is our grocery shopping. I do make a menu each week and then a list so that we have ingredients for dishes to make all week. This eliminates extra shopping trips, which always result in impulse buys for me. It also eliminates the "we have nothing here, let's just go grab something" excuse. Going out to eat can be a huge expense! Last week after our shopping trip, I realized I had bought several staples that we already had in our kitchen. I could have saved $20 if I had checked the fridge and pantry first! So from now on, we will always check our kitchen before we make the list.

Baby food can be a big expense, especially if you are buying the Gerber special food for toddlers. I have been buying those and some foods to cook for Hayes throughout the week. I find myself grabbing the pre-made stuff and then the veggies and fruits I buy for Hayes just sit in the fridge and sometimes go to waste. From now on, no more pre-made food! Hayes can actually eat a lot of what we eat. This is a good way for us to save money and focus on healthy eating. If we are going to feed Hayes what we are eating, it better be healthy!

My big weaknesses are Starbucks and going to lunch with co-workers. I had done pretty good at cutting back on Starbucks...but I slipped after the new year. In fact, the Starbucks workers probably thought my New Year's resolution was to come there every morning. Is their venti decaf nonfat white chocolate mocha to die for? Yes. Do I absolutely need it to make it through the day? Yes. Well...I guess technically no. I have been making hot chocolate at home to deter me from stopping there, and it has now been one full week without Starbucks! As for lunch outings, another co-worker has also pledged to cut back on going out. Not only does it waste money, but it isn't healthy. I told her we might be able to brainwash all the other managers into cutting back as well without realizing it. 2 months....when everyone is commenting on their weight loss and wealth....we will know why! :)

I cannot wait to see what 2012 holds for us with our simplification plan. I hope we become healthier, more financially savvy, and more resourceful. What is your word going to be?

By the way, simplify does not apply to Hayes's first birthday party...which is in a month!

You must cook this tonight!!!!!

My life has been changed...again via Pinterest. This recipe was described as the "best broccoli of your life." I would have to agree with that description. The recipe came from The Amateur Gourmet. It is so easy and quick and delicious. Choose the quantity of your ingredients based on how many people are eating it. I will give the quantities I used to make it for Ryan and myself.

Roasted Broccoli and Shrimp

1 bunch of broccoli (is it even called a bunch? hmmm....)
1/2 lb shrimp
olive oil
salt and pepper
old bay seasoning
1 clove garlic
1 cup dry medium grain rice

Preheat oven to 425. Wash your broccoli and thaw your shrimp if you live in Ohio like I do and don't have access to fresh shrimp. Chop your broccoli. I left the stems long. Toss broccoli in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add in a garlic clove, sliced. Pour onto a foil lined baking sheet and toss in the oven for 10 minutes. Start your rice cooking. Shell your shrimp and toss in oil and old bay seasoning. After 10 minutes, add shrimp onto pan, stir around, and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Oooo, I also added lemon juice in with the shrimp. Your rice and shrimp and broccoli should all be done around the same time. Once the shrimp and broccoli come out of the oven, drizzle with more lemon juice and olive oil if desired. Serve over rice and be amazed at how good broccoli can be.

Hot Crab Dip!

I found this recipe and a super fun blog through Pinterest. Plain Chicken has lots of simple and tasty recipes and I have become a regular follower of her now!

Hot Crab Dip

2 pkg or 2 cans crabmeat

1 lb cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 dashes red hot sauce
2 tsp worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients and pour into small, glass baking dish. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Top with Creole seasoning. Done!

Our Tigers might not have played like we wished in the big game, but we still love all of our teams! We are already ready for football season next year!

That being said, I have a question for my fellow Techsters. I can find Hayes plenty of Notre Dame and LSU gear, but I am having the hardest time finding Tech gear. Any suggestions for someone who doesn't live in Ruston?

Merry Christmas...again?

I have had this collection of pictures that I have been meaning to let's pretend for a few minutes like it is still December and these aren't a little late.

I cut way back on Christmas decorations this year for a few reasons. I didn't have time to go all out. I have a small child. We spent a lot of our December out of town. I also decided to change up our decor scheme a little, but didn't want to spend an arm and a leg getting all new decorations this year. And I made that decision about halfway through December. I used a lot of pieces I already have and just added holiday flair for low budget decor. Here is a touch a Christmas at the McCormick's!

Our stockings came from Pottery Barn. Funny story. Ryan and I started dating in September of 2008. In November, I ordered us matching stockings. Good thing he was as crazy about me as I was about him...or else I might have appeared to be crazy.

My mantle garland I have used the past few years didn't survive last Christmas, so I used some holiday ribbon and plastic silver ornaments instead. I already had the ribbon and ornaments on hand, so it was a quick fix  I used our Christmas card on a small easel I already had to spruce things up. We ordered our cards from Minted this year. I received an awesome credit to their website and had to take advantage of it.

These vases are from my Southern Living at Home collection and usually have wicker balls in them. I added my glass ornaments that I was afraid to put on the tree...due to the small child:) I added the berry stems from my box o' Christmas and done!

This green vase always sits on our bookshelf, so I added the rest of my berry stems. You might recognize this book from a previous post. It was my favorite as a child and I found a copy at Marshall's for Hayes. I put another cute Christmas shot of Hayes on an easel and I was done with decorating!

I love love love wrapping Christmas gifts. I almost look at them as part of my decor. I love making them all match and creating cute gift tags. Hobby Lobby is my favorite place to buy wrapping paper and these are the reasons why: the roll has soooo much paper on it; the paper has a grid printed on the back for easy cutting; oh and the paper is pretty. The day I bought my gift wrapping supplies, Hobby Lobby had them all 50% off...another reason to love them!

I made my gift tags from cardstock I had at home. I used stamps to add the first letter of the recipient's name, then filled in the rest with a sharpie. They all looked so was a shame they had to be opened:)

I made Hayes's daycare teachers Oreo bark for a Christmas treat. It was super easy and delicious. I love making bark and I just made this one up with supplies in my kitchen.

Hayes's Oreo Bark

1 pack oreos (1 row)
1 pkg vanilla bark
3 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Melt vanilla bark. Crush one row of Oreos from the package. Mix vanilla and oreos together. Place on cookie sheet in a checkerboard pattern. Melt chocolate and fill in spaces on cookie sheet. Drag a knife through the bark to create a fun swirly design. Place in fridge. Once hardened, break into pieces and eat!
*There is more vanilla/oreo mixture, so leave your holes for the chocolate small.

For the teacher's cards, I used the same template as the gift tags. To create the background, I used a fleur de lis stamp and light blue ink.

Our first Christmas with Hayes was fun! For next year, my plan is to do a light blue and red color scheme. I am also on the hunt for a plush nativity so that Hayes can enjoy it too.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hayes had a busy and exciting first Christmas! Ready for a loooong blog full of pictures? Hope so!

Hayes and Landen got so many fun gifts from Maimeo and Papa!

Our first Christmas at home was nice and quiet. Hayes got lots of new books and clothes and fun blocks made from recycled milk jugs!

Hayes had a fun Christmas down in Louisiana with Nana and Pappy!

Nana and Pappy got the kids matching pjs with their names on the back flap.

They looked too cute in their matching outfits Christmas morning!

It's ok for Hayes and his mommy to have matching shoes, right?

We got back to Ohio just in time for the first snow of the season. Looks like Hayes felt the same way about it that his mommy did.

We had a wonderful holiday season spent with family. We know 2012 will be a fun year for our little family of 3. Hayes will be one in February, let the party planning begin! We hope 2012 is an amazing year for all of you and your families!

Blog Spotlight!

I am so far behind in my blogging and will have a Christmas post to share soon...but until then....Blog Spotlight!

I first heard of her during my years at Tech. She is a photographer. And I can't even think of an appropriate adjective to describe her talents. Over the years, she has grown her business and is such an inspiration to photographers, moms, etc. She continues to photograph but she also offers workshops for photographers to learn her tricks of the trade. Her newest business venture is fashionable camera bags. They are fantastic...and one day, I will have one!

Several months ago, Kelly and her husband adopted a beautiful baby girl. She joined their daughter, Posey, to make a perfect family of 4! She has a video on her blog of their adoption story. It is an amazing story that will probably make you tear up a little. Watch it immediately! And then check out her line of camera bags and drool. And then, check out her photo blog and drool some more...if good photography is something that makes you drool.