Mission: Freezer Clean-Out

For a while now, I have been on a mission to clean out the freezer. I seriously dislike throwing good food away so I am trying to find creative ways to use up items in the freezer instead of having to do that. Some of the foods in the freezer are ready-to-eat meals like soup, other items are random like enchilada sauce and half of a corned beef package.

I want to make more room for two reasons:

1. My goal is to make a bunch of fresh and delicious freezer meals in the next 2-3 months to have around once our little bundle joins us and for times when I don’t feel like/am too tired to cook.

2. I 100% plan to breastfeed and plan to store extra milk in the freezer.

This weekend I used up the rest of our shrimp that I had used for Valentine’s Day, in kabob form on the grill. I also used up some tomatoes as a sauce for black beans and quinoa that I had frozen from 2/2014.

shrimp kabob

Last night I used up the rest of the corned beef in the form of corned beef hash. I had used the other half in corned beef and cabbage soup for St. Patty’s Day. I decided I definitely am not a fan of corned beef. But hey, I tried.

corned beef hash

What is still left in the freezer?

A lot of this is for my own good so that I can take inventory and so that I am fully aware of what is left in my freezer, but if you have any fun ideas on how to use any of my random items, feel free to comment! I do have some intentions on how I’d like to use some of these foods, it’s just a matter of actually doing it.

  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Cauliflower Sauce
  • Butternut squash cubes
  • A whole bunch of Olive Garden breadsticks
  • Quinoa chili
  • Veggie soup
  • Butternut squash soup
  • Corned beef and cabbage soup
  • Taco meat 
  • Hot dogs (which I won’t eat but hubby and guests might)
  • Hot dog buns (how long do these last in the freezer? It might be time to throw those out)
  • Shredded zucchini—zucchini bread needs to happen before I get my next bunch from the garden!
  • Garden tomatoes—again, I should really do something about these considering my next batch is starting to come in!

I clearly have a problem with making WAY too large of batches of soup. I enjoy leftovers but seriously it’s gotten out of hand. I can continue to chalk away at the soups, but they are enjoyed so much more in cooler weather am I right?

Now, I know that some of these items will still be in the freezer when babes arrives and that is totally okay as long as I eat them this fall or winter, but I would like to make room for NEW stuff too. Ya know?

I have some work to do. And yes, this could definitely be part of my “nesting” tendencies I have going on lately. I’m okay with this.

In the meantime, I will continue to pin meal ideas to my Pinterest “Freezer Meals” board. Today I only have five things pinned so I have some work to do there too!

Btw are you following me on Pinterest yet?! Find me here:  http://www.pinterest.com/NuttyMelanie/

 

Alright, off to take on the week. I can’t believe we are more than halfway through July. Where is the time going?! Ahhh!

Is your freezer as packed as mine is? Have you ever needed to take on a mission freezer clean-out?

Friday Favs! Flowers, Family, Food.

Happy Friday!

Today I’m linking up with my girl, Katie for Friday Favorites!

1. Homemade lavender shea butter. I will post this recipe on the blog at some point!

homemade lavender shea butter

2. A day at the lake with family. We spent the day pontooning, playing games, and eating in the sunshine. It was so relaxing and baby bump got a lil’ dose of vitamin D!

dana and melanie 2014

3. Absolutely no food aversions to vegetables anymore. Gimme ALL the veggies!

chicken veggies quinoa

4. Flowers just because and despite my hormonal outbursts. :smile:

flowers

5. So this sandwich from Panera was definitely not a favorite of mine due to the serious lack of peanut butter, but, my favorite is that I wrote them an email (and posted on insta and twitter) to explain what happened and they sent me a gift card!

pb and j

6. Wicked and Disney stations on Pandora. My little guy gets to hear all different kinds of music. I toss in some Christian radio, soothing sounds, hip hop, country, today’s hits, etc. He gets a little taste of it all.

wicked pandora

7. Being asked to be a bridesmaid in Betsy’s wedding! The wine in the basket will have to wait a few more months though! :wink:

bridesmaid basket

8. Baby kicks! I just can’t get enough.

Happy weekend to you all! Thanks Katie for hosting!

Friday Favorites

 

Nesting.

Oh, baby.

Baby is what’s on my mind 24/7 these days. I am now nearly 24 weeks and am realizing quickly how much I would like to do before baby is here. I also continue to remind myself that not everything needs to be done before baby arrives, but considering my personality, I would sure like it to be.

I have fallen knee-deep into nesting mode. Everything I touch in my home I must organize. I spend hours browsing google for the perfect organizers and nursery furniture, making sure to read reviews on everything as I go. I continue to build on my baby registry as I think of more and more things the baby might “need.” I want to clean and get upset when the house doesn’t stay clean. I make endless to-do lists. I’m not complaining though; I kind of like it. :smile:

I’m maybe a little crazy not to mention completely hormonal lately. I read a line from a book called The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy that my cousin lent to me (one of the hundreds of books I’m reading currently) that was just too perfect not to share:

“It’s as if your emotional engine is stuck at fourth gear and running full throttle all the time. You don’t build up to a feeling so much as arrive at it going ninety miles an hour. Worse yet, your brakes are no good and you’re not sure if the power steering works.”

At the beginning of pregnancy I didn’t feel the whole pregnancy mood swing thing; I even commented just a little over a week ago how I haven’t hardly cried at all. Clearly, I spoke to soon. It just comes out of nowhere. I’ll get super upset about something and then within ten minutes I will be laughing. I feel like I have no control over it but I am trying to be aware of it at least. These things are legit–they’re not just an excuse for us to be crazy I promise!

My family and friends are very patient with me.

To say I’m excited to be a mom would be the understatement of the year. I was born to be a mom. I grew up loving my baby dolls: feeding them, changing them, tucking them into bed, cuddling with them. I even remember holding them underneath my shirt pretending I was pregnant!

I am a nurturer and a lover and I am ecstatic to be able to smother this baby boy with love. I am already so in love.

Dana and I continue to dream of what are baby boy will be like. Ahhh the greatness that occupies my thoughts. :smile:

That’s all for today my friends. Have a fabulous day!

What I’ve Been Up To

Lately, I’ve been a little distanced from the ol’ blog.

This is partly due to summer being so fun and busy…

melanie and stephanie wedding nyc family grandma's marathon 2014 melanie and dana camping

Partly due to working hard to finish the basement so we can start on the baby room.

And partly because I have been devoting some of my time to is a business that I have started up with six other gals.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve fallen and I’ve fallen hard for Young Living essential oils. My passion for these oils has led me to become part of an incredible team of young women who have come together to start a business in order to help spread the word on the goodness of oils. We call ourselves crazy for coconuts.

coconut logo

We started a website and a blog where we talk all about oils:

  • Why we chose Young Living
  • What are essential oils
  • How do you use them
  • Our favorite oils
  • Recipes using oils
  • How to buy oils
  • And more

The website is: www.crazyforcoconuts.com

We are constantly chatting with each other about new ways to use oils and we have a blast!

If you have any interest in essential oils, I highly recommend you head over to our website and check out our blog too! I feel like not sharing information about oils is like cheating someone out of a really, really good thing. I have so much knowledge to share about these oils and my passion is growing by the day.

everyday essential oils

In the next few months in preparation for baby, I plan on making a whole bunch of baby products:

  • Baby wipes
  • Diaper rash cream
  • Baby shampoo
  • Moisturizer

I am so excited to share these recipes with you as I go!

If you ever want to chat oils with me, do not hesitate to reach out. I am thrilled when people ask me about oils. I want to share the love!

keep calm

Have a great Tuesday!

xoxo

Camping Recap: Food, Fun, and Muddy Camp

Hello again!

How was your 4th of July weekend? Mine was exhausting but a lot of fun.

On Thursday morning we packed up our car (literally packed to the top), and headed up north to Grand Marais to go camping with 23 others.

The beauty of northern Minnesota is something that everyone needs to experience. The air is fresh, the lake is stunning and mystical when the fog rolls in, and the trees surround you every which way. It is truly wonderful.

I didn’t keep my phone on me this weekend hardly at all which was GREAT, and therefore didn’t get many photos. I will show you what I’ve got but also wanted to include my camping post from last year because I took way more photos last year and was in the same general area.

Dana and me at Gooseberry Falls as a pitstop on our way up north.

dana and melanie gooseberry falls

Camp

Our shared campsite. Dana and I bought a huge tent for ourselves this year (ours is on the right). It sleeps nine people and we had two air mattresses set up in there. Don’t judge. I call it glamping; glamorous camping. We shared our site with Adam and Stacy, our travel buddies.

campsite

glamping camping tent

The Weather

The weather was beautiful on Thursday and Friday, but made a turn for the worse starting on Friday night after the fireworks. It rained all night on Friday, cleared up in the morning on Saturday and then started raining midday again and didn’t stop. We decided to pack up one night early and start our trek back home. So, just like nearly every year, we packed up a muddy wet campsite in the rain, amidst the hungry mosquitos. That my friends, is not something I wish upon anyone.

The Fun

BUT…..besides that last clean up mess, the weekend was so much fun!

We walked down by the water and watched the kids throw rocks into the lake; something they could have done for hours on end. We walked into town and enjoyed some beverages at a rooftop restaurant and bar and soaked up the sun and the view of the lake. We watched a super cheesy parade. We sat right underneath the firework show and were in walking distance back to our campsite afterwards (this was amazing because I was seriously sleep deprived that day. I was in bed within 20 minutes of the last firework going off). We relaxed by the campfire. We ate doughnuts from World’s Best Doughnuts. We went to Sven and Ole’s. We laughed a lot. We ate a lot.  We made the most of the rain. It was really a great weekend.

Camping Food

I put myself in charge of camping food for Dana and myself. Here is the menu I came up with:

Breakfast

Homemade peanut butter granola for breakfast every morning was SO good. The only ingredients were peanut butter, honey, granola, cinnamon and vanilla!

granola breakfast

Dinners:

Boy scout dinners on night one. For this one I started with two sheets of aluminum foil per packet, then added 1-2 teaspoons of butter followed by onions, potatoes, hamburger patty, carrots, worcestershire, garlic powder, salt and pepper. We tossed them on top of the fire for a while and let them do their thing. These babies were really good.

boy scout dinner

boy scout dinner camping

On night two we had the option of either veggie quesadillas or burgers but since I hadn’t realized that we were going to be going out for dinner one night, I had one packed extra meal. I thought it would be better to eat the burgers and bring the veg quesadillas home because they don’t have any meat and would last longer. So on night two we had burgers on the grill over the fire with cucumber salad!

Dinner #3 was fresh fish and chips at a cafe down the road from our campsite. They were so fresh and tasty! We grabbed this dinner after we had packed up our site and before we started our journey home.

Lunch:

For lunch we had peanut butter, apple and colby jack cheese sandwiches. Sounds totally random, right? That’s because they are, but honestly they were really good!

Snacks I brought:

  • Homemade Chex mix
  • Watermelon
  • Havarti cheese slices
  • Potato Chips
  • Pistachios
  • Gummies
  • Carrots
  • Apples

Snacks I ate that other people brought:

  • M & M bars
  • Special K bars
  • Jelly beans
  • etc.

My gut was insanely mad at me by the end of the weekend from the excessive sugar, but I sure had some delicious treats!

It feels good to be back to my normal routine again and I’m loading myself with healthy goodies.

That is my camping weekend in a nutshell. Now I am off to tackle at least three more loads of laundry (we’ve already done four).

What were some highlights of your weekend?!

Did you watch fireworks?

Did you enjoy any delicious food or fun beverages?

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

Well hi ya’ll!

I am celebrating over here because yesterday was my Friday and I am now off of work for the weekend! Hooray for vacation!

I just wanted to wish you all a happy fourth of July weekend. I hope you are able to kick back with family and friends, eat some delicious food, share some laughs, and maybe even catch some fireworks as we celebrate the independence of our country.

I’m including a link to a a whole bunch of insanely good-looking patriotic food items that I put together lsat year. Feel free to check them out:

10 Independence Day Recipes

patriotic salad

There may be one in there that would make the perfect contribution to your weekend get-together.

Anyway, Happy 4th of July my friends! Catch up with you soon!

xoxo

Odds and Ends

Hola my friends! How was your weekend?

Mine was really truly great however as always went by way too fast.

Our basement is almost finished and it is so exciting to see how it has all come together. We (okay, mostly Dana) spent a good chunk of the weekend continuing to work on the basement and move furniture downstairs. Our guest bedroom is officially moved downstairs which means that we can start working on the nursery upstairs now!

We also teamed up and tackled the weeds in the garden. That was a much-needed job and I am happy to report that all of our plants are doing well! We even had two sugar snap peas; one for each of us. They were crunchy and perfect.

Some other odds and ends…

I caved and bought some more maternity clothes. I tried to go with the basics this time around: dark jeans, shorts, black tee, white tee, long-sleeved grey tee, and I got a few other tops as well! Old Navy and Gap have great maternity wear!

melanie

Healing my gut is an ongoing journey, so I made myself another batch of bone broth soup to help soothe and heal. Making bone broth is quite the process in case you didn’t know! I made chicken bone broth but someday I want to make beef bone broth because i think I would enjoy it more (more flavor).

bone broth

I’ve been trying to be creative with foods again now that I am really into all foods again (no real aversions any more that I can think of). I threw together an old salad staple of mine with some minor adjustments based on what I had in the kitchen: spinach, strawberries, chicken, red onion, parmesan cheese, sliced almonds, and poppy seed dressing. I would have preferred feta cheese but we didn’t have any. And I should have added black beans and avocado. But it was still good.

strawberry salad

Dana and I made Saturday night date night and went to Punch pizza for my first time. They serve Neapolitan style pizza and eating their pizza seriously brought me back to our honeymoon in Italy. We got the margherita pizza with olives and mushrooms. We also split a really delicious salad.

pizza date night

The last odd and end:

About the same time I found out I was pregnant, I received a wonderful package from a company called Puro Fairtrade Coffee. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I stopped drinking caffeine. Not to mention, the thought of coffee made me queasy in the first trimester.

So there I was with three delicious bags of coffee beans along with a sweet little mug sitting in my home to review. I felt so bad I wouldn’t be able to review it myself but asked if it were okay that my husband review it instead, and they agreed that would be absolutely a-okay!

puro fairtrade coffee puro fairtrade coffee puro fairtrade coffee

Puro coffee

About Puro Fairtrade Coffee 

Puro Fairtrade Coffee comes from a company Miko, they are based in Belgium and are one of the oldest coffee roasters in the world (since 1801!). All coffee from Puro is Fairtrade, but uniquely, Puro works in partnership with a rainforest charity called World Land Trust and money from each bag of their coffee is used to buy and protect areas of rainforest in coffee producing countries.

Puro coffee sales to date, have funded the protection of more than 10,000 acres of rainforest across 6 countries.

Although I personally wasn’t able to taste-test the coffee as I gave up caffeine when I became pregnant, Dana, my husband was able to taste and review it for me. He just finished up the last of it a week ago. He really enjoyed the earthiness (but not TOO earthy), bold and rich flavor of the coffee. We both love that the company is fairtrade and feel great about supporting a company with so much compassion and heart.

Sustainability

Their roasting plant in Belgium was placed near to Antwerp, the world’s second largest coffee port and its roof is covered with solar panels providing for all electricity needs. Residual heat from the roasting process is re-directed to power underfloor heating throughout the factory and offices. Coffee chaff generated through roasting is given to local organic farmers for fertilizing their fields.

I love this!

Another partnership in the UK combines used coffee grounds from filter and espresso generated at key client sites with food waste, creating compost. Also….Puro’s coffee foils are even upcycled into bags, flower pots and dresses!

Video

Now you can see why this company is so great! To learn more about their story watch their video: http://vimeo.com/fairtradecoffee/our-story 

Online Shop

They have an online shop if you are interested in purchasing:  https://www.puroathome.com/

Okay, that’s enough randomness for one day. Have a good one! xoxo

My Pregnancy Must-Have Foods

Throughout pregnancy, my appetite has gone in waves of normal to crazy hungry, but most of the time I am pretty darn hungry.

My diet isn’t nearly as perfect as I’d like it to be…my latest craze is Mentos candies. I have a whole stash of them in my car. I’d like to eat more salmon and more salads. I’d like to say I’m not eating any processed sugar or any processed foods in general. I can’t say that though.

BUT, I am doing my best given the circumstances (food aversions, cravings, etc.) to nourish my body and baby with healthy foods, and that is still pretty good if you ask me.

Here are some of my must-have pregnancy foods I have been noshing on for the majority of the pregnancy.

Open face egg sandwich on gluten-free waffles. I fry an egg (making sure the yolk is cooked through), and place it on a gluten-free waffle with pepper jack cheese and mustard. So, so good.

egg sandwich

Greek yogurt sweetened with honey or maple syrup.

yogurt bowl

Burgers, steak….okay, beef.

burger

Pickles: as cliché as it is.

Raw cocoa bars or Larabars.

raw cocoa bars.jpg

Peanut butter on anything: toast, apples, celery, dates, spoon.

apple peanut butter

My favorite chocolate peanut butter ugly smoothie that I have evvverrrryyy morning. It’s so good I’m still not sick of it! Plus it’s a great way for me to get 2-3 servings of fruits and veggies into my day.

chocolate peanut butter smoothie

Beans.

veggie burgers coleslaw beans

String cheese.

Berries. Cherries.

Cereal.

honey nut chex gluten free

Panera Bread…specifically their broccoli and cheese soup or chicken wild rice with whole grain baguette. OMG.

panera broccoli cheese soup

Quinoa.

thai chicken quinoa salad.jpg

 Baked potatoes.

cranberry BBQ chicken

Although I’m not SUPER into vegetables, I am still getting at least two servings a day, usually three.

Not too shabby, right?

Pregnant or not, what are your food must-haves?

Marathon Weekend Photo Recap

This weekend I was up in Duluth to watch Grandma’s Marathon and the Garry Bjorkland Half Marathon. Our friends Nate and Adam were running the half-marathon, Dana was running his first full marathon, and Kevin his second!  I was incredibly excited to cheer these guys on!

We got up there on Friday and took a stroll down to the water. We battled the wind and the cold air but still managed to steal a few beautiful views. Friday was chilly: high 40′s and drizzly.

grandma's marathon 2014

Friday night we all tried getting some sleep after an awesome baked ziti dinner.

Saturday morning it was time to get our cheer on. The temps ranged from high 40′s to low 60′s throughout the course of the day.

We watched the half-marathoners come in at the finish….

Nate!

grandma's marathon 2014

Adam!

grandma's marathon 2014

Then we made our way to the marathoner’s 19 mile mark.

grandma's marathon 2014

Kevi stopped for a quick little stretch…

grandma's marathon 2014

Dana at mile 19. I was so happy to see them both at this point.

grandma's marathon 2014

Kev at mile 24.5….

grandma's marathon 2014

At the finish!!

grandma's marathon 2014

Dana at the finish. Both guys looking great still!

grandma's marathon 2014 grandma's marathon 2014

Seeing my guys come across the finish made me all emotional again. I am so darn proud of them. What an amazing achievement!

grandma's marathon 2014 grandma's marathon 2014

Congrats to ALL of the runners this weekend. You rock my socks.

Pregnancy Update: 20 weeks!

Wait, what?!

20 weeks! I’m halfway there!

I thought you all might be interested in a bit of an update from pregnant lil’ me.

First up: 20 week bump pic

pregnancy 20 weeks

Compared to 16 weeks

IMG_1220

Baby is now measuring about 10 ounces and 6.5 inches long about the length of a banana!

How am I feeling?

  • Very normal for the most part and really enjoying being pregnant!
  • I have days where I am insanely hungry (like yesterday) where no matter what I eat I still seem to be hungry, and then I have more normal days.  I always make sure to have snacks on hand; don’t want to embarrass myself by getting “hangry” in front of strangers.
  • Excited to start working on the nursery. I have some ideas as to how I want to decorate now! More on that later.
  • Yearning to start “nesting” and getting the house baby-fied.
  • Starting to look more pregnant and not just blubbery.
  • Anxious to start feeling movements.
  • Needing to get used to people noticing my bump now. I see them look at my face and then look at my belly. I don’t always feel like it’s that obvious but I guess it must be.
  • Super lovey dovey to this baby. I dream of what he looks like and what his personality will be like.

Discomforts 

I have to say I have been very lucky (knock on wood) with very minimal discomforts, but I few things I have been noticing lately…

  • Out of breath a whole lot easier, especially going up hills.
  • Stiff and achey body all over when I wake up in the morning. It loosens up as I get moving. I sleep with pillows all around me and in between my legs and I think that helps a bit.
  • Stretching and some round ligament pain. I actually welcome this! I love it because since I’m not feeling movement yet, it helps me to know baby is growing.
  • Calf cramps at night.

Again, NOT complaining!

Cravings?

No serious cravings except for I’m almost always up for a burger still. Lately, my sweet tooth has nearly taken over my savory tooth. I was hoping that this wouldn’t happen. I am still trying to control my sugar intake. It’s tough though. I’m trying to choose foods with natural sugar like dates with peanut butter or Greek yogurt with honey.

burger yogurt

Oh, and everytime I see a subway sandwich I drool a little. :wink:

Aversions?

I can’t seem to get salmon down the hatch even when I make it my favorite way.

What I’m looking forward to in the coming weeks?

Feeling this boy move!

I am absolutely loving pregnancy. :smile: Catch up with you again later gators!