Friday, February 28, 2014

Meal Planning

I was just asked the other day, by a good friend, how I plan my meals and grocery shop. You see she goes to the grocery store EVERY day after work and while that has worked with her up until this point she knew that she would not be able to sustain that practice once she has a baby in late summer…
So here is what has been working for us for almost a month now….
Every Sunday morning I pull out my handy dandy Weekly Menu Plan 
 (I use the great free printable from Kissen Studio) and I sit on my bed with a cup of coffee (usually right at the start of Hunter’s nap time). I take this rare quite moment to plan out what we will eat for the next week…
In the Park household there are 3 constants:
  1. Emma cooks dinner (assisted… she is almost 10) each Monday. Mondays work for us because she gets out of school early that day… Emma will pick a dish from one of her three Williams Sonoma Kid cookbooks (our current favorite is Cooking Together) and will cook the meal from start to finish… After we finish eating each Monday I go ahead and have her look through the book and pick her recipe for the next week. This way she anticipates what she is going to make and she typically gets really excited about it as the week goes on.

  1. Hubby will cook one night. I ask him which night he would prefer to cook on as it typically varies based on what he has going on at work and with school (he is currently taking two Harvard classes and so he is SUPER busy and staying up until way past midnight many nights to get stuff done).
  2. We will have leftovers every Thursday… On Thursday evenings I go to a Dave Ramsey financial class and Emma start to have evening soccer practice soon on Thursday… so really it is a no-brainer to not cook anything new on this night.
After I write down our three constants I move on to figure out what we will do the other 4 days in the week…
Emma gave us a session from Let’s Dish for Valentine’s Day so from that I have 6 meals in the freezer (I will do a full post regarding that next week). So I decide that we will do one of those meals for a weeknight.
For my Friday, Saturday, & Sunday meals I flip through cookbooks, magazines, or the internet to see what catches my eyes or I do a staple like tacos, enchiladas, pulled pork, lasagna… Really anything goes. I will also typically look at the grocery store ads to see what proteins are on sale that week.
I save the more complicated dishes or items that require a longer cook time for the weekends. This allows for me to do prep during Hunter’s nap…
Here is what a weekly menu looks like…
 I fill in the grocery list as I pick out recipes…Items devoted to a meal go at the top of the grocery list whereas staples or items I buy on a weekly bases go on the bottom.
Each Sunday I go to the store and purchase all of my items… and that is not to say that I don’t occasionally have the need to go on other days but it really is easiest if I can get everything done at once! I’m sure that this will become even truer as we add to our family!
So again this is what has been working for us… and there are times where items are flipped around or adjusted as the week goes on based on the current situation.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Nursery Diaries: Chapter 2

The very, very first items that we purchased for our second son’s nursery were two guitars! I mean what rocker themed nursery would be complete without instruments?
We ended up purchasing the guitars from Monoprice of all sites… Matt swears be this site for electronics and they just started selling guitars (at a GREAT price) so it was a win-win!

Our total was $225.60 for both guitars
And we purchased 2 of these wall mounts:

at only $4.82 Each

Matt installed them the other day... 

 and here is the result...

I love them but there is of course something missing from the middle… a special logo that I have made with the little Man’s name… the revel is yet to come of that…
P.S. - I really think that Matt decided that he wanted guitars and used this room as an excuse to make the purchase! I mean they spend more time in his office than on the wall
Now on to another component in the room… This great rug that my parents bought the new little guy for Christmas… (really story is that I tried to buy it… Matt was against it… so we got it as a gift #Juliegetsherway


I love that the rug has the grays and yellows that we will have in the room and it was a great price at TJMaxx for only $120.00 


Now we need to tackle that light fixture in the middle of the room.. While I LOVE it and made it on my own it hangs down way too far without a bed under it and if we were to keep it we would constantly be hitting our heads... Time to get something a bit more flush to the ceiling...

35 Weeks Preggers with Baby #3

How far along? 35 Weeks

Total weight gain/measurements: 36 lbs

Maternity clothes: of Course! I'm loving my new comfy shirt from target!

Stretch marks? Still none on the tummy
Sleep: Still having a hard time sleeping and not expecting for it to get any better at this point.
Best moment last week: Having a beautiful weekend with perfect weather! Something that was GREATLY needed here in Northern Virginia.
Miss anything? Feeling like a normal human being... my hormones are just out of control and I just really hope that all goes back to normal once this little guy is out of here! 

Movement: I feel like he might have transitioned to a heads down position this week. Lots of rib kicking going on.
Food cravings: Nothing really at the moment 
Anything making you queasy or sick? Nope 
Gender: BOY! 
Labor signs: Nope!
Symptoms: Lots of contractions but none that are 5 minutes or under apart so we are good. 
Belly button in or out? I've popped out
Wedding rings on or off? On!

Happy or moody most of the time? Completely Moody and if I start to cry about something I cannot stop 
Looking forward to: finishing up the nursery and entering nesting mode... My baseboards need a good scrubbing :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Nursery Diaries: Chapter 1

So I have LOVED reading Bryn Alexandra’s (one of my favorite bloggers) Nursery Diaries which is tracking the progress in the design of the nursery for her first child and I thought that I would also share our progress as we go for our third child and 2nd boy…
As you might remember last year I re-did our spare bedroom in the basement… 

This room is directly next to Hunter’s nursery and while our end game is for the two little men to share a room… we knew that at the start they would need separate places… so the spare bedroom is getting a bit of a make-over!
We decided to go with Matt’s Rocker Baby themed nursery that I shared originally, a few months back, here.

Well my original mood board has changed a bit thanks to IKEA and our desire to use what we have… I mean after all this space will only be temporary (MAX of 1 year… Little guy will move into a shared room with Hunter Man once he sleeps through the night)
So since we were dealing with a VERY full room already (which had admittedly become a dumping ground) step one was to CLEAR out all items that would NOT be staying… That meant finding a temporary home for our mattress (which is totally just propped up against the wall in the playroom currently… )

We also needed to get the walls painted because sea foam green doesn’t exactly scream ROCK STAR… I brought home about 15 different grey paint samples and immediately knew exactly which one I wanted… Martha Stewart Cement Gray!
Matt was not instantly sold on the color like I was… In fact he even uttered the SUPER ignorant words “Who paints walls gray?” HELLO EVERYONE MATTHEW JAMES!!! EVERYONE… don’t you read blogs! 
I am happy that I won the big paint debate because I think that the color looks great in the room!!!  

Now to put all the furniture in their new spaces… here is a diagram of what I’m thinking for the space & for Hunter’s as he will soon need to transition out of the crib and into a toddler bed…

The diagram is not to scale but you get the idea…

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lasagna amazingness!

So Matt LOVES lasagna and up until last November (his birthday) I had sadly never made it for him. I'm not sure why but I found lasagna to be an intimidating dish to make. But since I love all things Barefoot Contessa and she had a recipe in her Family Style cookbook I decided to overcome my fears and finally become a good wife that learned how to make her husbands favorite meal. 

  •  2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 C chopped Yellow Onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 1/2 lbs sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (can also use pork)
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1/2 C chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb lasagna noodles
  • 15oz ricotta cheese
  • 3-4oz creamy goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 C grated Parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 C for sprinkling
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Fill a large container with HOT tap water. Add the noodles and allow them to sit for 20-30 minutes. Drain.  

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the sausage and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up with a fork, for 8-10 minutes, or until no longer pink.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat, for 15-20 minutes, until thickened.

Meanwhile, while sauce is thickening... in medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1C of Parmesan, the egg, the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9x12x2" rectangular baking dish, spreading the sauce over the bottom of the dish.

Then add the layers as follows... Half the pasta

Half the mozzarella

Half the ricotta cheese mixture

Rest of pasta, mozzarella, rocotta mixture and finally sauce. 

Top with 1/4 C Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.


Now you may have noticed that the baking dishes in the photos above were two different dishes... that is because I always make this as a double recipe. Since it is a bit time consuming I feel like doubling up makes it more worth it... I either freeze the extra or send it over to a friend for dinner for them...

Like this meal that I just prepared for Matt's co-worker and his family... The wife just had her third kiddo and so I prepared the lasagna, salad, brownies, and bread.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hunter at 17 Months

I cannot believe that we are entering into the final month that Hunter Man will be our youngest child. I have a ton of fears about how he will or will not adjust at such a young age but no use harping on the unknown...

Like every month, Hunter has grown by leaps and bounds this last month. He is also just such a HAPPY KIDDO! Smiles all the time.


  • Still obsessed with Elmo. We bought him a $3.99 Elmo balloon from the grocery store and it has rocked his world... he carries it all around the house with him and like to have it attached to his high chair at meal time.
  • Stacking and unstacking ANYTHING. He really seems to have a mind for engineering and is very interested in learning about how things work.
  • Going through the kitchen cabinets 
  • Anything with a button 
  • Yelling into containers to hear the distorted sound that it makes
  • Throwing balls... he will throw a ball at Sophie and yell CATCH
  •  Saying more when it comes to anything! Especially treats
  • The ABCs
  • Playing Ring Around The Rosie... However, mommy does not fall down with him. 
  • Spinning in Circles to make himself dizzy. 
  • Favorite foods are waffles, bananas, any berry, and beets
  • Tickle time
  • We are still fighting the nap time and the second nap of the day is no more... sad face for this sleepy mommy
  • Chocolate! 
  • Eggs
  • Being told no... Also, if he is being told something that he does not like he suddenly becomes deaf and has very selective hearing... he just completely ignores us. 
  • Hates that we have cut off snack time right before dinner... he tries to break into the pantry to get goldfish.
LOVE/HATE relationship: 
  • With brushing his teeth... he hates it when we are in the act of brushing but gets SOOOO excited about being told that it is time to brush his teeth and after we are done we let him hold the toothbrush and he loves to pretend to brush his own teeth.
  • With Potty training... He gets so excited to sit on the potty and he also gets very excited when he goes but I do not think that it has clicked yet... which is COMPLETELY okay because he is still really young. 
Here are some photos from the month!



Monday, February 17, 2014

34 Weeks with Baby #3

Horrible Photo... Should have put my hair down! 
How far along? 34 Weeks

Total weight gain/measurements: 35 lbs
Maternity clothes: I feel like I wear the same thing every day... Leggings and dress

Stretch marks? Still none on the tummy

Sleep:Dreams are still aggressive and I"m having a hard time sleeping on my side because my hips hurt so much. I truly feel like my hip could just pop out at any moment...
Best moment last week: This wonderful 5 day weekend that I was able to spend with my family! However, the snow did hamper with a few of the DIY projects that we need to complete for the Baby room.
Miss anything?
Still VERY sleepy at the end of the day which is not usual for me... That is typically my time to get some projects done after Hunter goes to sleep and it is my study time for the Real Estate class that I'm taking. 

Movement: Still  great amount of movement
Food cravings: Nothing really at the moment 
Anything making you queasy or sick? Nope 
Gender: BOY! 
Labor signs: Nope!
Symptoms: Same as last week...An average of 10 Braxton Hick contractions an hour (a few are so bad that I have to breathe through them), acid reflux, back pain, and massive headaches each morning (almost feels like I’m hung-over… but I’m not)
Belly button in or out? I've popped out
Wedding rings on or off? On!
Happy or moody most of the time? Completely Moody 
Looking forward to: Finishing up the nursery, getting Hunter potty trained (this might not happen yet though)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stroller Envy???

I’m beginning to regret my double stroller purchase… It is something that will be a necessity as we will have two little ones under the age of two and when I found this double stroller at a Church Consignment sale for only $80 I snagged it right up.

It is a Peg Perego Aria Twin Stroller and retails for $350 so there is no denying that we got a GREAT deal and it will hold our AWESOME Peg Perego car seat perfectly.
(We received this car seat as a gift for Hunter and I cannot wait to use it again because it was such a nice seat!)
HOWEVER, as a girl that gets a little stir crazy just sitting at home with the kiddos I’m constantly on the go even while on Maternity leave… I mean life doesn’t stop…we still have dinners to go to, shopping to do, and soccer games to attend so I really need for my clan to be mobile.
The more I think about it the more I’m starting to regret a side-by-side double stroller… I mean just look at how sleek these other strollers are!
It is SUPER expensive though and I guess I’m just having stroller envy. I mean there are pros and cons for each… Yes, this stroller can EASILY get through a doorway but isn’t it a little odd to stick Hunter in the back so near to the floor.. I want him to see things…
And what about this stroller….

I’m a HUGE fan of all the seating options…

and the $250 price tag but a con is that while it has everyone on the same level am I going to feel like I’m maneuvering a train everywhere???
Or this one…

I’ve heard AMAZING things about this CitySelect double stroller… It is almost like the Contor but also a Jogger which means that it will be easier to maneuver on soccer fields AND look at all of these configurations… 

$500 on sale at Amazon though… EHHH…
Maybe I need to just embrace my great deal and make it work… Even if it does mean a little extra maneuvering… I guess that I should live with my choice for a month or so and really see what is/is not working out because at this point it is just a guessing game!
Anyone else out there with stroller envy or advice about what they have learned from using a double stroller?