Friday, September 26, 2014

Makeup for Busy People: Moms!

For those of us who like our beauty sleep before work in the morning or for those of us who have some industrious little offspring, perfecting a quick, simple makeup routine is important. Today I'm going to share with you a basic makeup regimen that will make you look well rested and put together. We're only using the very fewest products to make it as cheap and fast as possible! 



You will need:

  • a nude or white eyeliner safe for use in the waterline
  • a black or brown eyeliner
  • mascara
  • foundation or a tinted moisturizer, depending on the condition of your skin
  • a double duty concealer or separate concealer for the under eye area or skin

Before. Scary, sleep deprived and over run by an inordinate amount of freckles.

The most important part of your routine is starting with a decent, moisturizing skincare regimen. I'm not going to go into the details of my skincare regimen today, but know this: if you start with great skin, everything falls into place. If you're one of the normal people (i.e. not blessed with perfect, goddess-like glowing skin), you need to begin with a foundation or tinted moisturizer depending on the coverage you need. If you aren't using eyeshadow, I would start with skin first. You don't have to deal with fallout on the skin, or worry about having to clean up your application. We're going for simple, here! An excellent foundation to use is Revlon's colorstay makeup. It is a tried and true favorite that comes in many shades, lasts, and has buildable coverage. If you have great skin and just need a little bit of a boost, I suggest Laura Mercier's tinted moisturizer. This is on the pricier side, but it lasts long and I find it's quality unparalleled. It is a beauty blogger favorite!

  • Apply your foundation however you choose. I find that using a brush or a sponge wastes product. If I use my fingers (CLEAN FINGERS), the product warms and therefore blends with the skin easier. Experiment with your foundation of choice and find the coverage you need. Make sure you blend it into your neckline so it looks natural and there is no line of demarcation. Companies like Ulta will let you return the product after you open it-- that is license to try, try, try until you find a color that looks natural and is long lasting!

    After foundation and concealer. Under eye circles and skin discoloration diminished.
  • The next step is to apply any concealer you need to use. If you have a raised blemish, sometimes using a brush is better because it gets into the crevices around the blemish better. You may need to use several applications. I suggest buying an expensive, double duty concealer if you spend a lot of money on one product. I find that Makeup Forever's waterproof concealer is unparalleled. It is creamy, you need the smallest amount, and it doesn't budge. The makeup EXPIRES before I use all of it. That's over a year. Totally worth the money. Cover blemishes, and lightly dab on the under eye area and then blend to hide any dark spots. We aren't going to bother with blush, because it is an additional unnecessary step a lot of days. Also, if you're not good at applying it, you could easily end up looking like a clown.

  • Now comes the piece de resistance. THIS is will what will make you look wide awake! It will make your eyes look larger and more alert, and also tone down redness. Use your nude eyeliner, and line your lower waterline. You can find multiple makeup companies that have one of these including Tarte, Smashbox, NYX and Mac. This involves a lot of faith in yourself that you won't poke your eye. Gently pull down your lower eyelid and use the pencil to line your newly sharpened pencil. A nice pencil sharpener will evenly sharpen the pencil so no jabby wooden bits stab you. 


  • Next, I would only line the upper lash line (remember, we're short on time) with a silky, waterproof pencil. I prefer Revlon luxurious color eyeliner. Use a black color for a more stark look, or a brown one for something more natural. Press the pencil gently into the upper lash line if you can so that your eyelashes look thicker.

    After applying nude eyeliner. Looking less tired already!
  • Lastly, swipe on your mascara! A couple of coats will make your eyes look nice and wide. I have tried a LOT of mascara. Like every mascara in existence. This is not something that you have to spend buku bucks on to get a great product. Maybelline Full & Soft Thick & Healthy mascara provides amazing, non clumpy, buildable length. Additionally, the product isn't waterproof BUT I use it throughout a half hour, sweaty workout every day and it does not run. And I have lovely, soft eyelashes, too!

    Finally looking put together! No redness in the inner rim where the nude color was applied. Eyes look much clearer and awake!

     So there you have it! This is the least bit of makeup I would put on if I had a social gathering, or a workday. If you do this, you will look put together with very minimal makeup. As you get better at application, you will be able to do this in fifteen minutes or maybe even less. I would typically also include some eyebrow grooming and filling, but again we're going for quick and easy. I hope this is helpful for busy moms, and people looking for tried and true products so they don't waste money. Good luck!

Huge difference. Skin looks clearer and healthier, eyes look more alert and clear.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday - Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Things I love: Peanut butter, bananas, carbohydrates, chocolate, dessert. This recipe has them all. I've had a copy of this recipe for so long, I don't even know where it came from - but at this point I have it memorized. I mean, I kind of have to have it memorized since I have made this bread, oh, maybe 30 times? Andy doesn't eat it (his loss) so I get it allllll to myself! I'll warm up a slice and have it with a cup of milk for breakfast and/or (usually and) for dessert! It's the only time I willingly drink a cup of plain milk.

Jen recently asked me for a banana bread recipe and she sure did ask the right person. I must have given her 10 different choices in a matter of 2 minutes via text, facebook and Pinterest but she ultimately chose this one and look how beautiful her banana bread turned out!


Pin it! And follow Oh.em.gee it's Nikkie on Pinterest

I introduce to you the ultimate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium) --- make sure these are very ripe, with brown spots on them!
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 3 Tbs vegetable oil 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, divided

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Grease a bread pan with a small amount of olive or vegetable oil or nonstick spray. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder in salt in a medium bowl. Combine using a hand mixer: bananas, milk, peanut butter, oil, and egg in a small bowl. Add this mixture to dry ingredients and still until just moistened.

2. Stir in most of the chocolate chips. Pour batter into bread pan and top with the remaining chocolate chips... you can also add chopped nuts if you want to be extra fancy!

3. Bake for 60 minutes. Allow to cool somewhat before you dig in because those melted chocolate chips will burn holes in your tongue if you don't! Serve slightly warm with a large glass of milk. Enjoy!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Homemade Baby Food 101: An Overview



Follow Oh.em.gee it's Nikkie on Facebook so you don't miss part 2!

Making your own baby food is so easy and so cost-effective. Especially if you have 2 little tiny mouths to feed. I knew from day 1 that I would be making my own baby food, since I love to cook, I love to be in control and I love food. You pretty much can't go wrong with your own baby food - you don't have to worry about product recalls because of bits of glass in the baby food (Gerber), pouches of fruits/veggies slick with moldy slime (Target brand pouches) or added salts, sugars, preservatives, cross contamination... the list literally goes on and on and on and on and on.

Below is a list of foods that I have or will be making at home as single foods and then combining to make delicious and nutritious meals for the babes. They already have expansive palettes and they have yet to turn up their noses or purposely spit out any type of food. I like to think that this open-mindedness toward food will continue into their toddler and elementary school years. I do not want to cook only macaroni and cheese and dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets for years to come... looking at you, Andy, looking at you.

I LOVE Wholesome Baby Food (click here to visit!) for all things baby food. It has all topics - when to start, what to start, how much, how to cook, how to store... it's a great nutrition guide. Also, for you foodies out there, this website - Baby Foodie - has AMAZING recipes with pictures that may or may not have actually made me drool. Over baby food. Yep, that website is amazing.

If this doesn't make you want to make your own baby food, I don't know what will. Photo from Babyfoode.com


Here are some foods broken down by approximate times that you would introduce them to your baby...

Starter foods:

Avocado, Banana, Sweet Potato, Peas, Carrot, Applesauce, Pear, Butternut Squash, Pumpkin, Green Beans, Oatmeal, Brown Rice

We started these foods between 4-6 months. At first I introduced each food separately. After they had a few foods checked off the list, I started to combine them to make mini-meals. Now I start each meal with a base of oatmeal or rice and add cubes of additional foods. The oatmeal and rice help to stretch the foods as these little guys will eat, eat, eat!

Recipes we love: 
Tyler Florence's Roasted Banana and Brown Rice,
Frugal Edmonton Mama's Crockpot Applesauce 
And Then There Were 5's "Apple Pie" 
Blueberry and spinach puree was a hit!

Secondary foods:

Spinach, Blueberries, Mango, Beans, Peaches, Kale, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Nectarines, Plums, Papaya, Beets

I've made a fair number of these foods into purees already and some I am still getting around to. I waited until 5+ months to try some of these foods due to strong flavors (spinach), cost (blueberries... those things are expensive even when they are in season! I recommend going with frozen ones), and textures (cantaloupe - thin, watery.) I also combine cubes of these foods with anything else that they have already eaten. Just today the boys chowed down on oatmeal, blueberry and spinach puree - and loved it!

 Recipes we love:
Frugal Edmonton Mama's Crockpot Blueberries, Apple and Pears
Homekeeter's Pouch-Friendly Raspberry Applesauce with Beets and Greens
Redomestication's Sweet Potato, Apple and Corn Puree

Food time is fun time!
Transitional foods:

Potato, Chicken, Ham, Turkey, Pineapple, Strawberry, Cauliflower, Broccoli

These foods I plan to hold off on until the boys are 6+ months, maybe a little longer. Broccoli and cauliflower have the tendency to cause gas - and lots of it! Potato is lacking in a lot of vitamins and nutrients; I will always prefer sweet potato, anyway! Pineapple is acidic. Strawberry is high on the list of potential allergenic foods and meats are generally recommended for older babies. I can't wait to start making these foods - but by then, we will almost be out of the puree stage, which is sad. Why do they have to grow up so quickly???

 Recipes we love:
Frugal Edmonton Mama's Crockpot Chicken and Butternut Squash
Camille Styles' Tropical Advocado Pudding
Once a Month Meals - Chicken, Pea, and Quinoa

As far as actually making the baby food goes - use your imagination! Most people will have the tools that they need at home already - stove/microwave, steamer, blender/food processor/Ninja, etc. Just make sure to keep everything clean, cook all food thoroughly (except avocado and banana), and to freeze or store in a timely manner. Have fun!

Friday, September 19, 2014

"An odd couple separated by a decade and brought together by chance..." Guest Blogger Kara


We are Kara & Jared, an odd couple separated by a decade and brought together by chance. We met at college almost five years ago, have lived together two years, and anticipate a future full of adventure. Jared is a graphic designer and builder extraordinaire, while I work in Parks & Recreation. Together we raise two dogs, three chickens, and forty-three houseplants. Despite obstacles, we make our relationship work by learning from what doesn’t work and loving each other through trial and error. Below you will find three tips that have helped us become a healthy, happy, unstoppable couple.

1. Compromising won’t solve all your problems.

Compromise can be a beautiful thing… sometimes. It allows couples to come to an agreement, but the issues which caused the disagreement are often overlooked. We have learned that if we are always compromising, neither of us really gets what they want. Our alternative? Jared and I decided to practice saying “yes” to each others’ needs and requests as much as possible. When your partner is satisfied, you are likely to feel more content, too. So the next time he’s had a long day and asks, “Can you rub my back?” I say yes even though I’m busy doing ten other things. After all, happy partners sustain healthy relationships.

2. Make the distinction that you are partners, not conjoined twins.
Don’t get me wrong, we love spending time together - camping, cooking, gardening, bring it on! We make a great team. Be that as it may, Jared and I don’t need (or want!) to be with each other every waking moment. It is important to take time for ourselves. Jared needs to escape to the woods with the guys as much as I need to attend wine festivals with my girls. Likewise, we appreciate when our friends and their partners can take a break from each other, too. Coming to the realization that you don’t need to do everything together will improve your relationship and your friendships. Keep in mind that there are things you absolutely should do together. For us, these include: spending time with each others’ families, accomplishing domestic chores, and brainstorming to solve problems.

3. Learn from what doesn’t work in your relationship.
As a couple, you will eventually find some aspect of your relationship that just doesn’t jibe. First things first, do not expect your relationship, or your partner, to be perfect. You have to learn to deal with your differences. Routine doesn’t work for Jared – he gets bored. Confrontation doesn’t work for me – I get defensive. The list goes on… So what do you do? This is when verbal communication is crucial. Discuss what isn’t working, but be careful not to play the blame game. Once you understand the problem, devise several solutions and try every single one of them. Do not be afraid of trial and error. Part of being together is working with your partner, and making mistakes, to achieve the best possible outcome.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Love means always remembering to say you're sorry..." - Guest Blogger Ashlee




My husband and I have been together almost seven happy years. Our first wedding anniversary is coming on the 21st, and I thought it would be great to write an article about lasting relationships. Now, I know for those who have been wedded for many years, and have known their spouses longer this might seem like a pretty miniscule amount of time. Of course we've had arguments—big ones! We're two sentient beings who have our own ideas about how we meander throughout this world. We choose to do it side by side, and we're obviously going to disagree sometimes about what path to take, but that doesn't mean we don't love each other. Maybe this will serve as a great reminder for those older couples about what make things exciting, and what makes things last. Maybe this will be great for younger couples trying to really make things work. Maybe this will also come across as utter mushy nonsense, but that's totally okay. That being said, here is my advice.

Love means always remembering to say you're sorry: All of that never saying sorry stuff is nonsense. After an argument, you have to reconcile. You have to express remorse, and you must mean it when you do, or there really is no point in apologizing. Everyone says things they don't mean when they argue. Maybe your partner was correct, but you have to apologize for causing distress in your relationship and mean it. Try to never go to bed angry.

Always say I love you: I don't think a day has gone past which I my husband and I haven't said I love you. Saying it often doesn't lessen the gravity of those words if you are sincere. Even when my husband and I are arguing, or his habits are irritating me, I am still saying I love you with each and every word. That's why these scenarios happen:

Jon, please stop leaving chunks of food debris in the bottom of the sink. It's disgusting.”
I love you too, sweetie.”
...And then I shoot some sort of disproving but affectionate glare. Affectionate glares happen in long term relationships. Watch a married couple long enough—It's a thing, not an oxymoron.

Sex: Without going into detail, I would just like to say that you should keep having it. It alleviates stress, it's great exercise and it releases all sorts of happy bonding hormones like oxytocin.

Compromise: Never compromise any of your basic principles—if you have to bend those, maybe you need to think long and hard about your relationship. However, know when to compromise about things that are petty in the long run like weekend plans and time spent with the in laws.

Always keep supporting and challenging each other. Always remain ambitious: Whether it's going to law school, some sort of short term health goal, or shooting for a promotion, you need to express support for your spouse. Even if that expression of support is unsolicited, sometimes people don't just come out and ask for it. I know my husband doesn't, but he loves to hear it. Everyone needs it, especially when they are making Especially when he has that vaguely worried, furrowed brow expression going on. Be attentive.

Keep switching things up. Do things that are unexpected and thoughtful: Experiencing anything new together creates lasting, fond memories. Do something new! It doesn't have to be a major adventure. My husband and I love to go biking and hiking together. Sharing that sense of discovery and wonderment together is fantastic. Also, surprising your spouse with something small, like something you knew they were pining after, or even your spouse's favorite beverage after you run into the gas station lets them know you were thinking about them and that you listened to their needs and wants. It doesn't have to be material, either. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and it doesn't go unnoticed.

Honesty: I think this is probably the most important thing. If you are not honest to your spouse, who are you? You're someone else. I believe your marriage must be built on a foundation of honesty. If you're not honest, you're presenting your spouse with a facade. How can you make major life decisions together without being honest? You must bare your soul. If you can't do that, I don't think you can be in a happy relationship.

Those are what I believe to be the most important parts of a happy, lasting relationship. Please feel free to share your input, and tell you how I feel about what I've shared myself.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Relationships are like cats. That's right, cats." Guest Blogger Jen

Photo Credit: Trinity King Photography
Oh, relationships. Where do I begin? Let's just say they are like cats. That's right, cats. Well, let's just think about that for a second. Cats need to have their basic needs met, of course, but they also need nurturing and love. Relationships are the same. You can't just strive to keep them alive; you want them to thrive to get the most out of them. More often than not I think people get lazy and just cover the basics of a relationship. As a couple, it's important to focus on making and maintaining a thriving relationship, not just a basic one. Here are a few of the things that I think are important aspects of a thriving relationship...


Numero uno: spend time together. Not just doing things like watching TV or boring normal stuff, (which also has its place) but get out and do different things together. It's okay if you don't end up liking everything you try, just go try something different. Sometimes it's nice to be in different situations as a couple. You learn new things about each other, and sometimes laugh at each other and yourselves. Get out of your comfort zones and do stuff and go places together. Doing things like this breaks up the monotony of everyday life, which is SO important when you're married! 


Another important, but often overlooked, thing to do together is errands and housework. Those annoying things you have to do  - but no one wants to! I think too many women do these alone (example: grocery shopping.) I will not grocery shop by myself! That standard was required from the beginning of our relationship. We actually enjoy being able to pick out our own things and discuss our day and what we want to eat for the next week. It's funny... I have had women actually come up to me and ask me how I get him to go grocery shopping with me. They don't understand it's not optional. They made it optional in their relationships. 


All of that grocery shopping talk brings up another point: cooking! If you like cooking, go for it! But I don't...we don't. So what do you do? Cook together! It's not fair to expect one person to do something that neither of you enjoy. One person doing something for years that they hate will not end up benefiting anyone. Of course, sometimes it's just one of those fend-for-yourself nights though! 


What happens in many relationships is bitterness. People do things themselves instead of asking for help or asking their significant other to do things. It doesn't happen right away, but eventually those people feel alone and, quite frankly, angry with their significant other. Does that have to happen? No. Maybe I'm bossy and I make my husband do things but isn't that better than holding things against him? After all, if they don't know you are mad at them, it isn't fair! That kind of bitterness will affect the whole dynamic of your relationship. Don't do it to yourselves! 


Probably the last couple of things I would think worthy of mentioning is spending time together physically and spending time with family and friends. By physically I'm not talking about R-rated necessarily. Either way, here's the thing: I'm not a cuddly person. I don't need that kind of thing usually. But just because you don't need love like that, doesn't mean your husband or wife doesn't. Everyone gives and receives love in different ways, it's important to know the person you are with and make it work. 


As for family and friends - you need to make time for them. Not always for you, but for your partner. Spending time with your husband or wife's family and friends is not always convenient. But, more likely than not, it's important to them! Sometimes it's good to have other people in the mix to change things up. And lets face it - some things are better in groups. Some couples cut off ties to the outside world. Truth is, it doesn't benefit anyone. Last but not least, spend time apart - do your own things once in awhile. You don't have to spend every waking moment together! Sometimes it will prevent fights! Spend time with your own friends or family. You don't have to be a pair all the time... you are still individuals. 


Well, I guess that concludes my rant. These things have all been concluded from my experiences with the same guy I have known for 11 years, befriended for 8, dated for over 4, and married for two. I have learned from mistakes on both sides, experience, and of course, owning cats.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Every girl loves to be told they're beautiful - and I'm no exception." Guest Blogger Jenn

It is sooo weird writing an article about relationships considering I’ve only been in two relationships my entire life—seriously, two. Even though I don’t have a lot of experience with relationships, my current one has taught me so much. I’ve been with Matt for the past two and a half years and we’re getting married this December—I couldn’t be more excited! Over the past couple years, Matt and I have grown to understand one another better and we have learned how to communicate our love in ways that will be best received by the other person. So here are just a few of the things that we have found work in our relationship...




We put effort into understanding and responding to each others’ emotions

I’ll be the first to admit it: I am high-maintenance when it comes to my emotional needs. Matt has to put up with a lot from me, and sometimes I even feel bad for him. It can be impossible to know how to respond. Run away and stay hidden? Head to the store for flowers and Twizzlers? Smother with attention? Matt has put a lot of effort into understanding my emotional needs and learning how to respond in ways that will diffuse my bad mood (it’s usually flowers and Twizzlers). I’ve tried to do the same when it comes to him—although he’s nowhere near as emotionally needy as me. I’ve found that he likes having someone listen to him vent about work for a while and then wants nothing more than relaxation and a back scratch, and when it comes to his cooking-gone-bad it is best to let him steam for a little bit without commenting on it. Eventually, when dinner turns out delicious, his mood will turn around. Putting effort into understanding and learning how to respond to each others’ emotions shows we legitimately care about one another’s happiness.

We do small things for one another that mean a lot

Although others wouldn’t consider waking up to a chilled coffee meaningful, I love that Matt thinks about me every morning and takes the time to put a coffee in the fridge so I can make an iced coffee when I get up. He also surprises me by throwing pineapple in the freezer and bringing home my favorite dried fruit and yogurt mix from the store (this article makes it seem like my life revolves around food...) He keeps a running list of anything I mention wanting and surprises me on special occasions with gifts I don’t even remember mentioning but absolutely love. He takes care of our dog Checkers on mornings when he is up first and helps with things around the house when I’m overextended and overwhelmed. Basically, he’s amazing to me and all of these small acts make me feel loved. I also do small gestures that he finds meaningful, like packing him lunches for work, giving him back scratches (I already mentioned this, the man goes nuts for back scratches), and making him his favorite desserts. Sometimes actions speak louder than words!

We compliment, encourage, and generally make one another feel good

Believe it or not, girls can be really critical of themselves—I can be pretty rough on myself at times. And even though I’ll get uncomfortable and tell Matt to stop anytime he holds eye contact and gives me a sincere compliment, it means a lot deep down. Every girl loves to be told they’re beautiful and smart and funny, and I’m no exception. And you know what else? Guys love to be complimented too! Matt is all smiles when I call him handsome or compliment his cooking skills. It’s so simple to think of something great about the person you love and compliment them on it and it can have such a big impact. We also encourage one another to achieve our goals—Matt supports me in my schoolwork and  I encourage Matt to go for that promotion at work.

We say thank you and show our appreciation

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get angry when my fiancĂ© doesn’t acknowledge the things I do for him—like, really angry. I know that the things I do for him should be out of love and not for recognition, but that doesn’t mean I want my hard work or effort to go unnoticed. Everyone likes feeling appreciated! A simple thank you can go a long way. I do my best to thank Matt for everything he does for me, even the little things like paying for Starbucks. I know that doing these things is just another way to show love. Showing appreciation, even just by saying thank you, can mean the world. And I’m not talking about doing something out of a feeling of obligation here—that just leads to resentment which is not grounds for a good relationship. The things we do for one another are done out of love, not obligation, and that makes them meaningful.

So there you have it—those are the things that we have found work in our relationship. Give them a shot and you might find that they work for you too!

Monday, September 15, 2014

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing... But Here's Some Relationship Advice!

The next few posts are going to be a series on relationships. What works, what doesn't. From multiple perspectives, not just mine! Hope you enjoy these love stories - here's what works for me and Andy. <3

Don't forget to follow Oh.em.gee it's Nikkie on Facebook so you don't miss any of the awesome guest bloggers in this series!

I have no idea what I'm doing... but here's some relationship advice!

Andy and I have been together for almost 11 years already. ALREADY! It doesn't seem possible that 11 years have gone by so quickly. Who knew when we started "dating" and being seat buddies on the school bus back in Freshman year of high school that 11 years later we would be married with two kids. Huh. That one's a thinker.

I'm not going to tell you how I'm an expert in relationships - after all, this is the only one I've ever been in! But I can give you some tips on what has worked for us over the years to help us fall in love, stay in love, and find that zone where you are just completely comfortable with each other and have reached best-friends-with-benefits-but-we're-married status. It's a thing, I promise.

1. Be a normal person. This encompasses a lot of things, but for me, primarily means to be a low-maintenance, easy-going, enjoyable person to be around. All too often when I hear of someone I knew in high-school breaking up, or at our ages, getting a divorce, I think to myself (or sometimes when my mouth-filter is off, talk out loud) "well no kidding, she's a crazy person!" or "Duh, he's a weirdo." If people can tell you're a crazy person from outside of your relationship, imagine how much crazy there is within your relationship. Some people are more easy-going and low-maintenance than others... but seriously, reign in your crazy!

Andy has only called me out on my crazy a few times and I think every.single.one of them was when I was throwing a full-blown adult temper tantrum in regards to food. Usually dessert. Life lesson: Always keep a secret stash of dessert somewhere in your house for your hangry wife.

2. Take time to be with each other. You don't always have to be with other people, whether that's friends or family. Andy and I used to be semi-social people and had to be doing something almost constantly on the weekends or we would be bored. Now that we have kids, our free time on the weekends is precious to us. Sure, we love seeing friends and family, but it's not our top priority anymore. Our nuclear family is each other and the boys. Everyone else comes second. We will never get these times back as a family and the babies are growing up so quickly already! Cherish your family time, whatever you're doing (even if it's nothing!) and don't let anyone make you feel bad about it. Ever!


3. Figure out how you show love. We had to do 3 short marriage counseling meetings in the months leading up to our marriage. It wasn't your typical Biblical marriage counseling, which was great because we are not religious people. It was all about love and relationships. One of the things that sticks out the most was a homework assignment that made us think about how we show love. We discovered that Andy shows love physically, and still does. Hugs, kisses, the physical act of saying "I love you" is very important to him. It's not so much to me. I'm a giver and a do-er. I show love through actions, doing things for Andy, being a perfect housewife, and making him food. Yes, all of those lunches I make him and having dinner ready each night is how I show love. And he loves that I show love that way because it keeps him full and healthy - and we live in a pretty clean house!

Once again, I'm not a relationship expert  - but I feel like I know what I'm doing enough to give you some tips. You probably shouldn't take any advice from me on which bar to go to in order to meet your third husband or how to set up the perfect online dating profile, though. I'd be utterly useless on those topics. What works for you in your relationship? Want to write a guest blog post for Oh.em.gee it's Nikkie? Send it my way and we'll see what we can do!

Friday, September 12, 2014

12-ish Minutes to a Clean House



I know what you're thinking. "How do you clean a house in 12 (ish) minutes?" This is not for your yearly spring cleaning type cleaning. It's more of a maintenance type cleaning. I only have so much time during a nap to relax so I do most of my cleaning in 15 minutes or less when the boys are awake and enjoying playtime in their Exersaucers or play pen. 15 minutes is about my max before someone starts to have a meltdown. Plus, they're babies. I want to spend time with my babies - not clean my house all day, every day!

So how does the 12-ish minutes to a clean house work? You download Pandora on your phone. Set it to an awesome and motivating station (I have mine shuffling between Rick Springfield, Glee, and Summer Hits of the 90's, if you must know!) and pick 4 rooms in your house. Each room gets one song (usually about 3-4 minutes) and then you're done. 12-16 minutes on average of cleaning and your house looks spiffy!

Today I chose to "clean" the kitchen, laundry/cat room, my and Andy's bathroom and the boys' room. Here's what I can accomplish during my 4 song cleaning spree...

Kitchen:
  • Collect all dirty dishes in the sink
  • Wipe down counter tops
  • Swap out dish clothes
  • Pile shoes in a corner
  • Soak bottles in the sink
  • Put away a dishwasher load of clean dishes

Laundry room/cat room:
  • Clean out both litterboxes
  • Sweep floor
  • Clean out and refill water dishes

Bathroom:
  • Clean off counter tops/toss stuff in drawers or trash
  • Empty trash can 
  • Pick up clothing off the floor - put away or toss in laundry
  • Restock my shower with fresh goodies

Boys' room:
  • Empty trash can
  • Restock diapers and wipes
  • Toss clothes into drawer or laundry 
  • Pick up ALL THE TOYS
  • Change out bed sheets 

And that's it. Seriously, everybody's got time for this! It's 12-ish minutes - you have no excuse to not do this every day. I can't even come up with an excuse and I've got quite a busy at-home life between taking care of the boys, cooking, blogging, doing continuing education classes, enjoying life as a part-time stay at home mom...

What can you do in a 12 minute mad-dash cleaning session???

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday - Sausage, Egg and Biscuits Casserole


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I remember the first time Andy said "God, I love you" to me. Well, it wasn't actually the first time - but it was definitely the most sincere time. It was just after I had told him that our meal plan for the week was "breakfast for dinner" themed and then told him the 3 recipes I was planning on trying. I apparently made his entire week - with just a few key words... breakfast. for. dinner. We have been married for 5 years and I have never once done this theme because I generally don't like breakfast. But I finally found enough recipes that I thought I may tolerate to give it a try and it's soooo worth it.

Our weekly grocery shopping trip was actually less expensive this week because, who knew, breakfast ingredients are less expensive! We purchased 18 eggs for about $3 and eggs happened to be the main focus in most of the recipes. Cheap food, happy husband - WINNING! Sorry for that reference, I had to.

Here is the first of the breakfast for dinner recipes I tried. It's a Sausage, Egg and Biscuits Casserole - I didn't and wouldn't change a thing. That's probably the only time you'll ever hear me say that - so bookmark it!

Sausage, Egg and Biscuits Casserole - found on MyRecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 package refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • 1 lb Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage (we used pork)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper 

That's it. I didn't say it was healthy, though.

Instructions:

1. Tear the biscuits into pieces and spread over the bottom of an 8x8 greased casserole dish. Brown sausage and spread evenly over top of the biscuits. Beat eggs with the milk, salt and pepper and pour over the sausage. Cover with the shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.

2. Bake at 425 for about 30-35 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes to let the casserole firm up.

3. Enjoy the love, praise and affection that your husband will shower you with because you are now his favorite person in the world, if you weren't already.



Monday, September 8, 2014

Life with Twins at 5 1/2 Months


They see us rollin'... they hatin'...

The boys are 5 1/2 months already and they are getting more and more awesome each day. They are so interactive and you can tell they are putting things together in their heads and learning something new each day. They are also hilarious, and as you can probably assume, they got that from their mother. Where we used to have an equal number of bad-pull-my-hair-out-please-let-me-leave-the-house-and-hit-up-Starbucks days as good days, we now have more good than bad. I know what the boys want and need and they have become more patient with me. I think. I've got this caring for two babies at once thing down pat at this point!

They're almost on the move, so they have to be supervised even more closely than before. Andy and I purchased this play yard from Amazon.com to set up in our living room as a baby prison. A brightly colored baby prison. As a mom of two boys, I fully expect to be in the ER for broken bones and sutures at some point in their childhood but we are still baby-proofing to a certain extent. You can only do so much before the kids grow up thinking that they live in a padded room and can do no bodily harm to themselves. We decided to cover the basics - outlet covers, lower cabinet locks, a safe place to play... after all, they are almost mobile now!

Here's a list of things that we have been working on over the past few weeks:

  • Rolling both directions - they've pretty much mastered this one!
  • Scooting around on the floor
  • Sitting up
  • Grasping rattles and toys
  • Eating 2 meals a day
  • Leg muscles! In the Exersaucer, with support from me, etc
  • Holding their own bottles
  • Putting ALL THE THINGS in their mouths
  • Learning Ka-ra-tay (Karate) ... a.k.a rough-housing with my little guys 




Some things that we have moved on from in the last few weeks, because they are adult babies now:
  • Sleeping in their swings all the time - moving on to crib naps
  • Needing to fall asleep with pacifiers in their mouths - that's for babies!
  • 1 meal a day feeding - these guys are hungry and LOVE food (just like their momma!)
  • Meeting Mondays - They now have meetings and hang out together all day, everyday. Lucky me.

I think at this point, twins are no harder than a singleton baby (insert an angry mob of twin mommas smiting me for that comment) because they can play and occupy each other. I don't feel bad leaving them to hang out while I get stuff done around the house. It would be awkward to leave a singleton baby by himself while I do housework. Awkward and lonely for the poor fella. We've cut down on feeding times because during the day I now prop them up and feed them at the same time, since they have great control of those little heads of theirs.

Ahhh... the little things! Having a hand free to do other things during feeding time!


As they get older, I'm realizing how blessed I am to have 2 boys. I love to rough house with these guys and they love that I love to rough house with them.  I feel like you just don't do that with dainty little girl babies. But what do I know? Can't wait to see what the next weeks hold - soon I'll have to consider if we are throwing a 1st birthday party for them or not, holy smokes!



Friday, September 5, 2014

Meal Planning Basics - Mexican Week!


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Meal planning: this is oh.so.important! Meal planning keeps me somewhat sane during the week and keeps me from wondering "What's for dinner? Lunch? Do we even have any food?" daily! On Sundays, I sit down and plan out a full week's worth of meals and make a comprehensive grocery list. I say comprehensive because I CANNOT forget anything. There is no such thing as a quick trip to the store for that forgotten item anymore... not with twin babies.

Does it sound overwhelming? It's not. It's actually really easy!

What if you're not hungry when you sit down to meal plan? Pinterest can fix that in about 3 seconds. I keep a running tab of recipes I've tried and like on this board on Pinterest so I can always refer to those if I am stuck in a rut in addition to those recipes that you just know - like the spaghetti and meatballs, grilled cheese, and chicken noodle soup-type recipes that everyone has stored in their brains somewhere. You know the ones. 

Meal planning has saved me time, money, frustration... you name it! It's totally worth taking the time each Sunday to plan, grocery shop, and prepare meals for the week.

Here are some meal planning life-simplifying tips:

1. Keep a running tab of recipes that you can refer back to so that you are not constantly having to think of recipes. I utilize Pinterest for this, but you could go old-school and keep a notebook or folder, too!

2. Pick a theme for the week. Whatever it is, make sure that the ingredients overlap a bit so food is not going to waste and you don't have to do a full grocery shopping trip every week! A little variation in themed recipes can go a long way. Need themes?

  • Mexican
  • Italian
  • Chinese
  • Thai
  • Salads
  • Breakfast for Dinner
  • Vegetarian
  • Americana

There's 2 months worth of themed week ideas for you right there... You're welcome.

3. Pick foods that re-heat well. This is especially important for any lunches that you will be making ahead of time. Soups, pasta dishes, crock pot meals, casseroles, etc. all re-heat well! If it won't stay good in the fridge, find a way to freeze it. Almost anything can and should be frozen.

4. Don't forget dessert. I am so guilty of this one. I never remember to make a dessert on Sunday and then I get hangry for dessert. You don't want to meet me when I'm hangry... I closely resemble someone in a Snickers commercial. Which makes for one. grouchy. mama. Seriously, don't forget it!


5. Plan to have meals with recipes that call for fresh foods earlier in the week. So this means if you have the choice between scheduling a taco salad, tacos, or a crock pot burrito bowl recipe for Monday - go for the taco salad first! Ain't nobody got time fo' limp salad or not so crisp veggies due to poor meal planning!

Once you have a list of recipes that you want to make for the week, WRITE IT OUT. Your husband will stop asking you what you're planning for dinner.Your husband may even call you out on it when you want to get take out or have leftovers for dinner because "WEREN'T WE SUPPOSED TO HAVE PIZZA POPPERS???"


Stuck in a recipe rut? Here is a sample meal plan from this past week with links to the recipes (Again, you can thank me later!)
 
 Mexican Themed Week - all of these recipes have been test-tasted and approved by me... and Andy!

These recipes all call for the same handful of ingredients but they can be used in so many different ways, you won't even feel like you're eating the same thing all week! All of these recipes also make great leftovers - I live off of leftovers for lunches, so I would know. 

A simple piece of paper works for my purposes of keeping track of what we're eating, but there are tons of meal planning print-ables on Pinterest! Maybe one day I will get crafty and make a bulletin board or something... ha. Me? Crafty? Nope. Nope nope nope.

What go-to recipes do you use? What are some meal planning tips that you use for your family? I'm interested to hear what works for you - and what doesn't!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Perfect Fall Cookie

The Perfect Fall Cookie by guest blogger Ashlee

You know how my last blog entry talked about healthy eating? Well, today I am sharing a deliciously sweet, completely-bad-for-you baking recipe because when I bake, I do it with the intention of fattening up my family and friends. Enjoy!

So, my recipe for the perfect fall cookie happened completely by accident. I Googled THREE separate recipes and accidentally spliced them all. I'm not sure how I accomplished that. However, I am so glad I did! I had coworkers grabbing these and bringing them home to share with family members! They begged me to bring more the next day, and I happily obliged. 

Be prepared for these to disappear immediately!

Here is what you will need:

Cookie Batter:
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin spice
  • 1/8 teaspoons salt

Frosting:
  • ½ cup butter, melted (Melt only when you're ready to make frosting)
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Cream shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin. Separately, combine baking powder, baking soda, and pumpkin spice. Slowly add in the dry blend. A stand mixer really helps here! I love my Kitchenaid. Seriously.

3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfulls onto an ungreased baking sheet about an inch apart. They do not expand much, so don't be afraid to make them a little bit close. Bake 13-15 minutes. It might take a batch or two to get right, but pull them out of the oven just as the tops are getting solid and any peaks on the batter are starting to brown slightly. They will continue to bake into the most perfect, soft cookie after you put them on he cooling rack. The bottoms of the cookies will be nice and brown. I found that 13 minutes was the perfect amount of time!

4. For frosting, combine confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla, and just enough water to achieve a frosting consistency as you mix the other ingredients. Ice cookies only after they have cooled enough on the racks, about five minutes.You can frost the cookies in a much prettier fashion, but it is harder to portion out the icing and you need every bit of it to frost all of the cookies this recipe makes! They taste the same, even in their more... Ahem... Rustic formation. Voila! Now stuff your family and friends with these goodies :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What I Ate Wednesday - Homemade Granola BALLS

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Thought I said granola bars, right? Nope. Granola balls. I think they're better, personally. They're more moist than the bars and super peanut-buttery and delicious.

I read a recipe for these from Baked in Arizona and, of course, I had to alter it and make it my own. I now make these and/or homemade granola bars every week for Andy to take to work and me to snack on. They're good enough that I'm considering making a TON, freezing them, and giving them out as Christmas presents! Who wouldn't love a homemade snack?

You can do whatever variety you want, but I usually make peanut butter chocolate chip. Doesn't get much less original than that, sorry. But I promise you won't be disappointed by them!

The main changes I made from the original recipe are to eliminate the ground flaxseed (I don't even know what it is, to be quite honest!) and to use less honey because that stuff is expensive!

Homemade Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola BALLS (Makes about 18)


So easy, a caveman could do it. Did I just date myself?

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup crispy rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup light maple syrup
  • A heavy drizzle (maybe 1/8 cup?) honey
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 tbs coconut oil

Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. WASH YOUR HANDS. Mix all ingredients by hand until thoroughly combined. Roll into golf-ball sized balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Wrap in saran wrap, store in air-tight container or stuff them all in your face immediately. 

Eat responsibly.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Holiday Season! What's on My Babies' Christmas Lists?



It's that time of year again when we have to start putting together Christmas lists and contemplate the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Or if you're like my Grandmother, you need to get started on NEXT year's shopping. Already. I'm not kidding. I'm not even slightly exaggerating.

I decided to put together a "Wish List" on Amazon.com for each of the boys to help make shopping a little easier, hopefully. I'm a person who does not like a lot of clutter, extras, or superfluous items in my house. I definitely don't want holiday-Christmas-toy-clutter time two in my house! I tried to mix a variety of necessities with some fun things, since everyone likes to buy fun things! One awesome thing about the Amazon.com wish lists is that you can add items from any website - think Target, Etsy - anywhere! - and it's all in one place and easy for gift-givers to link to and find the items.

So how did I chose what to put on their lists? Andy and I decided to start a tradition of the 4-Gift Christmas. Maybe 5 - we haven't completely decided but the peanut gallery, Andy, wants to add a 5th category. What is the 4-Gift Christmas? Something you want, something you need - something you'll wear and something you'll read. 4 gifts - 1 from each of the categories. Sounds like it will make Christmas shopping and list-making easier without completely over-doing it! I know you're curious as to what the 5th category would be. Something you eat. Yes, Andy wants there to be food - unhealthy, disgusting food - think beef jerky. We'll see.


What's on my babies' Christmas lists?

1. Diapers and wipes. These are necessities! They are used by babies but appreciated by Mom and Dad. We personally like the fit and price of the Target brand diapers for day-time usage and then the Pampers baby dry nighttime diapers (those things are ah-maz-ing!) Wipes, meh, no brand preference for us!



2. Melissa and Doug wooden toy collections. I have never been a fan of the plastic-y, electronic-y, battery sucking toys that are on the shelves today. When I came across this brand, I fell in love. Instantly. Wooden toys that are durable, stimulating, and grow with your babies? Yes, please! I think I may have added their entire collection to the boys' wish lists. My bad.

 

3. Wubbanubs. Yup, still obsessed. We currently only have 1 Wubbanub per baby. I cringe on the days that I have to wash them and then let them AIR DRY. We're talking several hours sans-binkie! It takes careful timing and expediting the laundry to successfully pull off a several hour long binkie-heist. So I added additional Wubbanubs to their lists. Problem solved. Or maybe it will be around Christmas-time?



4. Teethers. They will be 9 months old come Christmas which is prime teething season! They have some adorable ones I found in-store at Target and then linked to their Amazon wish lists.



5. Feeding supplies. Grip-able bowls, plastic plates, baby silverware, sippy cups. I found these awesome mesh feeders at Target that are good for baby-led weaning style feeding, which I am all about. By then the boys should be able to have quite a variety of adult foods, not just purees! And of course - bibs! I have figured out over the last few weeks that you literally cannot have.enough.bibs!




What's on the top of your baby's Christmas list? Do you tend to be a more practical person or go toy-crazy???