Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Sugar Cookies!

My mom is a fabulous baker. She bakes all year long, but she truly shines at Christmas time. Each year she makes all of her friends and family members huge trays, loaded with a wide variety of different types of cookies. I will never have the patience or the love of baking to create the same kind of cookie masterpieces that she does, and I've accepted that that's just the way I am. (Even though I would love to bake like her.) However, one of her simplest and easiest recipes is, in my book, also one of the best tasting. I used to love helping her make them when I was a kid, and the recipe was one of the first I asked for when I moved out. To this day, for any occasion, I make her sugar cookie recipe.

Thanks to different cookie cutter shapes I've made sugar cookies for holidays, for my sister's baby shower, as gifts for people, and sometimes just because I feel like having them. Pretty soon I'll be making them for Valentine's Day, and I'm excited to get Stephanie in on the action this year! (They are a great cookie to make with little kids.)

Sugar Cookies

~6 Tbsp butter
~6 Tbsp shortening
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 teas vanilla
2.5 C flour
1 teas baking powder
1 teas salt

*Mix shortening, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla
*Blend in flour, baking powder & salt. Cover and chill 1 hr (I have made the dough and chilled overnight also. It comes out fine.)

~Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
~Roll the dough and cut out shapes.
~Decorate with sprinkles (optional)
~place shapes on un-greased baking sheet (I use parchment paper. Clean-up is much easier that way!)
~Bake 6-8 minutes at or until very light brown.

My favorite part as a kid was decorating with the sprinkles. Now for some reason I find that part tiresome, but I know Stephanie will have a blast with it. You can also add food coloring to the dough to make it different colors. (My mom always made orange at Halloween and I swear for some reason they tasted better than any other time she made them!)


Linking up with The New Modern Mom today for Tasty Tuesday! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Winter Doldrums

Has anyone else been suffering from the winter doldrums? I definitely have, and I'm sick of it!

I've been feeling cranky, un-motivated, tired and really just blah. The worst part is that I truly have no reason for these feelings. Oh sure I could attribute it to many things. The cold weather, the fact that we've been cooped up, the nagging cold I've been fighting for two weeks, the letdown of the holidays ending, etc. But I feel like none of that is worthy enough for me to be feeling this way, so then I feel guilty on top of it because really, why have I been so cranky?

Finally I had enough and decided that it's not worth figuring out why I feel this way, I just do. Instead of wasting my energy looking for reasons I need to snap myself out of it. And I have been, slowly but surely.

My first step was to acknowledge that I have these feelings to others. I told Dan i'm cranky and I don't know why. I told some of my close friends how i'm feeling. Just saying it out loud seemed to lift a load from my shoulders. (Thank you to those who let me vent!)

Secondly, I've stepped up my healthy eating and water drinking habits. I feel better physically when I eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and when I drink more water. Feeling better physically leads to better emotional and mental health.

Then I cut myself a break. I've been feeling guilty about all the things I haven't been doing because my computer was broken. I haven't been blogging, I haven't been able to read and comment on other blogs, I've let some opportunity's slip away that I was really hoping to participate in. All of this was very disappointing, and making me feel overwhelmed and like I would never catch up. So, I decided not to bother. Everything that I haven't gotten to do is in the past. Now i'm going to move forward and do all the blogging related things I want to do, without rushing around to get to the things I've missed.

And lastly I upped my social interactions. I took the kids to a playdate on Friday, which was great for them but even better for me. I chatted with my mom friend whom I haven't spent any real time with in months. It was refreshing to catch up with her and to get out of the house for something other than school drop off or errands.

Then I had time out with my family. We went to lunch yesterday, just the four of us, and it was so nice to be together out of the house.

And this morning I went for a coffee date with three of my dearest friends. We've known each other for years, and always have a blast catching up with each other. We've decided to make our coffee/brunch ritual a once-a-month habit, and knowing that I have that to look forward to just makes me smile. There's nothing quite like talking with people who know you almost as well as you know yourself.

I know the winter can be tough, especially when you have young children that you're trying to keep occupied. I'm glad I was able to start pulling myself out of these doldrums, and even though I know there's still many weeks of winter i'm hoping I'll continue to feel better going forward.

How has this winter been for you so far? Feel free to share any tips you have for getting rid of bad moods that hang on for weeks!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January Resolution Check-In Week 3

I have to apologize for the lack of posts this week. My laptop is broken, and my husband brings his to work all day, so I haven't had access to a computer. I also realized that I never posted last week on how my January resolution is going, so I definitely have some catching up to do.

I made a resolution this year to set a new goal for myself every month. This month my goal is to work on getting healthy and lose weight. (I know it will take more than a month to lose the 20 pounds I'm hoping to lose, but I used this month to jump-start things.)

I'm excited to announce that I've dropped the 5 pounds that I put on over the holidays. I've also finally gotten my eating under control. It took a few weeks but I've slowly started changing my habits. I'm logging my food into the myfitnesspal app every single day, and most days I'm within my calorie range. I only have 2 or 3 small snacks each day, instead of eating from the minute the kids go to sleep until I go to bed. (This is huge for me, because snacking has always been my downfall.)

For the past 3 days I've been drinking water like crazy, which was one area I hadn't been doing so well with. I log in at least 8 glasses a day, sometimes as much as 10.

The thing I still need to focus on is exercise. I started out the month doing really well in this area, but I've slowly slid out of the habit. (I also haven't been feeling 100%, and can tell my body is fighting some kind of cold germ, so I'm letting myself rest without too much guilt.) As soon as I feel better I'm going to add at least some form of exercise into every day, whether it be cardio, strength training or yoga.

There's one week left in January, and even though I still have a lot of work to do this year, i'm excited by how my first month is going.

Did you set resolutions? Have you kept them? I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment or strike up a conversation with me on Facebook. :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Joseph is having a blast at the pediatrician
Happy Thursday readers!

As always, I have so much to be thankful for this week, including:

~Having a lot of family time while my husband has been off of work for a month. (He always has off between Christmas and the third week of January.)

~That today my husband went back to work. While the family time is so nice, and he's been very helpful, I crave our normal routine. We've been basically having weekends every day for three weeks straight, planning fun things and spending so much time together. It's nice to get back to real life. (And I need to catch up on cleaning and organizing!)

~The health of my children. Knock on wood, they haven't had any bad illnesses or colds this winter, just the occasional sniffle. I also took Joseph to the Dr for his 15 month check-up on Monday and was happy to hear he's growing and developing just the way he should.

~Stephanie's adjustment to school. From September to December she cried a lot when I brought her to nursery school. (Sometimes for the majority of the 2.5 hours she was there.) She's finally gotten over that, and for the past two weeks has only cried for a few minutes when I drop her off.

~The love and support of my awesome girlfriends. Knowing I have people to vent and complain to, as well as share my happy times with is so amazing. I'm very appreciative to be surrounded by so many strong women who are always there for me when I need them. (This includes online friends and in real life friends...I feel blessed to have a network of both, some that coincide with each other.)

I hope you all are having a wonderful week. As always, thank you to Joanna  from Baby Gators Den for hosting the link-up, and please join us if you have a Thankful Thursday post of your own!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Crock-Pot Sausage & Tortellini Stew

Happy Tuesday! Today i'm linking up with my friend Candice over at The New Modern Momma for Tasty Tuesday.

I've been using my crock-pot a lot this winter because it's such an easy and quick way to get a hearty meal on the table for my family. I love being able to prepare dinner in the morning or afternoon instead of in the evening when we're all getting tired and cranky.

One of my favorite crock-pot meals is Tortellini Stew. I've been making this recipe for years, and all four of us love it. (I think I originally cut it out of Family Circle magazine.)

It's quick and simple to prepare and only takes about 15 minutes. My favorite kind of meal!

4 Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage links, casings removed
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes w/basil, garlic & oregano (if I don't have a can of tomatoes that has the spices in it, I just add them myself.)
1 9oz package of frozen cut green beans
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1 9oz package of frozen cheese tortellini
1 Tbsp fresh oregano


1. Crumble sausage and stir with tomatoes, green beans, onion and italian seasoning. Cover crock-pot and cook 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.

2. When 20 minutes of cook time remain, stir in tortellini, oregano and 1 cup of water. Continue cooking. Serve immediately.

I highly recommend this recipe, it's so easy and delicious!

*If you have time, head on over to Candice's site and check out all the other linked up recipes! I find a lot of good meals through this weekly blog hop.*

Monday, January 14, 2013

My First MoonFrye Post

My very first MoonFrye post went up yesterday! (I wrote about my new writing venture here.)

I'm discussing another of my goals for 2013, and this one is an important one!

If you're interested in popping over and checking it out, you can find it here:

I'm thrilled to finally see this dream of expanding my writing beyond A Baby Makes Four come true. (But don't worry...i'll still be here several times a week sharing all the mundane interesting details of my life.)

Thank you for all of your support!

*I'd love to connect with you on Facebook! Come visit my A Baby Makes Four page!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sibling Love/Mommy Brain Mixer

*Happy Thursday everyone! I'm excited to be co-hosting the Mommy-Brain Mixer this week, which is a blog hop hosted by the lovely Jelli and Cassie.*

One of my favorite things about having two children so close in age is watching them grow together and learn to love each other. At 1 and almost 3 years they truly do just adore each other. (I know this won't last so I'm soaking of up every minute that I can!)

Stephanie's new favorite thing to do is say "Hey Joseph, come play in my room with me!" He'll jump up and toddle after her and they'll spend time in there playing together. Or they'll sit down and read books together, Stephanie "reading" as Joseph looks on.

Since they share a room, they typically wake around the same time, but Joseph wants to get right out of his crib while Stephanie chooses to hang around lounging in bed. I go into the kitchen and make Joseph his milk, but he won't take it and walk away unless I make Stephanie's too. Once I do, he'll grab it out of my hands and run into her room to bring it to her.

Yup, not even 3 years old and she's already got somebody bringing her her morning milk in bed. (I wonder if I could train him to bring mommy her coffee in bed...)

Their childhood is rushing by so fast that I really try to take a moment and relish these moments. To pause and smile as I witness these acts of sibling love. They are so sweet together and I'm so happy that they love each other as much as they do.

They spent all morning yesterday walking around holding hands! So precious :)
*I'd love to be friends on Facebook! Come "Like" A Baby Makes Four :) 

mbmixerban Welcome to the Mommy-Brain Mixer! So happy you're here. One of our favorite things to do is to share stories about motherhood and our littles. At the Mommy-Brain Mixer, we invite your to share about anything and everything motherhood! Link up your funny posts, serious posts, sweet & sappy stories, mommy-brain episodes, memories from when your older children were younger, lessons learned, and anything related to motherhood or little people. This is a perfect place to find great blogs to follow, make wonderful new blog friends, and enjoy entertaining reads!
Mommy MUSTS:
  1. Follow our lovely co-hosts: Megan, Andrea, and Dawn.
  2. Link up your mommy post, not your homepage.
  3. Visit at least the two links ahead of you & leave comment love.
Optional, but appreciated:
  • Follow your hosts, Jelli and Cassie
  • Mom bloggers have more fun. Be inspired & make friends at the Mommy-Brain Mixer. –>> Tweet this!
  • Link back to the party by adding the button or a text link to your blog post.
Photobucket Button code (copy & paste): <a href="http://www.jellibeanjournals.com/tag/mommy-brain-mixer/" title="Mommy-Brain Mixer"><img src="http://i1240.photobucket.com/albums/gg481/fairyjuliet/mbmixerbuttonidea.png" alt="Mommy-Brain Mixer"></a>
If you are interested in co-hosting a Mommy-Brain Mixer, send an email to Jelli at jellibeanjournals@hotmail.com!
Link on up, Ladies!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Week 1: January Check-In

It's been one week since I wrote my January resolution post, and i'm happy to report that I've been meeting many of my goals to get healthy this month.

I've been using MyFitnessPal to track all my food, and while I've been over my allotted calories more days than not, I'm happy that I'm at least tracking.

I've been doing cardio work-outs most days. (I work on a 3 days of working out followed by 1 day off schedule.) I started out running at night after the kids went to bed and I had done all my computer work. It ended up being 9pm by the time I actually got around to it, and I would feel nauseous from being so tired. Now I'm trying to squeeze it in during nap time instead which is working out much better. (Eventually I'd like to get up early enough to do it before kids wake up.)

I've also been doing well waking up when the alarm goes off at 6am so I can have a cup of coffee and start the day with a little me-time. (I do hit the snooze a few times though...I'd like to stop that part!)

Things I haven't done quite so well:

-Drink water. I just forget. I need to track the glasses I drink to keep myself accountable.
-Snack less. I have good days and bad days with this one.
-Go to bed by 11. It's still closer to 11:30 most nights. I'm determined to change that.

I'm going to keep plugging away at all these goals to make myself healthier in January. Did you make any goals/resolutions? Have you been keeping them?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January Meal Planning part 1

If you remember, I embarked on a monthly meal planning adventure for the last few months of 2012. I loved doing it because it made dinners and grocery shopping so much easier and we saved a lot of money on food. BUT it took so much time to create and I just didn't have time to plan for January in the midst of all the holiday hoopla in December.

So for this month i'm planning on a weekly basis, and will jump back into monthly for February.

Here is last week's menu:

Tuesday 1/1: Wendys (I know, not the healthiest. But we were driving back from NY and it was on our way. At least I had a salad...)

Wednesday 1/2: Pasta with homemade sauce & peas and corn on the side

Thursday 1/3: Chicken Pot-Pie

Friday 1/4: Out to dinner. We were having a family day and Stephanie suggested we go out to Newport Creamery, a local family restaurant. We couldn't resist her request.

Saturday 1/5: Crock-Pot Sweet and Spicy chicken with brown rice and cauliflower on the side

Sunday 1/6: Sausage and Peppers in the crock-pot

Monday 1/7: Chicken pot-pie leftovers

And this week's menu:

Tuesday 1/8: Take-Out Pizza (Ok so apparently the non-monthly meal planning means we eat out a lot...)

Wednesday 1/9: Soup & Crescent Rolls

Thursday 1/10: Leftover sausage and peppers, supplemented with a bag of frozen vegetables

Friday 1/11: Chili

Saturday 1/12: Birthday party in the afternoon. (Cereal for dinner if anyone is still hungry when we get home.)

Sunday 1/13: Leftover chili for Dan and I, Annie's Macaroni & Cheese w/peas for the kids

Monday 1/14: Baked Italian Chicken with steamed broccoli and pilaf rice

I took the recipe for the crock-pot sweet and spicy chicken from The Frugalette's blog (she did a month of slow cooker dinners and I've gotten some great meal ideas from her!) Here it is: (original blog post for the recipe found here)


  • 1 lb. Chicken boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 20 oz. Can of Pineapple Chunks
  • 1/4 cup of Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 cup of reserved Pineapple Juice from can
  • 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. Ginger powder
  • 1-2 TBS. Brown Sugar
  • 1 TBS cornstarch to thicken sauce at end
  1. Add all ingredients in slow cooker, except cornstarch. Mix together. Cook on low for 4 hours.
  2. When chicken is done, move to plate with slotted spoon. Pour remaining liquid and sauce in small saucepan.
  3. Mix cornstarch with 1 TBS. water until dissolved and whisk with sauce to thicken. Bring to boil, lower and continue stirring until thick. Pour over chicken. Serve with brown rice. (we had cauliflower on the side too)

It was a really simple recipe and came out so delicious!

*I'd love some meal ideas for the rest of the month! Feel free to share :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Some Exciting News

I'm thrilled to announce that I am officially a contributor over at MoonFrye.com! The new website is absolutely gorgeous and I'm so honored to be included in their amazing team of writers. I'll be writing alongside two of my all time favorite bloggers, Jenny of Karma Continued and Katie of Practical Parenting. These women are my inspiration, and the fact that I'll be writing for the same website as them still seems surreal to me.

Many of you know that writing has always been a passion of mine, and having a career in writing was always my dream. But I chose a different path in life and have never looked back. However, this blog has afforded me the opportunity to do what I was born to do (stay home and raise my children) while still keeping a foot in the writing door. And now I have this new and amazing place to share my stories.

My first post hasn't gone live yet, but I am listed on the contributor page, which you can check out here: http://moonfrye.com/about/

(It's in alphabetical order by first name. I'm the Megan rocking the cool shades.)

I'll be sure to let you know when my first post goes up, and in the meantime I want to THANK all of you, my loyal readers for always being here to support me. It means the world to me and I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate it.

*An extra big thanks to Jenny who gave me the swift kick in the butt confidence I needed to tackle this new adventure.*

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thankful Thursday

This week has really put things into perspective for me. One of my Rhody Blogger friends found out that her two year old daughter has leukemia. I can't even begin to fathom how she is feeling. This news has rocked her and her family to their core, and I'm devastated for them. Please send all your prayers, well wishes and positive thoughts to Melissa, little Belle, and their whole family!

This week I am extra thankful for:

~My children's health. I've been saying extra prayers of thanks for this as I tuck them in at night and give them a longer than usual hug.

~My blogging community. Seeing how my group of blogger friends rallied together in support of Melissa is heartwarming and amazing. And it's not only our group, but many others in the internet community. It shows that there is still goodness in others, and I hope that Melissa can find some small comfort in knowing that so many people are rooting for Belle during this tough time.

~The love that my children receive from so many others. We spent 4 days in NY visiting my in-laws and my children were thoroughly spoiled with Christmas presents, food and attention. I always remind them how blessed they are to have such a big group of family who love them.

~Snow! Stephanie has been waiting and waiting to play in the snow, and I was so bummed when were in NY during the first big storm of the year. But it's still cold enough for the snow to have stuck around, so we went out first thing yesterday morning. She had a blast.

~The New Year. I always look at January as a chance to start fresh. It's a clean slate, full of possibilities, and I hope to make 2013 my best year yet!

Please feel free to share what you're thankful for this week! As always, a big thanks to Joanna from Baby Gators Den for hosting Thankful Thursday! Link up below if you have a post to contribute too!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I can't believe it's 2013. Time flies!

We just got home from a trip to NY to visit my in-laws, and i'm ready to start a fresh new year. I have big plans for myself, my family, our home, our budget, and this blog. I thought long and hard about resolutions that would relate to the plans I hope to achieve, and I decided that the best way to tackle them is one month at a time.

(I absolutely love the Happiness Project by Gretchen Wilson, so I've based my plan very loosely on her book.)

Each month I will have one over-arching goal that I set for myself. I'll have several smaller goals or tasks that will help me reach that goal each month. I will check in here once a week to keep myself on track and help myself reach my goals.

January's goal is to get healthy. I know losing weight is a common New Years resolution, and it's kind of cliche, but it's also very important and very necessary. I had amazing weight loss success in 2012 and felt very healthy and proud of myself, only to gain most of it back during the last 3 months of the year. I need to get back on track!

To help myself get healthier I need to:
~Drink more water (at least 8 glasses a day)
~Log all my food intake into My Fitness Pal
~ Exercise most days of the week
~Go to bed by 11 each night
~Get up at 6am so I can have a cup of coffee before my family wakes up. (My days are less stressful and more calm when this happens.)
~Eat one healthy snack in the middle of the day and one at night. (Not a whole meal's worth at each snack time, like I've been doing lately.)

I'll be posting the success of my first week next Tuesday! (As for today, I've logged all my food and done 30 minutes of cardio. Not bad for the first day.)

I hope you all had a healthy, happy and fun New Years Eve (we stayed at my Mother-in-Laws and watched the ball drop in our jammies, which is my preferred way to celebrate!) and please feel free to share your plans for the new year with me.
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