Monday, September 26, 2016

{a full year of eggs} reflection

good morning!

did you know that it has been just about one full year that our chickens have been laying beautiful, fresh eggs for my family? it is a year to reflect on to say the least…

let’s go ahead and get this out of the way… i love having a laying flock of chickens roaming around our yard more than i expected. they are a little silly and are most definitely diligent workers around our property. i am very grateful for the quality fresh eggs and being able to share those eggs with family and friends. of course there are a few responsibilities to own up to:

yes, sometimes when we are enjoying ourselves out on the town i am worried about hurrying home to “close up the girls”. but that once in awhile pull to get back home isn’t all the time because honestly, many nights we are already home to make sure they are safely locked up after heading into the coop to roost for the night.

and there are the nights that it is rainy and blustery and i let my poor guy head out there to make sure they are all tucked in. as well as some of those late sleepy first and third trimester mornings that i let my husband get up on his own and take care of those morning chores.

but really for us, a smaller flock of laying hens hasn’t been THAT much extra work. designing, building and investing in the coop and structure of how to care for the birds probably was the most work we have had to do all along. feeding, watering and keeping things clean goes along pretty smoothly (yes, there are a few days here and there when we realized that we are running late for work and chicken chores are one of the main contributors - didn’t we fill the water last night?! did they drink that much?!)

having the girls roam the yard for bugs and turning up weeds is no less than fantastic. they love to hop into the open raised bed and scratch around to see what they can find. it makes me smile and keeps the pests down in our little garden. 

i don’t think we will add to our flock anytime soon. our chickens keep us in plenty of eggs and they keep up with scraps as well as feed. maybe one day we will rotate a few new layers in, but i think these ladies will keep us just fine for now. 

have a happy monday!

Monday, September 19, 2016

my postpartum meal prep {recipe links}

as i mentioned earlier this month i decided that making intentional food plans for the start of our fourth trimester would be a solid way to prepare for our new little one's arrival.

i had decided that 6 weeks of meals + snacks would be a fine amount of prepared and saved food to plan. i figured that this would actually stretch longer (8 weeks was my estimation) as there are always the unforeseen evenings of family bringing over dinner, a pizza night in, and maybe actually cooking a meal (i'm sure i'll want a fresh salad, to feel normal and cook dinner, or eat a warm bowl of oatmeal at some point). who knows, if we are really feeling frisky we might venture out one night to grab a quick bite to eat! plus when one considers how many meals + snacks a young family might consume... oh boy that is still a lot of pre-cooked nourishment!

::i planned::

3 meals/day for 2 adults for 6 weeks... which meant:
84 breakfasts
168 lunches/dinners

and approximately 3 snacks/day for 1 breastfeeding mama for 6 weeks... which totaled:
126 snacks

and it broke down roughly like so {click on food item for direct link- thank you to all the bloggers and recipe sharers that helped me with this ultimate food prep!}...

Breakfast Meals
(4) Freezer French Toast
(20) Mini Breakfast Bakes  {i just used my silicone muffin tin to make them individualized}
(4) breakfast sandwiches {i did some bagel + some english muffin for variety}
(12) Bacon, Egg + Potato Breakfast Casserole
(12) Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
(10) Greek Yogurt Banana Bread
(10) Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread {obviously i had some greek yogurt + produce to use up!}
(12) Bread slices to thaw for toast + homemade jam in the cabinet!!

Lunch/Dinner Meals
(6) Sweet potato chili
(12) Crockpot Mexican Chicken Chili {i omitted the cornbread topping and thought if i'm really up for it i can make cornbread muffins before serving}
(12) Crockpot Beef + Lime Chili
(6) Mexican Chicken Soup {this one i cooked in the crock pot while prepping other frozen meals, cooled it then froze the already cooked dinners in ziploc bags}
(8) Crockpot Beef Roast + Carrots
(12) Crockpot Garden Veggie Soup with Beef
(12) Chicken Fajitas
(12) Slow Cooker Sausage Spinach Soup
(12) Italian Sausage Soup
(8) Spicy Sausage Gumbo
(8) Turkey + Noodles

::Protein to be added to noodles, salad or buns::
(5) Shredded Chicken
(12) Crockpot BBQ Shredded Chicken
(8) Turkey Burger Patties {just grilled burger patties}
(24) Turkey Breast Slices {just oven roasted}
(5) Meatballs

:: I also splurged for some variety and bought 6 Trader Joe frozen meals to round out our supply::

(24) Granola Bars
(12) Oat Cakes
(12) Gluten Free Strawberry + Pecan Muffins
(8) Blueberry Oat Crumble Bars
(16) Strawberry Oat Crumble Bars {i actually used the Blueberry Oat Crumble Bar recipe from Averie Cooks but swiped the blueberries for strawberries - it turned out great! i think i do like the blueberry ones better!!}
(36)Chocolate Chip 'Lunch Lady' Bars
(18) Homemade Salsa + Tortilla Chips

i'm hopeful that this pre done cooking will be a huge support in our upcoming sleepy days... any tips out there for a major food prep?

Monday, September 12, 2016

grateful for keeping house...

i've recently felt really grateful for our home and the bit of rhythm i have found in trying to keep up with it..

+ i've learned that a quick sweep in our main spaces keeps clean floors for a lot longer in the rest of the house {less tracking of pet hair and dirt from being outside}

+ having an empty dishwasher to start the day really is super helpful when trying to keep the dirty dishes from stacking up

+ and fully completing a load of laundry {yes, start to finish - like put away the clothes "finish"} saves me from having several clean baskets just waiting around the house

how about you? any good home tips that seem to just work lately?

need some inspiration? try one of these links:

A good and quick read: 

A quick/simple cleaning schedule we are considering for our postpartum period: 

Game. Changer. Just leave spaces like you weren't there: 

Monday, September 5, 2016

{mama hood mondays} my postpartum meal prep + what has worked well for us

i've been doing lots of little preparations around our homestead for the upcoming arrival of our first little one. it has been exciting and fun, but also a bit of work. i'm grateful to do it now, hoping that it will support our first few weeks/months of figuring out this new little person that is making our family bigger and better.

one area i decided to be intentional about was our food. this included a big pantry overhaul as well as stocking our freezers with easy to reheat meals. my husband is planning on taking on more of the meal prep especially during my early weeks of healing and i wanted to make it easier on him since he too will be trying to spend as much time with the baby as well as adjusting to being a working dad after his paternity leave.

A few things that worked well for us:

+grilling double - part way thru our third trimester we started grilling double hamburgers and chicken breast solely to put them in the freezer. we love to make a lunch salad meal by putting a grilled hamburger patty or chicken breast on top of a salad. no bun needed, good veggies and protein. we knew this would vastly help us in the lunches department. and it isn't that much extra work if my guy is already grilling.

+selecting certain foods to wrap individually - sometimes making freezer portions is tricky! so a few foods i decided to embrace the unknown and wrap a them individually, especially things that we might use for just one lunch here or there. {this was hard for me due to accepting the responsibility of extra trash, but throwing out that extra food for the times i thawed too much would also be greatly disappointing}

+making "one handed snacks" - making and freezing quick snacks was something i thought would be extremely helpful in those first few weeks of getting time with just me and baby. making granola bars and muffins was one way i thought i could probably grab a quick snack without a ton of hassle. i enjoyed trying out this recipe for the granola bars. and i think these oat cakes are to die for {on a few i pressed chocolate chips on top for a little extra treat on a rough day}

+making our "family newborn menu" - i thought it would be necessary to keep track of the foods we have. partly so i didn't make only pasta based dishes for our freezer, but also to help us when selecting something to eat on a tired "momma and papa can't do this now" kind of night. we know we need to eat, and we need to sleep. so we are trying to make those two things easy to approach {did i tell you we put our guest bedroom downstairs?! i'll be comfortably napping on both living floors of this house for sure} to make a "menu" i used a newsletter template from my computer's pages program, popped in a few of our food photos and listed food by meal and instead of a price i marked if it was saved in the kitchen or cellar freezer. printing and posting on our fridge made it feel like we could "order" something quickly and get to reheating and eating. our plan is once we know we are out of a food we will cross it off the menu.

+planning for flexibility - we made several ziplocs of cooked protein that could be served on a bun or with noodles or a salad. we also have meals that can reheat straight from the freezer incase we need a quick dinner because someone didn't think about dinner with enough time to defrost something.

+ this website ::New Leaf Wellness:: was a HUGE help! there are plans for preparing several crockpot meals for the freezer at once... including a shopping list and easy to print recipes. i highly recommend checking it out!

+ using ziploc bags really saved room in our freezer - also, i read {in this post} to use parchment paper to line casserole dishes that way once the food cooled the parchment could lift up and slide into a ziploc... saving your casserole dish for continued use in the kitchen! i love this idea!!!

how about you? any bulk food prep tips to share?

have a great day, friends!