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Oreo Pudding Poke Cake

It’s no secret that I (and Kaden and Irelyn) are the chocolate addicts in the house.  Zach doesn’t like anything more than brownies or Oreo’s – when he found this recipe, I couldn’t wait to try it!  Here it is – Oreo Puddin’ Poke Cake.

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We loved it.  I’m actually planning on making another one for our family reunion this weekend!

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We also picked tomatoes from our garden yesterday;  we pick them twice a week and end up with a basket of 15+ each time.  We still have 17 on our back porch that were ripening, so we asked our neighbor if they’d like the basket we had just picked.  Her son showed up at our front door a few hours later with a container of homemade salsa!  It’s amazing.  I’ll be asking for her recipe for sure (or just giving her another couple baskets full of tomatoes this summer!).

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Healthy Fruit Snacks

Like most kids, Kaden loves the Cars, Snoopy, Spongebob, Mickey Mouse, etc. fruit snacks at the store.  I, however, do not like the price, all of the junk that they put in them or the tantrum Irelyn throws when I won’t give her any because they’re too chewy and gross.  I found a recipe on Pinterest (of course!) for healthy fruit snacks, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Here’s a link!  (sorry for the picture quality, my camera and I haven’t been getting along lately and taking a picture while holding a one year old doesn’t help either)

We decided to try strawberry & blueberry.  In hindsight, I think we may have liked doing just one flavor at a time better.

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The finished product.  The funny part of the story:  the kid that I thought would love them (Irelyn) didn’t, the kid that I thought wouldn’t touch them (Kaden) actually likes them!  Ours are a little thinner than the recipe shows because I didn’t have an 8″ x 8″ pan to use today.  Although I still haven’t found fruit snacks that I’ll let Irelyn have, I did find a healthier option for Kaden.  I wasn’t a big fan of them either; but I will try making them again with a single flavor to see if that changes anything.

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Zucchini Recipes

Now that we’ve moved into a house, we were able to plant a garden this year.  We chose a spot and were just hoping for a decent amount of vegetables; what we got was a forest!  We have 11 tomato plants, more than a dozen sweet bell pepper plants, four banana peppers plants, one squash and one zucchini.  We’ve probably picked over 100 bell peppers and even more banana peppers.  Just throughout the past few weeks we’ve had dozens of tomatoes ripen!  Unfortunately, our squash and zucchini were almost killed by something, but both replanted and we’ve had quite a few vegetables from each plant.  So, after picking a foot-long zucchini out of the garden two days ago, I had to search for some recipes.

Because of Irelyn’s egg allergy and dairy sensitivity, it wasn’t easy finding a zucchini bread recipe that I thought would taste as good as what we’re used to; this one was amazing!  Here’s the recipe for the Dairy, egg and nut free zucchini bread.  It was very moist on the inside, didn’t fall apart and had a slightly crispy crust – just perfect.  As soon as we have a couple more zucchini, I’ll be making a double batch to freeze for this winter!

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Even though the bread recipe called for 2 cups of zucchini, it only used 1/3 of what I had.  I came across a blog a few months ago while looking for other recipes and I absolutely love the things she makes (especially all of the chocolate!).  Everything is dairy/egg free and much healthier than other versions of the same foods – here is a link Chocolate Covered Katie.  Earlier this week I made her Healthy Blueberry MuffinsIrelyn and I both loved them.  While searching for other fun zucchini recipes, I found that she also has a recipe for Crispy Healthy Baked Zucchini Fries.  Instead of using boring ketchup or ranch on the fries, I had to use a few of our garden tomatoes to try her Healthy Ketchup recipe.  The fries and ketchup turned out great!  I’m still a big fan of Heinz (mostly because I don’t like the taste of tomatoes that much), but even Kaden and Irelyn (my two ketchup addicts) liked it.

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I’ll definitely be using all of these recipes in the future.  Let me know if you decide to try them!

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Days 7 & 8 – Dressers and Pantry

I decided not to take pictures of the dressers (obviously wouldn’t be very interesting), so I’m combining these two posts.  First, I hate laundry.  I hate the entire sorting, washing, drying, folding and putting away process.  I’d rather scrub a toilet than do laundry.  But, putting Zach’s clothes back in his dresser and knowing that he’ll soon be home to wear them made it worth it. 🙂  Plus our bedroom looks so much better now.

On to the pantry… my embarrassment in a couple of these pictures is a repeat of the “Under the Kitchen Sink” post. Here goes.

Before:

After:

 Yes, that thing hanging on the wall is for shoes.  I got the idea from Pinterest, so at least I’m not the only crazy person using it for food! 🙂

And this one is before & after:

I was so much more relaxed in my kitchen that I made steak and scalloped corn for dinner tonight.  I marinated mine in plenty hot sauce and cajun seasoning – I’ve got to take advantage of enjoying my food extra spicy before Zach comes home 🙂

I must have been trying to make up for my lack of effort the past few days and rearranged Kaden’s entire room today.  Of course, it looks like a tornado went through there (even worse than normal), but I’m planning on finishing it this weekend.  He now has a little more room for his toys, a reading nook and he was so excited that I moved his bed to a different spot.  Living in a small apartment drives me crazy – I’d rearrange the furniture in my house at least once a month if I actually had the room to do so.  Unfortunately, everything has to stay in the same spot it has been in for the past 4 months…

We’ve gotten some good news from Zach over the past couple of days, although I can’t share very much, we will get to see him sooner than we’d thought 🙂

Since tomorrows task is the coat closet, I shouldn’t have any trouble posting.  I did start reading another book today though, so we’ll see.

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Dairy Free

Irelyn had her 2 month checkup this past Wednesday.  She is now 11lb 9oz (up 4 pounds since birth), 22 1/2 inches (grown 2 inches) and her head circumference is 15 1/2 (1 3/4 inches).  Her doctor said she’s growing perfectly!  She’s been smiling, cooing and trying to laugh for the past few weeks – she’s always giggling in her sleep, but she can’t quite figure out how to do it while she’s awake.  If Kaden gets too loud while she’s trying to “talk” she has started yelling/squealing and Kaden claps his hands at her if she cries for too long (more than 30 seconds).  They’re going to be a handful as they get older.

After some issues with Irelyn’s dirty diapers, her doctor said that she most likely has a milk protein allergy.  Since I’m breastfeeding, I have to eliminate all dairy from my diet to see if it fixes the problem.  Unfortunately, just about every food I love contains dairy (chocolate, cheese, mashed potatoes, a lot of breads, ranch, coffee creamer, cereal…and once again, chocolate).  So I’m starting a list of recipes of my favorite foods that are dairy free.

1. Mashes Potatoes

2. Ranch Dressing

3. Buckeyes

4. Nutella

5. Pasta E Fagioli (mostly for the sauce…I can only find one brand of dairy free sauce at Walmart and it’s almost $3.00)

And here’s a list of dairy free substitutes!  I’ve also pretty much fallen in love with this blog.  Every one of her recipes are dairy free & she has TONS of chocolate recipes.

I obviously have a junk food problem so I know this new diet will be a good thing 🙂 I’ve eaten more fruits and vegetables in the past two days than I had in a week and my 3 year old is slowly accepting the fact that there isn’t much junk around for him to eat now (although he has definitely made me aware he’s not happy that his cookies disappeared from the snack drawer).

Well, we’ve got plans for the night and I should probably get things around before both kids decide naptime is over.

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38 Weeks & Labor Cookies

UPDATED ON JUNE 25, 2014: This post has become quite popular over the past 2 years.  I’ve had another baby and made these labor cookies 2 days before I went into labor with her, too.  Click here to read her birth story!

Little Miss Irelyn is proving to be a lot like her brother already.  With Kaden, I had mild preterm labor stopped twice before 34 weeks – then had to be induced at 41 weeks 1 day.  Thankfully, she is a little less stubborn and we’re definitely making more progress than I had made at this point with Kaden!

First, at my 37 week appointment (last Tuesday), I was 3cm, 50% effaced and the baby was “still wayyyy up there”.  After reaching my goal of 37 weeks so that I can have a water birth, I’ve been walking and sitting on my exercise ball to try to help things move in the right direction (and hopefully avoid induction).  I also came across an interesting “Labor Cookie Recipe” yesterday and thought I’d give it a try [even if it didn’t work, it was a great excuse to eat cookies!].  The cookies really just taste like over-spiced gingersnaps.

Here’s the recipe:

2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
3/4 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
8 T. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. molasses
1/4 c. egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda and spices and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the molasses to the creamed butter, then add the egg whites until combined. Addd the dry ingredients slowly. Once incorporated, roll dough into 1 inch balls and place onto baking tray. Bake 8-10 minutes. Once cool eat as many as you can possibly stomach, lay down for a nap and wait for labor to begin!

And here’s a couple of testimonials:

I waited until my mom had arrived from Ohio (we live in California) to bake these cookies. She arrived on Saturday evening and my husband baked me a bunch of tiny cookies on Sunday. I ate 5 mini cookies during the day and 2 later in the evening (Oscar night). At 3:30 am Monday my contractions started and I finished packing our toiletry kit instead of sleeping. I also tried to clip my toenails since it looked like I’d be missing my scheduled due-date pedicure. At 4:30 am I was sure my labor had started and I woke my husband. The contractions were 2 minutes apart. By 5 am we were at the hospital. By 7:42am my baby boy, Milo, was born. Thanks “Jump start your labor cookies”! 🙂 True story.
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So yesterday I make the cookies, I add extra of all the spices as I love and eat spicy food and think I should just add more – I have no cayenne so I chop up Balinese Chili pepper instead… have some for a snack, after dinner, for breakfast this morning and…. mucus plug comes out… well. the first 2 labours started this way – it’s slow and crampy right now – which is why I can type this – yes, I am eating more cookies while I type too – just in case 🙂 A few days later: I’m sure it was the cookies that ‘jump started’ my labour. Zoie Was born on Mother’s Day, May 11 which was her due date after a couple start and stop days of early labour. 9lbs 4 oz 🙂 – all natural.

I think we will still be eating these cookies at home – they are really good!!!
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Hi! I have another story for you about how awesome these cookies are! I was 6 days overdue with my daughter, had been in latent labor for a week, and was NOT progressing. My husband and I had talked about ways to induce labor and these cookies were a part of that discussion, so he made them for me. I had about 6 cookies around 1pm, and 3 more around 6pm. I laid down for bed around 11pm and two hours later my water broke. I had my daughter 8 hours later. 🙂

You can find tons more by googling “labor cookies”.  

Anyway, I put Kaden down for his afternoon nap and got to baking these miracle cookies.  Unfortunately, the recipe doesn’t warn you that it yields enough for every pregnant woman close to her due date in my entire town.

I ate 5 or 6 (or maybe 8…) cookies before Kaden woke up from his nap, then the two of us had a couple more before bedtime last night.  They were actually pretty good, even the kick from the cayenne pepper didn’t stop Kaden from asking for more!

Now, this could be a complete coincidence [or it could have been the cookies!], but I received great news at my 38 week appointment today!  I am still 3cm, Irelyn’s head is very low and my “bag of water is bulging”, as my doctor put it.  Since I am only 38 weeks, there was nothing she could do to try to help things along today… but I have an appointment to have my membranes stripped on Friday at 7:30am!  She said with the progress I’m making, there’s a good chance it could be all it takes to put me into active labor.  I plan to spend the next 2 days either walking or bouncing on my exercise ball – I’m really hoping my water will break on it’s own and that we’ll get to meet Irelyn this weekend.  If she doesn’t come this weekend, my doctor will break my water before the end of next week so that I can still have my water birth.

Since I don’t have much longer, I’ll be sure to take one last belly picture before Irelyn’s evicted (Kaden has started trying to bribe her to come out with his one and only dollar).  My 35 week picture with Kaden was the last one I took and I had to compare it to my belly a couple weeks ago.

These are also the same pair of jeans in both pictures!


Nothing else has really changed these past couple of weeks, Zach is still doing well & loving all of the care packages!  We’ve been able to talk regularly and we can’t wait until he’s back home with us.  We have actually started making plans of things we’ll be doing after he’s home (going to the zoo, a trip to the Smoky Mountains for us) which is very exciting!  Even when it doesn’t feel like it, the deployment is going by pretty fast and I know the days will fly by once Irelyn starts taking up all my time & energy 🙂

Well, it’s time for my nightly attempt at catching a few hours of sleep…although I’d be fine with waking up to my water breaking at any point tonight!  Before I go, here’s a quote Zach sent me that I love.  And it is completely true.

“Military relationships are the product of many tears born both in happiness and despair. They are nights alone wondering where he is and if he is safe. It’s looking at pictures, knowing that it’s the only way I can see his face, calling my voicemail to hear his voice, and not washing his clothes until they have lost his scent. But, it’s all worth it in the end, because I know I have one of the purest loves in the world because my man truly knows the meaning of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Not only to the military but to me. And that makes everything worthwhile.”

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Yummy Breakfast & a Picky Eater

Neither Kaden or I are really big breakfast eaters.  Normally, it’s Zach that has the idea to make something good for breakfast.  But, since one of the items on my list was cooking – I thought I should probably get started.  This morning wasn’t anything too special.  I made a German Pancake, which I’ve made many times before, but it sounded delicious today!  Unfortunately, Kaden didn’t think so…even though the syrup alone has 1 1/2 cups of sugar in it [at least the one child that got a sugar rush from breakfast is in a nice, confined space 🙂 ].  Anyway, it turned out perfect!

Tonight is our last free night of the week, so I’m making BBQ pork chops, mashed potatoes & scalloped corn.

I talked to Zach on Facebook for a just few minutes last night.  He didn’t have a whole lot to say about Griffin, except that his mattress is terrible – so he’s going to look for an air mattress.  Hopefully he’ll get the care package I mailed in another week or so and I can post pictures of that 🙂

I’ll post again soon!