Thursday, April 23, 2015

DIY Dining Room Table

We have been searching forever for a dining room table to fit our space, we have lived in our  home for nearly 2 years and still have an empty room off of our kitchen, where we are suppose to eat formal dinners or host swanky parties, did you read the suppose to, there is extra emphasis on it! 

I haven't been able to find what I want in a table, I want it big and don't need it to get smaller, the dining room will be to host guests and will not be an every day table, so there is no need to have leaves that need to be stored, instead I just want a 9 foot table that can fill my empty room! 

Since I am unable to find a table that meets my requirements, I have decided to build a table. I have searched high and low for "My table". Thank you to Ana White and her AMAZING plans I finally found the one I am going to build! It is a 9 foot table that has clean lines and a rustic look that will suit both mine and my husbands taste. Now if the weather could cooperate a little bit better I would be closer to having a gorgeous table! 

Stay tuned, I will be updating as the process moves along! Thoughts on yes bench or chairs all around? It would mean having to buy less chairs... Hmm, tough decision! 

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The in's and out's of Meal Prepping and Planning

What is Meal Planning? 

Meal Planning is when you sit down and figure out what you are going to eat for your meals for a week, two weeks or some even do a month. I meal plan for a week at a time, it is more manageable for me at the moment, eventually I would like to meal plan for a month at a time. But start where you feel comfortable. I LOVE Pinterest for meal planning, I have my "go to" meals that I make at least once every 2 weeks, but I like to try one or two new recipes each week. 

So why Meal Plan?

Meal planning tells you what to buy at the grocery store. When I meal plan, I sit down with a calendar and a notebook and I write in my meal for the specific day, I meal plan breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day of the week; are there days that I miss a meal or end up ordering pizza instead, of course. So when I am looking at my recipes that I am making, I mark in my calendar which day I will be making that meal and then I flip to my notebook and I write out the ingredients that I will need to purchase at the store, I go through my entire week and look at my grocery list and determine if I need to factor in a few more things for snacks, with three young kids they need their snacks and I have to make sure that I have accounted for them.

How do you know how much to buy?

I purchase more veggies then what is called for in my recipes, because we eat them raw as snacks (I will get more into this in the Meal Prepping section). I always have at least 5 different fruits in my house at all times; banana's, raspberries, peaches, apples, Clementine's, grapes, kiwi, mango, pomegranates, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, pineapple are among the most common that we have at our house. We really love fruit and veggies and the kids love to grab an apple and go outside and play or grab a carrot stick and watch a movie, etc. I also account for leftovers for a lot of lunches or salads, it is so easy to reheat leftovers or find another way to use them in another meal later in the week (again I will get into that more in Meal Prepping section).  Other than adding fruit and more veggies I really don't add anything extra to my grocery list, I make sure I have the ingredients that I need for my meals and snacks and that is all I need, because you are eating clean and healthy so if you buy too much or extra then you are wasting food because it will go bad. 

How to grocery shop at the store.

When I grocery shop at any grocery store, I shop 99% of the time around the perimeter of the grocery store. I do this because everything in the middle of the stores is processed, aka CRAP! Yes I mean it is CRAP! Yes I do get my Quinoa and Ranch, Ketchup, Oatmeal, and a few select other items from the middle of the store, but I am EXTREMELY particular about what I am getting from the middle of the store because it is important to eliminate as much processed foods as we can, my children however are ADDICTED to Ketchup and Ranch. I only buy what is on my list and I buy the veggies and fruit that is on sale with the exception of a few that we just enjoy too much not to have at the house; example carrots, broccoli, apples, grapes, and a few others. The wonderful thing is that if a recipe calls for specific veggies and they are not on sale that week, then swap them for veggies that are on sale and you won't miss them, no recipe is dependent on specific veggies, maybe there are but I don't follow that, because if a recipe calls for Red Peppers but the Green peppers are on sale that week, no one is going to notice or if celery is on sale instead of Peppers I will swap them in instead. Luckily my family likes all veggies so I can do that pretty easily. If a meat is on sale buy enough for two weeks instead of one, I went to the grocery store two weeks ago and they had whole chicken's on sale and I bought 4 because it was just an amazing deal and I would have bought 10 if they had 10 out there, but they only had 4 so I grabbed them and threw the other 3 in the freezer. I am not saying go out and buy ALL the meat that is on sale, but if it is on sale and you know you will use it weekly (like I use a whole chicken every week), then feel free to take advantage and buy a few extra and save some money for the next few weeks. 

What do you do with those grocery's once you get home???

I am so glad you asked!! Get them ready to use! This takes time, so I choose to do my meal prepping on Sunday's, husband loves football and I love to meal prep and the kids are buzzing between the two of us, makes for an amazingly relaxing Sunday. 

What is meal prepping?

Meal Prepping is when you pull out your meal planning calendar and figure out what you can make in-advance so that cooking during the week goes quickly and with less thought and less dirty dishes, who likes doing all those dishes anyway? NOT this girl! 

What do you do?

I start with making my whole chicken and chicken stock, then I make hard boiled eggs, I then begin cutting my veggies and fruit (I store them in Ziploc bags or Tupperware depending on what it is), if I have berries I rinse them and lay them flat on a paper towel until I am done prepping and then I put them in Tupperware. I take some (not all) of my veggies, whichever combination you choose, and throw them in the oven to roast them.  I put my Quinoa on the stove to cook and I fry up ground turkey and toss a few veggies in the pan and toss together (this is part of my breakfast most mornings). After the veggies are done roasting, I will mix together muffins for the kids to eat for breakfast, and I mix up overnight oats in mason jars (our kids are obsessed with Oatmeal and I love being able to control what is in their oatmeal, plus we get to change up the flavors). I will make mason jar salads some weeks as well, I generally make at least 4 of these each week because Hubby will take them to work with him if he won't make it home for lunch. I cook a few pieces of Tilapia, at the same time I will bake a sweet potato. These are all just examples of what I do on any given week, some things will change, I don't make Tilapia every week, it depends on what I have on my menu for that week, some weeks I have Tuna for a lunch menu instead of Tilapia. Each week meal prepping is different, I do have a few items that I always make NO matter what; whole chicken, quinoa, hard boiled egg, cut veggies and fruit, roast veggies, bake sweet potato are among them, the other things can change weekly.

So how does it work?

We use chicken a lot each week so I love having shredded chicken in the fridge it is so easy to make salads or stir-fry's with or any recipe that calls for chicken toss it in and you eliminated the need to cook, talk about QUICK meals! The Meal prepping is great and essential for lunch time and snacks in my household because those are the times that we need quick meals, since I am home most of the day I generally toss my dinner in the oven or crock-pot or on the stove in the morning or mid afternoon so it is done around dinner time, but with lunch the kids and I are usually busy out exploring or doing something fun and we need to be able to eat quickly before dropping Porter off at preschool; this is where Meal Planning makes the full circle. You have to prep to be successful but you also need to plan so you know what you prepping for, which meal do you need chicken for, which meal do you need roasted veggies, etc. They really do go hand in hand. 

Then what?
Put your food in the fridge and admire your handy work... 

Next... DISHES! Try and talk your kids into helping.

(It really isn't this bad.. well not always)

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Chicken Pineapple Stir-Fry

My children LOVE pineapple and I LOVE to cook with pineapple, there is nothing more delicious then grilled pineapple! I could eat it on top of everything! Due to the weather not cooperating we had to go with the one of our favorite recipes, Chicken Pineapple Stir-fry. It is really easy and quick to make and it tastes DELICIOUS! It really is like having a dance party in your mouth,  yes that good! 

 1/2 a fresh pineapple (my children eat the other half while I am cooking)
 1 head of broccoli
 bunch of green beans
 red peppers
 chicken (Diced or shredded)
 red onion

For the dressing:
2 tsp honey
1-2 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp garlic powder

This recipe is so versatile, you can put whatever veggies in this dish you would like, I change it up depending on what is in season or what veggies I have in my fridge, it is great with Asparagus, zucchini, or whichever veggies you have or enjoy. I also have used frozen veggie mix; however I prefer it with fresh veggies. There is no need to measure out exact measurements for veggies and chicken, toss in what you have and are comfortable with. 

1. It is so easy to make; If you don't prepped chicken in your fridge from Meal Prep, dice up chicken and toss it in a pan and cook it until done, set aside and save for later. 
2. Then take a tsp of coconut oil over medium heat in a skillet, add chopped up onion and sauteed for about 5 minutes.
3. Next add in your vegetables and cover until they are done to suit your taste buds! 
4. While your vegetables are cooking mix together your ingredients for your dressing and set aside. 
5. When your vegetables are done add your chicken, pineapple and toss in dressing and allow them to warm! 
6. Serve and ENJOY!!!

Do you guys love cooked pineapple? What are your favorite recipes? 

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Our Love story...

Ben and I grew up in the same town, we went to the same schools and were in some of the same classes... I cannot tell you the exact moment that Ben and I became friends, he probably could. It was as though one day he was there, by my side. I loved Ben the moment I got to know him, I would soak in as much Ben time as he allowed me to. We became friends, great friends; we had our inside jokes, we would talk on the phone late at night watching Boy Meets World, each in our own home, but it felt like we were sitting right next to each other. In the 11th grade I found myself single and looking to spice things up, so a girlfriend and I decided to go out on a double date, she had a boyfriend, so the issue was who would I ask... I turned around and right there in our Pre-Calc class I asked Ben if he wanted to go on a date with me! I wish wish wish I had a camera with me at that very moment, because the look on his face is one I can close my eyes and see, it was shock, excitement, and a hint of nervousness; but he agreed nonetheless. The double date was horrible, he had eaten before going on the date and we didn't have a plan, so our double date turned into myself and my friend eating at a restaurant while our dates resited movie lines and provided comedy club quality entertainment. We then bummed over to the mall and window shopped for a while, before deciding to head back to New Ulm. On the way home we stopped at a park in a small town just outside of our town; that was the best part of the evening.
Our date led to hanging out more often then we already were, my ex took notice and decided he wasn't ready to be done, so he began to show up unannounced. I was young and unintelligent about boys and their games, so I "ended" things with Ben.
We remained friends over the course of the following years, 4 years to be exact; talking often, hanging out together at College, confiding in one another when an issue with the others relationship occurred. Then one day I found myself single and back in New Ulm, where Ben happened to live and was also single. It was like we picked up right where we had left off 4 years ago, and we finally kissed! Can I tell you about that kiss, it was as if my mouth finally found it's perfect match. Ben and I started dating in November; in January we found out we were expecting our first child together, check out Braylon's Birth Story for more information on that. A brief 6 months after Braylon was born we were expecting our second child together, check out Porter's Birth Story for more information.
In September 2010 we went to Chicago for 4 day getaway, while we were there Ben surprised me and asked me to marry him! I was stunned; I of course said yes! We planned to be married in October of 2011.
Ben and I's motto from the get go was we don't do things in the correct order, but we fully embrace them! In April of 2011 we found out we were expecting baby number 3, check out Adalyn's birth story for more information. Well I already had my wedding dress bought and knew that it would never fit me 8 months pregnant... So we rescheduled our wedding for May of 2012.
With our three children as witnesses we got married on May 26, 2012 surrounded by the most amazing people in our lives.
That is one plus to having your children at your wedding, I will forever display my wedding pictures, because most of them have our children in them!

He stole my cake...

Ben is the love of my life, he makes me laugh, smile, and even scream most days; he knows me better then I know myself. I cannot wait to grow old with this man, to watch what life has to offer us. He is an amazing father and husband and I wouldn't want to spend my days with anyone else!

Our wedding day!

He tries to be serious... who is trying to kid!

He takes me on Date nights, they are my favorite outings.

He makes an amazing wedding date..

He dresses up like Batman on Halloween.

He lets me take selfies of us (we usually have to take about 20 each time)

And he loves me and our kids unconditionally!

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Love for a dog!

Isn't he adorable!?!?!? Reese, our four legged child, but every bit as important and loved! Reese was born March 6, 2007. The day we brought him home, I ate supper with his tiny body curled up in my lap. Although he is no longer allowed to sit in my lap at the dinner table, he doesn't understand that he is no longer a puppy, but instead 78 pounds of dog, insisting on sitting in my lap on any occasion he is allowed.
Reese is a loved and important member of our family, he is calm and gentle with each of our children. He has been this way since the day we brought Braylon home from the hospital. Sitting next to him in the swing, he was the first up in the middle of the night when Braylon cried, by the time Adalyn came, he trusted me enough to take care of it without his assistance.
He has shown interest in each of the children upon their arrival and quickly learned they were not leaving, so he welcomed them into his life, allowing them to snuggle him, use him as a chair, shared his food and water, read stories with them, guarded the front door, endured the cold and lots of hugs and kisses.
He is not only good to his human brothers and sister, but he is good to Ben and I. He learned to love running with me, he provides me with motivation when I need it, it is very difficult to ignore his wagging tail and pouncing. He is my running partner, the very best running partner a person could ask for.
Not only does he love running, he LOVES water, that was not something that he had to learn to love, he is like a darn beaver in the water, he glides in the water with no effort; he could swim all day long if we allowed it. He enjoys playing fetch with water toys or he is happy to just leisurely swim in circles around the dock.
He is the best fur child/brother we could ask for; I can not imagine our life without him in it. We love him so very much, even when he eats our supper from our plates when we get up to get a milk refill or when he thinks the new stuffed animal was his and we find the stuffing all over the floor.
We look forward to lots more memories with our Dee Dee (the boys couldn't say Reese, so they called him Dee Dee, it has stuck).

Reese taking his big brother role very serious (This was day 2 of Braylon being home).

Braylon & Porter love to use Reese as a pillow

Reese was checking out the scene with Porter

Reese enjoys playing in the snow, Braylon throws snowballs at him and then Reese pounces Braylon! (These pictures were two years apart, but little has changed in their relationship)

Reese loves the water: whether it is kayaking, pontooning or swimming. He loves it all!

If he isn't running or swimming he is always up for a game of football fetch.

He listens to the kids stories, allows nearby to lend a listening ear.

He shared his food with all of the kids; Adalyn really enjoyed their dinners together.

He is allows willing to photobomb a picture
 (or make an ordinary picture more adorable, however you want to look at it).

If you are relaxing Reese is right there snuggling in!

Willing to just lounge around on the floor with the kids too!

Reese has set the expectation for any future Fur children very high! We are grateful every day for this wildly loving pooch!
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Braylon's birth story!

The first half of my pregnancy was like that of most; filled with excitement, anxiety, expanding waistline, morning sickness and raging hunger pains. The halfway mark took us down an unforeseen road, a road that lead us straight into the arms of one of the most precious gifts we have been given...

Like I said the first 20 weeks of pregnancy where normal, morning sickness for the first 3 months (first trimester) and no abnormal cravings. Ben and I were both fully convinced that we were having a girl, Marley was going to be the name, I had peach and cream paint samples taped to the wall of the "nursery". The morning of our 20 week ultrasound Ben reveled that he thought we were wrong, he thought we were having a boy, I was in disbelief, our baby was a girl, I had been talking to "her" calling "her" Marley, telling "her" about all the fun things we would do in "her" life.
As I laid on the ultrasound table, the tech said that she wanted to do a trans-vaginal ultrasound, so I could empty my very full bladder, such a relief. When I returned to the table an OB doctor walked into the room and proceeded to inform us that our little boy had a abdominal condition and it looked like he had his intestines floating outside of his body. All the air was sucked from my lungs, I gasped for air and told him I thought he had the wrong room... He took a look and verified that he was in fact in the correct room. He went on to inform us that we would have to deliver in the Cities and that he would call and have someone from Abbott Northwestern call us with appointment information within the next couple of days... DAYS!
I was in complete shock, I had such a rush of emotions... At the top of the list were, betrayal, fear, guilt and anger! I didn't know anything about the disorder, I didn't know what meant for our little boy. Everyone around me was having healthy, normal pregnancies and here I was having a baby that had his intestines floating outside his body... It was unfair, we should have been over the moon that we were having a little boy, but it was overshadowed by his condition, Gastroschisis.

A brief explanation of Gastroschisis: It is a condition that occurs due to a disruption of blood flow between 8-12 weeks of gestation; it is not hereditary or genetic, the cause is unknown. There is no research being done for the disorder in the United States. Australia has started doing research a few years ago, with little findings.

Due to our babies condition we  had to travel to the cities once a week for the duration of my pregnancy, so we could have non-stress tests and level 2 ultrasounds. I got to see my baby every week, see him change, develop, grow; I got to find joy in an otherwise undesirable situation.
At my 33 week appointment we got to see where Braylon, we finally decided on a name the week before, would spend a good portion of his "newborn" life. We were going to deliver at Abbott Northwestern and he would be transferred, through the tunnel, to Children's hospital of Minneapolis. We had a great experience, everyone was amazing and it made me feel a little bit better about the detour in our road. On our way home, 1pm, I started having contractions. I was told by every person I spoke with that they were Braxton Hicks Contractions and that I should make sure to drink lots of fluids. I took their advice and rested and drank plenty of water, but by 11pm I could not sit still, I knew something was wrong. We went into the hospital in New Ulm a little after 11pm and to our disbelief I was 2 cm dilated and 90% effaced; they got the ambulance ready to drive me back to the cities, it was the wee hours in the morning of Wednesday August 6th. They put me on Magnesium sulfate to stop the contractions; I laid in a bed being monitored day after day, the plan was to have me get to 36 weeks before delivering. On Saturday August 9th, our doctor told us that we were going to be moved to a monitoring floor for two more weeks, until he was more developed and ready to be delivered. I informed the doctor that I was having contractions and that I was bleeding a lot. We were all shocked to find out that I was 8 cm dilated and fully effaced. He wouldn't wait two more weeks, we would deliver today. I was instantly taken off of the Mag Sulfate and given an epidural, I tried to go without it, but my husband insisted. We waited for a delivery room to be set up and staffed, when you are dealing with a child that has his organs on the outside of his body, you need to have a delivery room, it was straight out of the 70's (I think I even said that to the doctor, it made for a good laugh). At 7:13pm Braylon Max Jensen entered the world, 4 pounds 7 oz and 18 3/4 inches long. He resembled an old wrinkled man, too skinny and excessive skin hanging everywhere! I got to see him, kiss him, tell him I loved him and then he and Ben were on their way to Children's hospital. Braylon was in surgery before 8pm to put his intestines back where they belonged, inside him.
We got to bring Braylon home after 25 days at Children's; he has NEVER looked back :)

(If someone would have told me this would be the last time I would be bored for the rest of my life, I would have enjoyed it a little more!)

Ben was by my side through it all, 5 days of just sitting in the hospital...

We passed the time with Sudoku, Rummy 500 and Fresh Prince of Bel Air reruns.

Right before we went into the delivery room.

Happy birth day our Grumpy Old Man!

Proud Daddy!

This was the next day, he looked so much better. Adorable wasn't he :)

On day two I got to hold him for the first time!

Daddy got to hold him too!

First family picture, we are a pretty good looking family!

He got to get his tan on! He still lays in the sun like this...

The day we got to go home, Braylon got to know life outside is 6x6 room!

These two were relieved to be home together!

Looking back on the journey that we went through with this little boy, I know without a doubt that God does not give us more then we can handle. I was angry when we first found out that Braylon had Gastroschisis; after it is all said and done, I am no longer angry, I am grateful. I saw children in the hospital that would never get to go home, that would not know life outside those 4 walls. So at the end of the day, one surgery and 25 days was little price to pay for a lifetime of love, happiness and those amazing bear hugs he gives!


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