Sunday, December 29, 2013

An Ode to EMX (WHAT?)

In honor of my husband's 33rd birthday, I thought it would be nice to share some things that you may or may not know about him.  I was getting a little TOO personal trying to come up with 33 facts, so I figured I would narrow it down to 14, since that's the number of years we've been together.  Here goes nothing.

  1. His favorite meal is anything "sink your teeth into."  Now, you may be asking yourself, what is that?  It's easier to define what it's NOT for me.  It's NOT quinoa anything.  It's NOT soup.  It's NOT most salads.  It MIGHT be meatloaf, or spaghetti bake, or salmon with bbq glaze.  It's definitely not couscous.
  2. He is a horrible speller.  
    1. He once left a note for his parents to let them know that he did something for them.  "I feeded the dog."
    2. He once wrote a book report about an "Angle" in a closet.  The book, however, was about an "ANGEL" in a closet.
  3. He may not be able to spell, but he IS super smart.  He can tell you all about his job (electrical engineering) or car stuff and I won't recognize most words.  I like to say he's like Chandler Bing.  No one really knows what he does. 
  4. He can only cook 4 things. PB&J, Grilled Cheese, Spaghetti with jarred sauce and take out.
  5. He may not be able to cook, but he CAN swap out an engine in a foreign car in a little one car garage in the dead of winter.
  6. He has the BEST announcer voice.  Anyone want to hire him?
  7. He can shake his eyes from side to side.  It's super creepy.  He still won my heart over though.
  8. He's willing to try all of my experiments in the kitchen.  My first and worst experiment was Rachael Ray's "You Won't Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta."  Guess what?  The way I made it?  I would have been single in about an hour if I hadn't made a back up meal.  You'll NEVER guess what it was..... Give up?  Bean and Hot Dog Casserole.  Now THAT is a sink your teeth into meal.  
  9. His favorite band is TOOL and his all time favorite musical artist is Maynard James Keenan.    I never thought I'd be a fan, but I now find myself listening to TOOL in my car by myself!
  10. He semi recently started running.  He clearly has inherited his dad's running gene because he rocks at running.  He's training for a marathon in 2014.
  11. Ian will vacuum, do laundry and dishes any day of the week for me.  (Aren't I lucky?!?!?!)  He will also put away my stuff when I leave it out, only complaining after a few days of it.  
  12. He's into photography.  Have you checked out his webpage lately?  
  13. He is selfless.  In 2009, when we were deciding whether to build a new house, or buy an existing house, the difference in our monthly payment was almost equal to the payment on his S2000 sports car that we had purchased only a year and a half prior.  He decided to sell the 2 seat car in order for our family to get the best house possible in a brand new neighborhood.
  14. He's an amazing dad.  From coaching soccer, to kissing boo-boos, to singing goodnight songs, to changing diapers and everything in between.  I love to watch him interact with our children.  I cannot imagine another person I'd rather parent with.
  15. OK - one more for good luck. He the best husband, friend, and supporter I could ever ask for.  I cannot imagine my life without him and I love that I get to spend the rest of my life with him.  He truly is my best friend, the person I can tell anything, and the person I trust the most.  
I love you Ian!  Happy Birthday and thank you for everything you do for our family.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

What NOT to do on a sugar detox

So I completed another round of a 21 day sugar detox right before Halloween. Being that tomorrow is Veteran's day, I wanted to bake something for our scheduled veterans coming into the office and may have gone a little overboard. I'm due to send a treat into EMX's work though so thankfully we won't be in a sugar coma.

So what is it all?

EMX emailed me a picture last week asking if I could duplicate a chocolate chip cookie with a smore inside. Duh. Challenge accepted.  I started with a double batch of my regular chocolate chip cookie dough.  If you want the secret family recipe,  you'll just have to Google the recipe because it's actually no secret. (Do you remember the episode of Friends where Pheobe realizes that her grandmother's cookie recipe was actually the recipe off the chocolate chip bag?)   I wasn't too keen on taking the time to make a million cookies originally so I decided to do a bar to start.  

I layered chocolate chip cookie dough on the bottom of a 9x9 pan.  Then did a layer of graham crackers,  followed by chocolate (some candy bar and some chocolate chips), mini marshmallows,  and then another "layer" of cookie dough.  I say "layer" in quotes because I enlisted R to help with this rather messy part and it didn't completely cover the marshmallows,  but we figured it would be just fine.

I threw that in the oven at 375 and started to assemble two large smore cookies.  Picture a layer of the cookie dough with a graham cracker,  more chocolate chips (because the chocolate bars were long gone), marshmallows, and then a topping of, you guessed it, more cookie dough. I was unsure of how long it would all take to bake, but monitored it all and the bars took about 35 minutes and the giant cookies took about 13 minutes. I was also worried about the middle of the cookies being too raw while the outsides became burnt but thankfully that didn't happen!

While we were waiting for the bars and giant cookies to bake,  I remembered something.  We have been so good lately about not buying packaged snack foods, except the occasional box of bunny crackers for the kids, but yesterday, we had a hankering for EMX's FAMOUS oreo cookie milkshakes. (The man can cook/make 4 things - pb&j, grilled cheese, pasta, and this milkshake.) Guess what we had left, just sitting there, oh so lonely in the pantry.  Oreos. Guess what happened next?

I set aside 3/4 of the dough left (about a single batch) for regular cookies and then mixed in oreo cookie pieces into the smaller portion of dough. Then we scooped out the remaining dough for baking.

I think EMX would have reproposed to me if the kids weren't hounding him for a bite of the oreo cookie. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me before today to try that combination before!  The smores giant cookie and cookie bar also appear to be hits.

As EMX says after too much sugar, "I can see the future."

Who is ready for another sugar detox?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WFL - what's for lunch 11/6/13

I'm working from home today and made a quick tasty salad for lunch today. I'm sure you are just DYING to know what is in it!

Organic romaine lettuce
Cherry tomatoes
Provolone cheese
Banana peppers

All topped with olive oil and coconut vinegar with some salt and pepper.


Want to hear my 2 favorite things about working from home? 

1. The BRITA container is always full.

2.  I can listen to some background music. Not ashamed to admit right now I'm listening to Rockabye Baby TOOL. It's just enough background noise without the distraction of the real songs.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness

Before this October, though I donated money to Breast Cancer Research, I never (thankfully) felt a personal connection to the disease that claims so many lives. I've been struggling with sharing this because although I post a lot on social media, I don't usually get really personal if there isn't a funny story behind it. For some reason though today, as I'm baking some oatmeal toffee cookies, I decided to sit down and write just in case this could help someone.

 I had my annual ob/gyn appointment the end of September. During the breast exam, I noticed a tender spot that I mentioned to my Doctor. We both didn't really feel a lump, but there was definitely a spot that was tender. Because it was in the same area that I had a MAJOR blockage in during my last marathon mastitis episode, my Doctor ordered a mammogram and a follow-up ultrasound of the area. (I had an ultrasound when I had the mastitis last October.) They initially offered me an appointment with the radiologist the very next day, but the following week worked better for my schedule, so I waited until October 1 to go.

I have to say, I was a little (a LOT) terrified of getting a mammogram. No one really wants to have their boob squished in between two metal plates. To be honest, it wasn't as bad as I had built it up in my head. The woman taking the images was really comforting and did her best to keep my mind off of the situation at hand.

 Next was the ultrasound. I was fortunate enough to have the same woman doing my ultrasound that did it last October during my mastitis. She had a baby since our last visit and we chatted during the exam. Unfortunately, I did keep peeking at the screen and could see a shape in the screen that did not look like the rest of the image. My heart definitely started beating a million miles a minute. She wrote up her report (and I could see the word MASS on the screen which did little to help my nerves). Then the radiologist came in to take another peek and give me the news. There was SOMETHING there. He really didn't go into much detail other than the fact that they wanted to biopsy it. The room seriously started spinning and I just basically nodded and tried to not cry. As soon as he left, the technician told me that 99.9% of these types of "things" were benign. Seeing as we just spent 20 minutes talking about our kids, she knew that the first thing I would worry about is being around for my kids. It calmed my nerves (a little) and I left and waited for the scheduler to contact me for my biopsy.

 During the next few days, I was a basket of nerves. Though I knew that 99.9% were nothing for me to worry about, what happens if I was that 0.01%? I tried my best to keep my mind off of it, but it was difficult to forget seeing that shape on the screen. It was 8 days until the biopsy was scheduled and during that time I had to wait, I began to worry about something new. A needle being stuck into my boob! Finally, it was the day of the biopsy. Again, I was fortunate to have two wonderful women taking care of me during the procedure. While confirming who I was, my date of birth and why I was there about 25 times, we cracked jokes about me skipping out on work to hang out and get my boob biopsied. Thankfully, they numbed me up pretty well so I barely could feel the actual needle, though the biopsy itself was a little painful. After it was over, I was a little nauseous and lightheaded though because I made myself look at the screen and watch the entire thing via ultrasound image. I just had to be sure that they biopsied the right "area" or I wouldn't be able to sleep. That probably, in retrospect, was not a wise decision as I am not the best when it comes to needles. I was able to resume normal activities within 24 hours, although I did get a bruise and felt like I got punched in the boob.

 I'm very happy to report that I do NOT have breast cancer. There IS something there that really isn't supposed to be, however, unless it starts to change, or really bother me, it can be left as is. I'll go back in 6 months for a followup ultrasound to make sure it hasn't changed in any way. To give a name to the "shape," it's called a fibroadenoma. Apparently, it's super common in young women (they all called me young so I'm going with it), although I never have heard of it.

 Today, I was fortunate enough to participate in a Kick for a Cure Event at RIT which featured 2 hours of Turbo Kick, Zumba and Bokwa taught by the wonderful Bounce Aerobics owners and other local instructors. Something about sweating it out with some awesome friends made me realize again how thankful I am that everything turned out OK for me. The reason that I struggled to share this, is because I haven't shared this with a lot of close friends and family. During the waiting game, I decided to not even share with my sisters (who I seriously share everything with - now that we are adults anyway) because I didn't want them to worry unnecessarily if it turned out to be nothing. I guess the reason that I opted to share today was because I want to remind women to do a breast exam every month. Before this month, I was not one to do it regularly, but you bet your butt that I'll be way more diligent now. I've been told that these fibroadenomas can develop in the other breast as well, though if I do encounter another lump or tender spot, I should not assume that it's the same thing and still get it checked! If you do notice a lump, or spot, call your doctor, schedule an appointment and get it checked out. Hopefully you will be able to have the same results that I did and maybe by sharing this story, you'll be a little less nervous!

Monday, July 1, 2013

(hash tag) pictures

Do you follow me on Instagram yet?

If not, ask yourself the following questions:

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, feel free to follow me on Instagram. @chelleybelly8  :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

WFD 6/8/2013

Marinaded flank steak and veggie skewers.

No picture of the steak because I thought I took a picture of it, but really my friend S did on her phone, lol.

G ate an entire veggie skewer and the steak.  Easy and delish!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

WFD 6/6/2013

You may be wondering what the heck I'm talking about in my post title.  WFD?  What does that stand for?

Whales Fighting Dolphins?

Um, excuse me, can you please move over?

What Fun Dog?

why is this so funny?

Witches Flying Drunk?
for realz.

oooooor, None of the above.

The answer is NONE OF THE ABOVE.  Instead, it's a little acronym that I like to use for the ever popular.... wait for it.....

What's For Dinner?!?!?!?!  

(Did you read that and say it in your head like a game show host?  If you didn't, then please read it again and this time read it with the enthusiasm of a game show host.  Thanx.)

WFD is not to be confused with WFL (What's for lunch?) or WFB (What's for breakfast?  Though I suppose it could be "What's for Brunch" too?)

OK - now that we have an idea of what WFD means, here is what is for dinner in our house tonight.  Nothing very spectacular.  It's a dreary rainy day and I'm just trying to use up miscellaneous food items in the fridge.  

So, yeah.  Nothing fancy.  It's more food than it looks like.  Big plates will do that.   Zweigles hot dog, mustard, roasted broccoli, roasted baby carrots with cinnamon and a leftover salt potato.   Giselle ate an entire hot dog, broccoli, carrots, potato and string cheese, so I guess it was an OK meal for using up what was in the fridge.  :)

What did YOU have for dinner?

Fist Bump for the breast pump

I LOOOOOOOVE that Kristen Bell is most proud of her accessories - her high heels and her breast pump.

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to be asked to be in two weddings!    Giselle was still nursing, so my handy dandy breast pump came with me to 2 bachelorette parties, 2 showers, and 2 weddings.  I pumped in the back of a "limo" on a Prom Dress Wine Tour.  I pumped while riding in a car on the way to and from Boston.  I pumped in a spa in Geneva before getting a manicure.  I pumped in the car (EMX was driving) on the way home from a Dave Matthews Concert. I proudly carried that pump everywhere I went if G wasn't with me.  I totally related to Kristen Bell when I saw this article!

Nursing wasn't easy for us.  It was SEMI easier knowing that it would be difficult though.  When I had Reed, I had no idea how many tears would be shed, only to stop nursing after a week, and then exclusively pumping for 4 more.  Ultimately, I did stop pumping with Reed because my body was just not healing well from birth.  I wasn't enjoying my time home with him, and that was more important to me than getting a few ounces of breast milk here and there.  With Giselle, I made a promise to myself that I could make it 6 weeks.  And then 8 weeks.  And then, what's another 4 weeks?  With the help and support of a lactation consultant (Donna was seriously a Godsend) and my family, slowly I kept pushing my deadline out and ultimately, after 6.5 months of nursing, I did stop.  It definitely took a toll on my body - 3 bouts of mastitis (I've written about that here before), each one worse than the previous, an ER visit before hosting a birthday party, major hair breakage, vitamin D deficiency, and an emotional roller coaster with hormones all over the place.  But I don't regret one second of it.   I feel a very strong emotional bond with Giselle, which I'm thankful for, because with Reed, it felt like it took much longer to have that strong bond.  (Maybe it was the c-section drugs?)

Moral of the story:  I tell every expectant mom the following if the conversation about nursing comes up.  It's HARD.  If you want to stop, stop.  You will feel guilty.  But guess what, you will feel guilty for EVERY decision you make for the rest of your life.  Going back to work?  You'll feel guilty about leaving your child.  Staying home with your child?  You'll feel guilty about not "bringing home the bacon."  There is no right answer. Do what works for you and your family.  Everything will work out just fine.  :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sugar and Spice - wait, no sugar? WHAT?

So after a very fun filled weekend that included a Wegmans Avenger cake, a soccer ball cake, chocolate cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies for Reedster's 5th birthday celebrations, I felt it was time for me to start another round of a Sugar Detox.

Before you roll your eyes at yet another blog post on the internet about doing a detox to lose weight - STOP.  Here are a few things that I want to share.
  • I'm not doing this to lose weight.  I'm doing this to get me back on the healthy eating train.  The last time I did the detox, I did lose about 5 lbs, but I attribute most of that to losing bloat.  My scale is broken right now so I cannot comment on my start weight right now but I'd imagine that I'm up 2-3 lbs from my lowest, which is when I finished the detox in March. 
  • This isn't your "typical" detox, or at least what I thought a detox was before researching this one.  There are no shakes, or weird drinks (lemon water with cayenne - WHAT?) to consume. I'm eating real food, all day, every day - just NOT eating any processed foods and not eating as much fruit as I normally would. 
  • I wouldn't recommend doing this type of thing if you haven't already in the past made changes toward a healthier lifestyle.  I think, if you are currently eating mostly or a lot of processed foods, starting with this is setting yourself up for failure.  Thankfully, I began looking more at what I'm consuming 3 years ago, so I've made baby steps toward this type of lifestyle and this wasn't a huge jump for me.  I started with tracking my food intake and exercise using myfitnesspal and a heart rate monitor.  I even continued throughout my entire pregnancy with G.  Laugh if you want, but I attribute my successful VBAC and getting back to pre-pregnancy weight mucho fast to eating healthfully and exercising nonstop!  Yes, I was the crazy prego woman in Booty Bounce the night I went into labor.  WHAT?  I was TRAINING for labor.  Guess what?  It worked!
  • This detox REALLY works.  I completed the first round in March.  I had the support of a few people who did the detox with me.  This time, it's just two of us.  The things I noticed after the first round was done?  
    • Increased energy.
    • WAY improved mood - as in, I felt giddy.  
    • Less cravings for sugar filled foods.
So, what DO I eat while on this 21 day sugar detox?  Here are some of the foods I've been eating this week:

(If you follow me on instagram, you can keep up with me.  I'll try to post at least one food picture a day.  My breakfast meals tend to be the same, and my lunches are similar ingredients during the week, so they can get repetitive.)

Breakfast: 2 organic eggs scrambled with organic chicken sausage, diced red bell peppers with some shredded cheddar cheese, coffee - either black, or plain milk or heavy cream

Lunches: Organic romaine lettuce, avocado, baked rosemary balsamic chicken, cherry tomatoes, yellow bell peppers - or today I left out the lettuce and ate some goat cheese with the rest of the ingredients

Dinners this week so far: Greek salad from Wegmans with olive oil and red wine vinegar for dressing, italian sausage link, red peppers, steamed broccoli and roasted cinnamon carrots, zucchini "spaghetti" with organic marinara sauce and leftover sausage and/or chicken 

Snacks: baby carrots or a cut up apple with my fave almond butter, veggies, almonds, pecans, cheese

I'm doing a combination of Level 1 and 2 and since this is my second round, I am being a little more lenient with cheese.  And I'm going to admit right now that I've been asked to do wedding cake taste testing with my middle sis this weekend and you better bet I'll be there.  I just plan on getting back on the detox train right after.  :)

So, is the detox something you would try?  What would be hard to give up?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Happy birthday Reedster!

I had the BEST morning today with my birthday boy.  Way better than the morning 5 years ago spent recovering from an unexpected c-section after a night of labor and 3 hours of pushing.  :)  After a super healthy breakfast of a mickey mouse chocolate chip pancake with syrup, chocolate ice cream and bacon, (eggs benedict for me), we headed to party city to get goodies for his party bags, and then to the mall where we bought him some new sneakers.

I dropped him off at school for some fun with friends and cake for their snack and I kid you not, every single kid yelled, "happy birthday" when we walked in the door.  Reed was in HEAVEN as everyone in his class gave him hugs and I teared up thinking of how grown up my little man is.

Before getting pregnant with Reed, I never really gave much thought to having a son.  Growing up with two sisters, it never really even dawned on me that I would have a boy.  When he was born, my heart was immediately taken by him.  I used to yell at EMX telling him that we had too many matchbox cars, but I often found myself in the car aisle at Target, or even Wegmans looking for cars that we didn't have yet.  I found myself buying 3 matchbox cars at Wegmans just today in fact.  It's a disease apparently.

So tough

We like to make weird faces.  WHAT?  

I know someday Reed won't want to give me hugs and kisses like he does now.  So any time he asks for ONE MORE hug and kiss, I never decline that request.  It won't be long before he's in Kindergarten, riding the school bus, and then going to elementary, middle and then, GULP, high school.

Someday they will hate me for this pic.

So for now, I'm going to enjoy every single hug and kiss from my "baby" boy, every snuggle, every "I love you mommy."  And right THIS second, I'm going to reminisce and look at pictures of Reedster from his early birthdays.  :)



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chelle's Chilly Weather Chili

OK, so it's "Spring."  But it's still freezing outside, so I figured I'd share my favorite chili recipe with you.  My "recipe" does change from time to time, but the basics are easy and you can substitute ingredients as you like.  My family doesn't like super spicy chili, so I stick to bell peppers, but you could certainly add some heat by adding jalapeno peppers to this!

Chelle’s Chilly Weather Chili
Adapted from Paula Deen's Chili in a biscuit bowl recipe

Printable Recipe
2 lbs ground beef
2-3 bell peppers, any color you like
2 onions
4 (14 oz) cans diced or stewed tomatoes
4 tbsp chili powder
cumin to taste
dash cinnamon
cayenne pepper to taste
2-3 cans beans (kidney, black, pinto)
salt and pepper

Brown ground beef in a stock pan. Add diced peppers and onions and cook for a few minutes until vegetables are tender.  Drain most of the liquid from the pot.  Add canned tomatoes, canned beans (drained and rinsed), and seasonings.  I usually add the 4 tbsp chili powder and then just sprinkle in the cumin, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.  I use more cumin than the other seasonings.  Stir together, cover, and simmer on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, plain greek yogurt (in place of sour cream), fresh avocado.

NOTES: I’ve made this with Rotel as some of the tomatoes too and it is DELISH!  The tomatoes that I used today were what EMX picked up at the grocery store for me last night.  :)