Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Patch 2012

      We went to a local pumpkin patch the other week before I left town for my cousin's wedding. We had a good time and the most amazing part was remembering last Halloween when we just propped Owen up on some pumpkins for pictures and then seeing Owen running around the pumpkin patch this year. It's crazy how much he changes in just a year. We checked out farm animals like goats and rabbits, almost rode on the pony rides, and ran amok through the pumpkin patch until we found our perfect three pumpkins, plus a baby one for Owen.                                          

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days: Days 15-21

    Because I was out of town and away from Tim for almost this entire week, completing my challenge each day has been a bit more of a challenge. It took a little extra planning before I left town, but it was definitely worth it. Tim missed me so much while I was gone that he came down the night before the day he planned on arriving and drive all night to get to my parent's house. It was such a wonderful surprise. And below I'll list the surprises I had for him throughout the week. 
  • Monday: I planned several surprise presents for Tim while I was out of town. I put them in boxes and labeled them with Post-It notes. Nothing fancy, no wrapping paper or anything, but he was still excited to have some surprises arranged for the week. On Monday, he opened a box of Keurig cups of Wolfgang Puck's Jamaica Me Crazy coffee.Tim and I went on our honeymoon to Jamaica and one of Tim's favorite things was the coffee. (Though we've never been able to find coffee that tasted as good as the kind we had at the resort.) 

  • Tuesday: I know that Tim was starting to miss us on our second full day away from each other so I made sure to film a video on my phone of Owen doing something adorable and send it to his phone. It was a video of Owen "tackling" a new stuffed animal that my aunt bought for him. 
  • Wednesday: While shopping at Belk the other day I passed by a rack of men's shirts that were 50 percent off. And I decided to just pick out a new shirt for him to wear to work. 
  • Thursday: When I am spending time with family and friends in Georgia, it's hard for me to find time to call Tim and talk to him, but I made sure that I set aside some time to call him on this evening. We talked for a good thirty minutes or so about what we'd been up to. Unbeknownst to me, Tim was busy doing laundry and packing to drive to Georgia early. 
  • Friday: My final surprise for Tim before we were back together again in Georgia was a CD that I made for him to listen to on his drive down. I downloaded the newest Mumford & Sons album and saved it to CD for him to have some new music to listen to. We had pretty much already gotten tired of the music we had for our last long road trip so I knew something new would really make him happy. 

  • Saturday: I know I did it before, but I let Tim sleep in late again. And because I was in the wedding, I didn't have much time to spend with him on Saturday. But because he was so tired from his week at work and from driving overnight, I let him sleep in while I got Owen fed and played with him before my hair appointment. 
  • Sunday: Tim started feeling sick on our drive home so when we arrived I took care of Owen and just let him rest and watch TV. I didn't do anything special, but I basically took over the parenting responsibilities for the evening so he could rest. And sometimes, just that little responsibility off his shoulders makes all the difference. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days: Days 8-14

       My 31 Days of Loving Your Husband challenge is going really well. I can tell that it is making an impact on Tim and that he is feeling more appreciated and loved. And in turn his attitude after work is improving and he has even been going out of his way to show me that he loves me back. I think that it is helping our relationship to strengthen and we are really enjoying one another right now. The past week was a fun one and I am already working on this week's surprises. It's actually pretty hard this week because I am in Georgia and Tim is in Kentucky, but I'm making it work and being creative.

Monday: I am making a more concerted effort to be praying for Tim on a daily basis. I have this book that includes prayers for your spouse and I have enjoyed reading it since my aunt gave it to me on our wedding day. So now I am trying to be more intentional about praying for Tim. I've even written down some of my prayers in my prayer journal so that I have a list of basic prayers for his time at work, his relationship with God, his ability to avoid temptation, and more.
       It's hard to remember sometimes that the biggest thing you can do for your husband is to pray for him. It's so important to do.

Tuesday: Today I surprised Tim with a box of individual coffee creamers to take to work with him and use. He had mentioned that the coffee he drinks at work tastes horrible, so I filed that information away and decided that a pack of flavored creamers might make the work coffee a little tastier.
      Does your husband have a favorite treat? (In case you hadn't noticed, my husband loves coffee) Go buy whatever small treat your husband might love to receive and pack it with his lunch or put it in the front seat of his car for when he goes to work.
Wednesday: On Wednesday I surprised Tim with his favorite cookies - caramel-stuffed apple cider cookies. He really loves them and I know he enjoys taking them to work and sharing with his colleagues.
       The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Enough said.  

Thursday: Today I met Tim in the garage when he got home from work and told him to get in the car and that we were going out for dinner. We hardly ever go out to eat so I knew it would be fun to go out during the week and use a giftcard that we had.
      If you can arrange childcare (or not), plan a midweek date night for your husband. Enjoy sharing a meal together and talking.

Friday: Today during Owen's nap, instead of trying to pack or get one of my million to-dos taking care of, I instead decided to put Tim at the top of my priority list. I was about to leave and spend five days away from him so I needed to remember that getting the house picked up and doing other things weren't as important as spending time together before I left town. We ended up watching The Walking Dead and cuddling on the couch. It was such a nice relaxing time spent together and I'm really glad that I took the time to enjoy being with him.
       Set your do-to list down every once in a while and just spend time together. I bet if you were to look at your to-do list or list of priorities and no where on there would be "spend time with husband." Let the dishes and dusting wait.

Saturday: Today I tried to be really intentional in remembering to say thank you to Tim for everything he does for me and Owen. So I made sure to thank him for doing the dishes after breakfast and for taking us to the pumpkin patch. It can be easy for me to expect things of Tim without being appreciative and grateful for those things.
       Today try to be very intentional in your speech with your husband. Take the time to thank him for all he does and show him how much he is appreciated.

Sunday: Today I left for a week in Georgia for my cousin's wedding. I always hate leaving Tim for a week to fend for himself, so I made sure that the fridge was packed with meals for him to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while I'm gone. I didn't do anything particularly fancy - a frozen pizza, pasta sauce, hotdogs, a package of Kraft breadcrumbs and cheese that you bread chicken with, and some leftover shredded pork for sandwiches. I know that making sure he has something to eat when he is used to me cooking dinner every night means a lot to him.
      Even when you're busy with a million other things, taking the time to provide something for your husband to make his life easier will really make him feel special.
    It's not too late to begin your 31 Day Challenge. Join me in showing our husbands some love!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Citrus Lane review (October box)

      My October Citrus Lane box early this week and I wanted to share all the goodies we received in this month's "Fall Fun" box. Owen is 18 months old so we got the younger-range toddler box, I think. The boxes are filled with items based on your child's age and gender, so Owen receives different things than a 6-month-old or a 3-year-old might get. 
     Here's the description of the theme for this month from Citrus Lane: "Brrr. Can you feel fall's chill in the air? We're not sure if we're ready to give up sunny afternoons at the playground for long afternoons inside, but don't fret - we've put together a box chock full of treats and toys that everyone will fall for." As for the theme, I didn't really see it in the items included in my box. I am loving that we seem to be getting a new book in each month's box though. Owen loves being read to and we can always use a new book in our rotation. 
      Owen, of course, loved opening the box and pulling out all the items. The first thing he saw was the ball and he kept saying, "Ball, ball!" In addition to being introduced to new companies and products, this is probably one of the reasons I love getting a box for Owen each month. He gets so excited. 
       I still really love Citrus Lane, but I think the thing that has me frustrated with them lately is the lack of variation in types of items and brands of the products. For example, we are constantly getting products from BabyGanics while there are tons of other baby care brands out there that I would be interested to try out. And while Owen did like the squeezie pouch of food, it would be fun to have more variation, like snack bars or yogurt melts every once in a while. 
      Here are some cute pictures of him opening the box and exploring what he found inside. Scroll further and you can see pictures and descriptions of each of the items inside. 

Here's what came inside our box this month:
  • "I Can Do It Too" by Karen B : This book is a great way to talk to your child about the excitement and nervousness of becoming a big kid, and can help you both with the challenges and happiness that come with their first small steps in learning to do themselves.This book is really cute. It features bright colors and cute illustrations. I love the pictures of each of the little girl's family members. Owen really enjoyed having me read it to him before bed last night and asked for me to read it 'gin. The box also featured a coupon code for 20 percent off at Chronicle Books. Retails for $9.99.
  • Munchkin Toddler Dip Tray: This dish has a dip container built right in. The tray is sturdy so that kids can dip away without fear of spilling. Owen loves to dip his foods (and fingers) in ketchup, barbecue sauce, and more so it's a great way to get him to eat his food and makes mealtimes more enjoyable for everyone (if a little messier.) I used it with Owen today and he seemed to really like it. He dipped some food and then transferred some back and forth from the main compartment of the dish to the dip portion. In the end though, he ate his entire lunch. Sorry for the sideways photo. Blogger won't let me rotate it. Retails for $5.99. 
  • Oball by Rhino: These lightweight, bendable balls are a wonder of physics, able to collapse down for storage and spring back to life. They also help develop skills from early gripping to throwing and catching. This was the first thing that Owen saw when he opened the box and he seems to like it at first, but hasn't played with it too much. Retails for $4.99.
  • BabyGanics smooth Moves baby lotion: This lotion is packed with tons of natural goodness like shea butter, aloe, and vitamin E and without any parabens, sulfates, or other unhealthy ingredients. It also smells amazing. A code included gives subscribers 20 percent off at Retails for $5.49.
  • DHC Deep Cleansing Oil: This special treat for moms is 100 percent water soluble to dissolve dirt, excess oil, make-up, and sunscreen all while leaving skin soft, smooth, and ready for the elements. The concept of this face oil is really unusual. Umm... put oil on my face to remove oil from my face? But it actually made my skin feel great and really clean afterwards. I was so surprised and definitely pleased. Another interesting thing about this product is that it was the first time I've ever received a product "for mom" in my Citrus Lane box. Subscribers also get free shipping on orders over $25 placed at Retails for $4.99.
  • Ella's Kitchen Stage 2 squeeze pack (Big Smiles Cheesy Potatoes flavor): This is a new flavor from Ella's Kitchen. I don't mind giving Owen squeeze pouches of fruits like applesauce or smoothies, but he is a little old to be sucking vegetables from a pouch. Plus baby food is really expensive and I'm happy not to have to buy it anymore. He doesn't typically like savory foods from a pouch anymore so I was not expecting him to like it, but he sucked it down for lunch yesterday no problem. Citrus Lane is constantly sending us squeezie pouches and I kind-of wish there would be a little more variety when it comes to snacks. There is also a coupon code for $5 off a purchase of $25 at Retails for $2.49.

        Do you subscribe to Citrus Lane? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think of this month's box.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days of Loving Your Husband: Days 1-7

     So earlier this month I noticed a bunch of bloggers starting to do 31 Day posts about all sorts of things: 31 Days of Gratitude, 31 Days of Slow Cooker Recipes, 31 Days of Books, etc. After a little more digging, I discovered that they all originated with a blog called The Nester and it is an every October link-up with more than 1,000 bloggers participating. I unfortunately was too late to start at the beginning of October, but I still thought it was a great idea and wanted to do something like it. And another blogger I follow is doing something similar right now and the idea of becoming a better wife and really loving on my husband resonated with me. 
      Tim has been major stressed at work, gone through a death in his family recently, and has been really patient and loving while having to deal with a ton of events on my side of the family this fall. So I wanted to make sure that I was showing him every day how much he means to me. And with a baby, its hard to make time to do that when we both want to collapse on the couch immediately after Owen goes to bed. So I decided to do my own series called "31 Days of Loving Your Husband." I'm not linking up to the original poster because I don't plan on posting about this every single day (and even if I did, I am about two weeks behind anyway.) I thought instead that I would do more of a weekly round-up of the things that I did with maybe a bonus post here and there if needed. 
       So what is the purpose of what I've decided to blog about? To be more purposeful when it comes to giving my husband love and attention. In the end, I just want to be more intentional about loving my husband every day. And maybe start some habits that will last for the rest of our marriage. And I invite you to join me in doing so if you like. 
    Here's a recap of my first week. Feel free to use some of my ideas or tailor them to your own husbands. And just so you know, Tim has no idea that I'm doing this. (Well, until he reads this blog post.)

Monday: Nothing fancy. Tim had been complaining about his back hurting so I offered to massage his back while we watched a television show. And I didn't expect any reciprocation.       
     Sometimes after a long day at home with the kid(s) or at work, the last thing on your mind is to give your husband some loving attention. And this can be hard on them when they see how much effort we as women put into mothering our children and pleasing our employers, friends, extended family, etc. Sometimes they feel like the very last person on our priority lists. So initiate a massage or some cuddling when he is not expecting it.  
Tuesday: Today I started making sure to pack Tim's lunch every day. Typically, I make enough food at dinnertime that he usually has enough leftovers to take to lunch, but Monday we had our parenting class where we eat there so there were no leftovers. I knew that I was planning to do this so on my grocery shopping trip on Monday I made sure to buy lunch foods, snacks, and some portable breakfast foods too since Tim normally takes breakfast to work with him since he leaves so early in the morning. I could tell when he saw me packing his lunch on Monday night that he really appreciated it. He gets up so early in the morning that making his lunch is just another hassle to add to his morning routine and many times he runs out of time getting ready and doesn't take lunch and ends up having to skip eating or just snack on stuff around the office. And really, if I stay stocked with lots of options, it is so easy for me to do this in the evenings when I'm picking up after dinner. 

        Find a way to help your husband in his daily routine. The morning is always a stressful and hurried time of day and anything you can do to simplify it for him is great.

Wednesday: Today I made sure to pack Tim's breakfast and lunch again. I also woke up when he was in the shower and filled his thermos with coffee and packed a sweet card in with his lunch telling him how proud I am of how hard he works and how thankful I am to be able to stay home with Owen. I think that one of the reasons that Owen is talking so much and knows so much is because he gets one-on-one attention from me all day and I know that he wouldn't be able to get that in a daycare. I told Tim that he should be proud of how much Owen knows because he's the one who makes it all possible.
    Show your husband some love by writing him a letter to thank him for being a good provider, leader, hard worker, and loving husband and father. Encourage him especially in areas where he may be going through a difficult time.

       Wednesday was sort-of a two-fer because I also made us a special Mexican fiesta mid-week date night dinner so that after work and Owen going to bed, we could enjoy a fun meal (and a margarita) together and relax watching some of our favorite funny shows - Go On and Modern Family. Sometimes its fun just to break up the work week with a mini-celebration of sorts. And on a related note, I highly recommend Pioneer Woman's Tequila Lime chicken and Mexican rice recipe.
       Can't wait until the weekend for some time together? Put your kids to bed early and have an at-home date night. It doesn't have to be costly or involved. Snuggle up on the couch together and watch a Netflix movie or catch up on your DVR.

Thursday: As soon as the weather starts getting cooler, Tim begins talking about soup. He and I both love soup and I know when each fall rolls around that he is about to start making requests for his favorite soups: mulligatawny, beef vegetable, and the inevitable split pea soup. Now split pea soup is not my favorite, but Tim has been asking me to make it for a couple weeks now. So even though I wasn't feeling it, I decided to make it for him today. Tim very rarely asks for anything just for himself so whenever he makes a special request, I can't help but want to honor it because he asks for so little.
      Sound like a good idea for your husband? Do you know what your husband's favorite dinner is? Run to the store, grab the ingredients, and surprise him with his favorite meal. Bonus points for dessert! 

Friday: This weekend I decided to take an item from Tim's honey-do list and help him complete the job as a team. We have been talking about getting our yard and landscaping cleaned up and ready for winter and the upcoming spring, but we've been really busy lately. I know it was something he wanted to do, but something that easily gets put off. So when Tim had to go in to work on Friday, I decided to get started pulling weeds. When he got home, we worked in the yard together for a couple hours and continued to do so for a few hours every day for the rest of the weekend. And now, other than pruning our rose bushes and hydrangeas, we're finished with that huge job!
      I know that a lot of women believe that yard work is solely the man's job, but I've found that working together on any job always makes it more pleasant and you finish it faster too. I actually found myself enjoying working together with my husband and taking pride in our yard. And it really meant a lot to Tim to have me help. He mentioned how impressed he was with how hard I was working at least three or four times. 

        If you want to do something similar, take a look at your husband's honey do list and ask him if there is any way you can help him with some of the projects. Try to take some of the load off of him. I'm sure he'll appreciate it!

Saturday: This morning I got up with Owen and fed him breakfast and played with him quietly so that Tim could get some extra sleep. He ended up staying in bed until 10 a.m., which is unheard of in our house. Because Tim wakes up normally every day by 5 a.m., he sometimes needs to get some extra sleep and while I would have loved to have been the one to get some extra shut-eye, I knew he really needed it after a hard week at work. 
      Who doesn't love sleeping in on the weekend? Allow your husband to sleep in late. And if you don't have kids, sleep in with him! Trust me. Enjoy it while you can. 

Sunday: During Owen's naptime, I encouraged Tim to watch football and follow his fantasy football players. He normally doesn't get a lot of time to just sit and relax, so I know he really loved getting the green light to be unproductive for a couple hours. 
       What does your husband really love to do that you might not think is the best use of his time? Fantasy football, anyone? Give him time to do just that. And no nagging about what he could be accomplishing instead. And while he's doing that, go take some time for yourself.

    So that's it for the first week. It wasn't that hard and I would be happy if you wanted to join me. Check out my ideas and tailor them to the man in your life. You can grab my button on the right side of the blog. Leave me a comment if you decide to participate. I'd love to see what ideas you come up with!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Menu Monday

  • Monday: Italian pie. Again, we have our parenting class tonight so we will be going over to the home of the couple that leads it to eat dinner. The entire group contributes to dinner to feed the 10-12 adults and millions of children. This week we were asked to bring casseroles, sides, and desserts for the meal. Tim and I will be bringing Publix's Italian Pie, which is a recipe from their Apron's collection. It is super easy to make and tastes delicious and I figured it would be different from everything else that people would bring. There aren't a lot of Italian casseroles in my experience, but plenty of chicken ones or taco ones. Also, I know that Owen likes this and will eat it happily. Though the meals are generally child-friendly so we haven't had a problem with him eating there so far.
  • Tuesday: Autumn penne pasta with sauteed brussels sprouts in a light ragu. This is such a delicious fall recipe from Skinny Taste. Here's a description of the recipe: "Pasta is tossed with sauteed brussels sprouts and a quick meat ragu made light by using lean ground turkey and just enough hot Italian pork sausage to enhance the flavor of the sauce."  Before making this recipe, I had never really eaten brussels sprouts. Now I'm a big fan. They are really not as bad as you'd imagine from all the horror stories you hear as a child. And the Italian sausage gives it a nice spicy kick. 
  • Wednesday: Chicken tortilla soup. This is a recipe from my new Pioneer Woman cookbook, but you can find it on her blog as well. I just love soup and I think this recipe might be really good. It seems easy enough and I'm actually going to try to make it in my slow cooker so that I don't have to make dinner in the evening. I will be topping it with one of my absolute favorite foods: acovado! 

  • Thursday: Leftovers.
  • Friday: Italian drip beef sandwiches with sweet potato fries. This is another Pioneer Woman recipe from the new cookbook that can also be found on the website. The link is to two different recipes for drip beef sandwiches and I will be making the Italian one. Here's a description: "The Italian recipe is fabulous, and the peppers add a wonderful edge." The reason I chose this one is because it includes my second favorite food: peppers! (Particularly banana peppers) And Tim really digs this recipe.
  • Saturday: We will be going to Lexington to watch the University of Georgia Bulldogs play Kentucky. One of the perks of living back in the SEC. The game is at night so we will probably eat on the road, but we should have leftovers of dinner from Friday night to feed the super awesome couple that is babysitting Owen for us so that we can go.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Random Friday

1. Book Lover's Cravebox

      Last week I received the Book Lover's Cravebox. I snagged this special edition box a few weeks ago and was interested to see what would be inside. I received a book, a couple snacks, and a bracelet. The book that came in the box was "How I Came to Sparkle" by Kaya McLaren. Here's a synopsis: "Set in a Colorado ski town, How I Came to Sparkle is a remarkable breakout novel that chronicles three people and their journey from loss to love; heartbreak to hope." I haven't started reading the book yet, but I'll get around to it at some point. It's not really the type of book that I would normally pick out for myself, but we'll see. The strawberry-flavored Natural Vines premium licorice was super delicious. I did not like the snack mix because I don't really like soy nuts that much and they were the predominantly featured ingredient of this mix. It was a little too salty as well. The bracelet is not something that I would ever wear as it's a cheesy "count your blessing" beaded bracelet. Overall, I don't think I would do another book box because people's taste in books varies so greatly. 

2. Julep add-ons

      My Julep add-on nail polishes came in the mail recently too. I added on "Keira" and "Sofia." Keira is the burgundy color and I love it so much. It's currently my pedicure color. It actually looks a little more purple-y than it does in the bottle. Sofia is a really pretty sheer glitter and while I haven't used it yet, I plan to layer it over blue for my next pedicure. As far as Julep goes recently, the company has revealed a new website design and a new rewards system. The rewards system gives subscribers points for more than just referrals, which is nice. So far they are still transferring over everyone's saved referrals and getting stuff set up. I'm assuming they will be finished by the 20th, when they reveal the colors for November. 

3. Little man (aka Cute Pics of Owen)

       Owen's newest clothing accessories are two new ties. We bought them for Owen to wear to the wedding last weekend and he looks so stinkin' cute in them. They cost $7.95 each at The Children's Place. I think that they were 25 percent off when we bought them. We have the red one you see below and a green and navy striped one as well. Don't mind the jeans shorts in the below picture. He wore them with dress pants at the wedding, but I wanted to have him try them on and see if he would have issues with a tie and try to strangle himself. Luckily, he seemed to agree that he looked super cute!

4. Pantry organization

      One of my recent accomplishments this week and something I've needed to do since we moved in, was organize our pantry and food cabinets. They were packed with a bunch of random things and I wanted to have things a little neater and better organized. The motivation for this project came after we visited Katie and David in Florida and I had major pantry envy after seeing her super huge pantry filled with basically any nonperishable food you could ever want. Tim helped me to organize everything because he's really good at that sort of thing. So now we have baking supplies (and my stand mixer) on the top shelf, boxes of pasta, rice, breadcrumbs, and more on the second shelf, snacks and a basket of onions on the third shelf, and breakfast foods, breads, and more on the fourth shelf. In the food cabinet, we put all jarred and bottled foods on the top shelf and canned goods and broths on the bottom shelf. Another cabinet holds oils and vinegars and spices. I feel so happy about having everything organized and I'm getting a good stockpile of extras so that I don't have to buy so much at the grocery store each week. I will keep it up by buying items when they are on sale 10 for $10 at Kroger. 

5. Halloween costume idea

     Because I am the worst mother on the planet, I haven't really given too much thought to what Owen will be for Halloween. He's too old for all the baby-ish costumes and he hates having anything on his head. So my options are kind-of limited. I also don't want to go overboard and spend a ton on a costume that he's only going to wear for one day, and more accurately, just a few hours. We aren't taking him trick-or-treating or anything, so it's basically more about taking a few pictures. I was trying to come up with an idea for something we could do on the cheap and after buying him a white button down and the ties, I had the idea of having him wear a Superman onesie underneath and have him be Clark Kent changing into Superman. All we'd need to buy is the Superman onesie and maybe a cheap pair of black glasses. And I found this photo online to illustrate what I was thinking. What do you think? Any other ideas?

  6. Pumpkin obsession

       Oh Fall. My favorite season of the year. And one way that I celebrate the season is to indulge in all things pumpkin-flavored and scented. If it's pumpkin, I will buy it. Below are some of my recent pumpkin finds. Do you have any favorite pumpkin products?

7. Fall recipes

      Another reason I love fall is because of all the delicious soul and tummy-warming meals. My favorite recipe blog Skinny Taste has tons of great fall-inspired recipes that I can't wait to make. Some are old favorites and some of ones I haven't tried before. Anything with pumpkin (of course) or a tasty-looking soup is right up my alley. If you're interested in some yummy fall recipes from Skinny Taste, go here to check out all the recipes for fall from this awesome food blogger all in one convenient place.
Autumn penne pasta with sauteed brussels sprouts.
Pumpkin cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting.
Crockpot turkey white bean pumpkin chili.
Apple spiced scones with spiced glaze.
Chicken pot pie soup.
Pork chops and applesauce.