Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What's Up Wednesday: August

WhatsUpWedUpdated

Today I'm linking up with The Larson LingoMix & Match Mama, and Sheaffer Told Me To to share What's Up Wednesday...

What We're Eating This Week



I made these Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers for a friend with a new baby last week; luckily, the recipe is generous (12 bell pepper halves!), so there was plenty left for us to eat too!  They're just as good leftover as they are on night one - which is my kind of dinner!


What I'm Reminiscing About

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Via

The summer before my freshman year at A&M, I went on a 3-week leadership seminar in Italy for National Merit Scholars.  We stayed in the tiny town of Castiglion Fiorentino in the Tuscany region of Italy.   It was a life-changing experience where I learned lots of Italian culture and history, sparked a love for international travel (it was the first of 5 trips overseas I ended up taking during college), and made a bunch of really good friends that I remained close to for the rest of college.  It's been 14 years (eek) since that Italy trip, and a bunch of us are reuniting in Dallas in a couple of weeks - some of whom I haven't seen in 7-10 years!  It will be fun to reminisce about old times, both in Italy and throughout our years at A&M, and also meet everyone's spouses and kiddos!

What I'm Loving


I am loving the slightly cooler weather in the forecast (and hopefully the corresponding reduction in my electricity bill!)  It's still summer by most of the world's standards, but this is starting to look like fall for North Texans!  Look at those highs in the 80's!

What We've Been Up To

We have been busy trying to stay entertained inside!  Between the mosquitoes and the heat, being outside has been a no-go....so lots of Rec center open gym, mall play areas, and indoor play dates.  

What I'm Dreading

I have 5-6 trips coming up in the next 2 months, between out-of-town wedding showers, bachelorette parties, and work trips.  I'm not dreading the trips themselves - they'll be super fun! - but I'm exhausted just thinking about all of the packing and unpacking and laundry....and making sure the boys have groceries to survive!

What I'm Working On

I'm working on plans for my sister's bachelorette party next month!  I'm excited for a girls' day - an afternoon at the spa, a lingerie party at home, and a fun souffle restaurant for dinner!

What I'm Excited About

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Via

Aggie football starts soon!  While I can't pretend to be a football lover, I do love an excuse to wear maroon to work on Fridays and talk smack to my coworkers!

What I'm Watching/Reading

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We're watching Bachelor in Paradise, but we're always a week behind since we got rid of cable and have to watch it online.  It's such trash but we love the mindlessness of it!

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Since it's summer and the rest of TV is awful, we started watching Veep.  I hadn't heard much about this show other than seeing it constantly get nominated for Emmys.  It is hilarious, although probably slightly offensive and they use a lot of bad language!

What I'm Listening To

Fisher-Price Sunday School Sing-Along

When C's in the car, we have this Sunday School Sing-Along CD on repeat - he loves it!  When I'm alone, I'm a Top 40's girl.  Right now, "Cheap Thrills" is my jam!

What I'm Wearing



When I'm not at work, I'm still sporting my "summer mom uniform" = shorts + tank top + sandals.  I'm trying to get every last wear out of my white denim before Labor Day (as the rule follower I am!)

What I'm Doing This Weekend

We're celebrating Labor Day with our Sunday School class with a pool party at a friend's house!  I'm excited for Ryan's famous smoked meat and all the delicious appetizers, sides, and dessert that happen when this group gets together....not to mention all the cutie kids in the pool!

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month


I can't wait for my soon-to-be sister-in-law's bachelorette party in Horseshoe Bay! We're renting a huge house that has an amazing pool and is right on the lake = beautiful views!  It will be a super fun weekend of girl time!

What Else Is New

Not much!  Between work and my siblings' weddings (and related prep, showers, bachelorette parties, etc.), we have been busy!

Monday, August 29, 2016

2 Year Old Birthday Gift Ideas

I can't believe C is already 2!  We have spent every Saturday for the last month at one his friends' 2nd birthday parties, so I have been researching, buying, and wrapping lots of gifts!  Here are some ideas (for every budget!) of things we've given as gifts or that C received for his own 2nd birthday!






C LOVES playing in his sandbox in the backyard! This one had better reviews than the infamous turtle sandbox, both for having a good spot to sit (on the crab pinchers) and for the lid staying on tight (nothing worse than cat poop in the sandbox!)


Table and Chairs Set

Now that C constantly wants to draw/color, I feel like I am constantly putting him in and out of his high chair so he can reach the kitchen table.  My in-laws got him this little Kidcraft table and chair set, which is perfect because he can color whenever he wants!  I love that the white finish is wipeable and easy to clean, and isn't too "kid"-ish so it blends in well with our other furniture.


Melissa & Doug Easel

This is what we gave C for his 2nd birthday, along with some rolls of easel paper and some spill-proof paint cups.  This easel has a chalkboard on one side and a dry-erase board on the other side, with a spot in the middle to hold the roll of easel paper.  I love watching our little artist at work!



Apparently around age 2 is when kids really get into "pretend" play.  This is the gift that C gave most of his friends (boy and girl!) for their 2nd birthdays.  Who doesn't remember playing doctor when they were kids?!



This is another great, inexpensive gift for kiddos with a spring or summer birthday!  After way, WAY too many bottles of bubbles wasted when C wanted to "do it myself", I finally got smart and bought one of these things!  Genius! The bubbles do not spill, even when the bucket is tipped over, and C gets to feel a sense of independence about his bubble blowing.  Win win!


Soccer Ball

C is really into kicking balls, which usually means he's kicking the little basketball that came with his basketball goal.  I hope he gets a toddler-sized soccer ball for his birthday!



C is really into throwing and kicking balls lately; this T-ball set has been a blast, and will help with his hand-eye coordination.  


Daniel Tiger Book Set

My college roommate gave these to C for his 2nd birthday, and we basically have all 12 books memorized already - they are on non-stop rotation!  C LOVES Daniel Tiger, and I like that he gets his Daniel Tiger fix without resorting to watching TV :) He received 2 sets of 6 books; this set is shorter and better for a younger audience, and this set is longer and better for slightly older kids.


Sticker Books

C is finally to the age where he has the coordination and the patience to appreciate a good sticker book!  He received this ABC sticker book for his birthday and loves it!  The stickers are removable so in theory you can use it more than once!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

From the Kitchen: Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

These are one of my go-to meals for friends with new babies, particularly if they ask for 'healthy' meals or are gluten-free.  They can be delivered unbaked and will last in the fridge for a couple of days until they are ready to bake and eat them!


Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

Yield: 12 pepper halves (serves 6-10)


Ingredients:

6 bell peppers
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice, cooled (I use Trader Joe's frozen brown rice because I hate cooking rice!)
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies OR fire-roasted tomatoes
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 teaspoons garlic salt, divided


Directions:




Wash, remove stems, seeds, and membranes, and halve the bell peppers.   Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Boil the bell pepper halves in batches (I can fit 6 at a time) for 3 minutes, then remove with tongs and drain in a colander.

In a large nonstick skillet, brown the ground beef or turkey and the chopped onion.  When the meat is nearly cooked through, add the chili powder, cumin, and 1 teaspoon garlic salt.  Drain the grease, then set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, gently mix together the black beans, corn, brown rice (make sure it is cool!), diced or fire roasted tomatoes, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, and 1 teaspoon of garlic salt.  When the ground beef/turkey and onion is cool, add it to the bowl and mix it in.  

Spoon the filling into the bell pepper halves, mounding the tops.  Place the peppers in a greased Pyrex baking dish (I can fit 8 halves in a 9x13" Pyrex).  Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese on top of the peppers (if desired).  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the peppers are heated through.