Four Square Mood Board

We are feeling so excited about the new house and all of the possibilities it brings. Our first house was the A frame in the woods and, although I liked what we ended up doing, we stuck with a very neutral color scheme for the sake of resale and it felt fresh, but not creative really. Our house in Lafayette was an old Victorian and was so full of maroon wallpaper and carpet that I couldn’t come up with much by way of a color palette by the time we survived two closings in 24 hours, so we stuck with white walls accented with deep green, navy and pops of red. That felt nice while it lasted, but by the time we moved out, I was definitely feeling the blahs about the walls. Our first two houses had me consumed with what the “right” choice was for the color scheme, and I constantly felt conflicted about what other people were doing in their houses and couldn’t decide what I wanted for my own, so I made safe choices.

Enter the four square. We love the old bones of this house. It is a little crooked in places thanks to the enormous pine out front, which we had thoroughly vetted for future issues, but the trade off is immense: a dead end street, FOUR bedrooms in town, walkability to downtown Bloomington, a wooded corner lot that is larger than most, a park and the B line trail a few blocks away, and proximity to the Project School and the Science and Technology Academy. It’s so, so worth it.

I admit the choppiness was a bit of a drawback after two open flooring plans, but for the first time ever, I feel like I know exactly how I want this house to feel and look. The vibe that has emerged feels very “us” and really creative. It’s going to be a wee bit vintage, a little woodsy, a little worldly, a little bit literary, and pretty intentional. Every room will have color except for the two baths (but they have black and white tile) and the flooring will be redone on the whole first level, so that will make a big difference. We don’t like clutter, but we do like things that feel like us, so this house will be a conglomeration of parts of each of us, we hope. My method is to find a room that we love on Pinterest (gathered below) and tape it up in each room.  Over time, the room really does evolve into the same mood as the picture.  It’s amazing what small reminders do for the project list.  Try it!

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Our palette, sort of but not really.  We are using a mintier blue green, a darker teal, and red instead of yellow.  So basically none of these, but almost.  I couldn’t find an existing palette that I liked.  Shocker.

Dark Geometric Cushion - Nirwa - Linoluna Store Indonesia

Nirwa pillows… AMAZING!  Find her on Etsy.

great for fall, since I change my decor with the seasons - striped cabbage rose shower curtain  #UrbanOutfitters10 Ways to Squeeze a Little Extra Storage Out of a Small Bathroom | Apartment Therapy.

Black and white bathroom inspiration.  Gorgeous!  I nabbed the Urban Outfitters shower curtain before Christmas.

Sharpie Paint Pen Yellow & Gray Nursery Arrow Feature Wall Complete"You are our Greatest Adventure" nursery wall print by Artist ZoomBooneCreations on BoomBoom Prints

Si’s room inspiration (it’s already painted a deep orangey red color)

triangle statement wallpainted boxes great for all those toys! What a great idea!! This would be a great solution for knitting/crocheting projects too!! :)

Mare’s room–minus the creepy rabbits.

schoolhouse, rocking bedding for fall / sfgirlbybay

Our room.  Vintage floral AND silhouettes?  Swoon.

desk spaceDone Inspirational poster, typography art, wall decor, mottos, graphic design, happy words, giclee art, inspiration, love quote, print

Inspiration for the office.  I’ll let you guess which one Tim picked.

Furniture piece as an island, black windows

I’m obsessed with dark window frames in light kitchens right now.  We don’t have room for an island, though.

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A little old school Roma in all the right colors

Citrus Floral Print | Rifle Paper Co.

Vintage floral is my jam.  The second is from Rifle Paper Co.  I love them.

BuildDirect®: Jasper Engineered Hardwood - Rustic Ranch Elm Collection

We are using engineered hardwood this time.  Wider planks, not too dark and not too light.  We love it!

I could add about thirty more pictures, so I’ll stop now.  You get the idea.  We couldn’t be more giddy about the prospects.  Six days to closing!

We ran errands yesterday.  It wasn’t glamorous, but it’s done.  Today we are heading to Nashville to watch IU play with some friends and then gearing up for a busy week.  Is it seriously time to start packing again?  Oy.

Winter Update

It’s winter in Indiana.  This is usually the time of year that sucks in our house.  But really, it’s been 55 degrees three days in the past week in Bloomington and we are LOVING it.

I forgot to do a weekend update, but this was our first really low key, do what we want sort of weekend since the move and it felt great!  We spent Saturday at Bloomington Bagel Company, the library for some serious choo choo playtime, hit up the park a few blocks from our new house after nap, and strolled the B line trail just up the road from the park.  It was the quintessential Bloomington day.  Sunday we headed to UU service and met a few more cool families (yay), followed by dinner with Karma and Elizabeth.  If you ever have the chance to be a guinea pig for someone working on writing a cookbook, we enthusiastically encourage you to do so.

Anyway, back to winter.  Here are some updates on what we’re up to.

Tim’s Job

We are in the middle of adjusting to Tim’s work schedule (10-6 or later) which ends up feeling like a really long work week even though it’s not.  Thankfully, his hours are changing to an earlier set up in the near future and we will also be living a mile from his office in a few weeks instead of a 25 minute jaunt to and fro.  He really enjoys his clients and has really supportive administrative support, which goes a long way in that field.  All good things.  We will be shifting to an 8-5 work day with an hour to come home for lunch most days, so we’re all excited about that.  It will be nice for the babies and grownups alike to break up the day a little.

The House

We are nearing closing on the new house–next Friday.  We are so excited about this old house!  I will be posting pictures after we close.  She needs some major attention in the paint department and I’m feeling pretty adventurous, so be excited about that.  Tim and I are equally excited about living in town and feeling more connected to this community.  My former nanny family lives a few blocks away, so we will get to have some really easy play dates at the park.  We are also considering cutting to one car for a year.  When I look back at the times I felt the mentally and physically healthiest, I did not have a car and I was walking everywhere.  I am looking so forward to urban life again!  I think Tim is surprised at how excited he is about living in town.  We both like the woods and find nature cathartic, so it has always been a dichotomous struggle about where to live our lives.  We couldn’t be happier about committing to this house for the next few decades (at least).  We are having some HVAC work done (there is no central air!) so we will be waiting a few weeks before we move in.  If all goes smoothly, we will be moving mid February after painting and laying new flooring.

The Babies

We are back to having healthy babies.  Silas is really stir crazy in the woods and asks to go “bye bye” a lot.  He’s heavy into building his own train tracks right now and has a hideous case of the whineys since his bout with the flu.  We’re working pretty hard on that at the moment.  He is a Mickey Mouse fanatic all of a sudden.  Maren is getting yet another tooth and isn’t sleeping, which makes life interesting since we are all in the same room until we move.  She’s finally really interested in table food and Silas won’t stop feeding her whatever he is eating.  I think it’s clear to say she doesn’t have any allergies at this point.  Oh, boy.

The Grownups

Tim and I are having a really good time making plans for the house.  I can always rely on him for excitement about the things he knows I love, (like paint colors and furniture layouts and shower curtains,) bless his heart.  We’re feeling great about our relationship right now and it’s nice to feel like we have got the hang of having two kiddos finally without being easily stressed out.

We have decided to designate one night a week as a no-screen-night.  No phones, ipad, laptop or tv.  This was one of the changes we immediately knew needed to happen when we realized reading a book together for one evening was the best conversation we had had in months.  Less screen time=more conversation.  Or that’s the hope, anyway.  He and I both enjoy talking about meaningful and heavy things that matter to the world.  I know that drives some people nuts.  Good thing I married somebody who likes to hash it all out with me!

We also have way too many shows going right now…  We just finished Homeland season two and Blue Bloods season 3.  We are watching State of Affairs and Castle, and have begun the new season of White Collar that just hit Netflix.  Too much!  We have put Scandal and Downton Abbey on hold for a while.  Our evenings are really limited until Tim’s schedule changes and it’s too easy to watch a show every evening and feel like we are ships passing in the night.

Tim and I are both on the health wagon right now.  He does Piyo every morning and just started an upper body version instead of the total body one he has done for the past 5 months.  I started Pilates again (I’m doing POP Pilates workouts on youtube through Roku and she’s great) and I am considering teaching once I am back to harder routines.  That second baby wasn’t so kind to the ol’ abs.  Jeepers.  My weight is really stubborn when I am breastfeeding, so I don’t anticipate losing much while I am still nursing Maren, but that’s not a great excuse for completely neglecting my physical health.  Sigh.  I have been doing better about planning clean meals for the week, and by meals I mean all of them instead of just dinner.  I find that breakfast and lunch go by the wayside when I am planning the week and that makes it too easy to forget fruits and veggies.

This week, we are loving this red sauce that tastes like legit Italy, these cookies with no sugar, gluten or dairy, this red lentil soup recipe, and this baby body wash.

Love Work

Tim and I worked really hard early on in our relationship to communicate well and openly, so it hasn’t been too difficult for us to be kind and loving 90% of the time.  Throw in three moves, two babies and a little sleep deprivation, living in one room and being isolated in the woods, and suddenly our communication skills could use a little polishing.

So we asked around on Facebook for favorite relationship books.  The response was interesting.  Some people said “this is what works for us” and some “try this book”, and others said “don’t read books, just trust yourselves”.  Some responded differently or just avoided the topic.  I find it so fascinating that some people pretend we don’t all have issues, struggles, or funks.  It’s pretty universal to the human experience, and I’ve never met a married or committed soul who didn’t have some downright shitty moments.  It happens.  I am grateful to have a husband who is, above all else, willing to do the work with me to make our life and relationship a worthwhile, enjoyable one.  Being willing is something that I really value and love in him, and I know a lot of people don’t have that in a spouse.

We got some good recommendations for books and some good words of wisdom.  We like learning new things and are a little nerdy, so we don’t hesitate to head to the library and see what we find.  We ended up with three books and chose to read And Baby Makes Three by John and Julie Gottman.

The funny part is I got this book right after we had Silas and we never got around to reading it. We should have.  We loved this book!  The first bit is about parenthood, but the rest is really just about marriage in the midst of life.  You parents with small children will especially appreciate the perspective.


Things we liked about it:  

They get what it’s like to have small children.  In fact, they validated how busy we feel and really get how hard it is to keep a healthy relationship alive while juggling diapers, messes and snack times.

It is direct, science based, and easy to apply to our own life.  They give you statements like “the three things the happy parenting couples had in common were _____” so you don’t have to focus on broad, vague intentions about being less of an ass during conflict.  That format was helpful and very bottom-line-oriented, which I love.

It is clear about how to change arguments by approaching them differently, clinging to humor for dear life, and recognizing how you naturally react right now (and why you react that way).

It has tons (TONS) of provoking and meaningful questions to ask your partner in several different lists.  They recommend taking them with you on date night, which sounds like a nice idea to us.  We ended up talking through many of them and it was revealing and fun.

They bring up what you saw growing up, what you do now, and what you wish you did instead.  They also give you scenarios of how arguments went and how they could have gone.


Tim and I read this book in one sitting.  We got the babies to bed at 7 and read it out loud on the couch until almost midnight on Saturday.  It was the most enjoyable and helpful conversation we have had in months.  If you are looking for a book to help you stay in a good place while you wield diaper bags and sippy cups, try it out.

18 Slow Cooker Freezer Meals for About $80

My sister organized a freezer meal prep session with my mama and was kind enough to share the shopping and recipe list.  They got 18 meals for about $80 (the groceries were a mix of Kroger marked down meat and Aldi’s usual bargains).

I knew I wanted to try them immediately and thought I’d share it on the blog as well.  Do you do freezer meals?  What are your favorites?  I find that I don’t take time out to do them, but instead tend to double or triple what I am already making and plop it in the freezer.  I am going to be more intentional about keeping the freezer stocked!

Grocery List

• Apricot Jam (2/3 cup per batch)

• Chicken Breasts (3 3-lb bags)

• Frozen Green Beans (2 whole)

• Frozen Grean Beans (2 cut)

• Fresh Garlic

• Fresh Ginger Root

• Whole Cranberry Sauce (2)

• Bag of Onions (2)

• Crushed Red Pepper

• Garlic Salt

• Cumin

• Chili Powder

• Tri-color pepper (2)

• Baby Carrots/Carrots (8lb)

• Cannellini Beans (4)

• Lime (3)

• Shoulder Chuck Roast (2lb)

• Zucchini/yellow Squash (2 each)

• Romas (1 pack)

• Fresh/Frozen Pineapple

• Ground Chicken/Pork/Beef

• Tomato/mozzarella/basil/toothpicks for the 21st


Crockpot Apricot-Ginger Chicken with Green Beans

Ingredients:

 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Chicken thighs also taste great)

 2/3 cup apricot jam

 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

 1-inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated (If you buy a large root, you can

freeze whatever is leftover. I place the leftover root whole in my freezer.)

 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

 1 pound frozen green beans (You can sub fresh)

Prep

Combine all ingredients in a gallon-sized plastic freezer bag.  Remove as much air as

possible, seal, and lay flat in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Cook

Thaw overnight in refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water.  Dump into crockpot and cook

on “low” setting for 6 hours or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve with quinoa, brown rice, potatoes, or whatever you like.


Crockpot Cranberry Chicken

Yields: One bag of cranberry chicken with six servings (I doubled this recipe)

INGREDIENTS

• 1 small onion, diced

• 14oz can whole cranberry sauce

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 2 tablespoons honey

• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

MATERIALS

• 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag

PREP

1. Label your freezer bag.

2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients. Add chicken to the freezer bag last so

it’s the first ingredient poured into your crockpot.

3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your

freezer.

COOK

1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw.

2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your crockpot.

3. Cook on “low” setting for 4-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.


Crockpot Italian Chicken

Yields: One bag of Italian chicken with six servings (I doubled this recipe)

INGREDIENTS

• 1 small onion, diced

• 28oz can diced tomatoes

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 1/4 cup honey

• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

• 1 teaspoon dried oregano

• 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

MATERIALS

• 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag

PREP

1. Label your freezer bag.

2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients. Add chicken to the freezer bag last

so it’s the first ingredient poured into your crockpot.

3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your

freezer.

COOK

1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw.

2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your crockpot.

3. Cook on “low” setting for 4-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.


Crockpot Tomato Beef Veggie Soup

Yields: One gallon-sized bag of tomato beef veggie soup with six servings.

(I doubled this recipe and made two bags.)

INGREDIENTS

• 1 small onion, diced

• 1 pound of baby carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces

• 1 bag of frozen chopped green beans

• 1 can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained

• 24oz jar of pasta sauce

• 1 pound ground beef

• 4 cups chicken broth (not needed until day of cooking)

MATERIALS

• 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag

PREP

1. Label your freezer bag.

2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients. Add ground beef to the freezer bag

last so it’s the first ingredient poured into your crockpot.

3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your

freezer.

COOK

1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw.

2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your crockpot with

4 cups of chicken broth.

3. Cook on “low” setting for 8 hours, or until beef is cooked through and carrots

are soft.

4. Break apart ground beef and serve.


Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

Yields: One gallon-sized bag of slow cooker chicken fajitas

Ingredients

• 1 medium-sized green pepper, sliced

• 1 medium-sized red pepper, sliced

• 1 small sweet yellow onion, sliced

• 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts

• 2 large cloves of garlic, minced

• 1 tablespoon honey

• 1 lime, juiced

• 1 tablespoon chili powder

• 2 teaspoons cumin

• 1 teaspoon paprika

• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

• Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker.

• Cover, and cook on “low” for 8 hours.

• Shred chicken and serve with your favorite fajita toppings.

To Freeze

Combine all ingredients in a gallon-sized plastic freezer bag. Remove as

much air as possible and freeze for up to three months. When ready to

eat, thaw overnight in refrigerator. Cook on “low” setting for 4-8 hours, or

until chicken is cooked through and easily pulls apart with a fork. Shred

chicken and serve!


Mexican Chicken Soup

Yields: One gallon-sized bag

Ingredients

• 1 pound carrots, peeled and diced

• 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced

• 2 large cloves of garlic, minced

• 2 roma tomatoes, chopped

• 1 cup tomato juice

• 1 teaspoons cumin

• 1 teaspoons coriander (I substituted 1 teaspoon fennel seeds)

• 1 teaspoons chili powder

• 1 teaspoon salt

• Juice from 1/2 lime (about 2 tablespoons)

• 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ chunks

• 4 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth (not needed until day of

cooking)

Materials

• 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag

Prep

1. Label your freezer bag.

2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients except chicken broth.

3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in

your freezer.

Cook

1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw.

2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your slow

cooker and add 4 cups chicken broth.

3. Cook on “low” setting for 6-8 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.


Beef Roast & Carrots

Yields: One gallon-sized bag of Beef Roast & Carrots

Ingredients:

• 2-pound boneless beef chuck shoulder roast (No substitutions! This is thebest

cut of meat for the slow cooker!)

• 2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces

• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

• 2 tablespoons and 1.5 teaspoons homemade taco seasoning or one

packet store-bought taco seasoning

Materials

• 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag

Prep

1. Label your freezer bag.

2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients. (Add the beef to the bag last, so it’s

the first ingredient poured into your slow cooker.)

3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your

freezer.

Cook

1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw.

2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your slow

cooker and cook on “low” setting for 8-12 hours, or until meat easily pulls apart

with a fork. Shred beef and serve!


Garden Veggie Soup

Yields: One gallon-sized bag of Garden Veggie Soup

Ingredients

• 8 medium-sized carrots (about one pound), peeled and sliced

• 2 medium-sized tomatoes, cored, seeds and juiced removed, and

chopped

• 1 medium-sized zucchini, ends cut off and chopped (about one cup)

• 1 medium-sized yellow squash, ends cut off and chopped (about one

cup)

• 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced (about one cup)

• 1, 15oz can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained

• 24oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce

• 1 pound lean ground beef, optional

• 4 cups fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth (not needed until day of

cooking)

Materials

• 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag

Prep

1. Label your freezer bag.

2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients except chicken broth. (If adding beef*,

add it to the freezer bag last so it’s the first ingredient poured into your slow

cooker.)

3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your

freezer.

Cook

1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw.

2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your slow

cooker and add chicken broth.

3. Cook on “low” setting for 6-8 hours, or until beef is cooked through and carrots

are soft.

*Note: Some people prefer browning ground beef prior to freezing because

they think it adds more flavor to the dish. I prefer to freeze my ground beef raw

because it saves prep time and still tastes great.


Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken for the Freezer

Ingredients

 1lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

 1 fresh pineapple, stalk, skin, and core removed and fruit cut into bite-sized

pieces

 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

Materials

 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag

Prep

1. Label your freezer bag.

2. To your freezer bag, add pineapple, brown sugar, soy sauce, and chicken

breasts. (Add the chicken breasts to the bag last, so they’re the first ingredient

poured into your slow cooker.)

3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your

freezer.

Cook

1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw.

2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your slow cooker and

cook on “low” setting for 3-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and tender.


Pickin’ up a chickie

Yeah, that’s a Peg+Cat reference.  Mama loves PBS.

So, it’s winter.  And it’s about this time of winter that we get really tired of soups.  Cue the white meat.  Here are some of our go-to chicken meals that I’m adding back into the rotation this week.


1.  Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:  chicken (boneless) and salsa (fresh or jarred)

Put boneless chicken thighs or breasts (frozen or thawed-beautiful, right?) in the bottom of your crockpot.

Add 2/3 of the container of salsa (keep some for topping your tacos)

Note:  If you’re feeling fancy, you can add taco seasoning, cumin and/or chili powder, a can of green chiles, a can of black beans or corn, or whatever else you think you might like.   But if you don’t, it’s still going to be delicious.  Seriously.  It will surprise you.

Set the crockpot to low for about 4 hours (or leave it all day, it will be fine)

Shred with a fork and serve with normal taco fixings–at our house, that would be tortillas, avocado, sour cream, cheddar, spinach, and salsa.


2.  5-Ingredient White Chicken Chili with Avocado

INGREDIENTS

    • 6 cups chicken broth
    • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken or cubed chicken breast
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained
    • 2 cups salsa verde
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
INSTRUCTIONS

Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, beans, salsa verde and cumin to a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Serve with cilantro, sour cream, crumbled tortilla chips, or (our fave) avocado.

3.  Thai Peanut Chicken
We LOVE this recipe.  It has sort of evolved over the years into this easy, delicious version adapted from many others.
While you bake 1-2 pounds of chicken breasts/tenders, get out a small sauce pan and add:
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (we buy it and then freeze it in muffin tin pucks, which happen to be 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • a dash of cayenne pepper

4.  Chicken BBQ/Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps/Slow Cooker [Chicken] and Mango Quesadillas

I love the blog post about 2 ingredient meals from Andie at Can You Stay for Dinner.  Her story is inspiring and her recipes are delicious with an appropriate ratio of health and indulgence for my liking.  A snippet from the post:

“Here it is: You can combine any meat (chicken, beef, pork) with any pre-made bottled sauce (marinades, salsa, marinara, you name it), and set it to cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, and what you will be left with is nothing short of marvelous.

Just two ingredients. One of which you didn’t even make yourself.

Chicken and salsa? It works. Pork and honey barbecue sauce? It works. Ground beef and marinara? Don’t make me say it again.”

I’m picky about bottled sauces because we don’t eat crap we can’t pronounce and I despise high fructose corn syrup.  That said, there are some out there that don’t have creepy ingredients and just finding one or two would make these recipes so handy and helpful.   Take a look and see what you find.  We like Annie’s Naturals Organic Smokey Maple BBQ Sauce and Andie used Ken’s Steakhouse Honey Teriyaki Marinade.


5.  Whole Herb Roasted Chicken 

We are still using a version of this recipe from Wellness Mama after all these years.

  • A whole chicken (I buy them marked down and freeze them regularly)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp sea salt, and about 1/2 tsp each of basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary

Oil or butter your crockpot and throw it all in.  Turn it on and leave it for 8-10 hours on low.  Ta da!


I had intended to throw in a few recipes from Facebook friend recommendations here, but M just woke up early from her nap.  Party over!  Sorry, guys.

What’s your easiest go-to dinner (preferrably with clean ingredients)?  Send it to me!

8 months/26 months

We are making some enormous strides in babyland.

Miss M

Weight: 20 pounds
Clothes:  18 months all around with a few 6-12 month Gap and Old Navy outfits thrown in
Diapers: size 3 Target, biggest in the one size cloth GroVias
New Tricks:  Sitting up by herself with no support happened right after her 7 month mark; saying ba ba ba. mamama. dadada; singing, squealing, growling; a little dialogue making noises back at me or Si; rolling over and over to get across the room (lasted about a week); army crawling backward!; spinning in circles on her belly and navigating about a five foot diameter–she can definitely get to a toy if she commits to it; flapping arms and trying to wave; “soooo big” motion with her arms; crying if Si takes her toy; going from sitting to belly and then crying because she is stuck; this past week week, she finally figured out the sippy cup, lots of solid food, and the pincer grasp (but still refuses pureed food altogether)
Sleep:  up at 12 and 4 at night, two 2-hour naps and occasionally a short evening nap
Loves:  choo choos, bath time, her brother, the Tonka firetruck, chewing on the bath foam letters, anybody singing Jingle Bells, pulling Silas’s hair (he usually thinks it’s funny… usually), NOT getting dressed or taking medicine for her ear infection
Teeth:  4, and two more on the way.  Right now she has two (giant teeth) on top, two on bottom

Master Si:

Weight: 31 pounds 27 pounds after his stomach flu 😦
Height: 35 inches (he has grown an inch since November)
Clothes: 18-24 and size 2 pants, size 3 shirts (monkey arms like mama), size 7 shoes
Diapers: size 3 (it’s lovely and hilarious that they wear the same size)
Sleep:  Nighttime is 7-7 and he is still napping 2-3 hours midday
New Tricks: climbing out of the crib (sniff sniff) so he’s now in our bed until we move and have another bed for him, building his own train tracks, narrating his play in lengthy soliloquies, asking for detailed things (“oh!  the other one”, “these, mama”, “all done these, more those”, “bath and daddy and popcicle please” “more firetruck? oh!  there it is! yeah.”), naming colors mostly correctly (I’m not pushing him–he has picked it up from reading books with me at this point), reading books by himself nonstop, identifying every object on every page aloud, making everything plural (blocks-es, stacks-es, chips-es), riding his trike, playing farm with his barn and animals, requesting walks up the lane, asking to go bye bye a lot, which I think means back to our old house.  That’s diminishing, thankfully.
Loves: peanut butter on a spoon (but don’t you dare put it on bread)
Silas has been sick literally since we moved, which was December 12th.  He had a cold, it got better after the holiday and then we got another cold that was nasty.  I ended up taking him in for really persistent green snot last Monday and while we were there I noticed (too late) that he played with the only kid with the stomach flu.  Cue the pukes.  He has been sick for almost five days and is just now on the upswing.  Poor baby.  He was miserable and is seeming super skinny.  I’m happy that his appetite is back in nearly full force and that he is all about playing trains again today.

More pictures to come after I find the camera cord…  This will probably be our last monthly update in the woods.  Weird!  We’ll be urbanites again this time next month.  We.  Can’t.  Wait.

Hibernating

We are sort of hibernating in the woods. Pardon the radio silence.

The word hibernating implies something restful or recuperative. I guess at least we are doing the latter of the two. Silas has had a cold since before the holidays and it was holding on for dear life, so he and his whiney misery are now on an antibiotic.

In the mean time, Mare got her fourth tooth and is enthusiastically testing them out on people food (and on me, unfortunately). She still reacts hideously to puréed foods, so we will be going even more with the baby led feeding approach with her than we did with Silas.

We are adjusting to Tim’s later work days and learning how to enjoy mornings at home. Silas is learning to sleep in a big boy bed pretty successfully and without much drama the past few days. Whew. I am, as expected, totally stir crazy and a little cranky from the woods and the messy house and the kvetching children. The Volvo is in the shop, so that hasn’t helped.  I’m legit grumpy lately.

But you know what DID help? Kenzi’s visit for the last four days. My house has never been so clean, my laundry so sorted, my sides so sore from laughing… And also we watched a lot of Scandal. It was really the best time. We love her.  Tim’s trying to convince her to move here.

This week we are trying to recover our healthy, smiling children while we talk to structural engineers about the new house, pick out flooring samples, and try to stay on top of the mess in our tiny, tiny, tiny living space.  It’s a constant battle and one that, thankfully, is short lived.  We are set to close three weeks from Friday.  Holy cow.

Silas literally just threw a football at Maren’s face and shouted “CATCH!”  That’s so my week.