Friday, July 25, 2014

My Kids Eat All Their Veggies

Yep, all 17 servings of fruits and veggies a day, every day, without a complaint.

Juuuuuuust kidding. 

We do the best we can, but thankfully for the past week I am happy to report that the boys (and I!) have gotten all of whole foods goodness that our bodies need.
My friend Cassie sent us a few samples of Juice Plus+ to try and after getting the taste stamp of approval from the boys, I was off to the website to learn more:

 Juice Plus+ is whole food based nutrition, including juice powder concentrates from 25 different fruits, vegetables and grains. Juice Plus+ helps bridge the gap between what you should eat and what you do eat every day. Not a multivitamin, medicine, treatment or cure for any disease, Juice Plus+ is made from quality ingredients carefully monitored from farm to capsule to provide natural nutrients your body needs to be at its best.

Sounds too good to be true right?
But it isn't! And right now, for every adult subscription you buy, your child gets their gummies for free.

There are also nutrition bars and drink mixes (I had the chocolate and vanilla this week- both were really tasty and an easy way to get my breakfast on the go).

Cassie, who has spent the last year in a total body transformation adds:

Thanks Kate for doing this! We are approaching our one year mark for our family “transformation” and my son’s first Birthday. I am down 75 lbs and feeling great! It has never been about the weight for me though, my main focus has been to be healthier, make healthier decisions and try and teach my kids to do the same. Along this journey I have found a passion for helping other people do just that. There are a few statistics that have had a huge impact on me recently: 1 in 3 women will develop cancer, 1 in 2men will develop cancer, 1 in 3 children will develop diabetes in their lifetime and this is the first generation of children to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. I love helping people understand the importance of whole foods nutrition and sharing about a product that has helped our family bridge the gap between what we are eating and what we should be eating!

If you would like more information about Juice Plus+, you can contact Cassie directly HERE or follow her on instagram @CJFIT20 for works outs, meals and to see the benefits of whole food nutrition (and to feel bad enough about that cookie you about to eat for breakfast that you will have egg whites instead...totally didn't happen to me once, I swear.) 

Go ahead and show Cassie some love and find out how you can get your family on the fast track to better nutrition. 

Have a great weekend and don't forget to eat your veggies!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How To Do a Risotto Bar

Last week, when I posted about doing a risotto bar for the family, a few of you asked for the details. And because I am a good friend (and it is delicious), I made it again on Sunday for some friends just so I could take pictures for the 'ol blog. You're welcome. 
Risotto is one of those things that everyone makes sound scary and difficult to make, but in actuality, it isn't at all. I first tried it a few months ago after getting a simple recipe from the book Bread and Wine and I was instantly hooked. 
It is easy, versatile, cheap and feeds a lot of people but feels fancy, and is now my go to for entertaining. 

What you need:
Arborio rice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
White wine (could be substituted for water, you know we are drinking it and using it to cook around here)
1 onion 
2 cloves of garlic
chicken broth

Toppings (take your pick of any of seriously use anything):
Cheese (lots of cheese)

The night I had the big group over, I did a lot of prep at nap time. I diced the onions and garlic, cut the tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus and bacon. I also made a salad and made two loaves of Honey Beer Bread. That way, once everyone arrived, all I had to do was start cooking. The biggest challenge about this meal is that you are in front of the stove the whole time, but since most people hang out in the kitchen anyway, I find it easy to stir (and drink wine) while chatting away with my guests and letting someone else hold the baby. 

1. Heat a big pot on medium low with drizzled EVOO to coat the bottom.
Pour the entire carton of chicken broth in a separate pot and bring to heat (just below a boil). 
2. Add garlic and onions and stir until the house smells awesome and the onions are soft. 
At this point on the day I used bacon, I went ahead and started cooking it. Then I drained the pan, leaving a little big of grease and added the asparagus for a few minutes, then emptied that and added the mushrooms with a little balsamic vinegar, then all my sides were done except the shrimp which I would do very last. Side note: everything tastes better cooked in bacon fat. 
On Sunday night, I did prosciutto and that only takes a minute to heat up so I just did that toward the end. Diced panchetta would work well in this dish too. 
3. Add rice. I don't use measuring cups so I can't tell you how much. A cup and a half maybe? Depends on how many people you are feeding, but not really because it also reheats well, so there's your lunch for tomorrow. 

4. Add a little wine. Keep stirring (never stop stirring!). 

5. Start to add chicken broth by the ladle-full and yep, stir some more. The rice will begin to absorb the broth and you will just want to keep adding it and stirring until it tastes the way you want. It should always have a just a bit of a crunch to it. You will probably be stirring for 45 minutes, so go ahead and count that as your strength training for the day. 

6. As you get toward the end of the broth (I almost always use it all), add some salt, pepper and cheese (I use fresh grated Parmesan). If you aren't going to serve immediately, turn down the heat to simmer, pour in extra broth, stir, and put a lid on it. Set the table, put out your side dishes (go back and stir a little more), get everyone some wine and be seated. The rice will continue to absorb the liquid and not become too sticky if you time it right. If it does get sticky, then just add a little more broth (or water if you are out) and stir a little more right before serving. 

7. Let everyone top it with their favorites and enjoy!
Sunday's choices
Wednesday's choices

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jump Around, Jump Around

As we hit two months of summer freedom, I will have to admit: I am running out of exciting (and manageable) things to do. Obviously, we have been busy bees, but that is mostly for my sake to help pass the time of temporary single parenting until school starts and I know I will have a few hours a day to take a deep breath. I love letting my boys just play all day, but for sanity's sake, we also need to get out and do something at least once a day. 
Over the weekend, blog-turned-in-real-life-friend Karen and I were texting about getting together on Monday and decided it was the perfect time to try Flight Trampoline Park in Springfield, VA

Let me just tell you: SUCCESS.
This place was awesome. It was only about a 20 minute drive from our house (pet peeve about the DC area: nothing is easy to get to) and with the military discount it was $17 for both boys (and me) to jump. It is a huge warehouse full of trampolines, jumping pits and dodge ball courts. We happened to get there during Kids Flight so only only children 6 and under were jumping which was perfect since we didn't have to worry about big kids being too rough. The staff was also very attentive and does a great job walking around and reminding kids of the rules so no one gets hurt (and two Mommas who want to sit with babies and chat can actually catch up instead of hovering over big boys). 

We will definitely be heading back!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Weekend At Home

For the first weekend in what seems like forever, the boys and I hung out at home. Of course, we still did about 329480928342 things because that is how we roll, but it was really nice to just be around the house. 

Friday we met some friends at the Splash Park in the afternoon and then ordered pizza (first one since Kev deployed- Self five!) and rented The Lego Movie. Sadly, we turned that one off within the first 30 minutes- it was just a little too intense for my sensitive boys. 
So we settled for some Curious George and called it an early night. 

Saturday morning we did a little more work on the boys' new room
 and then Nana and Pop came over for the afternoon.
He's going to be 1 next month...
 Deb and I were off to my almost sister in law's bridal shower while Scott held down the fort with all 3 boys (brave man). 
Caitlin and friends
After a lovely and fun shower, we headed back home and Nana and Pop treated us to Chinese and took over bathtime and dish-doing for me which was an amazing break. 

Sunday, the boys and I were up early so made it to 9am Mass and the pancake breakfast afterwards. Because of travel, we hadn't been to Mass in a few weeks and it was so refreshing to be there. 
Afterwards, we came home and I mowed the lawn while the big boys played in the mud and Wells napped then later that afternoon, Cate and Alysa came over to hang out and for dinner.
 (I also re-made my risotto so I can do a post for all who asked the the recipe last week!)
A few games of front yard baseball (thanks to some new toys from Uncle Pete and Aunt Lori!), it was bath and bed for some worn out boys. 

It was busy, but such a nice weekend. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

This Week We

...Randomly lost the internet. Luckily, I found it, not sure how, but I am happy about it. 

...spent another day at the Farm on Monday with my aunt and cousins. My 'aunt' is married to my mom's youngest brother, so we are actually just a few years apart and our kids are too. We had a blast hanging out and can't wait to see them again. 
....Tuesday came home, unpacked, happily crossed 5 days off the calendar and went grocery shopping in a torrential downpour- big thanks to my friends Shawn who let me drop the big boys off to play with her big boys so I didn't have to lug all 3 little humans through the rain.  

...Wednesday, hung out with my friend Jen, her son Sean and her sweet twin baby girls who my boys just adore. 
Bennett is petting Katie, not poking her in the eye and Claire was allll smiles for Cullen
...Had that kind of an afternoon where I drafted a funny post in my head titled: 
Ways They Drive Me Crazy 
Included in that unwritten post (since I had no internet) would have been:

Cullen: What time are we going to Sam's tomorrow?
Me: 3
Cullen: What time are we going to Sam's tomorrow?
Me: 3
Cullen: What time are we going to Sam's tomorrow?
Cullen: Mommy, my brain isn't on today. 

And then had a lovely (and hilarious) dinner with the uncles and girlfriends and my parents to farewell to Kathleen who is leaving us for Nashville - We miss you already Leen!
I did a risotto bar which worked out perfectly and was a fun and fancy way to please everyone's tastes. 
the fixings to add to a garlic/onion risotto
....Thursday: Continued with Ways They Drive Me Crazy

Wells- wakes up at 5:45, goes to back down at 7- C wakes up at 7 and immediately asks if we can start rearranging his room (he and Bennett are going to start sharing and are so excited about it), when I said I need Coffee first, he asks if I want to play football in the basement (boyfriend hasn't even gone to the bathroom yet, I am not joking about this being immediate)- I convince him to cuddle and watch a show (so I can shut my eyes for another minute) but then B comes down and wants to cuddle too, but he wants to the red blanket and C already has the white blanket, and we are watching Sheriff Callie but B wants Daniel Tiger and WAFFLES. WE WANT WAFFLES. 
So yea.. no extra twenty minutes of sleep for me. 
And mess, so much mess, all the time
After W woke up we headed to Homegoods and Target to start a little makeover for some big boys' room (which will give us a guest room upstairs and give them a playroom in the den with a door I can close when I don't want to see the mess. Woohoo!)

and then in the afternoon met Cara, Sam and Julia at the pool and for dinner. 

Lastly, Things That Don't Drive Me Crazy:
When the boys (and I) write letters to their Daddy. 
And knowing that another month of deployment is down. 
And when Bennett wears a Cat mask. 

Happy Weekend to you all!

PS- Thanks to all again who offered to donate a backpack and supplies to our first service project - school starts August 6th so if you can get your packs in the mail before then, that would be amazing! Don't forget to link a pic on instgram with #packapack if you would like to share.
Julianna- Can you please comment with your email so I can send you the info?