Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Lasagna Soup | Freezer Friendly + Dairy Free

A few posts back, I mentioned making this delicious recipe. As promised, here it is! 

When Jessi mentioned making (and loving) a lasagna soup recipe a year ago, I made a mental note and have been wanting to make it! With the cold weather upon us, I knew it was a must to make asap! 

There are three great things about this recipe... 

1) It's a one pot recipe (who doesn't love a lesser mess in the kitchen?!) 
2) It's freezer friendly (who appreciates a prepared meal stowed away?!) 
3) It can be made dairy free! (hello healthier alternative!)

I did some tweaking to the original recipe to 'soupe' it up a little (see what I did there...) as well as added the option to make it dairy free - which I did and you'd never know! Soup-er delicious! ;) 


Ingredients: 
 1lb ground burger (beef, venison, or sausage)
 1 large yellow onion diced
 4-5 cloves garlic minced
 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
 24oz spaghetti sauce (I used a quart (32oz) of my homemade sauce)
 8-10 C chicken broth
 14oz can diced tomatoes
 2 tbsp tomato paste
 2 tsp balsamic (or white) vinegar
 1.5 tsp sugar
 1 tbsp dried basil
 1 tsp parsley
 1 tsp oregano
 1 tsp salt
 1/2 tsp pepper
 1-3 bay leaves
 10 uncooked lasagna noodles (the old fashioned kind)
 Fresh chopped spinach (optional)
 Fresh sliced mushrooms (optional)

• Optional w/o dairy: 1/2 C coconut milk
• Optional w/ dairy: 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
• Optional toppings w/ dairy: shredded mozzarella cheese, grated parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese


Instructions:
 Heat large soup pot. Brown meat with onion. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Drain fat. 

 Add spaghetti sauce, 6 C chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, spices, lasagna noodles, spinach, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer until lasagna noodles are tender. 

 Discard bay leaves. Add in 2-4 C remaining chicken broth for desired consistency. Add in optional coconut milk or heavy cream, if desired. 

 Garnish with optional dairy toppings, if desired. 

Serve with a side of garlic bread!


Since this recipe made a large serving size for just one person (well 1.5 people if you count R) I was able to freeze the majority of this for another day! The recipe would also be easily doubled for a larger meal or for freezing! 

Thanks again Jessi for sharing the original recipe




Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Review || 2017 Preview

In true "mom of two under two" fashion, it's the start of the second week of the new year, and I'm just now finding the time to process it all. I mean seriously, where did 2016 go?! Besides our sweet baby boy joining our family, 2016 really won't be missed. It's no secret around here that I've been riding the hot mess express for.. well, um... months... but I'm really hoping to change that with this new year. Of course, there's only so much in my control, so it's more of a mentality thing I need to focus on... Send help. ;)

January - We took our first family road trip to Louisville, KY for the QDMA National Convention.

February - We announced the news that Remington was going to be a big sister! I took R outside to play in the snow for the first time.




March - Our baby girl turned ONE!


April - We celebrated Remington's birthday with family and friends. We accepted an offer on our house and began moving out!

May - We purchase a new camper and moved into it. We took Remington to the zoo for the first time.



June - The sale of our home fell through. We then decided we had to move back in before baby #2 arrived. We went on several camping trips and spent lots of time outside.

July - We partially moved back into the house while still partially living in the camper. Remington attended her first tractor pulls over 4th of July weekend. We had maternity pictures taken by Shanell.


August 2016 - We added a baby boy to our family!

September - We went back to living in the camper so we could be with Michael more often. Remington participated in her first Boo Bash halloween camping trip. 

October - My best friend had her rainbow baby, Olivia Brynn. R and I had a day date and took a trip to the apple orchard for the first time. We moved completely back into the house and winterized the camper. 


November - Michael came home for Thanksgiving. We celebrated our little turkeys and family. My Mom turned to big 5-0 and we had a surprise party for her! 


December - We counted down the days until Michael got laid off for the winter! We celebrated Christmas a lot (5 times to be exact) and I took the kids to see Santa. We also took the kids to see Christmas lights and R enjoyed it much more this year than last. 

Looking back on 2016, despite the struggles, we did have a lot of fun and made a lot of memories! Of course there were also weddings, babies, family gatherings, and much more to add to the list too! 

Sometimes it's hard not to get hung up on the bad times, and that is something I want to work on for 2017. I'd like to focus on being thankful for the blessings I DO have rather than dwell on the bad days or things that I don't have. 

I hope to work at getting us on a budget. 

Be more of a minimalist. 

Take care of my health, skin, and body. (Afterall, I do turn 30 this year...)

Make more time to "date" my husband. 

Be present. Not only with detaching from my phone but also enjoying/living in the moment rather than always thinking about what I need to be doing next or what I could be doing instead of what I'm currently doing.  

And my #1 goal for 2017.... SELL THIS HOUSE AND MOVE! 

Wishing you a healthy and happy New Year! 


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Five Christmases

Christmas with little ones is so much more fun! It's also so much more work when you have FIVE gatherings to attend! Here is a little peak and brief details of our five Christmases with all of our families!

We learned that ML enjoyed pulling wrapping paper and tissue paper off so that he could put it straight in his mouth. R wanted nothing to do with opening presents. If anything, she enjoyed getting every last piece of wrapping paper off each box. If she was able to see what was in the box, she would immediately want it opened. If she couldn't tell what it was, she wanted nothing to do with it. Typically, we could get her to open one gift and then she was done! 

December 17th - Christmas at the farm (Michael's family). To cap the night off, Aunt Joann brought out the old rocking horse that was Michael's when he was a baby/kid. Remi LOVES horses! She finally warmed up to it after falling off and taking a face plant to the floor because Joann didn't hold onto her... No worries, I only had a slight heart attack. 



December 22nd - We brought the old rocking horse home from the farm. Remi had to re-check it all out. Then she decorated it with necklaces. That evening, we headed to my Mom and Greg's. We had dinner and exchanged gifts with them and Jasmine. Oh, and ML got his first haircut! 





December 23rd - In the morning we went to visit Grandma Julie (the kids Great Grandma). Aunt Starr also stopped by to see us and the kids. Mason got this huge teddy bear and Remington of course thought it was hers. 

In the evening we went to Nana and Papa Furtah's for dinner. We had a huge Mexican fiesta bar! All types of side dishes, dips, all the dressings for tacos, burritos, nachos, etc. It was fun to do something different than the normal "American" food! The kids exchanged their gifts (we do a name drawing type thing instead of buying for each kid) and we embraced the chaos! 








December 24th - Christmas Eve morning we headed home from my Mom's house. We had a truck full of goodies from the three gatherings with family! We spent the day relaxing, unpacking, and getting the kids presents from Santa ready for Christmas morning! Once Remington went to bed, we brought out the presents and we blew up the bounce house that my Mom and Greg had gotten the kids. We thought that would be a fun thing to wake up to on Christmas morning since she didn't really understand the gift by looking at the box. 


December 25th - Christmas morning! Mason woke up first so we waited in the living room for sissy to get up. She was a bit confused when she came down the hallway and seen the bounce house. The kids each only had a few gifts from Santa (us). I tried to stick to the "need, read, wear, want, do" idea. We enjoyed a laid back morning and headed to Michael's Mom's in the afternoon once R woke up from her nap. The adults do a Chinese gift exchange (which is always hilarious), supper at 5, and then family gift exchange after that. It was a bit late when we started opening gifts so R was getting pretty tired and didn't want anything to do with any of it. 







December 29th - Last but not least, the Mason side of the family came over - my Dad, Miriam, sister Kristine, and brother Ryan. We haven't seen them in a while and for the last 7+ years we have celebrated Christmas together on Christmas Eve, but with the two little ones and living so far away, we opted out of that this year.  We visited, had snacks, drinks, played with the kids, ate dinner, exchanged gifts followed by dessert! 


Despite the busy-ness of the holiday season, I'd have to say that Christmas as a family of four was probably the best one yet! We are so blessed to have so many loved ones in our lives to celebrate such a special time of year with. We are also thankful for the generous gifts we receive. We are so grateful. Until next year... Merry Christmas (belated) from the Joy's! 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A day in the life of a "single" SAHM

There's something about "day in the life" posts that I find inspirational and refreshing. Maybe it's because I'm nosy and I like to know how other mom's manage their days - the SAHM's AND the working mom's! Or maybe it's because I think it's refreshing to learn that more often than not, we are all knee deep in the same struggles of parenthood. 

As most people know, I'm married and have two babies under two years old. Technically, I'm not a single mom however, I consider myself close to it. (Kudos to the true single mom/dads out there!!) My husband "travels" for work and I am home alone taking care of our house, dog, two kids, and everything in between, on my own with little/no help 90% of the time. For example, since I had the baby on August 1st, Michael has only been home 9 days (not including a week off for paternity leave). On almost a daily basis I hear the words "I don't know how you do it." Well spoiler alert my friends, most days I am not quite sure either!

My average day may be a bit different than most that you see/hear about. Which is why I felt compelled to share a little peek into our day. I don't have the glory of counting down the minutes for my better half to get home or the shared household duties such as "I cook, you clean" or "Wednesday is your night to cook dinner" or "Tonight is your night to handle bathtime" or "Can you take out the trash?" or "It's your night to put the kids to bed" or "You watch the kids so I can shower in peace" or "Hey Mom, can you stop by tonight?" Let alone the option for date nights is non exsistent. I think you get the point. I'm not asking for pity, but I hope I can remind others not to take their husband or nearby family members for granted!

I picked a random day to document - Thursday, December 1st. It turned out to be an okay day. I managed to get a few necessary things done which is a major win. Some days go better than others. Some days I accomplish nothing. Some days I feel like I've conquered the world. Most days are filled with tears from all three of us. Most days we don't get dressed or leave the house (because two under two is serious business). But every day that we are all fed and live to see another day - those are all days to be proud of! ;)

------------------------------

5:43AM - Wake up. I was up with ML at 11:30, 12:30, 2:30, 4, and again now. The question is... will he go back to sleep this time or not... I text Michael good morning. He is on his way to work. After nursing ML, I put him in the swing with hopes he will put himself back to sleep so I can lay back down. Now to hope he goes back to sleep and that R doesn't wake up soon.... 

7:12AM - ML wakes up again. Change diaper. Lay him on the floor. Let the dog outside. Brush my teeth and use the bathroom. Let the dog back inside. Feed her. Lock the gate to the back room of the house. 

7:26AM - R wakes up blabbing away. Usually standing in her crib. I go in and tell her good morning! She laughs, hands me all of her blankies and as many stuffed animals as my arms can hold. I pick her up, set her on the changing pad, change her diaper, carry her to the living room to watch cartoons and give her some water. 



7:31AM - Warm up a bottle for ML. Pour myself a glass of water and take my prenatal and lactation boost vitamins. 

7:42AM - ML refused bottle. Put him in bouncer chair. Pump. Check emails, social media, text Mom and Greg. 

7:55AM - Pumping cut short. R is knocking on all the cupboards in the kitchen (she's hungry) and ML is crying. Pick ML up and get R's breakfast ready - blueberry muffin, yogurt mixed w/ vitamin packet, frozen blueberries and strawberries - and set her at the table in her seat. While she eats, I attempt to give ML bottle again. 

Side note: R's Sesame Street placemat was Michael's when he was a kid! 

8:20AM - Both kids are done eating. ML goes back in bouncer. I clean R up (yogurt everrrrrywhere) and take her down from the table. As usual, she drank her milk and barely ate anything else. I make myself breakfast. Typically egg on avocado toast or scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms. ML fusses so I finish making/eating breakfast while holding him. R decides she's hungry again so she eats half my toast. 
We use a lot of paper plates because I still haven't found the box with our real plates in them....

8:45AM - Lay ML on floor. Clean kitchen up. Wash and sterilize bottles. Put pumped breast milk in freezer storage bags. Realize the freezer is full of frozen milk from this week so I decide to take it out to the deep freezer in the garage. While I'm headed that way, I take out the trash. Then while I'm in the freezer putting the milk away, I remember to get some burger out of for dinner. 

9AM - Bathtime for ML since I was too lazy to do it the night before. ML barfs in the bath. Maybe he needs another one? Ugh. Get ML dressed and lay back on the floor. Take the bottle sterilizer out of the microwave since I forgot to. (Almost always forget to do that...)
These hooded towels my Aunt makes for the kids are my favorite! Much better than the thin baby ones. 

9:15AM - My turn to get dressed (aka leggings, fuzzy socks, nursing tank and a sweatshirt), make my bed, brush my hair, and put on a little dab of makeup. R enjoys digging through my makeup bag and helping Mama. ML enjoys looking in the mirror at himself. Most days I honestly don't put on makeup and even when I do, it's pretty minimal. (Moisturizer, BB cream, under eye concealer, blush, curl eye lashes + my fav dry shampoo)

9:30AM - Start a load of laundry. In order to avoid laundry build up, I do at least one load every single day. Turn the TV off. R has been watching Mickey and running around the house all morning. 

9:40AM - Rock ML. Post on Snapchat (justjuliejoy) of course ;) Lay him down in the pack n play in his room. 

10AM - R goes in ML's room and screams/laughs in his face, waking him up. (Hence the reason we are currently learning the "shhhhh baby's sleeping") Put ML in the swing to see if he goes back to sleep on his own. Brush R's hair and teeth. Change her diaper. Quick play time w/ R while ML is content in his swing. Then we vacuum, sweep, and switch the laundry to the dryer. Remi helps with all the above. And of course climbs up onto her mini couch since I moved it up to vacuum. That little dare devil...




10:30AM - ML crying. Take out of swing. Change diaper. Attempt to take his 4 month picture since he's 4 months old today, December 1st! Of course he just wants to roll onto his belly and/or try to peel his sticker off! 

10:50AM - Nurse ML. 

11:15AM - Set ML in bouncer (pink burp cloth to catch his barf). R gets a snack. Spills it all over the floor and steps on it. Vacuum again. ML barfs all over himself. Clean him up. Play time with R while ML sits in my lap. We read books and play with stacking cups and puzzles. We're working on colors, numbers, and ABC's. 

11:40AM - R sits in her booster seat at the table and colors. 

11:50AM - Change ML's diaper. Nurse ML. 

11:55AM - R is done coloring. Stop nursing ML to remove R from the table and clean up crayons. Finish nursing ML. 

12:15PM - Burp ML while making R lunch. He falls asleep so I put him in the swing. R sits at the table for lunch. I review bills and online banking at the table while she eats. Yes, that is the same plate and yogurt from breakfast that she didn't finish... Today she has a PB sandwich, yogurt drops, dried cranberries and raisins, and yogurt. 

12:30PM - R is done eating. As usual, drinks her milk and barely touches the food. I let her run around and get her belly settled before we get ready for naptime. While she independently plays, I wrap up paying bills and eat the remainder of her food. No sense in wasting it, right?!

12:45PM - Head to R's room to read some books. Normally ML isn't sleeping so he sits on my lap and enjoys some reading time too. I change R's diaper. We lay on our belly's and read some books. Someone is full of giggles and is jumping on my back. We finally finish a couple books and I lay R down in her crib. She insists on taking a book to bed with her. I turn on her crib soother and white noise. Give her lots of kisses and tell her how much I love her. 

1PM - Taking advantage of both babies sleeping... so I begin to prep dinner. So much easier to do without a baby in the ergo! Lasagna soup is on the menu. (recipe to come soon!)

1:40PM - While waiting for the soup to boil, I run outside to grab the mail. Literally about the only exercise I get! Ha! I take the dog with me, we run to the road and back to the house as fast as we can since the kids are inside. While both kids are sleeping, I finish dinner (will warm up later), make a couple phone calls, clean the kitchen, grab a snack, fold and put away the laundry.

3PM - ML wakes up. Change diaper. Nurse. 

3:45PM - UPS package is delivered. Go to the door to see what it is. Christmas presents ordered during Black Friday and Cyber Monday! Let the dog outside. 

4:06PM - Michael texts me. He's had a busy day and is just now taking a break to eat some lunch. 

4:10PM - R wakes up. I set ML in the bouncer while I go get her. She has her blankie and gives me a big hug. I change her diaper and we head to the kitchen to make a smoothie for a little afternoon snack. 1/2 chocolate almond milk, 1/2 unsweetened almond milk, flax seed, peanut butter, 1.5 frozen banana, fresh spinach. (These are the only way I can get her to get some extra nutrients!)

4:30PM - ML spit up everywhere. Change clothes and diaper. R is hanging on my leg screaming because she needs help with a toy. Stop to help her. Meanwhile ML spits up all over again. Once he's cleaned up, I lay ML on the floor and the 3 of us have playtime. 

5PM - Finish sides for dinner - garlic toast and steamed asparagus. While those are cooking, I feed the dog her dinner as well. 

5:10PM - R and I sit down to eat dinner. I set ML in the highchair so he can sit with us as well. She is having garlic toast, lasagna noodles from the soup, strawberries, asparagus, and an applesauce pouch.
Even though I made the soup dairy free, I still couldn't resisted topping it with some cheese! 

5:20PM - Dinner is short lived. R doesn't eat much and ML is hungry now too. Nurse ML. 

5:40PM - Play puzzles with R (her current favorite thing to do if you didn't notice) while ML sits in my lap. 

5:55PM - Lay ML on the floor so I can clean the kitchen up and do dishes. Take a couple bites of my remaining cold dinner. We don't have a dish washer so we have to wash and dry dishes. Which is why I do small loads of dishes throughout the day. Makes it easier and faster to accomplish. 

6:15PM - Play with both kids on the floor. R is starting to be a bit sassy as she insists on climbing onto the coffee table. 

6:45PM - Bathtime for R. I say "R are you ready to take a tubby??!" She runs down the hallway to the bathroom and waits anxiously to get in the bath. While in the bath, ML sits in the bouncer. R plays with her toys and hands me the container of bubbles. Once R is washed up, I pick up ML because he doesn't want to sit in the bouncer anymore. Time for R to get out of the bath, she loves when I put the hooded towel on her head. Almost immediately when she gets out she points to her head and says "head". The simple things are just the cutest! I take her to her room to put a diaper on, clean her ears, brush her hair, and put on her PJ's.  


7:05PM - Nurse ML. 

7:40PM - Michael is out of work and calls. While chatting about our day, I change ML's diaper, put on some clean PJ's, give Remi her bedtime cup of milk, and turn on Mickey. Remi holds the phone for a second to say "Hiiiiii" to Dada. 

7:50PM - I hang up with Michael so I can jump in the shower quick while the kids are both content. ML lays on the floor and R sits on her couch watching Mickey. 

7:56PM - Shower is cut short because I can hear ML crying. I get my PJ's on. Pick up ML and give Michael a call back. While talking on the phone and carrying ML, I fill up the vaporizer in R's room and the essential oil diffuser in my room. 

8:20PM - Get off the phone with Michael. Pick up the toys and books around the house (while still holding crabby baby ML). Nurse ML. 

8:30PM - Bedtime for R. Give her her vitamin on our way to her bedroom because as usual I forgot to give it to her in the morning. Read a couple books while ML rolls around on the floor. Put her night time diaper on. Some nights we brush our teeth and some nights I'm a terrible Mom and am just ready for her to go to bed. R insists on ready "just one more" book. 

8:45PM - Tuck R into bed with her blankies and stuffed animals. Turn on the crib music soother, white noise, and vaporizer. Give her lots of kisses and tell her I love her. She makes me kiss her bear too. I pick ML up off the floor and she waves to him and pats him on the head. Lights out for Miss Remi Roo. 

9PM - Nurse ML and watch something on the DVR. Tonight, it's Teen Mom OG. 

9:20PM - Let the dog outside. Get ready for bed. Let the dog back in the house and she gets to stay inside the main part of the house rather than be locked on the other side of the baby gate. Head to bed. Text Michael good night. Pray that ML sleeps longer than an hour.



All in all, my days are currently full of diaper changes (average of 18), nursing sessions (average of 12), lots of dishes (average of 3 per day), lots of spit up and outfit changes, minimal conversations with my husband (or adults for that matter), and most importantly - lots of love and chubby cheek kisses.