This week, Molly from My Name Is Yeh, has been popping up on my social media feeds. If you take a look at her site, you will know why. When I went to check out her blog, I saw beautiful creations that I will never attempt to make such as the Vegan Chai Cheesecake With Earl Grey Fig Sauce. Embracing my own culinary skills, I will share with you one of my favorite snacks… that I am sure your dog could make …WHILE BLINDFOLDED! As always, I am setting the bar nice and low.
How do you get your protein?
When I mention to people that I do not enjoy consuming animal meat, the above question is what I am usually asked. One way is through nuts! However, when I go to our local Target and see trail mix, I am always discouraged by the price. As a way to save money and better control my snacks, I will create my own trail mix. Below is one of my favorite mixes and the recipe I used as a guide.
Sue’s Camp Mix (Original Recipe)
2 cups canola oil 1 tsp dill 1 pkg ranch original or spicy dressing
Beat oil + dressing in a measuring cup. Microwave mixture for 1.5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine: 1 small box cheese crackers 1/2 bag of butter pretzels dry roasted peanuts to your liking
Pour dressing mixture over snacks a little at a time. Stir well to coat. Let mixture dry until no longer shiny. Stirring occasionally. Store in covered container.
And my version…
Snack Mix – Jess Remix
2 cups canola oil
1 pkg original ranch
1 pkg spicy ranch
Beat oil + dressing in a measuring cup. Microwave mixture for 1.5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the following items (many of which I don’t know the names of):
Pour dressing mixture over snacks a little at a time. Stir well to coat. Let mixture dry until no longer shiny. Stirring occasionally. Store in covered container. Eat the entire container in one sitting when you decide to give up on your 2017 resolutions.
For the last three years, I have been in Las Vegas when my birthday rolled around. (How great is that!?) This year, I was at home BUT I still figured out how to feel like a high roller on my special day.
…Discounts. Coupons. Free. Those words sure make me smile…
A few days before my birthday, I took to Facebook to find out which places in Grand Forks offered free birthday food. It turns out that I could only find THREE places in which you can get a free birthday meal with no strings attached. I discovered in most places, you needed a companion to pay for a meal to get the free birthday entree …OR… you had to sign up for a rewards program.
After realizing there were only three places with truly free birthday meals, I got two identical e-mails from Starbucks wishing me a happy birthday. Included in each email was a coupon for a free food or drink item.
How could this be?!
It turns out that I used to have an active Starbucks account with my maiden name. Now, I have one with my married name. Being both accounts have had activity, they sent a birthday surprise to each!
Starbucks allowed me a window of a few days to use up my birthday giftS. Trying to get the most out of my free food or drink item, I ordered a sandwich the night before my birthday because it costs more than my regular drink. It was so good that I forgot to take a picture before I ate it. Please enjoy the photo of my empty bag instead.
My big day had arrived! I started the day off with a trip to Starbucks after school drop-off. A few seconds after taking the photo, I realized that I should have ordered a venti instead of a grande because a venti is larger AND still free. Next year I will remember!
I finished up my duties at work around 1:00 and headed to Mama Maria’s for my free lunch. I forgot to bring cash for a tip so I ordered a glass of wine, which allowed me to add gratuity on my card.
After triple-checking with the waitress that my entree would be free, I placed my order, and hung out with all of my imaginary friends.
Onward I went. My next stop was Paradiso. After once again confirming that my meal would be free, I ordered a glass of wine and my entree. After a few bites, I asked for a to-go box and the check. I was in and out before I could take more than a sip of my drink.
After leaving Paradiso, my car smelled of leftovers and my belly was full. I ran a few errands and squeezed in a workout before picking up our son at school. Together, we traveled to Cherry Berry for a nice treat. Upon our arrival, I quizzed the kind employee as to how to redeem by birthday treat. At the Grand Forks location, I was able to get 10 ounces free with my ID. Being I was full, I let our son fill up the cup and added a few gummies for myself.
When there was one gummy left, he told me I could have it because it was my birthday! How sweet is that?!
Growing up, my dad was always gone on my birthday because he would be hunting out of state. Now, every few years, my husband also goes on that trip. When I told Jared of my birthday plan, he mentioned it sounded a little depressing and apologized that he couldn’t come with me. He was right. In fact, I was a little hesitant to eat alone. Thankfully, it turned out to be a great experience! I am going to make this a new birthday tradition.
Jared and I did not take a single parenting class when I was pregnant with Jude. I knew my trusty friends, Youtube and Google, could help me if needed. When researching pregnancy and childbirth, I failed when it came to reading about breast feeding. How hard can it really be? I have boobs, the boobs will fill with milk, and then the baby will drink the milk. Easy peasy.
I was wrong. Breastfeeding was and still is challenging!
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that breastfeeding, with its many known health benefits for infants, children, and mothers, is a key strategy to improve public health. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding alongside introduction of complementary foods for at least 1 year.
The CDC and AAP failed to mention that if you want to exclusively give breast milk to your baby, you need to bust your ass each day. You may even do everything you can to breast feed and something still just doesn’t work! My personal experience is that providing your baby with breast milk is extremely taxing, exhausting, and rewarding.
1,000 ounces in 3 months
I knew I would be going back to work when Jude was 3 months old. I also knew that I wanted to give him breast milk until his first birthday. Thanks to my breast pump, I was able to pump and store over 1,000 ounces before going back to work. Here is how I did it:
After reading the reviews on amazon, I ordered Fenugreek Seed and Blessed Thistle. Although some claim they didn’t see a difference in milk production, I personally did. For the low price of these supplements, I thought it was worth a try!
As a baby gift, my mom got us the Medela Freestyle Hands-Free Double Electric Breast Pump. I could have found a cheaper option that would be covered by insurance, but I was set on having a pump that was battery operated and hands-free, so I could walk around the house while pumping. The freestyle allowed me to pump everywhere. The motor is so little that it could easily fit in the diaper bag. I once even pumped while at the movie theater!
If you have ever washed a breast milk bottle, you know that the fatty liquid can leave residue inside the bottle. Kiinde offers an easy alternative with its disposable bottles. I was able to pump directly into the storage bagwith the Kiinde system. If Jude needed a bottle when I wasn’t around, Jared could easily pop a nipple onto the storage bag. The one downfall of this system is that the bags are quite large. You still have to use a 6-ounce bag even if you only produce an ounce of milk.
4. Pump Strap
As I said before, I pumped EVERYWHERE. We live about 20 minutes out of town so I always used that time to pump. The Pump Strap allowed me to be hands-free, so I could pump and drive at the same time. I tried many different support devices including the Medela and Hogfish but this was my favorite. I loved that I could keep my coat on while pumping during the cold winter months.
I purchased doubles of many items and sometimes even triple! I believe we have two car chargers and at least four wall chargers for my pump. I know we have at least triple of every pump piece (besides the motor). I would justify paying for all of these duplicates by calculating how much money breastfeeding was saving our family because we didn’t have to buy formula.
In order to reach 1,000 ounces before returning to work, I had to spend a lot of time pumping. I began pumping when Jude was just a few hours old. After a few weeks of building up my supply, in a thirty-minute pumping session, I could usually produce 10 ounces. In addition to pumping, I was also breastfeeding as much as possible. I once calculated that with breastfeeding and pumping, I was getting milked for at least 8 hourseach day. This was a typical day for us:
7. Support System
I told EVERYONE I was a “pumping mom”. The truth is, in order to pump, I needed some extra help! My parents would order dinner for me when I was in the car pumping outside the restaurant. My husband would wash the pump parts each night. My sister-in-law was always answering the crazy questions I had. My friends cheered me on as I tested my breastmilk for alcohol after girls night. I had so many people that knew my goal and encouraged me. I know I wouldn’t have reached my goal without their support.