Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Five: Holiday Traditions

We've made it to Friday, which means that I am officially on winter break from school!  Woo hoo!!  No work until January 6th  :)  I'm looking forward to lots of traveling, family time, and relaxing while I'm off from work.

Since today's Friday, I'm going to continue my newly-started tradition of linking up with the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar) for their Friday Five link-up!
Today's Friday Five topic: Holiday Traditions!  I LOVE Christmas time, and, growing up in a very traditional family, we had many things we'd always do this time of year!  I shared a few of them last week with my favorite winter activities, but here are some of my favorite Christmas-specific traditions:

1. The annual "Stairstep" picture
Last year's picture
On my dad's side of the family, there are a total of 4 grandchildren.  After we open presents each year, we line up from shortest to tallest in front of the Christmas tree for the annual "stairstep" picture.  It's always funny to see the competition over who the tallest is--I held the top spot for a long time (I'm the oldest grandchild) but recently, I've taken a tumble to the bottom.  It's always a fun moment!

2. Attending Christmas Eve candlelight service/Christmas Eve readings
Image Source
Nothing prepares you for Christmas morning better than the candlelight service at church on Christmas Eve.  There is nothing quite like singing "Silent Night" while the sanctuary fills up with candlelight, then raising our candles high and singing "Joy the World"!  I'm getting chills just thinking about it :)

After we got back from the Christmas Eve service and before going to bed, my parents would read my brother and me the Christmas story out of the Bible (usually Luke 2) and the book Twas the Night Before Christmas before going to bed.  Once we got older, Eric and I would each read these two stories.  This tradition still continues, and I really enjoy it!  I hope to continue it with Baby Fish when he/she is born.

3. Doing things for others
One of my favorite things to do to remember the true reason for the season is give to others.  I love doing Operation Christmas Child each year, and there are a variety of other things that Joe and I do to help others during the Christmas season.
Image Source
When I was growing up, my family and I did a lot of volunteering around Christmas.  One thing I loved helping with each year was the Salvation Army Angel Tree.  I'd help with the gift distribution days, and the looks on the faces of the parents and kids as they picked up their gifts was priceless!  It brought me so much joy to help out with this awesome organization that helped so many families be able to do something for their kids at Christmas.

4. Eating soup for lunch and watching football on New Year's Day
I don't know how or why this started, but every New Year's Day, my parents, brother, and I eat soup for lunch.  I will tell you, though, that if we try to eat anything else, I do NOT let it happen!  We also spend the day watching all of the college football games together.

This last one is a new-to-me Christmas tradition!  When you get married and join another family, there are a variety of Christmas traditions that you get initiated into.  Here is one of my favorites coming from Joe's family...

5. Joe's grandmother's holiday percolator punch
Every Christmas, Joe's grandmother makes this delicious holiday punch in the percolator every year.  I believe it has cranberry and pineapple juices with lots of spices, and it was warm and delicious!  You will always find the percolator on and family members walking around the house with their mugs of punch throughout the day.  I'm already looking forward to having some when we head there for Christmas this year!

As I celebrate Christmas with Joe's family this year and our family expands for next Christmas, I look forward to continuing these traditions and forming new ones!

Question for you: What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
I love to hear about how different families celebrate the holidays in different ways!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Guest Post: Quick and Easy Enchiladas Verdes

Hey, hey!  Happy Thursday!  I have an exciting guest post to share with y'all featuring a quick and easy recipe, so let's just dive right on in :)

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Hi guys!  I'm so excited that Amy asked me to come over and chat with you all today!  Even though Amy and I met through the blog world, ironically enough we've since discovered that we have a bunch of friends in real life.  We even went to the same college, but never actually crossed paths (that we know of).  Talk about a small world!  Plus, it's fun because I'm currenlty 16 weeks pregnant, so we can chat about all things baby.

Anyway, I started chatting and haven't even really introduced myself yet.  My name is Stephanie, and I blog over at My Freckled Life, where I chat about food, fitness, and finding a healthy balance as a busy 20-something.  I also blog over at Freckles & Fingerpaint about all things pregnancy.
Today, I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit about dinnertime.  I don't know what it typically looks like in your house, but in mine, it tends to involve me running around like a crazy person, attempting to throw something edible together in between all of our evening meetings, soccer games, rehearsals, and other commitments.

We're busy, and as much as I'd love to make a fancy meal every night, reality is that that is just not happening.

Thus, I've fallen in love with the quick and easy 30-minute meals.The ones that take minimal effort and ingredients, but still taste like I tried.  A busy, pregnant girl's best friend!

So in honor of that, I wanted to share a fun, easy little recipe for you!  This one is becoming a staple in our house, seeing as I'm craving spicy foods constantly.  But you could easily add more heat, or tone it down depending on your preference.
Quick and Easy Enchiladas Verdes
Ingredients:
  • 1 Chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 4 oz. neufchatel cheese
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 4.5oz (1 small can) green chilies
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup tomatillo salsa (green salsa)
  • red pepper flakes and chili powder to taste
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix shredded chicken breast, neufchatel, green chilies, greek yogurt, corn, cheeses, and taco seasoning (plus additional spices to taste) in a bowl
  3. Heat corn tortillas in microwave for 20 seconds with a damp paper towel until warm.
  4. Place filling in tortillas with enough room to roll, and place seam-side down in a baking dish.  Top with green salsa.
  5. Cook in oven for 10-12 minutes until warm all the way through.
  6. Serve immediately and enjoy!

I love this dish because it really just involves throwing everything into a bowl, mixing, and shoving it in the oven.  How simple is that?  And by the time it comes out, it is full of warm, bubbly cheese and spicy chicken.  Yummmmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Plus, this dish is really easy to tweak based on your preferences.  You can spice it up or spice it down depending on your tolerance level.  For my veggie friends, you could also easily substitute black beans for chicken.  Pair it with some rice and some veggies and you've got yourself a complete meal!
My one tip to speed everything up is to make sure your chicken is cooked beforehand.  This is really easy to do if you stick it in the crock pot with some chicken stock, and let it cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Then it's super easy to shred!  Plus, if you make a bunch, you can use some for this recipe and save the rest to use later!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this super quick and easy Mexican-inspired dish that is perfect for a busy weeknight.

Thanks again to Amy for letting me take over her blog, and I hope to chat with you all again soon!
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Thank you, thank you Stephanie for sharing this recipe today!  Stephanie posts easy recipes like this one quite often, so check her out on My Freckled Life!

Question for you: What's a quick and easy recipe that you love?  Share it in the comments (or link to it!)
I know I'd love more ideas, and I'm sure Stephanie would, too :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WIAW #45: Sunday Edition

What's up?  We made it to the middle of the week!  I don't know about you, but around here, we've been feeling a little lazy this week.
Tequila's had a lot of play time with Fin (her boyfriend), so now that he's gone, she's been sleeping a lot.  It makes me want to just curl up with her!

Well, it's Wednesday, so that means it's time for another edition of...
Brought to you by Peas and Crayons
This week, we'll be taking a look at what I ate on Sunday!  I ACTUALLY remembered to take pictures of my food, so let's see what I ate!  Thank you, as always, to Jenn for the WIAW party!  Head over to her blog to see what other bloggers are eating.

Breakfast
I had a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios on Sunday before church.  Nothing fancy, but boy are they yummy!  The picture above is recycled--I didn't actually eat a clementine this time.

Lunch
As I mentioned yesterday, I've been craving PB&J on the weekends.  I had a PB&J sandwich for lunch, along with some baby carrots and honey macademia pretzel pops from NatureBox for dessert!

Snack
During the afternoon, I snacked on some M&M's.  I probably had about 4 handfuls throughout the afternoon--those things are just yummy!

Dinner

I ate dinner at the youth group Christmas party on Sunday night.  Dinner was catered by Pollo Tropical, and this was my first time eating there.  Let me tell you, the mac and cheese was AWESOME.  The white cilantro sauce on my chicken was really good, as well.
The rest of the party was really fun, and I enjoyed being able to attend the Christmas party!

Evening Snack
There was another wrestling pay-per-view on, and so I stayed up to watch it with Joe and his friends.  I snacked on some more honey macademia pretzel pops as we watched.

And there you have it!  Sunday's meals!  I've noticed that lately, my meals on the weekends have not been as healthy as the weekdays.  This is really causing me some serious acid reflux, and I know that I need to work on it.  I would think that the fruits+veggies daily point for the Holiday Sweat Challenge would motivate me, but it really wasn't working this week :-\

If any of you have tips that help you keep eating healthy on the weekends, please share them with me!!

Question for you: What do you do to keep healthy eating habits on the weekends?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 25 Weeks + Maternity Clothes

Good morning!  Hope your week is off to a great start so far :)  It's going to be an easy one for me--most teachers are giving midterm exams, so I'm just assisting with administering and grading those this week.  Not too bad!

Time to talk about the pregnancy :)

Pregnancy Update: 25 Weeks
How far along? 25 weeks (and two days)

Baby Bump progress: hopefully you can tell the difference between the wall and my shirt!


Baby's Size? a cauliflower! about 9-10 inches long and 1.5 pounds

What's happening this week?  
  • Baby Fish is growing more fat and hair
  • Now knows which way is up and down
  • Capillaries are forming, as well as air sacs in the lungs
  • Nostrils are unplugged--baby can practice taking "breaths" soon
  • Vocal chords are functioning now--the better to cry with later, right?
Total weight gain/loss: As of yesterday, I'm up 13.5 pounds since the first doctor's appointment.  The doctor says that's right on track, so that's good!  Not going to lie though, it is a little tough to see those numbers on the scale.  I just have to keep in mind that the weight gain is all for Baby Fish, so I'll survive!

Stretch marks? no new ones!  Getting better about the cocoa butter, as well :)

Sleep: Still sleeping pretty well.  I'll wake up about an hour before my alarm, but luckily I can get back to sleep.  It's also getting a little more uncomfortable to sleep certain ways now that the bump is getting bigger!

Best moment this week: Joe and I were able to do some planning for when Baby Fish arrives this week!  It made me feel a little bit more comfortable with everything when we were able to solidify some plans.  

Miss anything?: alcohol (Joe tried a "Cinnamon Toast Crunch" drink at a bar this week that made me wish I could drink!), bending over comfortably, not going to the bathroom all the time

Movement: Baby Fish is still rockin' and rollin' in there!  I'm still feeling the movement more when I'm sitting down, but I have started to feel some movement while standing.  I guess the little guy/gal is getting stronger!  I THINK I also felt him/her do something to a rib....let's just say that if they continue to do that, it will NOT be comfortable!

Food cravings: I continue to want cheese and sweets, but I've also had a really interesting craving: peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches on the weekend!  
Kinda weird, right?  I guess the sweetness of the jelly is just what I'm wanting when I need something for a meal!

Anything making you queasy or sick: nope!  Still doing well on that aspect of things (thankfully!)

Gender: We'll find out when Baby Fish is born :)

Labor Signs: none (thankfully!)

Symptoms: 
  • some cramping every now and then (doctor says it's "growing pains" and totally ok)
  • acid reflux-mainly on the weekends when I'm not eating as healthy as I do during the week
  • hard time bending over, thanks to my expanding stomach
  • as embarrassing as it is...gas :-X  And unfortunately, sometimes I can't control it... #pregnancyproblems
  • sensitive gums
  • some fear/anxiety, but also excitement, about the future
Belly Button in or out? in!

Wedding rings on or off? on!

Happy or Moody? other than randomly tearing up/crying about things, I've been happy for the most part!

Funny moments this week: No one was around for this, but I find it funny now.  I went by Joe's friend Carson's apartment to drop something off on Sunday night (I stitched something up for him) and noticed a U-Haul in front of his place.  I also saw Carson and his family moving stuff out of his apartment.  I knew he'd be leaving town, but I didn't realize it was happening that night!  So, when I got in the car, I just started sobbing!  I'm bad at goodbyes, but I'm sure the pregnancy hormones and the unexpectedness of that goodbye made it extra emotional for me.  I can laugh about it now, but man, it hit me really hard in that moment!

Looking forward to: Christmas and all that comes with it--travel, time with family, all the traditions (not really baby-related, but I know that Joe's family will want to talk about him/her a lot!)

Exercise this week: I didn't quite get in all of the workouts I wanted to, especially over the weekend.  My free time was mainly spent running errands and doing chores around the house, BUT I did get in some activity
Tuesday-rest day
Wednesday-2 miles on treadmill + BodyPump
Thursday-Bowling!
Friday-planned rest day
Saturday-2 mile walk with Tequila
Sunday-rest day
Monday-BodyPUMP class
I'm hoping to do something active each day this week, whether it be a walk with Tequila, a run, or some strength training.  

Baby Fish Feature: Maternity Clothes
This Friday, I made my first maternity clothes purchase!  I kind of put it off as long as possible, partly out of denial, but mostly out of laziness!

Word to those of you looking for maternity clothes: there really aren't too many options at places like Target, Kohl's, etc.  I was looking for good prices, but I just really didn't find what I need until I went to a maternity-specific store.

A friend told me about one such store that is close to us: Motherhood Maternity (they're a national chain).  While their prices are slightly higher than I wanted to spend (especially around Christmas), they do have sales rather frequently.  I was actually able to get two pairs of jeans and two pairs of work pants, each buy-one-get-one-50%-off.  It worked out pretty nicely!

Another word to those of you buying maternity pants of the first time: THEY ARE WEIRD!
To allow room for your belly to expand, the top part is a spandex-type material.  
This was really strange for me when I first saw maternity pants.  I thought it was just a weird brand, but nope, that's what they're all like.  Fortunately, they are really comfortable!  Ever since buying them on Friday, I've worn them every day.  I'm still getting used to the spandex-up-to-the-ribs thing, but at least I can actually comfortably wear pants to work now.

Question for you: Moms or moms-to-be out there, did you have the same reaction as I did to maternity pants?  Everyone else, what's a random food craving you've been having?