Freezer Meal Food Prep for Baby: Day One

Freezer Meal Food Prep for Baby: Day Two

Freezer Meal Food Prep for Baby: Day Three

With Baby No. 2 being a month or less away, I’m scurrying to finish my preparations to make life a little easier when we bring her home. Those few weeks with a new baby are so precious and so short-lived, the last thing I want to be worrying about is cooking. I want my focus to be on Ryan, Coberly Nicole, and Baby No. 2 – we all need that time to soak each other up and adjust to the changes. With that being said – dinner still must be served.

The next three days I’m taking time out to create 20 freezer meals to keep my little family fed. I’ve never ventured into this cooking madness territory, but I’m ready to give it a go. Today’s goal was to create my “food prep” list. I wanted to come up with 20 meals and the extensive shopping list to make it happen. A simple search on Pinterest was enough to overwhelm/provide me with plenty of meal ideas. After reading, I realized I needed more than just food – I’ll need to purchase some disposable serving trays and plenty of aluminum foil.

If you need tips on the do’s and don’ts – I found these sites most helpful:

http://happymoneysaver.com/freezer-meal-tips-beginners/

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/freezer-cooking/

As I put together my list, I was pretty picky because the macronutrient contents matter to me. I may not be able to make it immediately back to my workout routine, so I want to keep nutrition in check. Plus, I don’t feel like eating the same meal over and over again…and my days of Hamburger Helper are over. Does that make me a food snob?

Here are my 20 meal ideas with links to the recipes:

Here is the PDF Grocery List for Print

DIY: Mason Jar Foaming Soap Dispenser

This Mason Jar Foaming Soap Dispenser is quick, easy, and is one more maintenance item made simple.

Anything that makes life more simple is attractive to me right now. As I continue to prepare for Baby Girl No. 2 to make her arrival, I’m tossing more clutter and finding ways to be intentional with my space.

Which brings me to these…

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Normally, I would change out the soap with each season. But really, I don’t have time nor the want to keep this up. Above that, the smell of these soaps was unbearable during first trimester and I still get chills up my spine every once in a while. Which brings us to the evergreen, never have to swap, easy mason jar foaming soap dispenser.

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After emptying the old bottles, cut the top off. Be sure to leave a little bit of the bottle sleeve – this will help hold the dispenser in place.

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Mark the rim of the dispenser on the mason jar metal top insert.

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Use a sharp object and hammer to tap out perforated edges.

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After complete, use a knife to remove the center. TIP: Wear gloves. The metal is sharp. Once complete, simply slip the foam dispenser insert through and attach the top.

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Fill with your favorite foaming soap and screw on the lid for the finished product. These will be a sweet touch to my kitchen and bathrooms.

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DIY: Rustic Storage Cube Makeover

As Baby Girl No. 2’s due date draws closer and closer, my nesting instinct is getting stronger. It’s not necessarily the nursery I am concerned about – that will stay the same. It’s Coberly Nicole’s new room I want finished. Giving her the chance to get comfortable and confident in her new space is most important to me right now. Last week I got the dresser complete – DIY: Distressed Painted Furniture

This week my easy DIY is taking the basic 9-cube storage cubbies and turning it into something that doesn’t look so out of the box. The storage boxes and open shelving make it easy for little hands to grab, pull, and play when they feel like it. The price tag keeps this mama’s wallet happy.

So here it is – super simple:

Purchase the 9 – cube storage cubby. As of Jan. 19, 2015 Menard’s has them on sale for $25.00. Of course you can always find them on Amazon, Target, or Walmart. When assembling, we didn’t add all the dividers for some visual diversity and it provides a nice space for bigger toys and books.

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Fabric boxes with labels help keep the toys divided.

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After completely assembled, we pulled a few slats off of a wood pallet, cut them to size, and screwed them down with one inch screws. After the wood was attached, I sanded with a 60 grit, 100 grit, and then 180 grit for a smooth finish. If you’re concerned about splinters, you could put a polyurethane coat to help. You’ll also want to anchor it to the wall if you have climbers.

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Super simple, cheap, and fast way to create a fun play area for the littles.

DIY: Distressed Painted Furniture

I’m not a fan of making something sound easier than it is, so let’s address this issue first. The skill level required to do this DIY Distressed Dresser is minimal, but the amount of time it’s going to take you is a different story. Can full-time working folks do this in an evening? Nope. You could break it up into sections or save it for the weekend.

I love how the dresser turned out and it was super affordable, but as I mentioned, it did take time.

After reading review after review of people saying they weren’t fans of chalk paint, I decided to stick with the tried and true method of sanding, priming, painting, and more sanding.

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Simple Steps:

After removing all the hardware, I used 100 grit sandpaper to rough up this piece. I did not sand it all the way down to the natural wood because I wanted to use the stain color to show through my paint job in the end. I used block sanders for the details and an orbital sander for the sides and top. Once finished, I rubbed it down thoroughly with a tack cloth.

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A coat of primer and a coat of Behr’s Ultra White satin left my dresser in good shape. When it was completely dry, I used the 100 grit sandpaper to choose the areas I wanted distressed. I kept my distressing pretty minimal – just edges and corners that would naturally come through. Then I used the 220 grit sandpaper block to smooth things out. At this point, could I have put a clear coat of polyurethane to “protect” it? Sure. But it seemed silly to me that I just painted a piece, intentionally distressed it, and then would take time to protect it so it isn’t further distressed? No thanks. I’ll take it as is!

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Definitely a needed facelift and it will fit perfectly in Coberly Nicole’s new room!

One Step at a Time

Winding down from the holidays and starting a New Year is always a fun season for change and self reflection, but I urge you to keep perspective when tackling your goals.

The holidays left my home a mess, put the Janis Ann project a few days behind, and served as a reminder that we’re going to have a new little joining our family in less than ten weeks. The nursery isn’t completed, the crib isn’t ordered, and no, we haven’t picked out a name. Ryan and I both enjoy choosing meaningful resolutions and this year we chose to establish our Freedom Number and craft a plan to hit that goal.

If I immerse myself in all the things that are not completed, I would drive myself crazy. Actually, two nights ago, I did just that – thankfully Ryan noticed my stress and helped me prioritize and tackle my list. For the past couple of days, I continue to remind myself to take one item on the list at a time. Multitasking is physically impossible – even computers can only process one item at a time. Yes, you can implement some serious “task-switching,” but your brain can’t do two things at once.

Above that, I appreciate that this is my list. I have a beautiful home to care for and create a space of love for my family. Our business is thriving and we continue to learn and grow how to be better. And in just a few short weeks a beautiful little girl is going to join our family.

As you review your New Year’s resolutions, whether it be a financial, physical, or some other personal goal – slow down and appreciate where you are and what you have as you strive to improve this life. Run from feelings of worry and being overwhelmed and embrace the opportunity 2016 presents.

  

Janis Ann Project Update

After some much needed time off for Christmas, we’re returning to the Janis Ann project recharged and ready to go. Here’s where we are so far:

Upstairs walls are painted, electrical is in, and lighting is installed. Recessed lights keep the living room and kitchen open and airy.

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The chandelier is refinished (check out how here) and up.

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Fans for the bedroom. The designer in me would love to see a pretty chandelier, but the practical homeowner in me wants a fan above my bed.

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The old cabinets are painted and ready for hardware. Express Granite is measuring for countertops tomorrow morning.

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One of Ryan’s specialities is custom tile work. He did an amazing job on the bathroom in the master and it’s all getting grout today.

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The basement drywall is up and the paint is going on this week!

IMG_0410I’m really excited because I’m off of my 9-5 job, so I get to work on Janis Ann with Ryan. This week, my big project is built in bookshelves and redoing this fireplace. It’s going to be beautiful when I’m done!

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DIY: Cinnamon Honey Butter Gifts

Christmas is my favorite season, but each year it’s a temptation to be overwhelmed by the literal hustle and bustle of the season. Checking each item off of the Christmas shopping list alone is enough to overwhelm even the most organized shopper. For the past couple of years, my family participated with our church in the Advent Conspiracy. Instead of being consumed by stuff, stress, and debt, we’ve decided to worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all. It comes down to quality, not quantity – especially for gifts.

This year I’ve decided to make delicious treats for grandparents and a few extras just in case: Homemade Cinnamon Honey Butter and Eggnog Bread with Rum Glaze. Yes, it’s all made with love, but it’s also so tasty. If you decide to jump on board with these recipes, I’d suggest breaking it up into two days. It’s not that each recipe takes long, but for working parents – more than an hour in the kitchen can seem like an impossible feat. This isn’t a time for stress, enjoy yourself.

Cinnamon Honey Butter Recipe from Tidy Mom

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Honey
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 half pint canning jars

IMG_4466Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in bowl. Using whisk attachment on mixer blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  • Use rubber spatula to pour mixture in to a large pastry bag (or Ziploc® bag), cut off tip and squeeze into half pint jars. (tip: place bag in tall glass for support, or have someone hold the bag while you pour)
  • Keep refrigerated. Serve room temperature.

IMG_4480After your butter is mixed and ready in the jars – it’s easy to dress it up. For this one, I took direction from the Tidy Mom blog and used some linen cloth circles, green pipe cleaner, red sparkle berries, twine and free printable “Merry Christmas” tags from the Magnolia Homes Blog.IMG_4483

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Here’s to keeping focus on the meaning of Christmas this holiday season. Enjoy!

 

 

Digging In + New T-Shirts

Not growing up in the St. Louis area, I had to learn the nuances natives do not naturally point out to newcomers. For instance, people in St. Louis County hate the thought of “crossing the river.” It seems that those in St. Charles County hate the thought of being too close to the city. Everyone has preconceived notions about certain communities within our area, whether it’s Maplewood or Lake St. Louis. It’s funny to me how each little community tries to silo themselves away. This is one of the reasons I love being a transplant – I feel like I can appreciate the benefits of each area. The fun and excitement the city can offer, the quiet and relaxation that comes with the fields of vineyards just a short drive away. I’ve grown to love living in this community; it feels like home.

When I started the Muddy River Homes t-shirt project, I wanted to dig in and reach back to before this area became what it is today. I wanted to rewind before the arch and the stadiums were the big focal points to a time when the rivers were the heart of this area. The Missouri and Mississippi rivers brought so much life to our community – that’s the inspiration behind the company name.

After scouring through photos, I landed on this beauty and for what I wanted, the best of both worlds. The Missouri River, incorporating both St. Louis and St. Charles Counties to make up our rich culture. This old “bird’s eye view” map from 1869 shows the river busy with steamboats and you can see where the community is starting to expand out from the water source.

stcharlesMap Maker: A. Ruger

Original Production Date: 1869

With a little editing, it’s exactly what I had envisioned for a fun t-shirt! Let me know what you think!

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Free Christmas Card Printables

Every year mailing Christmas cards out seem to get a little tougher, but I LOVE sending cards. The problem is, I don’t like just sending any card – I want it to be original and convey the Sturm family life that year.

This year, I wanted something warm and traditional. I found some affordable card stock at Hobby Lobby for $10 (set of 50 cards) and did a little design on my computer.

O Holy Night is my favorite Christmas carol, so I designed the card for a 5×7 (this particular one is folded). The prints are simple, but exactly what I wanted. If you would like to download this card for print, you can download the PDF here (5×7 folded card).

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Of course, I always like to add a photo. Thanks to Grandma Smith, Coberly Nicole had a great new outfit to wear.

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Now to just get these in the mail.

Chandelier Makeover DIY

This Chandelier Makeover DIY is for lighting in the Janis Ann project.

Each project we renovate, I try to leave behind some character of the original home. For the Janis Ann project, I knew the dining room chandelier could be something special with a little elbow grease. It’s a quality fixture from Germany that’s outdated due to the brass color and crystals.

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For this DIY chandelier makeover, I decided to remove all the crystals and change the finish to oil-rubbed bronze. The crystals fell off with a simple snip, snip!

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I sprayed a base coat of flat, dark brown – then covered the entire fixture with Rustoleum Metallic Finish Oil Rubbed Bronze.

The design plans for Janis Ann include very muted walls (color as seen in photo below), white kitchen cabinets, and a dark wood floor (not yet installed). The oil rubbed bronze fixture will help balance out all the colors.

The entire project took a total of 1:30 (that’s dry time included). It’ll be a beautiful focal point for the Janis Ann home when all the pieces finally come together!

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