You know those posts where it says these recipes use only 5 ingredients. But then you find out that they didn’t count the olive oil. And salt and pepper. And the photo they posted for the recipe (which looks simply gosh darn delicious) includes all these “optional” ingredients. And the meal just doesn’t seem as hearty without them. Yeah, I hate that. As a working mom, sometimes I want a simple, only two steps, just a couple ingredient meal for those nights where I get home late, work was stressful, and I do not want to order pizza.
This is that recipe. There are only four ingredients. And I mean that.
There are three steps. Two of them are chopping. This recipe is incredibly easy and tastes great. Every time I share this recipe on my Instagram stories, I get flooded with reactions on how delicious it looks. It is.
Now is this healthy? Well, the chimichurri rice is prepackaged so I am sure there are more healthy choices than this. But I am going to out out on a limb and say this is healthier than ordering Chinese takeout. At least our family’s Chinese takeover order 😉
Andouille sausage, sliced in coin-sized pieces
Trader Joe’s Peruvian Style Chimichurri Rice
Chop broccoli into bite-sized pieces
Cut sausage into coin-sized pieces
Put broccoli, sausage, and rice into a large skillet over medium heat. Add in 2 tablespoons of water. Turn to combine. Place lid over skillet to allow the broccoli to steam cook. The entire meal should be ready to eat within 15 minutes.
I remember when my mom use to make pot pies. I would have a fit. I hated them. My brother and sister would happily eat their dinner, and I would sit at the table, nose up, like a snot, refusing to eat my pot pie. I decided they were the worst and I would not even try them. Nothing would change my mind. They had peas, they had gravy, they were not for me. Now that I am a mom myself, I realize my mom is a saint for not slapping me!
Since my teenager-anxy days, I have never had a pot pie (I am nothing but true to my word). But around Thanksgiving, I kept seeing posts about people making pot pie recipes with their leftover turkey. The cutest ramekins filled with bright orange carrots, firm peas, and shredded turkey. Guys, it looked good. And I couldn’t believe it. I hate pot pies.
But I had a bunch of leftover turkey and I didn’t feel like making soup. I decided that it was time to finally try pot pies.
Ok, now I feel like an adult. I like them. They were good. It was filling, warm, and the perfect level of salty savory. I would make this again. And I can’t believe it. Guys, you should try this. They are good. You’ll feel like an adult. It’s great.
Yellow onion, diced
5 carrots, diced
1 bag frozen Trader Joe’s Mushroom Medley (OR a bunch of diced mushrooms)
1-2 cups turkey or chicken (or opt if desire veggie)
2 tbsp Trader Joe’s Garlic Herb Butter (OR just butter)
This July, we went on our first vacation as a family of five. My cousin on my dad’s side was getting married, and honestly, we do not see that side of the family much. Everyone lives far away, and now that we are older, people get busy. We have our own children, have careers, and family reunions with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins is no longer the go-to family vacation.
But with my cousin getting married, it was the perfect opportunity for my extended family to meet my children. Because outside of one uncle and aunt, no one had met any of my babies. So we decided that I would go back to maternity leave a week early so we could take a week off of work to spend a week in San Antonio, Texas–with the trip ending with the wedding.
When I told my parents our plans, they immediately asked if they could join. “Of course! We will never say no to extra sets of hands with the kids!” both Matt and I exclaimed.
Initially, the plan was to stay at a fellow content-creator’s house. The basement of the house could easily fit our family and the idea of not spending money on a hotel solidified our plans to stay a week. Already, the plane tickets were going to be a big pill to swallow. JR and Max were no longer free. And as a self-proclaimed cheap mama, I was not thrilled with the idea of buying 4 plane tickets. But I did. We got the tickets for the end of July through the beginning days of August, and waited for the trip to arrive.
Then, about two weeks before our trip, we got the bad news. We could no longer stay at the content-creator’s house. “Umm, what?!” I said to Matt when he broke the news. “That is the whole reason we decided to go down for a week! We wouldn’t have to pay for housing!” I cried. Matt just shrugged in his typical fashion. Of course he didn’t care as much. He wasn’t the one who would need to find us a new place to stay 9 days from now.
Most hotels were booked, and the ones that weren’t were ungodly expensive. I couldn’t stomach paying over $250.00 a night for just a simple room. So I went on Airbnb. had never rented a place through Airbnb, but I heard good things about it. Most people I knew had used it. Even my parents. But I was hesitant. Where you stay can really dictate the type of trip you have. I didn’t want to take a risk staying in a terrible place. But I also didn’t want to settle for mediocre. After some searching, I found the most perfect place to stay. Once I saw the pool and porch, I was basically already putting in my credit card information.
This place exceeded all our expectations! It is a 211 acre ranch property that is only about 15 minutes away from San Antonio. We got the benefits of the middle of nowhere while being so close to stores and things to do. The house was the perfect size for our family of five. The kitchen was big enough to cook meals while the boys played in the living room with the gigantic bucket of LEGOs that were in the closet.
The yard around the house is drop dead gorgeous. Every morning we ate breakfast tacos and donuts outside under a huge live oak tree. Pro tip: eat breakfast tacos for breakfast every single day. They are delicious and we have yet to find any taco that comes even close in Minnesota.
The property has two white horses that roam around that are friendly, and our toddlers got such joy petting and feeding them. Every morning, they would look out the window for the horses. And at night, my parents would sit with the kids, and Matt and I would walk around the property with a glass of wine, soaking in the sunset.
But you guys, the pool. It is amazing. The view. The water temperature. The pool toys. It’s just plain perfect. And the porch surrounding the pool is great for just relaxing and eating snacks before jumping back into the water.
We spent two full afternoons soaking up the sun and relaxing in the pool. With three little kids, it was perfect. We could still enjoy the Texas weather, have a gorgeous view, and not have to worry about carting them around or be concerned about them having a pre-nap melt down in public. We could simply walk back down to our house and put the kids to nap. If they were hungry, we would sit on the porch and eat snacks. It was wonderful.
And when we weren’t spending the day at the pool, we spent the day at the beach on Canyon Lake. There are a couple of different beaches at Canyon Lake, and we found this beach that was hidden below a huge cliff–Canyon Overlook Park The climb down to the beach was a bit challenging holding a little baby. But it was completely worth it!
It is a pebble beach so make sure to wear secure sandals. It not only helps with the climb, but helps with walking around once you get to the beach. The water is such a clear blue. It goes on forever. If possible, bring some shade with you (ie: umbrella or tent). The are no trees down on the actual beach and the Texas sun is strong.
It was such a wonderful trip and a great first vacation as a family of five. While we were initially disappointed that our place to stay fell through, the place we ended up staying at made our trip such a success!
And sure, we did not do any of the typical San Antonio site. No Riverwalk. No Alamo. But it was exactly the kind of vacation that fit our young family. I cannot recommend it enough!
Last month my little Maxie turned three! Which I have not entirely processed yet. Because it simply cannot be true that three years ago I bought my squishy Max home. Just like every quintessential parent says, time is cruel and it all goes by too fast.
I was reliving the day my littlest boy was born and realized I had never published a birth post! Middle child problems!! So in celebration of my boy’s third birthday, I am sharing my littlest boy’s birth story.
I left work on December 14th a little too cocky. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow” I said as I turned off my office light. There was no doubt in my mind that on Wednesday morning, I would find myself sitting in front of my work computer, answering emails and working on briefs. JR was 12 days late. If I learned anything from JR’s birth, it was that due dates meant nothing. It didn’t matter that my due date was tomorrow. There was simply no way this baby was going to be born yet.
We didn’t have a special dinner or do anything really out of the ordinary. I gave JR a bath, put him in his doggie pajamas, and read him a book before bed. JR was his typically hyper self. Running around in the crib, singing, and laughing. By 9:00, he was asleep.
I made my way to the TV room and turned on a show. Within a half hour, I heard a large pop and it felt like I had peed myself. My heart immediately began to race. “Oh I am not looking forward to labor.” I reached down for my phone, but it wasn’t there. My hands were shaking. I hadn’t felt one contraction yet, but my anxiety of what was to come was climbing with every second.
“Where is my phone?” I got up, frantically looked under the couch, under the side table, no where to be found. I yelled to Matt. “My water broke, and I can’t find my phone!” My eyes were wild. “I need my phone! How can I tell Micah that she needs to get ready to come! We have to call the birth center! We have to call the doula!”
Matt put his arms around me. “Go take a shower. I’ll find your phone.” I got into the shower and let the water fall over me. It waited for the hot water to calm me. It didn’t come. I got out. Laid down in bed and closed my eyes. I still felt no contractions, but I knew what was coming. It was just a matter of time.
2 hours went by. I woke up to a cramp. Ugh. My lower stomach twisted. What the hell?! I had forgotten this is what labor felt like. I remained in bed and kicked my legs in frustration. It did not help.
I left the bed and went to the living room. I paced. It did not help. I was annoyed. Matt was sleeping. My stomach was exploding. BECAUSE OF HIM. Ok, me too. But whatever. It’s his fault. I walked back to the bedroom and threw a pillow at him.
“What?!” Matt said dreamily.
“I have contractions,” I said. Matt bolted up. He followed me to the tv room. I paced from one side to another.
“Do you want to watch Bones?” Matt asked. The two of us had been watching Bones together. It was show we could relax and turn off our minds. I shook my head no. For some unknown reason, I did not want to be distracted. These contractions were a bitch. And each one demanded my full attention.
I moved to my knees, with my forearms on our chair. Matt grabbed the scarf that he used to raboozo me during JR”s labor and wrapped it around my belly. He tossed his phone with the contraction app on the chair and I would click when my contraction started. When I clicked start, Matt would start to raboozeo. Two hours went by. It felt like forever. “Why the hell did I decide to do this again? I am a moron! Why did I think I needed another natural birth?”
Suddenly, the pressure felt so much more intense. “Matt, call Micah. Tell her to come now.” Yes, it felt weird to be able to speak. It didn’t seem like it was ‘the time’ yet. I couldn’t say a word when I was in labor with JR. Yet,here I am, speaking. Obviously, we had time. I wasn’t truly in labor yet. But still. I should be safe. Micah (our nanny) should get here. Just in case.
Only a minute or two went by. But then my stomach turned. OMG THIS IS INSANE. THIS BABY IS GOING TO FALL OUT. “F…..CALL MICAH NOW!” I yelled. I waddled into the kitchen. I toss my phone on the counter, and I pushed the recall button. I called Micah again. Why wasn’t she here already?! Matt was running around. Tossing bags into the truck. Grabbing a jacket for me. I rocked back and forth.
A huge wave of contraction came. It felt like a strong twist on my lower stomach. There was pressure on my butt. Fu—-k. It left like the baby was crowning. “Matt, I am pushing!” I was leaning against the counter. I WAS pushing. It felt good to push. But holy shit. I AM IN MY KITCHEN. WHERE IS THE NANNY? WE CANT LEAVE JR ALONE!
“We need to go now!” Matt yelled. I violently shock my head. “Get the car seat in the car!” I grunted. My stomach ached. MOTHER OF GOD! THESE CONTRACTIONS. But I can not leave JR. He’s my baby. I can’t leave him alone.
“NO! GET IN THE CAR. Micah will be here soon. GET IN THE CAR!” Matt urged.
I dialed Micah again. My voice ached. “How close are you!” I could barely get the words out. “Five minutes” Micah said.
I looked at Matt in terror. This baby was coming. I did not have 5 minutes. “Get in the car!” Matt said. I growled angrily and moved to the door. “Call us the second you get to our house. We have to leave now!” Matt said to Micah. I walked out the front door. Leaving my baby boy. Matt locked the door behind me.
I climbed into the truck. Matt jumped into the car and gunned it out the driveway. The contractions were strong. I put on my seatbeat, but fu–k, it felt too restrictive. Matt immediately started to drive 2o mph over the speed limit.
Halfway there, I started to panic. “Matt, I AM PUSHING!” I yelled. And I was. It felt good to push. As I pushed, it felt like the baby’s head was crowning. I wasn’t truly sitting in my seat. I was basically standing, while wearing my seat belt, with my hand firm on Matt’s thigh. Matt was going 90 mph in a 55 mph. We rounded on to the side street that would lead us to the Minnesota Birth Center. We reached the first set of lights. Red lights. My eyes widened. Nope. I am PUSHING. THIS BABY IS FALLING OUT. MOTHER OF GOD I WILL NOT HAVE A BABY IN THE CAR. DRIVE FASTER. JESUS CHRIST. I AM GOING TO HAVE A BABY IN THE CAR. Matt drove faster. He ran the light. The speed limit was 40 mph. Matt remained a steady speed. I felt taken care of. But oh my goodness. The pressure was so intense.
“Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” I whispered. I couldn’t truly capture what I was feeling. But I felt the urge to say something. Even if it was at a whisper. Matt pulled into the driveway of the Minnesota Birth Center. The car sped into the parking spot. Matt slammed on the brakes, put the car in park, and jumped out the car. He opened my car door, and presumably I walked out. I have no memory of this. The next thing I knew, I was in the Minnesota Birth Center. Watching the water of the birth tub rising.
The midwife placed her stethoscope on my belly, confirming that the baby had a strong heartbeat and giving me the green light to get into the birthing tub. The midwife helped me into the tub, and I lowered my body into the water. The water felt warm and familiar. After the stress of driving here, I finally felt at ease. All I wanted was to get into the tub because getting in the tub meant pushing this baby out, which means my stomach will no longer feel like it is being twisted like a wet dishrag.
As I settled into the tub, the midwife and Matt looked at one another. The clear water had turned deep red. “You are bleeding too much. We cannot have you in this tub. We need to get you out right away. Please take our hands so we can help you out without slipping.” the midwife said. The fact that there was so much blood did not register with me. All I heard was that I could not give birth in a tub. The only place I had ever given birth before. The thought of giving birth on a bed, outside the soothing comfort of water, seemed insane. But I did as I was told. I slowly climbed out of the tub.
The midwife showed me to the large queen sized bed. I climbed on and placed my forearms on a big green birthing ball, trying to remain calm. Matt stood at my side, off the bed. The midwife placed a warm, wet washcloth on my crotch and calmly said, “when you feel the contraction, push through it.” I nodded. But honestly, since making my way to the bed, I didn’t feel anything contractions. It was as if my body had pushed pause on the labor. I wasn’t in the water, and I don’t give birth anywhere but the water. Instead, I felt out of it. Kneeling on the bed, on all fours, like a barn animal. Without the water around me, I felt exposed.
Finally a contraction came. It felt terrible and wonderful at the same time. As the contraction built up, I pushed. I buried my head into the birthing ball and pushed harder than I thought I could. “There’s the head!” the midwife said calmly. “Now just one more good push, Lindsay. You got this.” Her voice remained steady and low. I didn’t feel a contraction but I didn’t care. The pressure of the baby’s head was too much to bare. I pushed, and suddenly felt a wave of relief. The baby was out. It started to cry, and I rushed to move off my hands and knees to grab my baby. As I moved, I pulled the baby with me. The midwife quickly intervened, assisting me to a sitting position and bringing my little baby to my chest. My little baby boy. My little Maxie. I wrapped my arms around him, kissing the top of his head, and felt a strong wave of emotion fall over me. My perfect little boy was finally here. 8 pounds, 1 ounce. So much hair.
And as for all the blood, the midwife never had a concrete explanation for it. They were worried my placenta had ruptured, but it didn’t. If Max hadn’t been born basically 10 minutes after we got to the birth center, they were planning to send me to a hospital due to all the blood. But Max wouldn’t have that.
He’s still my biggest mama’s boy ever. I am forever grateful he’s mine.
Traditions. If I could sum up November and December in one word, it would be traditions. We have traditions for how we celebrate Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve. All of it. Each day has been specifically calculated to include rituals we have done for years and years. Molding my family’s traditions, with Matt’s family’s traditions, with our own hybrid traditions. I love it. It feels like it is part of what defines what it means to be part of our family. To know, celebrate, understand these traditions means you are a Cremona/Watson.
And after Thanksgiving, we use the leftover ham to make split pea soup (yes, we always have turkey and ham at Thanksgiving). That is this soup. After spending an entire day stuffing our faces with turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie, we stock up on Black Friday deals and make this soup. There is something so comforting about dipping a chunk of crusty bread into this soup as we flip through the big box ads with my sister, dad, and sister-in-law. It’s part of the Cremona/Watson family Thanksgiving weekend. Just doesn’t feel like the holiday without it.
We spent Sunday afternoon decluttering our basement. We’ve lived in our house for over 8 years now and have accumulated s o m u c h s t u f f. My closet is full of buckets and buckets of clothes I’ve been keeping just in case they fit again, in case I need it for a costume, in case it comes into style. I am certain Matt has every spare screw that ever came with any kit. After a couple hours of tossing items in either the donate or garage piles, we called it quits and headed back upstairs to where the clutter is a bit more manageable.
The fall cleaning inspired me to clean out the pantry. In the back as a lone can of white beans tucked away–likely bought for chili that I never ended up making. There were two zucchinis on their last legs and a jar of unopened pesto from who knows when. And that is how this pesto white beans with grilled zucchini came to life.
We ate it as a meal, but it would be a great appetizer or side dish. It’s a fun interplay between heavy foods (beans and cheese) with lighter foods (pesto and zucchini). Toast some crusty bread and layer the bean/zucch/cheese mixture on top. It would be the perfect dish to bring to a late fall cookout or to eat in front of a fire. It’s got just the right level of flare without feeling pretentious. Which is what I am always looking for in a meal 🙂
Today was one of those days where I saw my reflection in the mirror, and I thought, “ugh, I am that chubby girl.” And that’s because I am. No, I am not fishing for compliments. It’s true. I am chubby. Yes, I did recently have a baby, but this chubbiness cannot be blamed on Eloise. It’s because I’ve been eating subpar and not working out as much I’d like. See, before we went to Texas, I was kicking ass. I was eating healthy. Working out. Drinking all the water. And then vacation happen. And then I got back and I was busy. Work. Babies. House. Errands. Yeah, I know. You can make all the excuses you want. Clearly I wasn’t making my health a priority.
Ok, well that is the great thing about priorities. They can change. So healthy eating is back on the docket. I spent the weekend digging into new recipes to try. To revitalize my motivation to eat healthy, work out, get my spirit back into the better myself vibe. It was time to get out of my funk.
Because I have three little eyes watching me. Taking notes. Learning from my habits and internalizing them and possibly even making these habits their own. So if not for myself, then for them.
And that is how this beet salad came to life. I am not about to just eat rabbit food. That is not going to get me excited about eating healthy. But of course, healthy eating doesn’t have to be bland. I just had to remind myself of that. So I went outside the typical “green” salad and landed on beets. There is something about beets that make me feel like I am being healthy and trendy at the same time. This recipe is unbelievably easy, with no dressing because the ingredients themselves have more than enough flavors.
I was about 7 months pregnant with my first baby when I started to seriously think about the fact that I had to get this baby out of me. Of course, this baby had to come out at some point. But the idea of going into labor was terrifying. No one could tell me how my labor would be. No idea how long it would be. When it would start. How much would it hurt. Would there be back labor? The realization that so many things were out of my control was too much. So instead of dwelling on this things I couldn’t control, I decided to focus on the things I could.
1. Take a Birth Class // I signed Matt and me up for a 6 week natural childbirth class early on in my pregnancy. I had been reading random blogs about labor, but I am certain Matt had done zero research on childbirth. So by going to a weekly class together, we both were on the same page. We had an arsenal of copping mechanisms to try. We got to practice the labor management moves out (which felt sort of dumb but in hindsight, it was nice to have the practice). The hardest part of the class was watching the video of a woman giving birth. I had never seen someone give birth before. I don’t think I could ever be emotionally prepared to see an actual birth either. It shook me. As Matt and I drove home that night, I cried. It was probably the closest feeling I’ve had to a panic attack. But since Matt had seen the video too, he understood why I was so shook up. Anyway, after seeing that video, it was a big part of why I became so focused on controlling the remaining pieces of my upcoming labor that I could.
2. Get your nails done // I had no idea how disheveled I’d look after having a baby. But I knew that my nails would look good holding my brand new baby. Plus, getting a manicure and pedicure is wonderfully relaxing. After carrying a baby in your belly for 9 months, there’s no question you deserve a mani and pedi.
3. Buy labor clothes // Guys, I took such care in figuring out what I was going to wear while I was in labor, you’d like I was picking out an outfit for the Oscars. I spent an embarrassing amount of time online shopping for labor clothes. After hours and hours of window shopping, I ended up buying a floral robe off Etsy. I bought a bunch of new underwear so when I finally did go into labor, I had a fresh pair of undies (even though I knew the joys of labor would destroy them). It was nice to have brand new clothes to wear and to not have the whole “what should I wear” debate in your own head.
4. Get waxed // This may not be for everyone but…there is no question that there are going to be a lot of eyes down there when you have a baby. I am 100% certain that the midwives/doctors and nurses have seen it all so if you did nothing, it’s fine. But I didn’t get waxed for anyone but me. I wanted it to be all neat down there. I knew that the weeks following the baby would include quite a bit of care of my lower parts–using a peri bottle, spitz baths, witch hazel sprays. You have to take care of your vagina on top of your baby. Being waxed before the baby arrived made me feel like I was already take a step towards my own personal care.
5. Get a new haircut and dye // What is it about a fresh haircut and dye that makes you feel like a brand new woman? Ok, this is not a recommendation to get the quintessential mom haircut (at what age does everyone cut their hair short?) But having a new haircut and dye makes you feel lighter. I swear for the first couple of weeks post-hair cut, I am able to style my hair better. Plus your hair will pop in photos with your new baby. So it’s a win win.
And after all of this, I did feel a bit better about feeling out of control. If you are pregnancy or know someone who is, I highly recommend you knock at least a couple of these things off your to-do list before the baby arrives. Because when you really think about it, the to-do list before the baby arrives is just too baby-focused. Sure, the baby in your belly needs a lot of attention, but that momma building the baby is equally as important. And I know this list is basically just a pamper/spa day. But there should be no shame in wanting to take care of yourself and feeling your best when the baby does arrive. You are about to go through a challenge. Even the “easiest” labor is still tough and can leave you wiped. So grab yourself a pedicure as you prepare for the big day.
Serious question: how do you parents get your kids to bed? It is 10:30 and the boys are still wide awake. They’ve been laying in the dark for the past twoish hours. But that doesn’t matter. They are still rolling around, giggling, not closing their eyes. Matt is currently being held hostage in the bedroom, sitting in the rocking chair waiting for the boys to finally fall asleep. It doesn’t seem to matter what bedroom routine we have. The boy are impervious to our tricks.
Ok, but beyond typically bedtime, I just haven’t been my normal self in the kitchen. Guys, I’ve been in a funk lately. No researching of new recipes. No wandering around the grocery store looking for new food to incorporate into a recipe. Not looking forward to trying new dishes. Not really sure why. But then last week, I texted Matt before I left the office to put some rice on (because I refuse to cook my own rice). I stopped at Trader Joe’s, walked around the store, and picked up chicken and tzatziki sauce. I didn’t have any particular recipe in mind. But for the first time in a while, I was in the mood to experiment.
And I came up with this. It isn’t anything too crazy or fancy. But the boys eat it. Matt really liked it. It was exactly what my soul needed. Perhaps this recipe will rejuvenate your meal rotation as well.
I spent this spring on maternity leave. Which meant I had all day to prep for dinner. And for the first couple of weeks, I had sincere plans to make elaborate meals, fancy desserts, and snacks. But then I didn’t. Because I have three kids. So sure, I may have had the time to tackle a multiple step recipe but yeah, I have three kids. I have no hands. I am constantly breastfeeding. Someone needs a glass of water or milk. Someone is screaming that a toy is no longer in his grasp. While I may have all day to cook, life is anything but simple. Dinner recipes need to be as uncomplicated as possible.
That’s where soup comes in. The idea of tossing all the ingredients into a pot, letting it simmer (maybe checking on it periodically to stir, but maybe not)–yeah, I can handle that and breastfeed a baby while wiping a toddler’s butt (yeah, that happened. Sorry, Ellie!)
And when making soup, why not stick with a classic: chicken noodle. I am all for making as much of your recipe from scratch when you can–especially when it’s not super complicated. Making your own chicken broth is stupid easy. Literally, you throw full chicken in a pot of hot water. Leave the chicken in hot water. Come back later and take out the chicken. And wah lah, you have chicken broth. Even with three young children, this is manageable.
So anytime we get a rotisserie chicken, there’s a good chance homemade chicken noodle soup is on the horizon. Here’s some unsolicited advice that you do the same.