Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Eggs, Hoppy Tulips, and Thumbprint Flowers

Even though I'm a little late to the party on the egg decorating front I had to share the little creations we made this week. 

Mini Disclaimer: Some {ok, most} of the pictures are from my cell, so the colors aren't as vibrant as they are in real life. 

This year is the first time Mads has really been able to participate in holidays, and this one is proving to be almost as amazing to her as Christmas was. 

She's ecstatic that the Easter Bunny is coming to her house. 
Thrilled that he likes carrots as much as she does.
Giddy at the fact that we got to decorate the eggs that our chickens leave us everyday. 
And she's beyond excited that the Bunny is going to hide her Easter Eggs for her to find. 
Ohhhh to be almost 3 years old again!

I have been meaning to break out the eggs and dye all week and never had a chance until today. Time is something I don't have much of lately but I still wanted to try something new for our eggs this year. Earlier in the week I found this tutorial for Salad Dressing Easter Eggs on ADozenGirlz and fell in love! I'll spare you the major details since she describes how to make them so well, and to save me a few minutes of typing :) The only thing I didn't do was use the Wilton Colors that she used in her tutorial, I used plain 'ole food coloring in neon colors. The short of it - SUPER easy. SUPER cute. SUPER inexpensive. How can you beat vinegar, olive oil, food coloring and water? The shiny, marbled effect you end up with is so pretty and different. I love them!

To keep it frugal we made egg dippers out of some copper wire we had lying around, used mason jars to hold the hot dye liquid, and plain old egg cartons flipped upside down as a drying rack. 
Our eggs of choice - white and blue hardboiled {yes, my chickens lay blue eggs :)}.

I did get a tad more creative than just dipping and popped some designs on a few of the eggs. My trusty hole punch, some adhesive vinyl {contact paper works too} gave me the WOW factor I was looking for on short notice. For those of you with Silhouettes or Cricuts, the possibilities would be endless! I can only imagine the awesomeness...

I decided on polka dots, stripes, and a chevron egg that didn't come out well enough for photos {can't win 'em all!}. It's simple enough to do -  just stick your shapes to the egg, make sure all the air bubbles are out, then pick your dye color.

For the Punkin' we used vinyl letter stickers that I had on hand to make her name.

I also got creative with a little centerpiece for my table. I saw all these super cute Peep centerpieces floating around Pinterest and just HAD to have one. A florist I'm not, but I must say I think it came out cute!

And of course, what would a new season and holiday be without hand and thumbprint art? Of course you remember Maddy's Fall Masterpiece? Well, this time we went for a pretty spring flower bouquet to match my Peeps centerpiece. Hands for the stems and thumbs for the petals.

We made these bouquets into pictures and cards to give the grandparents for Easter Sunday. It's become tradition that each year they receive a homemade hand print from Mads, they love it! And, I don't know about you but I could stare at little handprints all day long, they melt me.

I hope you all have a great Easter if I don't catch you before then ;)

Monday, January 30, 2012

20 Minute Naked Eggplant Parmesan

Well, not totally naked. Just not breaded. But, naked sounds better than un-breaded doesn't it?

And don't let the fact that there isn't a yummy crisp coating over the eggplant deter you. A little broiler magic goes a long way in making this dish super tasty. 

About a month ago I was perusing my local grocery store's magazine {Hannaford FRESH} and this jumped right out at me. Easy and fast eggplant parm? Say it ain't so! I grabbed the ingredients right then and there and flew home to whip it up.

The result - fabulous! I'm such a sucker for anything eggplant, and melted Parmesan cheese on top - that just sealed the deal for me. Next time I make this dish I think I may try marinading the eggplant in an Italian dressing prior to cooking, for a little more zing!

What you'll need:

2 mid sized eggplants, about 2 lbs. total, cut into 1/2" slices
3 cups of your favorite jarred or homemade marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
sea salt and ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp. fresh basil, parsley or oregano
olive oil, or olive oil spray

What you need to do:

Cover the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish with 1/2 cup of sauce.
Pour the remaining sauce into a pan and warm over low heat.
Position an oven rack about 2 inches from the broiler heat.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. *Shiny side down.
Pre-heat broiler to 550 degrees, or high, heat for 5 minutes and no longer.
Arrange half of the eggplant on the foil lined pan and coat lightly with olive oil or mist with an olive oil spray.
Broil for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the eggplant becomes brown in various spots.

Turn eggplant over, coat with oil and broil until browned.
The eggplant is done when tender all the way through.
Place the cooked eggplant in the casserole dish on top of the sauce, overlap the slices.

Repeat the cooking process with the remaining eggplant and finish filling the casserole dish.
Sprinkle the eggplant with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Cover with remaining warm sauce - spread evenly.
Sprinkle the mozzarella over the sauce and then top with the Parmesan.
Place under the broiler and cook until the cheese is bubbling and browned.
Chop the fresh herbs.

Remove from the dish from the oven, sprinkle with the herbs. 
Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sayonara Caffeine Addiction, and Hello Smoothie Recipe

The three mornings per week I have to head into work can be tough. Hectic, frantic, stressful. Some days I'm lucky to get a shower in, never mind breakfast, before heading out the door. I hustle to get Maddy and all the barn animals fed and ready for the day, leaving myself out of the equation. And I've realized lately that I suffer for it.

I have never been much of a breakfast person. I find it hard to eat first thing in the morning and honestly never had a problem going without it. I would however make the occasional smoothie here and there. But, a few months ago I started losing steam around 11am. I could hardly keep myself motivated to do ANYTHING. So like most people - I increased my morning coffee from one cup to two.  I found myself craving it in the wee hours of the morning even before getting out of bed, then again in the afternoon. The addiction was getting BAD. I would fore-go my morning smoothie because, well, my Keurig is my best friend and let's be honest, it's fast and easy. Never thought I'd be calling a coffee maker fast and easy, but, if the shoe fits!

My coffee addiction had become so bad around here that Maddy was even bringing me my mug if I started getting grumpy. She would {and still does!} point out all the coffee shops we drove past, and has started having "coffee" parties with her dolls instead of tea parties. Even the hubs started grabbing  me a coffee on his way home from work hoping it would make me a happy wife from 5pm on. Hmmmm.....

In December I decided it was time to cut the cord. Obviously my caffeine addiction wasn't getting me anywhere. I began noticing the mood swings on my caffeine crashes, I felt like I was 16! Not good.

I started cutting my coffee load down little by little each day. I used to be a major tea junkie so I started adding a cup of decaf tea back into my routine mid-afternoon, cutting out my 1pm iced coffee. Luckily I never ended up with the caffeine headaches a lot of people experience when cutting out java. After the first week I found myself actually falling asleep faster when I went to bed. That's a HUGE thing for me - I can lay there for hours conjuring up every negative scenario in my head until I'm so stressed and exhausted that I cry myself to sleep. I am happy to say that I haven't had my "normal" bed time tear session in weeks.

Then the following week the hubs pointed out that I hadn't been as moody as usual. I quickly reminded him that I am NEVER moody. It's all in his imagination. And if on occasion I am, let's say, frazzled, it's probably because of him. He quickly agreed. Good man.

It took me about a month but I was determined and by the time January 1st arrived I was down to a 1/2 cup of coffee in the morning, and about 3 cups of decaf tea per day. GO ME! I haven't been crashing late morning, and my energy level seems to have increased a decent amount, added bonus. Will I ever give it up totally? Probably not. It's comforting for me to have a cup of coffee. I just need to realize that it should be more of a treat rather than a necessity.

The downfall? I wake up STARVING now. No longer do I have that large mug of warm coffee goodness to fill my stomach first thing in the morning. I was even getting dizzy I was so hungry. Back to smoothie making I went. I add in protein powder and coconut milk along with a variety of fresh squeezed juice, fruits and yogurt. Definitely filling. And time consuming on my work mornings. And do you have any idea how HARD it is to juggle a mug of coffee, a smoothie cup and a toddler with all her belongings on the way out the door in the morning?

Then it hit me. My genius idea.

Add the coffee TO the smoothie! Der. Why didn't I think of that before? One mug, I still get my little coffee fix, and breakfast, all at once. Protein and Caffeine all in one place - if that isn't perfection I don't know what is!

After a few trials and some nasty results, here is the goodness I came up with...

Berry Espresso Protein Smoothie

1/4 cup frozen berries {I use raspberries and strawberries}
1/3 of a banana
2 lite coconut milk ice cubes {freeze the milk in an ice cube tray}
1/4 cup vanilla or plain low-fat yogurt
1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder
Instant Espresso
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract, add more if desired
Truvia, agave syrup or sugar to taste - I have tried all three, all work great!
Optional: Chocolate syrup to taste for a Mocha Berry Espresso Smoothie

To Make:

* Make the espresso per the directions, you only need one serving
* Add vanilla extract and sweetener to the espresso, then set aside and let cool
*In a blender mix together remainder of the ingredients, being sure to add all the liquid ingredients first for easier blending.
*Once blended add in 1.5 to 2 ounces (little more than a shot glass) of espresso, blend for a few more seconds.
* What you don't use of the Espresso be sure to refrigerate for the next day
* Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Linking up at:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sweet and Tangy Pepper Sauce

This sauce is quickly becoming a favorite in our house. I originally found it in a cookbook I was given, but have since seen the recipe pop up online too. We use it on my Baked Crab and Spinach Rangoons, mix it into fried rice, on chicken tenders and even on burgers! The main recipe is really easy and we have tried a variation that incorporates orange marmalade which is delicious too.

What you'll need:

2 small garlic cloves
1 red fresno (or serrano) pepper, de-seeded and the ribs discarded
1/4 cup and 2 tblsp. water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons white (or rice) vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tblsp cornstarch
1 tblsp. water
Optional: add in 1 to 2 tablespoons of orange marmalade for a sweeter sauce.

What you need to do:

In a food processor combine all ingredients except corn starch and 1 tablespoon of water.
Process until well mixed and the pepper and garlic cloves are minced well.
Pour mixture into a sauce pan and heat over medium-low for about 4 minutes.
Combine the cornstarch and water, mix well. Slowly add to the sauce, stirring constantly.
Continue to cook an additional 2 to 4 minutes on medium until the sauce thickens slightly.
Remove from heat, pour into a heat proof container {mason jars work well} and let cool.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baked Crab and Spinach Rangoons

If any of you like Chinese food as much as I do you MUST try these rangoons. The take-out version from your local Chinese joint won't even hold a candle to these babies. And did I mention how much healthier they are for you? That's right - no deep frying, and low-fat cream cheese. But, you didn't hear that from me. And be sure to make plenty - they'll be gone before you know it!

This recipe is EASILY change-able too.  The crab version is awesome, but if you aren't a fan of seafood feel free to experiment. Some great variations - cooked chicken, marinated grilled steak, or even add some additional veggies.

What you'll need:

1 package of reduced fat cream cheese (8 oz) at room temperature
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons reduced fat sour cream
1/2 cup cooked, chopped spinach. Be sure to squeeze out all the water.
1 green onion minced
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 and 1/2 tsp. Lite Soy Sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup canned white crab meat, drained well
25 wonton wrappers

What you need to do:

Preheat oven to 420 degrees.
In a bowl mix together all ingredients except crab and wrappers. Combine well.
Fold crab meat into the mixture, breaking up with a fork if there are large pieces.
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray well with non-stick spray (I use olive oil in a misting bottle).
Place a dollop of the mixture onto the center of each wonton wrapper - a little under 1 tablespoon is plenty.
Dampen the edges of the wonton wrapper with water and fold in half to form a triangle.
Seal the edges by pressing out all of the air. The wet edges will "glue" together. Be sure they are sealed well and filling isn't seeping out.
Place onto the baking sheet.
Lightly mist the tops with olive oil.
Bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Pair them with your favorite sauce and enjoy!

Linking up at:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lemon Butter Kale with Red Quinoa

Okay, the weekend is over, time to get back on track and devour some good {GOOD FOR YOU!} food.

And I swear this tastes pretty darn good too, even though it looks a bit, err, earthy crunchy? Don't let looks deceive you! Anything with buttery, lemon goodness is mouth watering in my book!

Kale is one of the best green leafy veggies you can put into your body, and did you know its a form of cabbage? It's power packed with beta carotene, calcium, vitamins C, B6 & K, magnesium, potassium, and iron. And for those of you that aren't too fond of greens, I think kale is one of the better tasting varieties.

And Quinoa. What's not to love? It's gluten free and one of the very few complete protein sources found in plant life - meaning it has a balanced set of the essential amino acids. It is fiber rich and is also high in iron and magnesium. I tend to cook it up at the beginning of the week so that I can eat it cold on top of salads for lunch. Its also great as a rice substitute in stir-fry's, to mix into meatloaf, in your morning oatmeal, the possibilities are endless.

I tested this recipe out on the hubs this weekend. I've always been a lover of both of the above foods, but in the 12 years I have known him I have never seen him ONCE eat one of them without being forced. He'll be the first to admit that kale and Quinoa are two things that aren't on his "favorites" list {mac n cheese, cheese doodles, Coke, salt and vinegar chips - now I'm speaking his language!}. But, for the record - he went back for thirds. :)
So take that honey! I told ya you'd like it!

What you'll need:

2 - 3 cups of raw kale, torn into 3 inch pieces
1/2 stick of butter
1 small lemon (I use Meyer lemons)
1/2 small clove of garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon of McCormick's Perfect Pinch Salt Free Garlic and Herb Seasoning
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sea salt, to taste

1 cup of dry Red (or white) Quinoa, cook per directions on box.

What you need to do:

Place kale in a microwave safe bowl and add 4 tablespoons of water.
Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until slightly wilted. 2 to 6 minutes depending on amount.
Microwaving helps to maintain some of the nutrients that boiling would pull out of the kale.

In a large wok {frying pan or skillet will work too}heat butter on medium until melted.
Add in sliced garlic and saute until garlic is soft and fragrant - about 4 minutes.
Mix in seasoning, pepper and sea salt and squeeze in juice from half the lemon.

Simmer for 2 minutes stirring constantly.
Taste the mixture - add more lemon juice to taste if needed.
Add in the kale.

Saute over medium heat for about 3 minutes, coating evenly with the lemon butter sauce.

Place the kale and some sauce over the Quinoa and enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Right Now

Right now if you were to walk into my house this is what  you would see...

You'd come in through the kitchen door and have to hurdle over a pile of soaking wet snow pants, gloves, hats and boots that have been there for almost 4 hours.

Your eyes would wander over to the kitchen sink brimming with an array of dirty dishes waiting to be put in the dishwasher. Yet, the dishwasher hasn't been emptied of the last load that was washed.

A kitchen table packed with take-out boxes from the best little Italian restaurant in our area, complete with half-eaten cherry tomatoes and a cup of lemon basil vinaigrette that somehow dripped from one end of the table to the other.

The counter filled with a plate of fruit and veggie scraps waiting to go to the compost bin, papers, mail and Lord knows what else.

If you were to venture into the living room hoping to grab a seat, you wouldn't be able to. Five loads of laundry are creating mountains on my furniture, waiting to be folded.

WATCH YOUR STEP! You're likely to step on something that could make you hop around like a goon while holding your foot. These things include, but aren't limited to, Lego's, marbles, colored pencils, doll sized hair brushes, barbies, small plastic animals, Breyer horses, and a tea set.

Once you've made it through the living room you'll need to excuse the mess in the office. Yes, we did some arts and crafts today, and no I haven't put away the paint or the glue. And if you happen to find the covers to the red and yellow acrylic paint while you're in there I'll love you forever.

You'd then probably notice that I have a 4" stack of bills on the desk that were suppose to be paid today. And yup, I am using them as a wrist-rest while I type. At least they're good for something.

And if you got close enough to the computer you would see an inbox with over 200 new emails waiting to be returned, deleted or ignored.

Right now my house is a mess. It's true.

All of this because for the first time in a LONG time we were able to be together as a family from 3 in the afternoon on.

We had a small snow storm, school was dismissed early, and the hubs actually got to come home before 9pm.

We played outside as a family. Made snow angels and forts and had a snowball fight.

We went to get take-out and had a relaxing dinner at home....complete with an adult beverage (probably another reason my house is a mess!).

We played with the Monkey while she had her bath, instead of letting her play independently in the tub while I sat on the floor returning emails.

We watched Elmo in Grouchland.

We gave Daddy a makeover with dolly brushes and Slinkies for bracelets.

We sang silly songs into a fake microphone.

We read Hop on Pop 4 times before bed.

We snuggled and hugged.

It was just what we all needed.

And now, right now, my heart is full.

And my house is a mess.

I suppose I should do something about that...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Marshmallow Topping

Tonight we are getting our first snow storm of 2012! Really, our first snow storm this winter. And what could possibly be a better way to celebrate than a mug of hot cocoa topped with some homemade marshmallow?

Glad I made extra when I whipped this up the other day for lemon cupcakes!

This topping is great as an add-in to cocoa, as a frosting, in the infamous fluffernutter sandwich {as my hubs pointed out}, and to dip cookies in. Or, if you're like me you can use the tried and true method of just eating it off a spoon!

The recipe was in a recipe box I received at my Bridal Shower years ago. All the recipes inside were handwritten by the shower guests and unfortunately I have no idea who wrote this one. No one has owned up to it! So, if the author is reading this, THANK YOU!

What you'll need:
 4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup of granulated sugar {you can use white or brown}
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract {lemon or mint can also be used, I have not tried this}

What you need to do:
In a large bowl that can withstand heat, mix together egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar.
Add 2 to 3 cups of water to a pot and bring to a simmer.
Place the bowl with the egg white mixture into the simmering water, constantly whisking for about 5 minutes. 

The sugar should dissolve completely and the mixture should be quite warm to the touch.
Remove the bowl from heat. 

Using a mixer mix at medium to medium-high speed, add the vanilla and continue mixing until peaks begin to form in the marshmallow. This should take 8 to 10 minutes. 

Immediately frost your cupcakes. 
I piped mine from a bag onto my favorite mini-lemon cupcakes and added some sprinkles. 
You can get the recipe for lemon cupcakes HERE. 

If you have leftover marshmallow place in a sealed container in the refrigerator to use in cocoa or for whatever else you can think of.

Oh! And when making the cupcakes, it helps if you have a cute little sidekick to help you mix the batter ;)


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stuffed Chicken Roll-Ups

Honestly, I wasn't planning on posting this recipe when I decided to make it the other night. It's one of my go-to dinners in this house since it's low-carb and pretty simple to make, especially if you marinade the chicken the night before.

Then I posted on Facebook that I was about to make it and I immediately received comments asking for the recipe. Ummmm....guys, thanks for the flattery but I was SO not prepared to document this. Although, since you twisted my arm, here it is!

My little disclaimer - don't judge the pictures! They do NOT do this meal justice. I wasn't planning on a photo shoot based around this dish, and my house doesn't have the best natural light after 3pm to make the pictures look decent. So just take my word for it - this meal is melt-in-your-mouth, savory, warm and melty goodness. It's even worthy to make for the in-laws!

What you'll need:

2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts {or 4 thin sliced chicken breasts}
3/4 cup Italian Marinade {salad dressing works fine too!}
6 oz. of cream cheese, softened {I make my own, find the recipe HERE}
4 tblsp. pesto {again, I make my own from THIS recipe, but store-bought is fine}
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of an orange or red pepper, chopped
4 slices of bacon

If starting off with regular chicken breasts, and not thin sliced, you will need to trim the fat and then butterfly each piece. Then slice in half, leaving you with 4 thin slices of chicken.

Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and with a kitchen mallet pound down the chicken so it is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick - you shouldn't have to do too much work.

Place in a dish and pour the marinade/dressing over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl mix together cream cheese, pesto and peppers. My pesto tends to be a little less oily, if you are using store-bought be sure to drain out some oil so that your cheese mixture isn't "soupy".

Evenly distribute the cream cheese mixture onto each piece of chicken, spreading it evenly as you go. Then sprinkle the parmesan on top of the cream cheese mixture.

Roll up each chicken breast then secure by wrapping a slice of bacon around each roll-up.
Place seam side down in a casserole dish.
**Note, I had run out of bacon so I omitted this part and used the only 2 slices I had left on the top of the chicken.

Bake for 40 - 50 minutes or until the juices run clear. {Above picture was taken 15 minutes into cooking, so it should be more done than this!}

Broil for an additional 5 minutes to crisp up the bacon if desired.

Before serving scoop up some of the sauce that melted out of the chicken and drizzle on top. That's the BEST part!

This is delicious paired with Quinoa and a salad for side dishes.


Friday, January 6, 2012

The Need for Simple.

What a week it's been! I can't believe we are almost a full week into 2012.

A few weeks ago I had decided that I would choose a word for 2012, a word that I would try to incorporate into EVERY. SINGLE. PART. of my everyday life.

SIMPLIFY is what I chose. SIMPLIFY material items, SIMPLIFY my thoughts, SIMPLIFY my family life. This sign was made over at elm street life and I fully intend on making one as a daily reminder for myself.

2011 was such a whirlwind of being pulled here, there and everywhere. It was a rat race of trying to live, survive and "keep up with the Jones'". It took it's toll on me. I took a long hard look at the things in 2011 that drove me nuts and I found that crazy, hectic and over-booked IS NOT where I want to be. This year I need to relax, enjoy life and FIND MYSELF a bit more. Go back to basics and remember what makes me tick. What makes me WANT to get out of bed in the morning and be that ray of sunshine I know I can be to the rest of the world and most of all, to my family. I don't want to just have the same old routine every day only to look back every 3 months and say "wow, that went by fast and what do I have to show for it?". I need to cut out alot of things that I no longer need so that I can enjoy the things that SHOULD come first. Family, friends, LIFE. I fully intend on this taking me the entire year to do. I mean heck, it took me 30 years to clutter up my life, it should take me at least 12 months to de-clutter it, right?

Hold that thought...then Maddy got sick. Sooo the start of my New Year goal got pushed back a bit. By 6 days to be exact. Yet, here I am. I may be a little late to the party, but I'm ready and willing to start playing, once I finish 2011's to-do list!

 I mean geez, I haven't even posted about our Christmas or winter break yet! So in the days to come be prepared to be taken back in time a bit {by about 2 weeks} so that I can get myself caught up with the rest of the world! For some reason I don't feel like I will be able to start simplifying my life until I can get up to speed and download all my photos and write down some memories for the end of 2011. Seriously, my camera has over 850 pictures on it from the last 2 weeks of December.

There it is. What I plan to accomplish in the next 12 months.

As for the present, Punkin' Head is FINALLY starting to feel a bit more like herself. For those of you that emailed and commented asking how our little one is doing I figured I would respond here, I just haven't had time to even start returning the majority of my emails or respond to comments. Thank you again for all your kind words, tips and heartfelt messages.

Its looking like a virus is the culprit. After a week of multiple doctor's office visits, multiple prescriptions, and none of the tests coming back with a definitive answer that's what we {Maddy's pediatrician} are leaning toward. She is still hanging on to a low-grade fever, that nasty cough and is somewhat lethargic - who can blame her though, the poor kid has only had about 20 hours total of sleep between last Saturday and today. Lord knows I'm exhausted! She is however back to her charming two-year old self. Mood swings and all. We were even able to get out and enjoy the 45 degree weather we had today without it making her feel worse. That was a NICE change of pace for sure! Playing was short-lived since she's so wiped out but it was nice to just hang out on the lawn and watch the horses and the chickens while she read a book and I sorted some mail. Sick or not sick, I love simple little moments like that {SEE I'm simplifying already, am I good or what?!?!}.

I'm not a doctor, but I think its safe to say we are on the mend. I'm hoping by the end of the weekend all is back to normal around here and I can FINALLY start my new year off right.

Better late than never....


And if you haven't had the chance, be sure to check out the big, multi vendor giveaway I have going on here: 


It's huge so you really don't want to miss it.

Friday Night News

Holy Cow! Have you seen?

I have snazzy, new SOCIAL MEDIA ICONS!! So much better than the old, drab and boring, grey ones I was sporting. Aren't they cheery?

Michelle at The Momma Bird did them up for me! Can I say what a gem that girl is to work with? Quick, honest and does a ridiculously good job! If you're needing some new looks for 2012 on your blog she's definitely the one to hit up. Plus, if you haven't you should really check out her blog too, you won't be sorry.

And just for the record, I'm on Bloglovin' now - so go ahead hit that little "bl" button over there on the left and follow me there...go on show that cute little button some love - you know you want to!

And last but not least....


Here are some of the items up for grabs to ONE lucky winner...

Target Gift Card
8x10 Photo Canvas
Starbucks Gift Cards (yup, more than 1!)
Ad space
8x10 Family Name Canvas
Scentsy Burner
Custom Beaded Knot Necklace
Handmade Headbands

Gift Certificate's to 3 Etsy Shops
Hair Accessories with coordinating Rings

Cosmetic Bag from Thirty One
Handmade Cellphone Pouch
Customizable Blog Template

YOU could be that ONE lucky winner!
And you can enter here:

Good Luck!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Sick Little Peanut

For the past week our little Punkin' has had quite the cough, but only at night. It's been horrible. Non-stop, can't catch your breath, gagging to the point of vomiting type coughing.

All week I have felt so helpless watching her, not being able to calm it for her. It literally makes my stomach twist in knots watching her go through these little boughts. Since it has been a dry cough without a fever or other symptoms our normal pediatrician wasn't overly concerned and had us try the usual - prop up her mattress, humidifier, Vicks Vapo Rub, warm bath, some homeopathic honey cough syrup and some allergy medicine just in case there was a post nasal drip irritation. Each night she has become a little worse.

Last night was the final straw. 

We had a GREAT day, went out to dinner with my Dad and his girlfriend and her kids. My little Punkin' was feeling great, her normal happy, hyper self. Then on the ride home she started in. Her cough was so bad she couldn't stop to catch her breath. Dan has been working nights all week so this was the worst he had heard her and the concern on his face showed. I knew she was only going to get worse from here since that was how the past two nights had gone. I was setting myself up for another sleepless, helpless, heart wrenching night. I couldn't do that again so we decided then and there to just detour to the ER.

Luckily as packed as it was in there with kids and crazies (being New Year's Day and all!) they saw us almost immediately. I don't think the triage nurse could bear hearing her cough in the waiting room any longer. We were whisked off to a room where we stayed for almost 5 hours through tests and LOTS of coloring. 

Coloring with Daddy
Our nurses and doctor were awesome. I can't thank them enough for how they interacted with Mads. The entire night she was in good spirits, was willing to do whatever the doctors asked and was joking around. Even when shes sick she's a happy kid, I just never thought she would be as cooperative as she was last night.

She did everything she asked to do without hesitation

Chest x-rays in a funky restraint contraption, nebulizer treatments, oxygen sensors, being poked and prodded by doctors and respiratory therapists and LOTS of waiting around in a hospital bed and not ONE two year old tantrum.

Then came the pertussis screen.....the one where they shove the little swab WAY up into your sinus' through your nose. 4 of us had to hold her down through the kicking and screaming - not that I blame her. My heart broke for her. And that was it, the only time she acted out or showed her stubborn side all night.

That was definitely the hardest part for me too. It's hard enough seeing your child sick and miserable, then to add in something that is downright uncomfortable just kills you a little inside. The doctor and nurses were right by her side after trying to make her smile and laugh, offering up more coloring books and consoling her. I should really send them a thank you card. Honestly, I could not have asked for a better ER staff last night. The compassion they had for Maddy was incredible. There were no stuffy, rushed attitudes from overworked nurses and doctors. Everyone was polite and light hearted which made our stay more bearable. And I'm sure made Maddy feel more at home with all those weird devices they kept shoving at her. 

Those red cheeks and puffy eyes make me want to cry!
So for now, we remain undiagnosed until test results come back. We were sent home with a new antibiotic (she was on one 3 weeks ago for double ear and sinus infections), a heavy duty one to start on until all her results are in. And we have a follow up appointment tomorrow with our doctor to discuss where to go from here if things don't get better within the next 72 hours.

Needless to say she still coughed All. Night. Long.

My poor monkey....

So today, it's lazy pajama day. Some homemade kettle corn, movies and lounging around relaxing. 

I have a blah coughing baby, a sleeping Daddy on the couch and by golly this Momma is TIRED! 

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