Never Felt So Much

So… we had a baby 

We welcomed James Riley Spooner with so much love and joy on May 15, 2017. After 27 hours of labor lots of tears and laughter the baby boy made his debut weighing in at a very healthy 8lbs 5oz and 21 inches long. There are zero words for me to explain the joy and overflowing emotions I felt when he was on my chest and took his first breaths. Jake said to me later “I have never seen you cry so much” to which my answer was I have never felt so much. James is now one month and one week into his journey and I felt the need to share some of the things I have learned, some I was warned about and others well I was totally blindsided. 

1. My emotions are in zero control at the moment. There is no “normal” there is no happy or sad it is quite literally a cluster eff of emotions. 

2. Family is everything. Whether they are your given family or chosen they are everything. I say this including all the advice they give, some we have taken and others, well we haven’t. Our family has been there for midnight calls to talk about pacifiers, mommy guilt (I will address this later) breastfeeding, bowel movements and in general saving me personally from myself. My mom and sister came over today no questions asked when I was in deep, deep, can’t breath crying mode because one thing broke the camels back. My sister-in-law has literally been my Web MD and sounding board since the minute James arrived. So in conclusion- use your family whoever they might be. It’s ok to ask for help. 

3. Everything hurts- you go through thousands of classes to prepare you for birth and only a half an hour is devoted to the actual bringing home and caring for the child. Guess what, even with a long labor and complicated delivery I would say that the aftermath is what you really need to prepare for, both the pain and challenges. Pain is temporary, motherhood, if done right is not. The pain you will be in unfortunately after birth is no freaking joke. Prepare yourself. This is not to scare anyone but it’s the flipping truth and nothing prepared me for that. 

4. Mom guilt- it is sooooo incredibly real. You feel guilt when they don’t stop crying, guilt when you think about work, guilt when you think about yourself, guilt when breastfeeding is not working out for you (by the way your feeding decisions are your and yours alone- no one knows what your situation is. A healthy baby comes with a healthy momma) Guess what? The guilt never ends but how you cope with it is up to you… I’m still learning how to do that. I’m not holding my breath about finding the solutions or cure either. As my friend Courtney said- you know your baby best, stop reading blogs and don’t give a crap about what people say is right or wrong.  

5. Talk. Simply just talk about what you are feeling. I admitted to my sister the other day that the anger I felt towards this tiny human was scary- like grind your teeth anger because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong and the crying was endless. Another news flash- this happens to 99% of moms and it’s totally ok- assuming you put your baby down and walk away when things get overwhelming. 

6. Your body and self esteem will take time. Don’t rush it and don’t force it. Be kind to yourself. 

7. Love your partner. I realize this doesn’t apply to everyone but it does to me. Love on your partner like you never have because they are probably the only one who can semi understand your emotions and your total lack of sleep. They at least in my case will show you the unconditional love everyone in this stage of life deserves. 

8. Take millions of pictures and share them. I don’t care if my baby pics annoy you, if they do unfollow me. I did that to others in the past and it was all because I was in a different place in my life. I get it, I won’t be hurt if you do. This baby boy will overtake my newsfeed and I’m happy about that. 

9. Don’t second guess yourself. Jake keeps telling me to trust my instincts and that I’m doing great. I’m still convincing myself of that. That’s ok 

10. People tell you, you don’t have to choose between kids and a career and I truly don’t think you do but you do however have to prioritize. This morning I broke down with fear of losing my career and sense of self. I worked hard to get where I am at, it took time and perseverance. I still am scared that motherhood has made me lose a bit of my footing. Fact is we all can’t work for companies or people who get it. I work with a lot of people who do which I am so grateful for but I still work for a company… fellow moms will get it. Future moms or those who care to understand- you will not be treated the same before you were a mom or even pregnant. You will feel passed over and rejected at times. You will feel like all your hard work goes up into smoke the minute your out of office is turned on… I’m not saying that is right or ok but the world is a cruel and unfair place. Again, how you react and deal is up to you. If you want both, have both. Be a shark- a momma shark, one who can command a room and have her own ideas and then come home and cuddle and kiss your baby until he falls fast asleep.  

11. Feel everything. Feel his wrinkly fingers and toes and soak them in. Feel happy and feel sad. Feel excited and scared. Feel the guilt. Feel the love your family and friends offer. Feel it all- this time will not last forever. 

This list will most likely be ever-evolving and I may share again but like I mentioned before after a very difficult day I needed to write. Once again I have strayed from a recipe post and well that may not be happening again any time soon because….

12. Meal prep your life away or have your favorite take out on speed dial. Preparing a whole new meal every night? Ain’t nobody got time for that… at least not right now 

Salud! 

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I’m no expert on marriage

From time to time I will post something random that has nothing to do with food because I feel strongly compelled to share. Really, I know who most of my readers are and I know there isn’t many of you so you can decide whether or not to read on. In the end this blog is more of a creative outlet and a way for me to stay excited about cooking and how it changes my relationship not only with food but with my family.

My blog in some way always mentions my family because frankly I would be lost without them. They make me the person I am today and they help keep me on track even through the toughest of times. The reason I felt compelled to write today was because I came across an article “Marriage is about what you give- not what you get” and it spoke to me.

Jake and I are embarking on a whole new chapter of life— parenthood!!! In a few short weeks we will welcome a baby boy into our lives and I could not be more terrified and excited at the same time. We are tying up loose ends on a house renovation (again that my family and friends have helped every step of the way) and we are trying to learn as much as possible about being parents, keeping balance, finances and the importance of keeping your marriage at the top of the list. Through this journey I have been so blessed to have a husband who talks to me about everything- there is not one thing he does not know about me or my past- he knows the good, the bad and the ugly. He accepts who I am and I him- no questions asked.

Before we decided to try and start a family we talked- nights on end for hours, on whether or not we were “ready”, how we wanted to raise kids, what is most important to us and what we hope to change and pass down to our kids. Through these talks I learned about Jake’s upbringing and he about mine. I also learned about the sacrifices he made to keep me happy when we were just recently dating, when we moved in together for the first time and through buying our first home. I knew a lot of the things he did for us but there were some that left me speechless.

Jake shared with me that for a few months Jake spent his nights eating “sandwiches” and I use that term loosely because there was rarely anything substantial in between those two slices of bread. He did this not because he didn’t have his dad to help him out if needed but because he was sacrificing to get us to a better place, scraping every penny together to take me to new places and on new adventures. He pawned some of his belongings to pay for gas, he pawned them to pay for school and through it all I never heard a single complaint.

When we were living together I was in a full time job and he went to school full time to really concentrate and only took jobs on weekends or in the early morning to make ends meet. Not once did I hear him say he was tired or hurt. He sacrificed himself to bring us to another level in our relationship. We had a major fight in our first apartment that I for a while thought would be the end of us- I was wrong. At that point I knew Jake would be my one and only but it was my turn to “convince” him. It was my turn to care for him, to put him on the pedestal he deserved to be on since day one.

Our relationship shifted and I picked up more of the slack, not only financially but emotionally. Jake was going through an extremely difficult time dealing with things with his mom (another story for anther day- maybe) and he needed me and he needed my mom at the time to step in- which we did. Jake needed for someone to be on his side no matter what, that is what he needed from me most and that is exactly what I did. Sometimes I did a good job of that and other times I left a lot to be desired. In the end, over the years we learned that our life was about balance- one of us was going to be strong through some days while the other took some time to be taken care of.

Again, I am no expert on marriage- we have only been married for a few years. However, I can say that marriage has taught me that I can still be a strong woman and take care of my husband. Jake can be a caretaker and provider and still need my help. I recently had a conversation with my family about how our society is breeding women who are “alpha females” … and I don’t want to dig into if I agree or disagree but I do want to highlight the fact that because I married someone who gives more than he expects to get and therefore I do the same for him, I can be any kind of woman I want and he can be any kind of man he wants.

Marriage has been about sacrifice, adventure and learning for us. We learn something new about one another nearly every day- sometimes the things we learn are exciting and shocking and other times it is that Jake is newly allergic to bananas. Either way we learn that we continue to give our all to one another and we intend to continue that once Baby Spoon arrives.

I have been open with Jake in my worries that I will begin to put him on the back burner once our baby arrives because of my desire to be a mother. I think just having that conversation has helped us to be aware of what we both need as we move forward in our relationship. If we can talk about our fears and work through them together we can continue to give to each other. This pregnancy has  been a whirlwind- we lost our first baby and that literally rocked our world. We had to learn a whole new way to cope and a new way of communicating about feelings. Now here we are and we have a healthy baby boy on the way (our rainbow baby) and we know our prayers are being answered.

So back to the beginning- marriage is about what you give. Marriage is about falling asleep while you give your partner a back rub after they have fallen asleep. Waking up your partner every morning because you know they hate alarms. Packing a lunch the night before so they can head out the door on time. Setting up the new crib on your own so that you can surprise them when they walk in the door. Marriage is about giving our all even when you feel like you have nothing left to give.

 

Salud!

French Onion Tatertot Casserole

We are casserole lovers, this one is no exception. This was simple to make and has tons of flavor! This works great as a side dish to some grilled chicken or any other protein. 

Ingredients 

  • 2 packets of Lipton Onions Soup Mix
  • 1 10 oz can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 30-32 is package of frozen tater tots
  • 8 oz shredded cheese – I used have sharp and half Mexican blend 
  • 1 large crown of broccoli roughly chopped 
  • I package portabella mushrooms roughly chopped 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Spray cooking pan/ casserole dish with cooking spray- I used a 9×13 inch pan
  • In large bowl combine potatoes (thawed) with soup both canned and mix, cheese and veggies 
  • Pour mixture into your casserole dish
  • Bake 50-75 mins til bubbly and tots are crispy

Enjoy! Salud!

Peanut Butter Cookies

It is safe to say that anything that involves peanut butter, Jake loves! So when asked for cookies, peanut butter cookies it is. These are super easy and delicious!

INGREDIENTS1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup butter or 1 cup margarine, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1⁄2 cups flour

DIRECTIONS

Combine/ cream butter, peanut butter and sugars together.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.

Add baking soda, powder and vanilla.

Stir in flour.

Roll into balls, roll in sugar. Keep a good inch in between because they will expand! 

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 6-7 minutes! 

Strawberry Overnight Oats

It’s been a long time since my last post, mostly because life happens and I have been trying to find the motivation to get back to cooking and writing about it.

One thing I have needed is a quick, healthy breakfast that both my husband and I like. This is where overnight oats step in. I know many have been making and sharing this recipe but I decided to share the recipe I made and love the most. One of the questions I get most is what type of oats to use, I recommend any quick oats that you prefer. I find that quick oats tend to get good flavor and also texture when they sit over night.

Ingredients: 
1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt plain

1/3 cup of low fat milk

1/4 cup chia seeds

1-2 tablespoons of honey

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 cup of chopped fresh strawberries (or as desired)

I like to layer my ingredients and then in the morning shake it all together. I prepare these a night before or over the weekend. I also include a bit of milk and drizzle it on top to help soak the oats. The recipe is for one jar which I end up eating half in the morning and the other as an afternoon snack if needed. Jake can eat the whole thing for breakfast but also mentioned that it keeps him full right up to lunch!


Make sure to seal up your jars and pop them in the refrigerator overnight, wake up give them a shake and enjoy! This truly is an extremely easy on-the-go recipe and good for you!

Salud!

Greek Yogurt, Broccoli & Bacon Mac & Cheese

greek-mac-final-2After a few tough family days we all needed a yummy meal that we could enjoy and not feel too guilty about. We had recently gotten a reality check when it comes to spending time together as well as enjoying everything we have. I spent the afternoon making this recipe at my parent’s house because I knew they needed a break and to be taken care of for a change.

My parents have never let a day go by without either calling or doing something for my sister and I and our husbands. In moments where they are in need we begin to realize that even more and how truly blessed we are to have them. They deserve to be taken care of, just as they have my sister and me our whole lives.

With all that said I decided to add a twist to traditional mac and cheese because I wasn’t about to make something for them out of a box- although we do eat them occasionally and enjoy them. This particular day called for something comforting, homemade and delicious!

(serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

  • Dry elbows or small pasta of your choice (2 lb)
  • 3 cups shredded cheesemain-ingredients-final
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice- for creamier pasta use a full cup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 package of bacon (12 oz)
  • Bread crumbs if desiredmilk-and-salt-final

Directions:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees
  • Begin to cook bacon in the oven until crispy- alternatively you can cook your bacon in a pan and drain the fat.
  • Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in salted water until al dente- in the last few minutes of cooking pasta add broccoli to slightly softenbrocolli-and-pasta-in-pot
  • Drain your pasta but don’t rinse.drain-pasta-final
  • In a small pot, stir together the milk, cheese, and salt until cheese melts.melting-cheese
  • Meanwhile, chop your cooked bacon and add it to your pasta and broccoli mix
  • Add the yogurt and cook on low, just until the sauce is hot.
  • Chop your cooked bacon and add it to your pasta and broccoli mixadding-bacon-final
  • Stir in the cooked pasta, broccoli and bacon into the sauce mixtureMixture-final
  • Ladle your mix into a casserole, top with extra cheese if you would like.greek-mac-not-baked
  • Bake for 10 min to warm through
  • Broil towards the end of cooking process to brown bread crumbs if desired.greek-mac-final

 

This recipe can easily be reduced to make smaller portions but we used this for a family day and ended up having a second casserole to eat at Christmas Eve dinner which worked out really nicely. I hope that this dish brings you as much comfort as it did us

Salud!


Nutritionals per serving:
Calories: 518
Carbs: 33
Fat: 31
Protein: 25
Sodium: 912
Sugar: 3

 

Mini Cheese Balls

Cheeseballs-Final

My sister and I, when we get together, we cook. We like to spend time in the kitchen even better if the whole family is around to be our taste testers. If Janine and I are in the kitchen you can bet that something delicious and most of the time intricate is making it onto the table. Needless to say we got our love of cooking from my mom.

Growing up I don’t think we ever ate the same thing twice, even when we loved the recipe she was always trying something new. This no doubt has bled over to Janine and I. We both love experimenting with new flavors, that due in part to my dad who never let us NOT try something. Doesn’t matter how much we protested we had to try it at least once, I think we are both grateful for that because we are the farthest things from picky eaters now.

This recipe is one we adapted from Roxy’s Kitchen. The mini cheeseballs were easy to make and a crowd pleaser. We all were together on a Sunday which we often do and although I had just finished cooking tons of food for Culinary School, Janine convinced me to give these and a few other things that same night a go.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups finely shredded cheddar cheese or a blend shredded cheeses
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheesecheese-final
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • oil for frying

Directions:

  • Whisk you flour, baking powder and eggs well in a bowl.flourand-egg-final
  • Add in the cheese and combine well
    • Make sure the mixture is thick enough to hold wellmixed-ingredients-final
  • Form the mixture into small to medium size balls.
    • They will expand when you fry themforming-cheeseball-final
  • Fry the cheeseballs until they are golden brown
    • Note: there should be enough oil to completely cover the balls when frying.Frying-cheeseballs-final
  • Once they are done frying place them on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.

This recipe was not only easy but it turned out to be a great little appetizer before the Broncos game. We served the cheeseballs with a little sriracha-mayo and that added a little heat and texture to them as well.Cheeseballs-Final

Hope you enjoy!

Salud!