I’m mostly into the Superbowl for the snacks and commercials so my home team playing is just a perk. I did watch to see who would go to the superbowl! If you haven’t planned your snacks, get on it! I have quite a list and need to narrow down a bit! We aren’t having a crowd so I’m still assessing what snack food we want to have. Our preschooler looooves when we have snacky dinner- as in, not a traditional meal. Maybe we’ll have something with him and then more when kiddos are asleep an hour into the game!
Nachos seem like a must-have so loaded waffle fries is a definite way to kick it up:
Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs will be gone before you know it, and are a good snack to make ahead of time or to bring since they don’t need reheating! Seriously, people chuckle when they see deviled eggs yet they’re always gone before I know it whenever I bring them somewhere. I’m sure I’ll make some since they are easy to just make a few of.
Skip the veggies with hummus and put this Greek Dip together- no cooking required! Layer hummus on the bottom, top with chopped cukes, tomato, feta, and Italian dressing and pita chips or wheat thins to dip. It is a crowd pleaser and couldn’t be easier. Packing tip: bring the hummus, chopped veggies & feta, and dressing all separate and assemble in 1 minute when you arrive at your viewing party.
I’m thinking about pigs in blankets (after finding mini chicken sausages! score!) and a dip seems necessary. What else, well, only time will tell!
A whole bunch of flatbread-ish pizzas on naan are great for a crowd. Build-your-own anything is fun- build your own sandwich/panini would be a festive option. I’d love to do build your own nachos with queso in a crock pot if I were hosting a group! Happy snacking!
My little blog is 8! How crazy is that! I love this hobby and am so glad you’re here! This was a big year (new baby! new job! basement renovation! big trip to Zion!). I’m ready to now dive deeper into where I am at this season of my life. I have a lot I can build on and I’m so so happy where I am so no big changes ahead (fingers crossed)!
I haven’t really set out with super grand plans for the next year of the blog but I’m thinking I’ll keep on going as long as it is fun! Switching to once a week feels like a do-able and sustainable schedule. I refer back to my own site often and I’m never out of ideas. It is useful to push myself and I absolutely love hearing from people who tried something or have an idea for me.
Without further ado, here are my totally biased superlatives and next year’s goals at the end!
My fav post of the year: Coconut Shrimp Tacos
Most loved instagram foodie photo: Garlic Butter Crust Pizza
Best Burger of the year: Sausage Burger on a Pretzel Bun though, this Garlic Lovers Burger one will be jealous
Best series: #grilledcheeseplease was so fun
Best appetizer of the year: Breakfast Deviled Eggs
Most repeated dish: Breakfast risotto with bacon, white cheddar, everything bagel seasoning and an egg.
Fav photo of the year: Pesto Flatbread
2018 goal recap:
Year of the candle: this was great! One of my best “year of ___” ever
Cook more appetizers/snacks: ehh, I did a few
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: I’d say I did occasionally.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: yup
What I’m reading: I’m up to 24 books read this year (follow my books here)! The upside of being awake so much when I was pregnant was reading a ton. I don’t anticipate as many next year! Mama needs some sleep!
What I’m watching: I really got into American Crime Story when they did Gianni Versace this year. I didn’t actually binge as much during maternity leave as I thought I might but watched some of The Crown and some of Big Little Lies.
Year of ___ decluttering/minimizing/organizing I normally treat myself to something (earrings/candles/seasonal decor) but after the world’s longest basement renno, I’m craving a spot for everything and now that the baby is here, we know what we need and what we’re done with. November kicks off by sending a ThreadUp batch full of maternity clothes to say goodbye to!
Feeding Littles: I got great feedback on toddler lunch packing and toddler dinner ideas so I’m hoping to incorporate those onto the blog more since our three-year-old is served what we’re eating.
Work on advanced food prepping: I do this a bit, but after work is not a time I can do much cooking on weeknights. I need to be a step ahead!
What I’m reading:
What I’m watching: I’ll probably set my next goal for 18 books since that’s what I did in 2017 and still feels lofty enough.
Countdown is ON. I’m now 35 weeks pregnant, with about 5 weeks left. Woah. June felt speedy probably also because it is the end of work’s fiscal year so there’s a lot happening. Everything I cooked this month was pretty quick without a ton of ingredients…perfect for summer, right?!
This month I made Mr. J’s birthday burger as a Garlic Lovers Burger which was fun. I also used a Beyond Meat one for mine and was really impressed!
I’ve been into smoothies so I re-did, and healthify a Chocolate Cherry Smoothie. The little one likes to have some when I do.
This Honey Garlic Lime Shrimp was so perfect to balance the juicy shrimp with sweet and tartness.
I expect blogging to slow down a bit in my final stretch these next 5 weeks until my due date. Stay tuned for a few summer-y things- possibly with wider stretches between posts! Next week I have some extra days off so we’ll see if I can get some wish-list items made and I will likely post again after the holiday. Happy Independence day!
The Little One:
He’s all about the yard work right now- rakes, his mower or trailing daddy who is mulching/planting/and making a green house. He and I have been enjoying my summer Fridays with an early release. We’ve gone to new playgrounds, the library, and just been home for extra playtime outside. We did a joint bday & father’s day which was so perfect for swimming and grilling. He loved the big pool again this year and I was grateful he ate some of everything since celebratory meals aren’t when he can usually focus on eating his normal amount. Our town really loves Flag Day and the parade was fun. The amount of pasta and of rice/grains he can put away continues to astound us. He out-ate both of us the other night with pasta with pesto on it was quickly made before heading to a concert outside.
I’m really feelin’ it and can tell I’m slowing down. Everything is getting hard to do. I often wake up around 4 which is not. fun. It does mean I am reading a lot. Food-wise I am super into smoothies- my fav right now is a green-based version of this PB & J smoothie. I re-do it soon with the healthier tweaks I’ve made. I made a Trader Joe’s run which I think will greatly expedite and simplify dinners. Hallelujah! While at TJ’s, I found individual serving packs of Chocolate & Cashew Trek Mix which is life-changing right now. I’m getting more full and wanted smaller but more frequent meals spaced out a bit more. Sometimes meals feel like a means to an end and I’m not super interested or passionate about the actual food. Baby girl is a mover & shaker…much like her big brother.
This Year’s Goals:
Year of the candle: I pulled out one I hadn’t tried yet that somebody gave me forever ago. It is sweet and quite fragrant. It is a good one since I smell so much while pregnant.
Cook more appetizers/snacks: I made Breakfast-Inspired Deviled Eggs
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: ehh, this wasn’t really something I focused on.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: He tells us he was “dreaming about ____” which is means there’s something he wants to do.
What I’m reading: I read Big Little Lies & Sunshine Sisters and I’m almost done with another.
What I’m watching: we watched Game Night which was so so funny. I started a binge list for maternity leave.
Wooo! March wrapping up makes me think spring must be coming. Right? I’m pretty over the snow and I’m itching for local produce. Our chives are peeping through so let’s go! My birthday month was fun, and delicious. I redeemed a free birthday sundae just in time even though it hardly felt like ice cream weather! I’m excited for a quick Easter trip to Maine. Stay tuned for a post I prepped for your Easter leftover uses…you might need it!
My fav this month was this sausage burger with peppers and mustard. The pretzel bun makes it.
I made a 15 minute, 5 ingredient flatbread with pesto and roasted tomatoes.
Everything Bagel seasoning is sold in stores…or maybe just Trader Joe’s, but I make my own. I sprinkled it onto over easy eggs. Day. Made.
The Little One:
He’s seeming so big! Sometimes listening the first time isn’t happening, but we’re working on it. He’s still eating pretty much anything. He loved a take on these Peanut Noodles with Purple Cabbage & Edamame. Gnocchi has been a hit. We’re loving a few minutes to play outside when we get home. I’ve been totally on the dinner-prep-in-advance game so we can get out just for a few minutes. We have done a lot of play-doh and magna-tiles this month and boots crunching in the snow is his fav. We all built a snowman together during the last big storm and check on the melting process regularly. He got to spend a sleepover into a snow-day at the grandparents’ house so that was pretty exciting. We got a new kitchen table and chairs so we swapped him out of the high chair and into a booster on a real chair. Life in the crib is going strong
This year’s goals:
Year of the candle: This Salted Grapefruit one is so amazing! I saved another birthday one for April. Stay tuned!
Cook more appetizers/snacks: I whipped up just a few French Onion Deviled Eggs. Yum!
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: this speedy Pesto Flatbread was a chance to take-over the train table for some natural light.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: I realized jotting them into my phone was handier and getting them into the cute journal later is the way to go. He was adorably mystified when we lost power for a half hour.
What I’m reading: Ordinary Grace was so-so, and I’m onto my next.
What I’m watching: American Crime Story Gianni Versace was fascinating, though the timeline was confusing. Project Runway All-stars is wrapping up soon and I’ve loved this bunch of designers.
February felt like the last stint of true winter around here. A few warm days has me thinking spring is ahead. I’m sooo ready for more and more daylight after work! Also…the beginning of March brings my birthday! Bring on the cake!
But first, I’m fitting in all the wintry meals on my list. I made this Breakfast Inspired Risotto with bacon, white cheddar, everything bagel seasoning, and an egg. I loved this and will likely make it again asap!
#MeatlessMondays have continued and these Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls were a big hit, especially with the toddler! I cooked most of this in advance which made for an even faster weeknight meal. It’d be a great one to make for a crowd or for 1-2 servings.
I made another hot chocolate that was like a turtle candy with nutella, salted caramel, almond extract, and chopped pecans. Yum!
I have a few recipes lined up for March. Stay tuned for another deviled egg variation, another souped up hot chocolate, a smoothie, a burger, and we’ll see what else. I haven’t made too many things just to pack as lunch so maybe I’ll do that too.
The Little One:
Feb was kind of rough for getting outside. We ended up with some rain and snow. Days he can get outside are always better. He’s very into puzzles so we got some for his rewards for potty training. He really likes them! I made a crock pot chicken & dumplings dinner that he really wasn’t interested in. We didn’t make it a big deal and eventually he tried it on his own and ate enough to be dinner. Phew! I know he doesn’t love dishes where everything is cooked together but I was really proud that we didn’t prod him and he tried it, and liked it enough, when he was ready. This month he ate more eggs than usual and still loves pb&j. He’s been doing this funny thing when we start talking about breakfast that he wants meatloaf. I have no idea when he last saw it!
This year’s goals:
Year of the candle: I got this cool geometric ceramic one.
Cook more appetizers/snacks: I made Caprese Sliders
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: lack of daylight is rough.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: I didn’t capture too many this month.
What I’m reading: I read Miller’s Valley and am into my bookclub book.
What I’m watching: All Olympics, all the time.
January brought the new year and I feel ready for 2018! More importantly, January meant our little man turned 3! I can’t believe it! We had a fun birthday party with a waffle bar! I meant to blog it and really wanted to, but being in the moment, not rushing to prep before the fam arrived, and paying attention to the birthday boy were all more important.
I’m totally into jazzed up hot chocolate. I made a Hot Chocolate with Raspberry and White Chocolate. So good. It started when NYE was just too cold for our traditional milkshakes so we went for hot chocolate with toppings. I have more ideas ahead, stay tuned!
#MeatlessMondays are a thing here for the last few months so I did a meatless Monday round up.
I was really excited to make this Cheeseburger Layer Dip, especially in time for the superbowl!
The Little One:
He’s so big! He was proud to show his new age with his fingers. He was pretty amped up during his family party and after his nap he was so much calmer and focused. We’ve been playing a lot of trains and play doh. I was glad we could capitalize on any days that weren’t too cold. Getting outside is so important. Food-wise, he was into tacos and a dinner of white bean/tomato/spinach with polenta.
This year’s goals:
Year of the candle: Yup, mint chocolate candle for this chilly month.
Cook more appetizers/snacks: Yes! I made 2! I made caesar deviled eggs and cheeseburger layer dip!
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: ehh.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: Yes, I’ve noted a few amusing comments- often a “did you know that” or “I didn’t know that”
What I’m reading: I read Necessary Lies and zoomed through it. I’m pretty far into my next one.
What I’m watching: This is Us, the Superbowl (for the snacks), and The Amazing Race. We watched a few movies: Stronger & Battle of the Sexes.
September seemed to FLY by. It started with Mr. J working super hard all Labor Day weekend. I had a lot of time with the little one. He was so good but I give single parents soooo much credit. I also was trying to fit in a bunch of blogging and vacay prep – some happened, some didn’t. It was a busy time to get vacation details planned, get the grandparents ready for babysitting and dog-sitting, and to get physically ready for a lot of hiking. Speaking of vacation – it was ahhhhmazing! I didn’t cook a ton this month, but I was pretty happy with a bunch of what I cooked!
This burger wins for best in show: Smoked gouda, bacon, and a peach relish.
I loved this pasta my boss made with ricotta, zucchini, mint, and lemon zest. It felt summery but I love ricotta so much that I’d keep making it until the mint in our garden is no-more. Which means I probably have another month or so.
I brought Greek Deviled Eggs to the potluck at work and they were a hit! I packed them up in my egg carrier and added the cuke/feta/tomato toppings just before serving. My photo-op one here is plated, but I sprinkled the feta all over the tops of them and it was way easier (and cute!) instead of placing each piece. I have a few more deviled egg ideas. Stay tuned!
My last fav of the month was an heirloom tomato flatbread with truffle breadcrumb topping. What’s not to love? It was ~5 ingredient dinner and ready in 10 minutes (plus grill preheating time).
Vacay was so incredible. It was the longest I’ve been away from the little one but I think it is good for all of us. Mr. J and I made the most of every minute and were just astounded by the Utah/Arizona area. We flew to Vegas and had a quick night there with a tour at the Neon Museum and a great dinner. Then we went through Valley of Fire and absolutely loved it. It was so red and had such huge rocks with far visibility. That was actually one of our toughest hikes but was one of our fav spots. Then we went to our airbnb and spent 2 days in Zion, 1 day in Bryce Canyon, and 1 day to canyons & coral sands. It was breathtaking and we loved hiking and photographing it all. We clocked about 12,000-20,000 steps per day and were wiped at night. It was just incredible and a different vacation for us.
Next up, my new job! I have just a few days in-between but after a year of job hunting, I’m off to a new adventure in higher ed doing alumni/annual giving. I’m very excited but it’ll be bittersweet to leave. I’ve absolutely loved and been so proud to be part of my last organization so it was hard to break the news and took finding the right fit to even get me to the decision. Job transitions are so tough and emotionally charged. The waiting and interviewing and offers feels like a lot. I’m grateful for this new opportunity. I’ll have to pack lunch now! Stay tuned!
The Little One:
He had such a fun stay while we were away. He was lucky to get to see all his grandparents that week! The highlight of his month might have been a weekend to Maine to see the big boys play football. He loves them dearly and they are so nice to him. The little one is obsessed with a nerf football and runs around yelling “tumble!”. He is excited each day to “play with the big kids” in the preschool class at daycare. I love hearing how well he’s listening and doing there – they said he doesn’t want to walk downstairs because he thinks he’d go back to the toddler group. His sentences are getting longer and he cracks us up. I melt when he says “Mommy and me have blue eyes?” A recent and frequent phrase is “what happened” for everything, multiple times. I’m sad for the early darkness in terms of cooking, he’s sad for early darkness for playing outside. He is still pb&j obsessed on the weekends. He loves the stool up to the counter to “cook” with me, and I love having him there.
Year of the seasonal decor: Yes! I grabbed this cute pear and a printable. I have plenty of pumpkins & halloween so I’m not sure what Oct will bring.
do more dinner prep more in advance: Sort of…I made a bunch of quick dinners and did some weekend meal prep.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I read Women of the Silk and loved it, yet was horrified by the families choosing to send a daughter to the silk factories. Then I read Break in Case of Emergency. It was kind of dumb, but entertaining.
watch more movies: hmmm. I don’t think we watched any.
cook more fish: nope
focus on clothes that I really like: I fell for a crazy deal. 2 work tops for $7 each…one’s a winner, one isn’t. I need to get on new work clothes though!
Happy almost 2017! December went by quickly. I think I did well to enjoy it. November is so busy that I always want to slow down and appreciate the season. I didn’t cook as much as usual, but I made a few fun things. Mr. J’s treat of the month was chocolate dipped potato chips. So fun!
One of my favs this month were these Bacon Ranch Deviled Eggs for a party. I loved them and they were gone so quickly! I’m making them again for this weekend’s family festivities.
I focused on easy & fast dinners last week during a busy time:
Chicken sausage + roasted red peppers + pasta with ricotta as the sauce
And falafel bowls over a bed of couscous
The Little One:
He loved our Christmas trees, lights on lots of houses, and Santa! He loved cookies, and has been really into avocados lately. He doesn’t love foods all cooked together…like chicken pot pie. Christmas was really fun. He definitely understood opening presents. He got so much that we held on to a few things from us to now be birthday gifts in January. His favorites were: the cheapest matchbox firetruck you can ever imagine from visiting Santa; a felt eye mask that came with his super hero cape; a stuffed Elmo; and dinosaurs.
Year of the
Pajamas! I’m going to stay with the year of the seasonal decor again. I got a few items for Christmas and I’ll go to snowmen/white for January. Bring on the snowmen!
do more dinner prep more in advance: I prepped for sausage stuffing and for Jess’ chicken & brussels sprouts pasta.
read more: I read Maine and Secrets of a Charmed Life
cook more fish: ehh. I’m struggling with this one.
focus on clothes that I really like: I grabbed this peplum top for $15 and loved that it was a bit more cranberry-red than pink. I want more dresses but they’re always hard to find.
monthly grocery store ingredient: a rotisserie chicken was the answer to a what’s-for-dinner.
Now I’m getting ready for family Christmas #2. We’re hosting and are looking forward to ringing in the new year with the fam of 8! I have a cocktail recipe to come & I hope to share this year’s rendition of my NYE tradition. Catch ya in 2017!
Tis the season for all the fall foods, and for my busiest couple of months at work so I’ve tried to really be on top of dinners when I can, and still trying to get some workouts despite it being sooo dark in the mornings now!
This Fall Burger had sage and pear in a pork patty for all the best fall-ish flavors. It is still great grilling weather!
I made a breakfast calzone with braided puff pastry thanks to a friend from college’s post on facebook. It was a really great and quick for a weeknight meal. I’ll totally make this again the next time I have house guests!
Sour Cream & Onion Deviled Eggs were fun and went quickly at a 3-way baby shower at work.
The Little One:
He’s such a love! He likes giving us hugs and it just melts my heart. I’ve enjoyed seeing how long he’ll do some activities. We have some fun activities for halloween: a visit from Grammie C; daycare trick or treating; and maybe a jack-o-lantern thing in the park. He’s been into some pumpkin books. The little one is eating everything, even eggs on occasion!
This Year’s Goals:
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor: Mr. J picked up some leaf garland when he saw it and it is really perfect for the mantle – also spanning the fall/halloween/harvest timing.
do something a different way: I made conscious time to be social. I went to my college reunion; I joined a new local bookclub which was great; and one group had a dip-party during a Pats game.
drink more water: I need to do better with this.
make more interesting side dishes: yes! I made broccoli & cheddar risotto in the pressure cooker
cook more soups & sauces: Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese was all about the cheese sauce
watch more movies: we watched The Neighbors and cracked up. I’ve been super into This is Us.
make working out a higher priority: I can amp this up. Work has a Fitbit challenge going on and I’ve gotten some walks in…nothing major, but something is better than nothing!
Just before the holidays, Mr. J and I went to New Orleans and then got onto a cruise. We stopped in Belize, Honduras and two cities in Mexico. It was amazing, and it flew by. We loved out time on the beach and some awesome adventures. It was the perfect getaway and break to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary (again). We ran around New Orleans then got to really relax and enjoy the cruise. It was the best of both worlds.
In Cozumel we decided to take a cooking class. After a mini-jeep adventure, a private island beach day, and a tour of Mayan ruins it seemed like a fun and different excursion. It was amazing, my favorite day of the trip.
Our chef instructor was just so funny.
annnnd the margaritas just kept coming which helped the fun.
We made an appetizer of Devil Shrimp Sopes. They were slightly spicy shrimp with a fresh crunch and a great corn masa base.
We made a tamarind fish fillet packet with grouper and chopped veggies
And we made caramelized plantains with a tequila chocolate sauce
It was such a fun class. The drinks were awesome and then the meal was perfectly flavorful. I was afraid it might be a dumbed down menu but it was great. The fish was really light and flavorful. The app was my favorite part because I have always loved shrimp.
Mr. J didn’t take the chicken option. He tried (and liked!) the grouper! He liked the shrimp app too! The class was just so enjoyable and we were laughing the whole time. We learned some good tips and really enjoyed the lunch.
Afterwards we spend the rest of the day on the beach. Not too shabby.