Thursday, November 20, 2014

CREAMY SPINACH & SAUSAGE PASTA




If you follow us on Instagram, then you noticed that I posted this photo of the pasta I made for dinner the other night! I was raving about it!! I said I would post it on the blog, so here you go!

The truth is, we have eaten out A LOT the last 3.5 months just because it was easier for me to cater to my cravings, but it was $$$$. I am truly sick of eating out. I think we exhausted every family friendly place in town. I am so happy to be back in the kitchen cooking for my family and eating a big healthier. I hope you enjoy!


INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 oz. smoked sausage $1.50
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1 medium onion $0.32
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes w/chiles $0.99
  • 2 cups chicken broth $0.30
  • 8 oz. pasta $0.50
  • 3 cups fresh spinach $0.87
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded monterrey jack $1.17
  • 1 whole green onion $0.10

INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Thinly slice the smoked sausage and add it to a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the sausage over medium heat until it is nicely browned (about 5-7 minutes). Drain off the excess fat.
  2. Dice the onion and add it to the skillet. Continue to saute until the onion has softened (about 5 minutes). Add the can of diced tomatoes with chiles and the chicken broth. Stir to combine and dissolve any browned bits off of the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet and make sure it is all submerged under the liquid. Place a lid on the skillet and allow the mixture to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for about ten minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Stir once or twice while the pasta cooks to keep it from sticking.
  4. Stir in the fresh spinach, one cup at a time, until wilted. If you add it all at once, the skillet will be too full to stir. Keep the heat on while adding the spinach, so the liquid will continue to simmer and thicken.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top, replace the lid, and let it sit for a few minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Slice the green onions and sprinkle them over top. Serve hot!
For step by step photos/original recipe click HERE

-J


Friday, November 14, 2014

MY FIRST TRIMESTER....LOOKING BACK

15 week bump

After the pure joy, excitement and "oh my gosh, are we really having another baby?" moment that my husband and I experienced in the beginning of this pregnancy, all I could think about is how badly I wanted to blink my eyes and be in my second trimester. I mean the first trimester is for the birds.... seriously! I LOVE being pregnant, I embrace all of the little things that come with it, but I am a major sicky in the beginning, and it just sucks.

I was truly worried about how bad it would get. Could I still be a good mom to my 3 year old? Will I drive my husband to hate me? Am I being lazy? I would just tell myself that I need to push through it and deal, but my body shut that down real fast.... I literally couldn't get out of bed some days. I remember we found out we were pregnant just before we went to Disney in September, and I just kept asking God to keep me feeling good for the trip so I could enjoy it with my family. He did just that! Literally on the flight home, I started feeling that good ole nausea that you know is from a growing human, not a bad piece of meat.

As I reflect, it is really easy to say that the first trimester "wasn't that bad". I think God designed it that way so we "forget" and keep having kids. Sigh..... My husband travels for a living (he tours doing music), and even when he is home, he has writing sessions that go late and other commitments. I am so grateful that he was home for the majority of my sickness. SO GRATEFUL! Our moms both work during the day, and we have yet to put Amara in childcare. All that to say, I couldn't just fully depend on family that I am most comfortable with. However, we made it through! The hardest part for me was just not having an ounce of energy for my daughter. Getting up to brush my teeth ( which I didn't do most days) was a hardcore chore for me. 

Here are MY tips for making it through the first 3 months ( or longer for some of us :) :

Let people help you!
It is sooooo hard to just let someone take my child for me or come over and be in my house when it is a disaster and I look like I am on my last leg. Trust me.... I get it! However, your friends ( especially other moms who have been there) are such a great tool during this time. If they didn't want to help.... they wouldn't offer. Let them bring you those things you need (milk for your other child that can't be bribed with juice anymore) that you couldn't pick up at the grocery store because you didn't have the energy to go.

Listen to your body:
I can't take prenatal vitamins. They really upset my stomach/system, so I literally take kid gummy vitamins to get my folic acid. I crave coke when I am pregnant.... yes it has caffeine, and probably isn't the healthiest of things during the beginning, but it settles my stomach like no other. I like fries and everything else salty. My stomach would lose it if I tried to eat a sweet of any kind. I can sleep allllllll day. I get most of my energy ( which was still very little) in the late night hours. It was so important for me to just let my body do its thing. I just kept telling myself that it was just a phase, and all of these hours of tv that Amara was watching wouldn't ruin her. Right? There were no instagram posts of me eating a health salad or a juice from Whole Foods. You are not out to impress anyone.... just keep yourself alive! Haha! I tried meds to take away the intense nausea, even though I am highly opposed to taking even a headache medicine if it is unnecessary. I was desperate. The meds helped, but gave me a lot of weird side effects that were almost worse than the actual nausea, so I stopped.

Take lots of naps:
A nap a day is essential for me. Even as we are entering the second trimester, I continue to nap when Amara naps in the afternoon. Did I mention how grateful I am that she still naps? :) It just makes the 5-7 o'clock window much more doable. Normally, I am dragging around that time.

Don't "make more" for yourself:
You guys.... this has been my biggest lesson. There is so much that I was even doing for Amara that I didn't have to do. Me being in the bed a lot the last 3 months has really forced Amara to be more independent, and it has made me realize that things can still go on without me having my hand in every. little. step of the day. I am still embracing this lesson as my pregnancy goes on. I cannot carry her everywhere and every time she asks, or grab every little toy for her or get her a snack RIGHT when she asks. All of that has been a good lesson for both of us. 

Drink lots of water:
I struggle with this on a daily basis... pregnant or not. However, during this pregnancy, nothing as truly quenched the crazy thirst I will get in the middle of the night like water. I helps me fight dizziness, headaches, and even slight nausea at times. I am really trying to make a conscious effort to increase my intake daily.

Don't cut bangs if you don't already have them:
Yeah, just don't do that.


I have really enjoyed watching other mamas-to-be on Instagram and/or blogs that I follow. So much has changed even in 3 years, so it is fun to see what new products are out there, what they have chosen to differently the second time around, their style and so much more. Here are some of my favs to follow right now:

Naomi over at Love Taza
Brooke from Somewhere, Lately
Sarah Shabacon ( IG name sarahshabacon) from I Wear the Headress

Thanks for reading! Have a beautiful weekend friends!!

-J 




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ARI'S 4TH BIRTHDAY - PIZZA PARTY!

Ari turned 4 yesterday! I cannot believe I have a four-year-old. What?! After Max's 1st birthday party last month (HERE) I was pretty spent, so it was music to my ears when Ari declared he didn't want a party! Background... he's not too into other kids his age and much prefers adults. We're working on it at preschool and with play dates, but honestly it was his birthday, so he should get to do what he wants, right? Ari's request was going to his fav pizza place, Mellow Mushroom, with just the family. So that's what we did!
I kept decoration to the bare minimum (to my standards) and just made these little pizza party hats, a pizza cake, and pizza tattoos
Pizza Party tattoos in our Etsy shop HERE

For the pizza cake, I just used sour straws and chocolate cheerios for the "pizza toppings". I tinted frosting red for the middle layer and yellow for the top. You guys... I totally attempted a brown crust out of frosting and failed miserably. Scraped it off and stuck with a clean yellow top! 


I thought these pizza hats turned out pretty well and were super simple! For the tutorial and more DIY party hat ideas, click HERE.

Here's my birthday boy checking out his cake sans pants.
That's a wrap! Now to move into our new home NEXT WEEK.... oy.

-L

Ari's Modern Animal Themed 2nd Birthday Party HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Monday, November 3, 2014

MY FAVORITE THINGS


It's Monday.... let's do this! I am trying to find the motivation to step out of my house this morning. That would require a shower and getting dressed, and I am just not sure if I am up for all of that craziness, ya know?

You guys.... I have accumulated a few things over the last couple of weeks that I am so in love with. Anytime I find a good product or something that just makes me feel good, I always want to share. Some of these are pregnancy related, but not all of them!!

Speaking of motivation to get ready.....
I was playing in Anthropologie this weekend and took one sniff of this stuff and HAD to have it. It appeals to all of my pregnancy senses. It is sweet, but still musky ( which I love in the winter months). I can't say enough about this scent. I have been the weirdo walking around "smelling myself" for the last couple of days. It is definitely my favorite part of my morning routine.

Leah gave me a stick of this L'OREAL lip balm. She didn't like the color she chose on her so she passed it along, and I am sooooo glad she did. I absolutely love the creamy texture and gorgeous color!! I went to purchase the Innocent Coral to add to my collection. No liner needed, and it is so hydrating that it really can act as a lip moisturizer. IN. LOVE!

I purchased a couple pairs of maternity jeans ( why fight it, right?) at Motherhood Maternity. I am super picky about jeans, but I actually LOOOOVE these. They feel like leggings, but really do look like actual jeans. You can purchase these here. This particular pair ran large, so I ended up going with an XS instead of S. I also purchased another pair that I couldn't find online! They are black Indigo Blue skinnies. Maybe they are just in-store only??

Not sure why, but I have been filling my vases with greens in my house. It just feels simple and "fallsish", and I love the way they smell. Weird, I know.

Fresh mani! Ok, ladies.... I love nail polish. I am a sucker for a beautiful nail color. I took a break from my gels to wear this gorgeous color by OPI. It is called Keeping Suzi at Bay. It was night time when I took this photo, but the color is a little more royal blue looking during the day. Soooo pretty!

I am not a foundation wearer. It is just too much make-up for everyday wear. However, when I am pregnant, my skin freaks out on me even more than usual. I need something that wears light, but offers great coverage! My hubby is not a fan of the overly done makeup face.  I tried this Laura Mercier flawless fluid per the recommendation of the ladies over at Somewhere, Lately. I don't wear it everyday, but have worn it out for date nights and events. It is amazing!!



I always struggle with baking cups not fully wrapping around my cupcakes/muffins, so I picked these up on my Target run the other day. They are amazing and sturdy. It is the little things, haha!


Enjoy your day everybody!! Thanks for checking in with us. It means so much!!
-J

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

LAST MINUTE DIY HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

Tired? Check. Lazy? Check. Not about to go to a Halloween store 3 days before Halloween? Check. Here are two costumes you probably have in your closet for two of my favorite fictional women!
I designed some free printables HERE for you to add to your easy costume! Yooooouuu're welcome. 
Happy Halloween, nerds.


Oh, and this is my baby Max in tribute to the one and only Jimmy Fallon- my husband and I are giant fans of him and The Tonight Show! Can't you just hear the dancing Hashtag music?
Download Hashtag the Panda's name tag HERE
For more ridiculous DIY Halloween costumes for littles, click HERE!

-L

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

FALL MANTEL DECOR

Hey friends!! I (Jenni) haven't been posting much on here due to pregnancy woes and such, but I THINK I am at the end of the worst part for me. I am always so curious to hear other women's stories about pregnancy because it affects us all so differently. I personally am a major sicko my first trimester  (and usually the first bit of my second), which is just no. freaking. fun. I am grateful to have a healthy baby so far and a healthy pregnancy though, so I will stop my whining now.

Among the many things that have been lacking in my life, my fall mantel decor is one of them. I bought a couple of lanterns on sale one day at Target. I came home so excited to put my mantel together during nap time. Yeah..... I got everything OFF of my mantel, however, I did not put anything new or "fallish" back up on my mantel for weeks. I decided to partake in nap time most days. Anyway, by default I ended up with our perfect mantel decor. I just wanted simple and neutral all the way. I love to use decor that I can leave up until Thanksgiving. I may add a few feathers and other little things, but the overall decor stays the same.




I already owned everything I used for my decor except for the lanterns, which I got for $30 and the chevron pumpkin. I think it was $10. I will use them year after year though and bought them on sale so I am okay with it. I made the book page garland last year. I actually stored it away in a box to get rid of it, but hadn't gotten around to it. I am glad I had it to pull out and put to good use. 

Below are some other inspirational mantels that I loved while searching through Pinterest for ideas for my own. One thing for me that is important is to not spend a lot of money on mantel decor. I like to just find things outside, thrift shops, around my house or simply get my craft on. 






Friday, October 24, 2014

MAX'S 1ST BIRTHDAY - ROUND PARTY!

When people asked what theme Max's first birthday was going to be, and I said "round"... they were like... ummm cool. Okay so Max is round, he loves balloons and balls- those are round, and honestly I couldn't think of anything that hadn't been done a million times before! Plus it's so simple- just my style. 
The party was supposed to be in our backyard with lanterns strung from the trees, circular picnic blankets, ring toss, bubbles, etc. Guess what? It poured every. single. day. that week including the day of the party. Super dark outside too for pictures. Fantastic. We're still in our rental (egg yolk and old lady sage walls), so basically my plan was to camouflage the grossness with tons and tons of balloons. I think it turned out really well, and most importantly, everyone had a great time! And let's be honest, when you're dealing with one to four-year-olds really all they need are toys and cake. Cake is clutch. 

FOOD:
See what I mean? Cake is clutch.
I baked two batches of white cake in sheet pans so the layers would be thin, froze the layers, cut with a 2.5" biscuit cutter, then just piped colorful frosting in between. 
 All round food!
 Complete with Aunt Ellie's Campfire Crispies! They are SO. GOOD. Do yourself a favor and order these babies.

DECOR:
Had to cover the nasty chandelier :)
Monthly photos of Maxie cut out into circles, naturally.
I made this little picnic blanket out of a drop cloth. Draw two concentric circles in pencil and paint in the lines. Make sure to paint the circle before you cut. That way it'll look nice and neat! 

FAVORS:
Party crowns, tattoos, hula hoops, bouncy balls
Custom temporary tattoos with each kid's name from our Etsy shop!

ACTIVITIES:

RING TOSS
I ordered the rings on Amazon and got bottles from the dollar section at Target. Since the party was supposed to be outside, I had painted wooden dowels to hammer into the grass. Sigh. Still a fun activity for the kids though! 

DIY GIANT SURPRISE BALL
Getting a surprise ball was a tradition at my sister and my birthday parties growing up. I decided to supersize it by using a container from Party City as the center to make this huge!
Each kid got to unwrap a color, once that streamer color ended, they got the prize and gave the ball to the next kid. It ACTUALLY worked! Couldn't believe how patient the kids were waiting for their turn! So fun!

INVITATIONS:
I got the beach balls from Oriental Trading Company and wrote on them with neon Sharpies. Here's the thing... they can't fold totally flat, so they were considered a parcel... which means they were $3 each to mail! I took them to the post office and got 5 different stamps, which actually looked pretty cool. Thankfully I only invited a handful of people, and I hand-delivered most!
 On the back of the ball it said:
ROLL on over to Max's
(address)

It was a sweet day for my sweet, round little Maxie!
-L


And the winner of the Freshly Picked Giveaway is....

Kelly Vance!

Woohoo!! Please email us at loveandlion@gmail.com!
Thank you all for entering! Many more giveaways to come!
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