Summer Veggie Bake

You know me- unless we’re talking about baked goods (we’re not), I just can’t follow a recipe; not even a good one… And most of the time, it works out in my favor. 

This is one of those times. 

While doing my regular, run-of-the-mill grocery shopping this week, I grabbed some eggplant and yellow zucchini. Perhaps I was inclined to do so because the only thing our garden yielded this year was basil, but hey, who knows. 

Of course, I didn’t actually plan on what I was going to make with these vegetables. 

Naturally, I typed the words ‘eggplant’ and ‘zucchini’ into Pinterest and up popped several yummy looking recipes. 

I wasn’t in the mood for anything coated in bread crumbs- be it fried or baked; and then I stumbled upon THIS delightfully tempting recipe. 

Though eggplant is hearty enough to stand alone without meat, my marathon running husband would not be satisfied without a substantial amount of protein at dinner time, so I added some chopped up chicken breast tenderloins (which I cooked in a slow cooker to keep this simple recipe, well… simple). 

Then there’s me: my pregnant and indulgent self wouldn’t be satisfied without some sort of grain-y, carb-like side to pair all those veggies with. I went with a pre-seasoned 5 minute couscous (Near East brand; roasted garlic + olive oil) to keep things simple and quick; but you could substitute quinoa, rice, potatoes, pasta, or nothing at all if you so choose. That’s what I love about cooking. You can make just about anything your own!

Lastly- I used dried parsley instead of fresh because it’s what I had (but stuck with the formentioned fresh basil since I have an abundance of the herb), and I added balsamic vinegar because I thought it would add another level of flavor. 

Oh!  I also decreased the garlic by an entire clove; the author of the original recipe mentions it’s quite heavy on the garlic flavor, and garlic tends to stick with me longer than it does most people (not to mention it makes me slightly nauseous after the eating while pregnant, so there’s that as well). 

Here’s my complete, modified version of the recipe, though I highly suggest mixing it up and making it your own!

Summer Veggie Bake

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 small chicken breast tenderloins
  • 2 medium yellow zucchini 
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1.5 cups grape tomatoes 
  • 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 2/3 cup grated parmasen cheese 
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped 
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley 
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook frozen chicken in crockpot on high for 2 hours, or less if thawed. I lightly seasoned mine with a squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil, and salt/pepper. There’s no hard and fast rule on this part. Don’t worry if it’s not completely cooked- it will finish off in the oven later. Remove and chop into 1 inch pieces. 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and coat a large baking dish with olive oil (I used Corningware). 
  3. Cut zucchini and eggplant into roughly 1 inch pieces and put into a large mixing bowl. 
  4. Halve tomatoes lengthwise (no reason for lengthwise- I just think it’s prettier!), add to bowl. 
  5. Add basil, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese to the bowl. Toss. 
  6. Add chicken to the bowl and toss (I saved the chicken for last because I want the veggies to absorb most of the flavor first!)
  7. Pour into baking dish and bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Cover with foil and bake an additional 10-20 minutes. (I went with 15!)
  8. Follow cooking directions for couscous or other side while dish is baking. 
  9. Remove veggie bake from oven, uncover, and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. 
  10. Serve! 

Presentably Out The Door

If you’re like me, only a few days a week (if I’m lucky) are worthy of my make up bag and my favorite outfits. They include church, date night, my part time job, and events. Why waste all that nice (expensive) stuff on days when I’m covered in dog hair, drool, boogers, and half my daughter’s lunch? 

While I give myself a pass to be a slob and do nothing with my appearance at least 2-3 days a week (partly because I CAN), there are a few products I always use to look put-together, even when I don’t have time to go all out. 


1. Tinted moisturizer. I use it so religiously, I frequently run out. But there’s a solution. Mix one part liquid foundation with one part moisturizer. I use Makeup Forever HD with Aveeno Healthy Glow +SPF. Otherwise my current (affordable!) go-to is Neutrogena Healthy Skin Glow Sheers. It shimmers ever so slightly (and it has SPF), so I love it for summer! It also has a pretty decent amount of coverage for my post-pregnancy (and current pregnancy!) uneven skin tone. 

2. LIPSTICK/STAIN. Easiest way to make yourself look glam in a pinch. I take it with me EVERYWHERE and keep my fave shades in both my purse and my diaper bag. For night: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Fiery. Current fave affordable option: Revlon Colorburst Balm Stain (doesn’t dry and crumble!) in Crush. 

3. Brows. I mean, obviously I always have eyebrows (minus that one time I had a shaping mishap and lost a chunk of one. Oops), but I don’t feel like I look put together unless they are FILLED. For this one, I don’t recommend any particular product; for me, I prefer a brown eyeshadow a shade lighter than my natural brow color and a fantastic brow brush (I got mine at Sephora). Some people like gels. Some like pencils. Some like kits. Choose your poison. It’s such an easy way to look naturally fab. In fact- if I had to choose to do ONE thing to my face before leaving the house, it wouldn’t be a few swipes of mascara. Nope. It’d be filled brows. Hands down. 

Obviously mascara will make your eyes pop, but let’s be honest; as a mom, most days I don’t have the time or energy to FULLY remove it, so there’s frequently enough on my lashes that I wouldn’t call it a must. On the once or twice a week occasion I do scrub it ALL off, I would definitely reapply if I’m on my way way out the door. 

The rest is just fluff! Nothing beats a five minute routine when you have a toddler- am I right?! 

❤️

The Truth About Stretch Marks


I’m going to start this post with the bottom line: 

The truth is, sometimes (and commonly), women get stretch marks when their bodies grow a child. This shouldn’t be news. Once the marks appear, they’re permanent. You might be able to fade them to a point, but they aren’t going anywhere. 

Thanks to many women proudly boasting their “Tiger Stripes”, there’s no shame in getting stretch marks; as there shouldn’t be- it’s a beautiful thing to grow a child. I love that we, as women, can stand together and reassure each other that our bodies are still beautiful, despite the changes that can FEEL like flaws. 

That being said, I have yet to meet a woman (though I’m sure they exist), that HOPES to get stretch marks. 

So, we do everything we can think of to prevent them from occurring in the first place. 

I made it through my first pregnancy with exactly one stretch mark; a tiny lightening strike between my belly button and the hole where my belly ring used to be. (Yeah- that hole is extra cute now. NOT. Haha! But hey, no regrets). 

I intend on doing all the same things I did during my last pregnancy to prevent the little buggers this time around, and thought I’d share what worked for me, with you! 

  1. Genetics – at the end of the day, you can do everything in your power to prevent, but some bodies are just more mark-able than others. It doesn’t mean you can’t try to prevent them, but you don’t know until you know. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. 
  2. Hydrate – this is probably the most important piece of advice you could ever follow before, during, and after pregnancy. And no, Diet Coke doesn’t count. Drink WATER. And lots of it. Infuse it, eat water-rich fruits such as watermelon, do whatever you gotta do if you get sick of the plain stuff. A hydrated body means hydrated skin, and hydrated skin means elasticity. Elasticity= the ability to stretch, then return to its original form. 
  3. Food– Speaking of fruit, eating foods that are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and healthy fats ALSO promotes healthy skin and elasticity. Be sure to include foods such as berries, bananas, spinach, kale, walnuts, almonds, olive oil, oatmeal and legumes in your diet. Bonus: It’s not just good for your skin, it’s good for baby! 
  4. Exfoliate– Exfoliating your skin helps to get rid of dead skin cells, and encourages your skin’s new cells to regenerate new, youthful, elastic skin. I like to use a loofah during my shower, making sure to exfoliate my baby bump and hips (because the skin pulls from all directions as it stretches) thoroughly. You can also use an exfoliating body wash- just make sure all of the ingredients are safe during pregnancy. 
  5. Moisturize– Last but not least, the PRODUCTS. Most women that emerge on the other side of pregnancy without stretch marks will swear by “this” cream or “that” oil.  There is NO miracle cream. All of the other factors I mentioned, including genetics, play a huge role. That being said, moisturizing is incredibly important. After exfoliating in the shower, I like to use Palmer’s Cocoa Butter* lotion all over. The sooner you apply, the more moisture you’ll lock in!   In addition to post-shower moisturizing, I recommend Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter, which was a recommendation I received from my sister-in-law. I use it on my belly and hips before bed each night, and as needed when itchiness (stretching!!-try not to scratch!!) occurs.  I went through roughly 3 tubs (one per trimester) during my last pregnancy. 

 *Note: Cocoa butter lotion can be controversial as cocoa contains caffeine, which could potentially be absorbed into the placenta. If you are not comfortable using cocoa butter, I would recommend any lotion that contains vitamin E as an active ingredient instead. 



Good luck, mama!! 

    TTC & The TWW


    Translation: Trying To Conceive and the Two Week Wait. 

    These acronyms may be familiar terms in the community of couples trying to have a baby. 

    Actively trying to make a baby (whether it happens quickly or takes awhile), is an emotional roller coaster that can quickly turn any woman into a crazy person. 

    One day you’re going about your business, they next: you’re hyper-aware of your body and every “symptom” of pregnancy you most definitely, without question have. 

    Below is the thought journey of trying to get pregnant… Can you relate? 

    “Honey, I’m ready to start trying for a baby.”

    “Oh my goodness! We’re really doing this! We’re going to have a baby!” (Or in our case, ANOTHER baby). 

    “Where in my cycle am I? I should download a fertility calendar app.” 

    “Hmm. According to this I’m not even fertile for another week. I better get a second opinion.”

    -downloads three more apps-

    I should ovulate next week. I’m going to relax and not do anything extra and let whatever happens happen.”

    -deletes all apps-

    “If my last period started on January 15th, and we get pregnant this month, I wonder what my due date would be…?”

    -Google searches due date calculator-

    “I should do some research to make sure I’m not accidentally doing anything that could prevent me from getting pregnant.”

    -Finds multiple stories online of infertility, secondary infertility, etc-

    “Wow some of these women have been trying for years! How do they do it? Ugh. I have to stop reading those.”

    “I think I ovulated yesterday. I felt twinges.”

    -re-downloads at least one fertility app-

    “Was that a cramp? Probably implantation.”

    “I have a headache. Is that a pregnancy symptom?”

    “I’m so hungry. I forgot to eat breakfast… But it could just be because I’m probably pregnant.”

    “New zit? Totally pregnant.”

    “I smell something funny. I bet I have a heightened sense of smell because I’m pregnant.”

    “If I ovulated eight days ago, is it too early to take a test?”

    -Google how early you can take a pregnancy test-

    -Google chances of a positive test at 8dpo-

    (Dpo= days past ovulation) 

    -Google most sensitive pregnancy tests-

    -decide it’s too early to test-

    -test anyway-

    “Negative. Hmm. It’s just too early. I’ll keep testing every other day.”

    “Three negatives.  Three days in a row. I’ll just wait for my period.”

    -test at least one more time before period is due. Negative-

    “Period is two days late… But I’m still getting negative tests….”

    -Google chance of getting a late positive-

    -continue to symptom spot-

    “Well there’s my period.  I’m a crazy person.”

    -count backwards 12-14 days to see when you actually ovulated-

    -buy wondfos (google them- they’re great!!) for next month because regular tests will actually make you go broke-

    Repeat all of the above until….

    PREGNANT!! (Hopefully!) 

    It’s a wild ride. Not going to lie about that. But it’s SO worth it. 
    I’ve been blessed with a fairly short conception time both times I’ve become pregnant thus far, despite driving myself borderline insane; but for those that have had or are having a more difficult time, know that I’m praying for you as you endure every “TWW” that will lead to the greatest blessing, no matter how it comes to be. ❤️

    I loathe you, 18 month sleep regression 


    It’s true. It’s the worst one thus far. This toddler of mine is stubborn, full of relentless will, and out of nowhere started screaming tearfully through her nap time. 

    A week has passed by and we’ve developed a system that works 50% of the time. We’ll take it. 

    But then…

    Without warning…

    She wakes up, bawling with unprecedented might, four times during the night. 

    They say sleep regressions can last anywhere from 2-6 weeks. 

    “They” say it so casually in their baby sleep websites and articles. 

    “They” say, “this too shall pass”.

    I say, “I’d like to show you where to stick your #!@; six weeks prediction”. 

    Mothers, fathers, nannies, daycare providers… I raise my coffee cup to you. I’m only a week in. I’m not sure we’ll survive another day of this sleep hell… But together, we will certainly try. 

    If I don’t come out of this alive, or if I emerge without my sanity… 

    Just know… 

    It’s been real. 

    Sincerely,

    A hopeful sleep regression survivor

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