Wednesday, October 22, 2014

baby update // 22 weeks...


So friends, not only are we more than half way through this pregnancy of mine (say what?!?), but you guys- Baby Main is the friggin size of a spaghetti squash! Someone needs to seriously come and pinch me because things are just moving so fast and getting so real. A spaghetti squash friends. A freaking humungous, heavy, and very delicious, squash of spaghetti. I can't believe it. I know for a fact every week's size increase is going to shock me like this, haha. And all the moms before me said together, "Wait until the end and you're pushing a watermelon out!" Yeah, yeah, I know. 

I love that he is the size of a spaghetti squash this week because it's been on our dinner table frequently! I'm so in love with the veggie that we've been eating it like crazy. Maybe that's morbid actually. Whatever. It's neat and I love it and I love spaghetti squash and I love Baby Main. So there. 

WEEK

22

EATING


Man oh man has my appetite come back, with a vengeance might I add. I feel like I am hungry ALL the ding dong dang time. I literally cannot go an hour without needing food in my face. I'm really trying to make this the healthiest pregnancy I can, so I try and make sure whenever I'm hungry I eat a variety of foods- especially protein and calcium. This is proving WAY harder than I thought it would be. All I want are carbs and sugar. So come dinner time I'm way above my carbohydrate and sugar intake and way below my daily requirements for calcium and protein. Grrrr. So, whenever I'm hungry I have to really force myself to grab some chicken or milk instead of toast and cookie butter. Sad face. 

DRINKING


Still drinking more water than I know what to do with. This has helped immensely with the headaches I was getting about my 13-15th week. Also, still adding splashes of cranberry juice (the real stuff, not the cocktail) to fight any bladder infections, or lemon or lime juice to spice it up a bit. I crave my morning decaf coffee every night and can't wait for the morning when I can have some. Plus I add pumpkin spice and almond milk to it (which boosts my calcium intake)! I had my first Starbucks Steamer yesterday which was AMAZING guys. I had the sugar free Cinnamon Dulce version which means it's basically steamed milk (more calcium) and a few squirts of the syrup stuff. Probably not the best thing I could have ingested, but when what I wanted was two of their old fashioned donuts, this was a much better choice :)

READING

Not much to report here. Still the same things :)

WANTING


I'm starting to really become excited to see our little man. I find myself almost not being able to stand it and getting pretty anxious that it's still 18 weeks (or so) away. I even had a dream the other night that I DID see him! He was amazingly beautiful and had the thickest head of dark dark brown/black hair. I guess, kind of like my hair color, but a tad darker. It was awesome. 

PRAYING FOR

I've been praying a lot more for my husband, his heart, protection over his mind and against any doubt that might creep in, his job situation, and that the Lord would just continue to provide him with wisdom and discernment during this new season of ours (and forever, really). I couldn't imagine (nor would I even want to) being the head of the household, particularly when a little one is on it's way. Sheesh.

SLEEPING


Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Sleep. Yeah, sleeping has become an interesting thing. I feel like my "sleep" has become more cat nap like. I sleep a little bit here and there throughout the night and if need be, during the day. Good news is, the weird little bit I do get through the nights have actually for the most part, been enough to get me through the day. I finally graduated to a huge body pillow, a pillow for between my knees, my head pillow, and one wedged against my back. I toss and turn back and forth between the giant pillow which allows me to sleep a bit more forward, taking almost all weight off my hips (ahhhhh, amazing) and then over to the littler pillow against my back which allows me to "sort of" sleep on my back. Well, my back/side. Anything to get me off of my hips directly is a good thing. 

WEARING


Still wearing my regular jeans (fitted with the BeBand, of course- there's no getting that button even remotely close to closed), t-shirts, tanks, maxi dresses and skirts, and my two or so pairs of maternity jeans. I'm pretty happy with the fact I can still get my old pre-pregnancy jeans up...hoping to be able to "wear" them throughout. The fun new thing is shoes. I have officially reached the point where getting socks and any sort of tie shoe on, is a joke and extremely uncomfortable. So I usually stick to slip ons or sandals. It HAS been a bit cooler here on a few occasions, to which I wore some moccasins and boots. My lovely husband had to put those on for me, haha. Such a sight!

FEELING


Still feeling pretty good body-wise! Although I am starting to feel the new baby weight and have had to scale back the length of time we go walking because after a little bit, my pelvic bones start screaming at me, and continue to do so for days afterwards :( Biggest bummer right now. So I'm switching it up to yoga and pilates for exercising, as of now.

LOVING

I CAN FINALLY FEEL BABY MAIN! Not only that, but so can Bill, which has been the neatest thing. I've been able to feel him for a few weeks now. And although I thought I'd never be able to tell the difference between gas bubbles and him, I certainly can! He's quite the busy body in there making some pretty big kicks and/or punches! I love it! At first they were the weirdest little things but now they've gotten stronger and stronger and I sometimes have to stop what I'm doing and look down at his home and laugh. "What the heck are you up to, little man???" Since they've gotten so strong, whenever he's up to his shenanigans, I immediately grab Bill's hand, shout, "FEEL! FEEL NOW!!" and have him rest it on my tummy. 40% of the time, he can feel those kicks! It's AWESOME. I mean, literally the coolest thing this pregnancy. Now it's not just me, you know? He's actually, physically, a part of it as well. Not that he wasn't before- but it's different. Bill can feel the baby too- it's not just all in my body. Such a fun experience. 


Tank // H&M. Skirt // Brickyard Buffalo

Monday, October 20, 2014

butterfinger fudge // take 2...


Friends, seriously.

Ever since I made this recipe last year, I have been C.R.A.V.I.N.G it like no one's business. I looooove me some Butterfinger candy bars and knowing that the flavor was easily made into fudge form blew my mind. In a really delicious and amazing way. I sent some with Bill to work for the sake of my health (I could have eaten the entire batch my dang self). There are co-workers there who still talk about it to this day. One in particular pretty consistently asks Bill if I'm making any anytime soon, hehe. Yeah, it really is THAT good. 

Thing is...it needs candy corn! Unless I wanted to spend an arm and a leg in April, online, ordering candy corn, I really DID need to wait until fall when the stuff would be everywhere. Kind of a bummer...but then, not really because of the sake of my health and all ;) Also- I'm going to be honest here- I'm lazy. If I need to go to three different stores (or even two for that matter) to buy ingredients for one recipe, chances are I prooooooobably won't do it. 

But this fudge! Fall was here and I needed to make some! It had been almost a year since my tastebuds enjoyed a piece... or 20. And Bill's co-workers- what about them?? They deserved some as well. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

baby update // and we're having a...


Well, well, well, would you look at this. We officially know what we're having! After 19 very long weeks, we headed to the Dr for our normal checkup and right away were told if we were going to be blessed with a little boy or a little girl. We couldn't have been happier. Not going to lie, there were total tears of joy. We're both so stoked. 

Not wanting to announce anything subtly (haha), we decided what better way to let our family in on our secret than with a little party. Honestly, it's just an excuse to get family together for a Sunday afternoon. 

We decided on having a very low key, budget friendly, little dessert and coffee gender reveal get together at my uncle's house. Since Bill and I already knew the sex, I saved money by making our own gender reveal cake. This would be how we'd tell our family- we'd gather round and slice off a big 'ol piece! Worked like a charm and super fun. 

Here's how it all went down...

Monday, October 13, 2014

a giveaway // tribes a dozen hallah bread mix...


Ahhh carb-a-licious bread, how I love thee. I could literally eat bread and bread-like substances for every meal all day errrryday. I. Love. Bread.

Oh and homemade bread? Be still my heart. There really is nothing quite like freshly made, warm, crusty bread. Gosh I can literally taste it now...smelling all good and bready, covered in melty butter...maybe a slight sprinkle of sea salt. Man. Yum. 

My husband and I used to make our own bread pretty frequently. We were on the biggest bread making kick! Then I got lazy. Ooops. I mean, to make real bread, with yeast and all, and from scratch? That took time. There’s the flour and the kneading and the rising times. Time hasn't been something we've had very much of these days. Seriously though, fresh made bread, homemade peanut or almond butter, and homemade jam? Best PB n J EVER.

Enter Tribes-A-Dozen's Hallah Bread MIXES! Ummm what?! Yeah, totally. They've devoted themselves to making easy to do, easy to follow, bread mixes made with REAL ingredients. You know, right up my alley. 

Tribes-A-Dozen manufactures a unique kosher line of three Voilà! Hallah Egg Bread Mixes: Simply Spelt, Traditional, and Wholey Wheat. Their wholesome, all natural bread mixes are sure to bring you back to a kitchen from long ago. Recreating the warmth, the heavenly aroma and the unmistakable taste. They strive to keep it simple so we bakers can bake these breads and share fresh with friends and loved ones. It's all about Hallah made easy. No one will guess it came from a mix because it tastes just like from scratch. And it really does. I love their motto too- "Break Bread, Not Tradition" :)

Tribes-A-Dozen is all about wholesome, all natural, kosher hallah (or challah bread, which is the classic egg bread) also referred to as barches, brioche, kalács, osterbrot, or simply, twisted bread. Hallah can be perfectly enjoyed on its own, as sandwich bread, or as the ultimate base for French toast or bread pudding.

Tribes-A-Dozen believes in baking the kind of bread your great-grandmother used to make (if she handed down the recipe). Whether you spell it "challah" or "hallah", you will love this mix.


I couldn't wait to get my paws on the Wholey Wheat mix! I loved their ingredient list- organic whole grain wheat flour, brown sugar, turbinado sugar, sea salt and organic flavor. Best part though??? Their mixes needed things I already had in my pantry. Ahhh simplicity. 


For this specific bread mix, all I needed was:
  • warm water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk (save that white for the egg wash)
  • vegetable oil
  • honey
  • flour for dusting
  • and granulated sugar

The directions were easy to read, easy to follow and worked like a charm! 

First we placed their bread mix and included yeast packet in the bowl of our stand mixer. Using the stand mixer took the place of kneading and made things a LOT easier!

Next, we added the amount of warm water called for and within minutes watched as the bubbles and froth from the yeast formed. This meant the yeast was alive and fresh! In went the egg, egg yolk and honey and then it was a nice 10 minute mix with the dough hook. 


After 10 minutes we rubbed a little bit of oil over a clean bowl, scooped the dough out of the mixer, formed it into a ball, and allowed to sit in a warm area of our kitchen and rise (wasn't a problem- it was HOT that day!) for 45 minutes. This allowed us ample time to clean up, sit back and hang out until the next step!


After 45 minutes our little ball of dough had risen and puffed nicely! Then we lightly dusted our surface and divided the dough into 3 equal balls. 

We decided to go with the braided loaf's instructions (versus the loaf pan) which meant we had to roll each ball into 12" strands, pinch and tuck the edges together and braid together. Easy peasy. 


Finally, we gently placed our braided loaf onto a parchment lined sheet pan, brushed the top with that remaining egg white from the lone yolk needed for the mix, and generously sprinkled the top with granulated sugar. 

It sat for another 45 minutes in the warm part of our kitchen before baking at 350°F for 25 minutes! Our house smelled amazing!

The instructions told us to place on a wire rack and cool 10 minutes before breaking and eating. HA! We were in that sucker as soon as we could handle it. Like I said earlier, nothing like warm bread with melty butter. The slightly sweet, slightly chewy, crunchy topped, perfectly baked egg dough was incredible.

The box also gives instructions for baking with a bread machine as well as mixing together by hand! So no matter where you are, this bread mix will work!


To find Tribes-A-Dozen Voilà! Hallah Egg Bread Mixes at stores near you, use the store locator. You can find your own boxes on the kosher shelf at 800 Walmart stores around the country, MOM’s Organic Markets, Giant Stores, Relay Foods (online grocer), and other Kosher and specialty food stores. 

Now for the fun part! One of my readers will get the chance to try out the exact same three bread mixes as I did (Simply Spelt, Traditional, and Wholey Wheat). Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. To enter, join the mailing list on on their website, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter and Pinterest. Continental U.S. entrants only. Previous winners of Tribes-A-Dozen giveaways are ineligible.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for the small print: Tribes-A-Dozen provided me with free samples of the product to review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. All pictures  and opinions are my own. CONTEST OPEN TO US RESIDENTS ONLY. Contest will run for 7 days. Winner will be shown on this blog post upon being chosen AND will be contacted by Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe via email. Winner has 24 hours to email back and claim prize before a new winner will be chosen. All prizes were graciously donated and shipped to winner by Tribes-A-Dozen.