Saturday, December 15, 2012

What's Cookin?

Now that Hubs is home, I've been cooking ALOT more. He literally eats enough for 2 people! But I've been having fun with trying out new, healthy recipes. Hubs is generally not a fan of healthier food, he joked that he was going to be eating only rabbit food after deployment. Boy has he been pleasantly surprised! He keeps asking me where I find these recipes, like he doesn't already know the answer...Pinterest!

Here are a few of our new favorites:

Broccoli Cheese and Potato Soup - Perfect for a cold day! It was so quick to prepare, honestly took me less than 30 minutes from 'fridge to stove. 

Million Dollar Casserole - Now I am sure you've heard of Million Dollar Spaghetti, well this is the casserole version (obviously...). I lightened it up a bit, using plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream, homemade spaghetti sauce, reduced fat cheese, and Dreamfields pasta. It was a nice alternative to spaghetti!

Slow Cooker Fudge - I have always wanted to make my own fudge, but I was intimidated. This recipe was so easy and it was in the slow cooker! My husband likes this recipe so much, I have been making it almost daily. I have also experimented with different variations: I've used peanut butter chips & milk chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips & mint chips, and white chocolate chips & lemon extract (instead of vanilla like the recipe calls for). If you follow the directions, the fudge turns out great. Sometimes it ends up too runny after cooking for 2 hours, so I just had more chips to thicken it up. Just make sure you allow it to cook the full 2 hours and cool at least 4 hours. When you pop it in the 'fridge, don't cover it either.

Turkey Meatloaf and Skinny Garlic Mashed Potatoes - I tried out my meatloaf recipe but with ground turkey and paired it with these mashed potatoes. Easiest. Potatoes. EVER! This was my first time making real mashed potatoes aka not made from flakes. So easy and they turned out really yummy!

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken - My husband loved this so much, he literally ate all of it (minus the 2 servings the kiddo and I ate!). I shredded up the chicken to make it easier for my daughter to eat. It was so delicious, light, and full of flavor. When I told my husband it was healthy (190 Calories per serving!), he said, "Good, that means I can eat it all and not feel like a fat a**!". Definitely cook with fresh herbs instead of the dried ones, rosemary tastes sooo much better fresh!

Oven Roasted Sausages, Potatoes, & Peppers - I made this with deer sausage and used Tony Cachere's seasoning, it was a huge hit! I especially loved the banana peppers. This dish would be really good served in a sub sandwich too. I ended up using 2 baking pans instead of crowding it all onto one. 

Caramel for Popcorn - Okay so this is NOT healthy at all but it is oh so yummy! Hubs was trying to find caramel popcorn at the store so I was inspired to make some myself. I made one batch which has lasted us 4 bags of popcorn so far and we haven't used half yet! It is the perfect amount of sweetness to pair with the salty/buttery of the popcorn. 

I hope you all enjoy them as much as my family does! 


Monday, December 10, 2012

You Are Cordially Invited...

I am finally ready to share photos from our Royal Tea Birthday Party! I was so happy with how the entire party turned out, I was excited to see how all of my DIY projects worked into the event. Little Miss absolutely loved it, I will sure have a hard time matching it next year!

The table, complete with tiaras for the girls and foam swords for the boys

One of my DIY Centerpieces with Princess Crown Lollipops

DIY Goodie Bags, Pink for girls and Blue for boys
Cake & Cupcakes on my DIY Cupcake Stand

Putting on her Princess Dress

What's a Princess dress without the Jewels?

Time for Tea!

Yummy Food!
Meeting Cinderella

Storytime with Cinderella

Happy Toddler = Happy Family!

I want to thank Rusella Photography for capturing this for us. Not having to worry about taking pictures and hosting a party was a huge relief.

TeaParTea is such a great venue, they went above and beyond to help out during the party. 

The cake and cupcakes were from Shockley's Sweet Shoppe. They are just the sweetest people and were very budget friendly. Plus, their stuff tastes amazing!
Believe it or not, this party did NOT break the bank. Last year we went to a local bounce house for her birthday. We spent the same amount of money as we did this year but didn't have nearly as much fun and I felt like it wasn't a very unique experience.

I don't have the space in our townhouse to throw a party here. Plus parking is terribad. So having a party at home is not an option. 

Here are my tips for making the most of your party $$ and keeping your party unique:

- Have your party during the week.
      By doing this, I paid almost HALF of what it would cost
      to have the party on a weekend. 

- Go with cupcakes instead of cake.
      An intricately decorated cake can be costly! If you want
      bling on your cupcakes, buy it separately. I picked up
      the edible pearls on sale for less than a dollar. I simply
      added it to the cupcakes myself!
      If you are good at baking, make it yourself!  
- Be crafty!
      By making my own centerpieces, cupcake stand, and 
      goody bags I was able to save alot but make the party 
      still look great! Check out all the tutorials HERE.  I was
      able to get multiple uses out of a few things, like the candy
      used in the decorations was also given out for the goody
      bags at the end of the party.  

And if you have the extra money, hire a photographer to take pictures for the party. Of course you could always just have a designated friend take pictures too! Last year, I had about 10 photos of the party and I was in NONE of them. My daughter is going to look back and wonder where I was! I didn't want to worry about taking pictures and being a good hostess, so spending the money was very much worth it to me. Plus, these pictures are far better than what my camera is capable of taking. It wasn't very expensive either!

The party was perfect for our little princess!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hiding Out

Hubs had been home for nearly a month now, the decom ceremony has passed, so this means back to a regular working schedule; well at least until holiday leave

I have slowly started getting a new routine together. This also means getting Little Miss into a new routine too. For those of you that have never had the pleasure of forcing a 3 year old to do something...let me tell you, it isn't easy. My crazy toddler wants to stay up until midnight and sleep until 10am. But when Hubs goes to bed by 8pm (I know, I know he's an old man shhh don't tell him I said that!) and is up by 4am, I either go without much sleep or I get very little alone time with him. And since we are trying to add on to our little family, alone time is a valuable thing right now.

We have been keeping to ourselves for the last month. It has been nice to just hang out at home when Hubs is around and on duty days I do the cleaning, laundry, and errands. Hubs has seen almost all of the Disney princess movies now. Little Miss helps her Daddy fight animals on his video game. I know it doesn't sound fabulous and exotic, but its just heaven to me. We even found time to update our family photos, its been nearly 2 years since we've taken any!

The pictures turned out great!!

However with all of this focusing on family time, I feel have neglected my friends. As much as I love you guys, it has been nice to just shut the world out and enjoy my little family. I promise this week I will start being more attentive, returning texts and phone calls...updating my blog...

This upcoming week will be a challenge for us, working my friends, gym time, and Little Miss's play dates back into our schedule along with working days for Hubs. This is always the hardest part of reintegration for me. Getting my day started early enough so I can complete all of my to-do's before Hubs gets home from work....Wish me luck! 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Life is Good :)

I have been totally neglecting my blog the last 3 weeks! Life has been so busy...


He had pull-in duty so I missed the madness at the pier. We were lucky enough to have our own private homecoming the next day with the pier all to ourselves.


We also had Little Miss's birthday party. That is a whole other blog post, I want to share the last of the DIY tutorials (goodie bags) and pictures from the party! 

We are also dealing with reintegration. I am happy to report we are doing much better than last time. We learned alot from our first reintegration, we mostly learned what NOT to do actually LOL. I made sure not to overplan our days and be as flexible as possible. If things don't go as planned, meh it happens. My words of advise: Be easygoing, don't sweat the small stuff, and communicate. If I need Hubs to do something, I honestly have to spell it out for him. He wasn't a mind reader before deployment and he sure isn't one now! He has been gone 15 out of the last 22 months. While I would love for him to anticipate what I need done around the house or what I need help with, he honestly hasn't been around enough to know. Time to retrain him, hehehe.

We did have a minor setback with Little Miss's potty training, she has been completely potty trained for about 2 months then about a week after Hubs came home she just started having accidents for 2 days. But now things are back to normal as far as that goes.

We have been just hanging out at home, taking care of stuff around here. Hubs is on 3 section duty, which means he goes into work once every 3 days for his overnight. Its actually a pretty good thing, this gives me a day to run errands and clean the house while he is at work. And do laundry...I did not realize how much clothing that man goes through! Plus, he brings home a sea bag full of crap after every duty day it seems (they are moving out of berthing right now in preparation of decom).

Well that's all I got for now, time to go back into hiding!

Okay not really hiding, I will be back to blogging more and slowly adding everything back into my routine. But for now, I am content keeping the world at arms length :)  


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guilty & Worried

As this deployment is coming to an end, I am experiencing a plethora of emotions. Of course I am excited, anxious, and relieved. However there are a few unexpected emotions: Guilt and Worry.

I have made no secret that reintegration from the last deployment was tough for Hubs and I. It didn't really help that we already knew there was another deployment on the horizon so I don't feel we were really able to work on our issues, we just kind of patched them up. This lengthy deployment has really given us the opportunity to fix things from a distance, but the true test will be once he gets home. Actions speak louder than words folks. Its an uphill climb, but I am very confident we can work through it. At least this time reintegration will be for good, no more deployments for us!

Now for the guilt part. No, I didn't do anything that scandalous! My guilt stems from spending money on myself instead of stashing it into savings. Last deployment, we were able to set aside a good bit of money. But the deployment was totally different. They only made 3 port stops. I had ZERO emergencies. Of course I was able to save money. This deployment was very different: there were 8 port stops and I had 2 car accidents, an emergency trip to Massachusetts, and a few other problems. I am at a point in my life where I am finally comfortable in clothes, I kind of actually love how I look in them. So I bought some clothes...and shoes....and makeup....and hair products...and workout stuff....and now I feel guilty that instead of putting money into savings that I spent money on myself. My closet was filled with clothes that were either too big or were from my college days! I had a very good excuse to update.

Do I think that I went overboard with my spending? To be honest, not really. Granted my closet is packed tight but its not any bigger than most of my friends. I wear all of my clothes, its not like I bought something then never wear it again. 

Even though I can explain away why I shouldn't feel this way, I still do. Even though I have nothing to worry about, I am still worried. Even though I have no reason to feel guilty about actually spending money on myself, I still do. 

What will make me feel better? When I pick up Hubs from the pier. 


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Easy DIY Party Centerpieces

The next project for Little Miss's upcoming birthday party: Come up with centerpieces!

I ordered princess tiara lollipops, tea pot lollipops, chocolate gold coins, candy bracelets, and small plastic wands from Oriental Trading (I love when they have free shipping codes!). I wanted all of these to go into goodie bags, but then I came up with a new idea - Use them all in the centerpieces! And when the guests start to leave, they can take the candy out of the centerpieces ala candy buffet style. This way I won't end up with centerpieces I may never use again!

Since I had tulle and ribbon left over from making the cupcake stand and goodie bags, I decided to incorporate the remains into the centerpieces.

Does anyone else have a cabinet full of vases from flower arrangements over the years? Well I have one very full cupboard and decided to use a few of these vases for the centerpieces. I used craft glue to attach ribbon around the vases to give them all a unifying look.

Small round vase filled with tulle and chocolate gold coins

Princess Tiara lollipops in a medium yellow vase, first stuffed with grocery bags then topped off with the tulle.

Tea Pot lollipops in another small vase

Another small round vase, filled with candy bracelets
The taller vases I first stuffed with plastic grocery bags then topped them with tulle before adding in the wands or candy.

I made sure to buy plenty of candy to ensure if the kids grabbed a few before it was time to stuff their goody bags, there would be enough left at the end!