196. Warmer weather, please


There’s nothing like being only 13 weeks into your pregnancy and looking, well, definitively more pregnant than I am.  Last week, one of my coworkers asked, “Just how pregnant are you?”

Sigh.  It begins again.  Each pregnancy, I’ve gotten to hear comments such as, “That’s a big baby,” and “You’re getting so big,” and, my all time favorite, “Are you sure there’s just one in there?”  Between having high fluid from about 16-18 weeks on, a short torso and a tendency to carry my kids in my rib cage during the latter half of my pregnancy, my baby belly has always been on the bigger side.  And it’s no different this go around.

In an effort to have a healthy pregnancy, I’ve been walking/running 3-4 times a week and have been been doing 2-3 miles most days.  Once the weather warms up a bit more and I can bring the kiddos along with me, I’m hoping to average 4-5 days.  I feel so much better when I’m able to get out and hit the pavement.  I have more energy, I sleep sounder, I don’t have as many crazy pregnancy-hormone-mood-swings on the days I walk/run, and my blood pressure has been never been better.  With my first two pregnancies, I was already on medication for my blood pressure at this gestational age.  So, woohoo for walking/running!

But seriously, I need the temp to get out of the 20’s.  After dropping my oldest off for school, I donned my super warm running gear and noticed my uber warm running jacket is getting pretty snug over my pregnant belly.  I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to zip it up with the rate my stomach has been growing.  The forecast is starting to look promising, with predicted highs in the mid 40’s to low 50’s with sunshine.  I certainly hope so!  My thermal jacket wearing days are numbered.

 

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195. A sweet obsession


As I’ve gradually emerged from my first trimester funk (13 weeks tomorrow!), I’ve found myself using my kitchen again.  My house is once more filled with sweet aromas, and my children are thrilled that I’ve been baking again.  And thanks to the wonderful world that is Pinterest, I have a stash of crazy easy, minimal ingredient recipes, which, in my pregnant state, are perfect.

My favorite of these easy recipes involves a box of angel food cake mix and a can of fruit baked at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  We’ve tried it first with crushed pineapple (very yummy) and now cherry pie filling (also very yummy).  There have been requests for strawberries and blueberries.

194. Plans change


December was going to be the month of Christmas crafts and training for my first long race since April.  December was instead the month of not having enough energy to get off whatever I was curled up on, unless it was for running to the bathroom to puke for the umpteenth time.  No, December was not what I has hoped it was going to be.

No complaints, though.  While I would have preferred to be sickness free for the Christmas holidays, how could I be upset about rapidly rising hCG levels?

So there will be a new little bitty joining the Stallings’ clan this summer.  He/she is due August 12th, but seeing how 37 0/7 weeks is the longest I’ve ever been pregnant, we’re planning for a July baby.

It’s amazing how quickly plans change.  My race plans drastically changed.  When I should have been training for the Hangover, I was getting IVs for severe dehydration.  While I still hope to run with this pregnancy, training for a marathon is out of the question for me.  I have the good fortune of preterm labor, and while my doctor encouraged me to continue running so long as I don’t start contracting, she flat out said no to anything longer than a mile or two.  Maybe three.  So, my race plans for the year are a flat 5K.  Maybe after the baby comes I can revisit race plans.

Other plans that changed due to our little bitty was summer vacation.  My husband’s family plans for a big vacation every other year.  We were to leave July 9th.  I’ll be 35 weeks.  35 weeks has been a notoriously bad time for me with both pregnancies.  Both times required trips to the hospital to be shot up with various labor stopping medications.  Needless to say, my husband and I will not be partaking in the big family vacation.  We might just be hanging out with my coworkers instead.

Yes, it’s amazing how quickly things can change directions.  I didn’t anticipate my head would be swimming in all things baby related so early in the year.  We were planning on trying for our third (and final) bambino later in year.  The plan was for me to work a little OT, save up for a new car (I’m still driving my two door Honda civic I got when I was 19…we’ve made the two door thing work with two children, but a third will not fit.  I’ve checked), pay off a little more debt, etc. before trying.  And now, working extra…HA!  Maybe next trimester.

193. Peppermint plate


Day three of our activity advent calendar called for making plates from peppermint candies.  I’d seen several tutorials around on Pinterest, and it seemed easy enough.  Bake at 350* for 8 minutes and allow to cool.  It was quite easy, and the kids had a blast.

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We baked ours in spring form pans to help keep the peppermints from spreading too thin, which I highly recommend.  It left our dishes nice and thick and not too fragile feeling.

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I also highly recommend to line your dish with parchment paper, a step I over looked.  It made for a lot more work getting the plates out of the pan.

While super easy, cheap to make, a lot of fun and a lovely end product, I have one complaint.  The plates are pretty sticky, even after having air dried all night.  Stuff keeps getting stuck to them.  I’m not sure if I could coat them with something to help with that.  Any ideas?

192. Counting down


Hands down, this has been the most awesome Christmastime, and it’s only beginning.  My five year old has been unbelievably excited about EVERYTHING Christmas related, from our nativity sets, to the lights, to Elvis (our elf on the shelf), to making decorations and now to our activity Advent Calendar.  This kid’s spirit is positively infectious.

This year, rather than going only with our traditional advent calendar (usually a one dollar treat from Trader Joe’s with a piece of chocolate for each day), I opted to add an activity based Advent calendar.  It was a quick and simple DIY that turned out quite nicely, I must say.  My oldest found several small broken branches in the yard, we put them in a jar, tied a ribbon around the jar and hung little tags from the branches.

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Tada!

It’s been so much fun thus far!  The kids have been so excited to see what the newest activity will be.

Christmas Activities

  • Send Christmas cards to soldiers
  • Watch Elf
  • Make a peppermint serving dish
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Make coffee filter snowflakes
  • Read The Night Before Christmas
  • Listen and dance to Christmas cookies
  • Read about the nativity
  • Go ice skating
  • Make a Christmas craft
  • Watch Frosty the Snowman and drink hot cocoa with marshmallows
  • Build a gingerbread house
  • Make a handprint reindeer
  • Bake cinnamon ornaments
  • Make a birdseed feeder out of pinecones
  • Buy one new Christmas ornament per person
  • Visit Santa at Bass Pro
  • Watch Charlie Brown and make Christmas popcorn
  • Make a teacher gift
  • Drive and look at Christmas lights
  • Make Christmas pancakes
  • Watch Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
  • Make cookies for Santa

191. Flavored Salts


For the last few years, my husband and I have steadily moved away from store bought gifts at Christmas and towards hand made gifts.  This year will be no different.  We have a few store bought things (mainly for each other and the kiddos in our lives, plus a few off the wall gifts, like the beef jerky chocolate bar that we simply couldn’t pass up for Brett’s oldest brother), but the bulk of our gifts will be homemade.  We have a large circle of family and friends we exchange gifts with, and homemade gifts really help cut down our cost each year.

One gift I opted to go with was a collection of flavored salts.  I had everything on hand minus enough small jars to put the salt in, but I’m hoping to get a stash before Christmas is here, which will have made this a no cost to me project.  How freaking awesome would that be?!

 

 

Thus far, I have three different flavors of salt: cumin salt, lavender and thyme salt, and Siracha salt for all the spicy food lovers in my life.  We have several people in our lives who are quite adventurous with their food, and I hope these salts will be right up their alley.

Not only was this an uber cheap gift, it was incredibly easy to whip them up.  For the cumin and lavender/thyme salts, it was a simple act of grinding up cumin seeds and lavender (fresh from the garden) and thyme leaves and mixing them with salt.  There heavy on the herbs/spices so that a little will hopefully go a long way.

 

The Sriracha was the most involved salt (if you can call it that).  One cup of salt mixed up with several teaspoons of sriracha sauce and popped into the oven at 170* until it’s dried (about two hours).  Easy, peasy.

Now just to get jars!



190. Full on Christmas mode


The tree is up, the decorations are out (the ones that managed to survive our cellar flooding last year, anyway), Christmas crafts have commenced and the shopping is actually really close to being done.  Wow.  And it’s not even December!

So, for those of you who don’t know me well, allow me to let you in on a little something.  I freaking love Pinterest.  My husband has long laughed at me when it comes to my adoration of Pinterest.  That is, he did until I showed him exactly what Pinterest is.  Now, he regularly asks me to find things (like a butterbeer recipe, how to remove labels from beer bottles, templates for homebrew bottle labels and other things pertaining to his beer brewing hobby).  Pinterest is genius.  Pinterest has provided me with an abundance of Christmas crafts, recipes, activities to do with my children and gobs of ideas for making the Elf of the Shelf a part of our Holiday tradition.

 

Our elf Elvis has made a wonderful addition to our little household.  Both kiddos have been incredibly excited to run through the house each morning in search of Elvis.  They talk to him, tell him about the good things they’ve done and eyeball him sitting on his perch when they’ve been caught doing something naughty.  I think I like Elvis as much as they do.  It’s so much fun coming up with new hiding places.  Elvis has been on the top of our mantel, climbing up our hanging ceiling lights, hanging from a curtain rod and wedged behind our bathroom mirror after he doodled on it with a window marker.

 

That was fun!

 

189. BBQ Turkey pizza


Pre made pizza dough from Trader Joe’s is a wonderful thing to have in your fridge, especially when the youngest member of the household has been struck by a nasty stomach virus and your oldest is running around pretending to be a ninja turtle (cowabunga!).

Pizza has always been a crowd pleaser in the Stallings’ home.  Our favorites have been more unique pizzas, such as a mashed potato pizza, Greek pizza and breakfast pizza.  My newest favorite has become a BBQ turkey pizza.  It’s delicious!

Ingredients

  • Pizza dough (pre made or from scratch, whatever works best for you)
  • Smoked gouda
  • Mozzarella
  • BBQ sauce
  • Turkey (deli)
  • Tomato
  1. Roll out your dough
  2. Spread a layer of BBQ sauce on dough
  3. Layer slices of turkey, smoked gouda, sliced tomatoes and top with mozzerella
  4. Bake at 350 for 17 (softer crust) -20 minutes (crispier crust).

And that’s it!

 

187. Pumpkin embroidery


When I said I was done decorating for Thanksgiving, apparently I lied.  My son and I were looking for Christmas embroidery and print ideas when we stumbled across this pumpkin design.  It was a quick and easy project, which is good considering a week from now, I’ll have Christmas decorations out.