Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pinterest Food Challenge Day Three: Pork Schnitzels and Mashed Potato Pancakes

Due to my head cold, we took yesterday off from our food challenge. My poor kiddos had to eat boxed macaroni......again. We will move the recipe that we should have done today to Monday, so stay tuned!

As for today, both recipes were quite yummy. As with every dinner in our house, one boy likes one thing on his plate and the other one likes something else. This evening was no different. Liam loved the pork and Nolan loved the potatoes. Joe and I like both. I do have to say that I would not pair these items again. They tasted great together, but it was too much fried food in one meal.

As with the other two recipes, everything took longer than suggested. The one change though is that the actual cook time (for both recipes) needed to be longer. Both the pork and the potato pancakes needed to be flipped about 5 minutes in rather than the 2-4 minutes listed on the recipes.

If you are interested in giving either of these recipes, the links are right here!

Pork Schnitzels

Cheesy Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pinterest Food Challenge Day Two: Enchilada Casserole

This post will be short and to the point. This recipe is awesome!! It earned two thumbs up for the two year old, and four (don't ask) from the five year old. My husband and I loved it as well. I'm hoping it is just as good the second time around, as we ended up with enough to have it again tomorrow night (barely, as I had to have two helpings tonight).

The only changes that I would make to the recipe are to, once again, change the prep time as this mom took far longer than the allotted 10 minutes. Also, I made our casserole in a 9x13 pan, which required four tortillas rather than the three which the recipe lists. I may try to make it in a smaller pan next time, so we end up with more, thicker layers of goodness.

Either way, this recipe was a hit!

Want to give it a shot? Here is the link: Enchilada Casserole

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pinterest Food Challenge Day One: Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs

Today was day one of our Pinterest Food Challenge. Throughout this week, our family will only eat my pinned dinner ideas. Today was Terikayi Turkey Meatballs with rice and egg rolls.

We chose this meal because it is a crockpot recipe, which we love to make on Sunday afternoons. I will start off by saying that we all loved the flavor of the meatballs and the Teriyaki sauce, even the boys! They were very flavorful, juicy, and easy to make. However, as with most recipes, the prep time of ten minutes was not at all at my "non-chef" speed. It was more like 30 minutes. Also, my meatballs didn't quite look like hers. My sauce was not as thick as I expected, although still very tasty.

The only modification we made to the recipe given was to not add the optional sesame seeds, otherwise we stuck to her instructions and ingredients. When I make these again, the only change I would make, is to bake them in the oven a bit longer. I like a crunchier texture to the outside of a meatball. The recipe made enough for two family dinners, so we packed up the leftovers and popped them in the freezer for another day (we will see how that goes).

My family would recommend this recipe to others, even the five and two year old! Give it a try!

Link to the recipe: Slow Cooker Teriyaki Meatballs

Saturday, April 25, 2015

One Week Pinterest Food Challenge

I love Pinterest. I spend far too much time scouring pin after pin. I have pinned close to 3,000 things, all with the intention to use them in some way. I, like most "Pinners", rarely actually do anything with them. My Pinterest page has turned into a graveyard of all my good intentions and creative inspirations.

My husband and I are waiting to get my son's blood test results, which could shed a lot of light on some uncomfortable symptoms he has been dealing with. Obviously, I'm going crazy waiting. So the only sane thing to do is to give myself something else to obsess about.

Our family always struggles with what to make for dinner. We procrastinate, until we give up and make boxed macaroni.....again, or make a quick stop at Taco Bell. Our stomachs and our food budget are not feeling so hot.

Three issues, one solution: A One Week Pinterest Food Challenge!

For one week, our family will only eat dinners found on my Pinterest profile. We will use the recipes that I, apparently, thought looked delicious. We created the menu for the week, will shop for any needed ingredients tomorrow, and spend the next week trying new recipes. Each day I will post a review of the recipe made, including how the kids liked it, as well as a link to the website where the recipe can be found.

While narrowing down our long list of pinned recipes, I learned a couple of things about items found on Pinterest. 1. Many of the "easy" recipes are not, in fact, easy. 2. Many of the websites which the pin takes you to have nothing to do with what you pinned or the page is inaactive. 3. Every website associated with recipes comes complete with pop-up and ad, after pop-up and ad. So, this little project also helped me to clean out my food board.

Our Menu

Sunday- Teriyaki Turkey Meatballs, rice and egg rolls
Monday/Tuesday- Enchilada Casserole
Wednesday- Pork Schnitzels with Mashed Potato Pancakes
Thursday- Herb Crusted Chicken in a Basil Cream Sauce with Pasta
Friday- Pretzel Dogs and Extra Crispy Oven Baked French Fries
Saturday- Buffalo Chicken Garbage Bread
Sunday- Crisp Meat Burritos 

I'm very excited to have something silly to focus on, to put my hours for pinning to good use, and to find some new, yummy recipes to add to our families short list. Let the challenge begin!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Fighting My Gut Feeling

It started almost two weeks ago. We were celebrating Liam's 5th birthday with close friends. It was a wonderful day, filled with happiness, love, and laughter. After the guests went home and we all started to wind down, we noticed that Liam had hives on his belly and back. This had happened before, so we gave him some Benadryl and didn't think too much of it.

Very early the next morning, Liam found his way into our bed and the constant scratching became something we were well aware of. After just a couple of minutes of his tossing and turning, my husband decided to turn on the light, to which we found him covered, head to toe (literally- scalp to the tops of his feet) with huge, bright red hives. Since our youngest was still sleeping, Joe decided he would take Liam to the emergency room, while I stayed home with Nolan. I hated every minute they were gone. I wanted to be with Liam, to help sooth him, to make him feel better.

When they finally returned about an hour later, Joe told me that the doctors believed that the hives were a reaction to the antibiotics that Liam had been taking for an ear infection, that they gave him a dose of steroids, and stop giving him the meds. We did.

Sunday went by, every minute he looked a little better. Monday morning arrived and I noticed that his ears were a bit read and were sticking out a bit. I scoured his body for any other signs of irritation, but only found the remnants of the allergic reaction. I reluctantly took him to preschool with a pretty unsettling feeling. Within two hours, Liam's preschool coordinator had called, saying she believed he was getting worse and should be picked up.

By the time I got there, he looked miserable. The hives were back, his eyes, ears, and lips were swollen, and he could barely walk (at the time I thought it was due to the uncomfortable rash on his legs). I rushed him to urgent care, where once they heard the words "swollen lips" they looked a bit more worried and urgency could be felt. We were shuffled to a room within a minute or two, where Liam was watched closely by three doctors and two nurses.

Two hours later, we were sent home. I was terrified to leave, due to their constant reminders to call 911 if there was any swelling of his tongue or breathing issues. He was, once again, given steroids and we were on our way. It took three more days for Liam to feel well enough to return to school. Even though the constant rash was a thing of the past, and scratching done resulted in an instant hive that would disappear within a few minutes.

We made it through work and school on Monday, but when I arrived to pick him up, he was barely walking and looked like he was on the verge of tears. Once again, I took him to see his pediatrician, who told me it was just a muscle cramp in his leg. Totally unrelated to his health issue of the week before.

We went home, did the things he suggested, and within two hours Liam was running and playing like
normal. We thought, for once, we had an easy answer.Then pick up on Tuesday resulted in the same situation. We did the same things as the night before, which once again, resulted in a happy boy. Wednesday, the leg pain migrated to the heels of his feet. Today, his feet were bothering him, yet again.

His smile lights up the room!
Due to his allergic reaction possibly being thanks to antibiotics, our pediatrician suggested that we take Liam to an allergist. Today was the day. Unfortunately, because he is still hiving at the slightest scratch he couldn't be tested on his skin, as they usually do. We were sent to a nearby lab to have his blood drawn to be tested that way. Unfortunately, after two failed attempts, a ton of tears, death stares, and four nurses, we left without a drop of blood.

I'm worried for many reasons. 1. His allergic reaction was so severe. 2. We don't know what, if anything, he is allergic to. 3. His leg/foot pains make him walk like a 70 year old man and breaks my heart simultaneously. 4. Autoimmune diseases run rampant from both sides of his family tree. 5. We have to go back to try a blood draw again tomorrow.

What if he is really sick? What if this is more than muscle cramps and allergies? What if my broken genes are hurting him? What if whatever is attacking him, doesn't stop? What if we never find out what is causing this? All I can do is think about my poor little man, who celebrate his birthday between painful illnesses. How can I watch my little boy be so sad, scared, and confused? I'm trying to be strong for him. I'm trying to be proactive rather than feeling defeated. I'm trying.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sprucin' Up the Place

From the moment we set foot in our current home, we know that it was going to take a great deal of TLC to get it to sparkle the way we knew it could. The house was a rental for many years, then sat empty as a short-sale for two years, before it became ours. As you can imagine, it needed a good scrub-down, paint, and just plain love. We have lived here for just over a year and are making a great deal of progress toward making it the dream home we have always known it has the potential to be.
Half Bath with New Floors

We began making changes before moving in. We had the 12 year old cream carpets cleaned, the house was cleaned top to bottom, and most rooms were painted. As we began unpacking our things, we noticed just how well the house had been kept. Other than sitting empty and not being updated over the years, it really had been given a lot of attention and upkeep. The kitchen cabinets were in amazing shape, the light fixtures were lovely, and the overall feel of the house changed the second we put our things into it.

Before and After Living Room
Before and After Dining Room
After a few months, we began our renovation projects. We started with the half bath, our boy's bedroom, and the loft. You can see all of these projects on my past post, Creating a Home We Love. Just this week, we tackled our most anticipated of changes. The floors. We have been so proud of our new home, however, the yucky carpet has made us hesitant to invite people over. It has been a flat-out embarrassment. We had planned to put it off for a few more years, but we just couldn't wait any longer.

Since flooring is so expensive, we want to take our time between projects, and we don't want to settle on a single detail, we decided to stick to just the downstairs flooring. We had the worn out, stained, and I'll say it, smelly carpet removed. It has been replaced with my new love, engineered hardwood floors in Chocolate. We love the color, look, and texture of these floors!

Before and After Family Room
It was quite the project, as we had three good-sized rooms as well as a pantry and the half bath to cover. We have always thought that the way that our living room, dining room, and kitchen flow, it would look best if all rooms had consistent flooring. I think we were right. We love the way that the flooring changed all three rooms, as well as helps to create a beautiful flow to our home. 

We also took on the family room flooring. We once again, removed the gross carpet and replaced it. This time we decided to stick with carpet, but went from cream, worn carpet, with fluffier, speckled carpet. We wanted to keep the cozy, homey feel as our boys wrestle and play on these floors. Once again, it transformed the room. Everyone loves to lay on it because it is so soft and comfy. 

Now we are proud to have visitors, we are proud to say this is our home, and we can see the potential coming to life.