asparagus, spinach, & gouda pasta salad

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I love happy accidents in the kitchen. We needed to bring a side dish to family dinner and had a lot of asparagus, tomatoes, and Gouda cheese leftover. Once we added a few more ingredients, it made a super DELICIOUS pasta salad!

You can make it cold like traditional pasta salad, or roast up the asparagus and tomatoes and add the rest of the ingredients when the pasta is still warm, throw on some grilled chicken and you have yourself a meal!

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 min 
Serves: 10-12 1 cup servings

1 lb bow tie pasta 
1 bunch asparagus
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
3-4 green onions
1 bag fresh spinach
*2 cups Gouda cheese, cubed
*1/2 cup-1 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 bottle Olive Garden salad dressing (which they sell at Wal-mart now!) 

*If you're not a fan of Gouda or goat cheese, skip it and add shaved parmesean instead!

(Additional add-ins that also sound delicious):
Calamata olives
Crumbled bacon
Grilled Chicken

Instructions (served cold):
Boil pasta according to instructions, about 10 minutes until cooked.
Drain pasta and put in large bowl.
Add 1/3 of the bottle of dressing to the noodles, mix, and let the noodles cool to room temperature.
Chop up asparagus, tomatoes, green onions, and Gouda cheese. Add to pasta.
Add remaining ingredients and toss.
Refrigerate until chilled.

Instructions (served warm):
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Cut asparagus and tomatoes. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in oven on foil lined baking sheet for 12-15 minutes until veggies are roasted, but not too brown. 
While veggies are roasting, boil pasta according to instructions, about 10 minutes. 
Drain pasta and put in a large bowl. Add 1/3 of the bottle of dressing and spinach to the noodles and toss.
Chop green onions and Gouda cheese. 
Add all ingredients to warm pasta and toss.
Serve immediately.

 Happy tummies all around.


michaela's bridal shower

Michaela's bridal shower was so fun! I still can't believe my sister is old enough to get married. I got married when I was a year younger than her and I felt like I was old enough. But now in my maturity and wisdom in my 26th year I think, holy COW I was just a baby!

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It was so fun to plan and put together! We wanted to be fancy, and fancy we were. One of these days I'll go into professional party planning...*sigh. How does one even get into that kind of thing?

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The mimosa bar was delicious and one of my favorite details! (all virgin of course...you know...Mormon) :-p  My favorite combination was the pomegranate with raspberries! 
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If you've never eaten raspberry rolls from Shirley's bakery, I literally feel sorry for you. On the menu was quiche, chorizo skewers with gouda cheese and a green olive, asparagus pesto tarts (recipe here), fruit, and cookie bars and key lime tarts from Kneaders bakery. We have some leftovers and I'm so excited to eat this for every meal the next two days. 
This is also why I'm NEVER going to lose the rest of this baby weight...DANGIT!

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The bride who made out like a bandit! Seriously...how gorgeous is she? Just wait until you see her in her wedding dress. It is STUNNING!
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The favors were different scented bars of soap from The Body Shop.
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The kids had their own little party in the backyard and had so much fun playing together and munching on donuts and Bagel Bites! 

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Michaela with our Mom and Timmy's Mom. 

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Annddd this is my super cute niece Addy. I want to smoosh her little cheeks!!! 

A HUGE thank you to everyone who came and supported Michaela today and to Kimber for hosting with me!
I can't wait for the actual wedding! EEK!


jillian's popsicle party!

I can't really say "Wow I can't believe I have a three year-old!!" because really I feel like she's been acting like she's 3 since she was like 18 months old, so I'm glad her age is finally catching up to her. :-p

Jillian had a fun little party with a few of her friends! I love watching her play and interact with other little kids- the things they say to each other are hilarious. If you're on the fence about procreating, I'd say that's in the top 5 of reasons you should- they say really hilarious things, most of the time totally unprompted.

When it came to picking a theme for the party, it was really a no brainer...the kid asks me for a popsicle every single morning as soon as she wakes up, so popsicles it was! 
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A dirty, sweaty face makes for one happy kid!
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Thank goodness her cousin Milly was there to help the little kids bust open the pinata! And someone should have my mental state evaluated the next time I decide to make my own pinata...fringing ain't no joke. Why do NO party stores sell popsicle shaped pinatas?! I didn't think it'd be THAT far of a stretch. I was wrong.

Description of PhotoShowing off some of her gifts! She is totally in love with her Anna wig...haha!

Happiest of birthdays Jillian! You bring so much light to our family and I love your sweet, shy little personality! Don't grow up TOO fast, k?


there'd be days like this my mama said

You know those days...

where your great-sleeping newborn doesn't sleep so great

when "lunch" for yourself consists of two pieces of rolled up turkey stuffed in your mouth between getting your toddler's lunch and holding said sleepless newborn

when the highlight of your day was the 10 minutes you were alone in the shower 

when what gets you through the witching hour (4-5pm usually) is the thought of the Hershey bar in the pantry you're totally going to devour after the kids are asleep and you don't have to share with your toddler...

There'd be days like this my mama said.


independance day

Me: Jillian, tomorrow is July 4th!
Jillian: ju-why torth? Is it my birthday?
Me:...it's America's birthday.
Jillian: Oh! Should we get her a present? 

We've been kind of obsessing over birthdays around here...so it was a very convenient time for America to have a birthday. When it actually IS her birthday in a few weeks her head might explode.

We had a fun time doing sparklers and watching fireworks with Grandma & Dave! Jillian is super sensitive to noise so I was a bit worried about how it was going to go, but thanks to some ear muffs all was well and there were no major emotional breakdowns to be had.

Olivia's ear muffs were slightly too large...(hah!) but I'm guessing they worked well enough because she fell asleep before the end of the show.  

Happy birthday 'murica! 


master bath makeover

Soooo remember like way back in January when I started making over the master bathroom? 
It's finally finished! It sat at 90% done for 4 months (turns out having a baby is incredibly distracting), but I added the last bit this weekend! 

Remember the before? 

Because our bathroom is somewhat small for a master, I wanted to really play up the textures to make it more interesting. I also wanted to keep the color scheme calm and soft. 

Somewhere in the process of all of the changes we also ended up getting a new toilet- totally not planned (thanks leaky toilet, you suck). P.S...why is something you poop in SO expensive?
Moving on.

Aaannddd the after:


Here's what changed:
-New light fixture
-New faucet
-New toilet
-New shower curtain & rugs
-Added retractable mirror to wall
-Spray painted door knob
-Added knobs to drawers
-Wall shelving & decor

...sooo...like, everything.

Made a big difference!!

Hand towels// West Elm
Shower curtain & rugs// Target 
Light fixture// Lowe's
Shelves// Home Depot
Wall mirror & clock// Ikea
Knobs// a DIY using old knobs, jute rope & hot glue
Shelving decor// Tai Pan Trading

And on to the next! 

(the girls' room...YAY!)


surviving a newborn

Since I've done the whole newborn thing twice now, I'm basically an expert and can give expert advice. 

Jokesies. This is just based on my experience and what has helped me. If you've found anything else to be helpful, share the love- I still don't know what I'm doing in the whole "parenting" department. It's like the biggest wingin' it situation EVER (stay tuned for the teenage years to see how that all goes...).

Buy yourself some dry shampoo.
You're about to let your hygiene take a serious dive. And it's totally okay- we all understand. I like the orange one from Tresemme (let's be honest, it's the only one I've ever tried- if it ain't broke don't fix it, right?). But this stuff is a lifesaver when you need to freshen and don't have time to take a shower (which will be like, a regular occurrence for a while).

"There's an app for that!"
So when you bring your baby home, you won't know what day it is for several weeks. You'll live your life in 2-3 hour increments based on when the baby needs to eat next and also have to keep track of wet/messy diapers for the first little bit to make sure they're eating enough. 
It's a freaking lot to remember, especially when you're incredibly sleep deprived.
I found an app for my phone to keep track of feedings and diaper changes, and it's a LIFE SAVER. I still use it to this day to keep track of feedings. What's also cool about it is that you can look at all of your statistics to see how many times a day the baby eats, for how long, etc. and even email that info if needed (which would've been handy back when we were dealing with Jillian's reflux stuff and had to keep track of EVERY thing). 
The one I use is called "Nursing". There are a bunch of different ones out there.
I love technology.

Watch this video on interpreting a baby's pre-cry. 
It's gospel as far as I'm concerned and has saved me from many a fussy baby why-the-heck-are-you-crying situations.

If this ain't your first rodeo, plan ahead.
Two things have helped me immensely in doing the whole newborn scene plus toddler. First, your toddler will inevitably wake up every morning before you're ready to get out of bed. I keep a baggie of Cherrios, sippy cup of juice, and the iPad next to my bed so when Jillian wakes up she can come lay in my bed, watch the iPad and munch on some low-key breakfast until I can begin to fathom the idea of waking up for the day. This usually buys me an extra 30 minutes to an hour. Golden.

Second, before sitting down to nurse Olivia, I make sure Jillian has gone to the bathroom, has a snack readily available, and toys close by so I don't have to get up and help her with anything while breastfeeding, especially while those early nursing sessions tend to take a lot longer (fortunately Jillian can pretty much pee independently now and Olivia eats a lot quicker so much less preparation is needed).

Read parenting books with a grain of salt, but do read them.
When Jillian was born I read 4-5 books on newborns and the ever important sleep schedule. I also drove myself nuts because she wasn't exactly "by the book". Don't get me wrong, those books have some great things to say and really helped me figure things out in the sleeping department, but they also generalize a lot- and no two babies are the same. Don't beat yourself up if your kid isn't cooperating despite everything the book says to try. And remember, they call the first 3 months of baby's life the "fourth trimester" for a reason. A lot of babies won't stick to any kind of schedule or routine until after that.

You're the mama, mama.
So you have a baby? You're about to get the most unsolicited advice you probably ever will in your whole life- bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding, co-sleeping vs. separation sleeping, cloth diapers vs. disposable, cry it out vs. not crying it out...and the list goes on. People have strong opinions on the subject of babies- I have strong opinions on all of the above. Do the research and go with whatever approach you feel the most comfortable with, and don't make apologies for it. Raising babies ain't no walk in the park no matter which approach you take (actually, you will go to the park...like a lot, but you know what I mean). If someone makes snarky comments or gives judgy little looks on your approach to parenting, kindly give them the finger and move on. ;-) 

 Wear that baby.
I know there's a lot of research behind the benefits of baby-wearing, but besides all that jazz, it really does make things much easier. Like when you're trying to get dinner cooked with a toddler playing under your feet, but all your baby wants to do is be held. Or you're grocery shopping and all your baby wants to do is be held. Or you're in a busy place with your toddler and need both your hands to keep said toddler from pulling everything off the shelves and all your baby wants to do is be held. Spoiler alert- babies like to be held. Baby wraps let you do it hands free. Super convenient. Highly suggested.
I have the Solly Wrap and totally love it.  
(Plus it totally covers up that sit-up stain on your shirt- BONUS!)

Do something for yourself, daily. 
Whether it's a bubble bath, reading a book, exercising, chat with a friend not about your kids, craft project...whatever, just DO IT. You may not have time the first few weeks once you're settling in, but after that, DO IT. Lately when both kiddos are asleep and I finally have time to do something other than feed kids and wipe butts, it's usually between some sort of cleaning and something I actually want to do. The something I actually want to do has been winning lately and I haven't regretted that at all (just started reading The Fault in Our Stars- uhh love it). You still need you time. It's true what they say- if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Ask questions.
 In the first few weeks you will ask, "Is ____normal?" like 5,000 times, which is...normal. Even with my second, I still have questions because Olivia does things Jillian doesn't and vice versa. You can call your pediatrician's office and speak with a nurse about questions you have without scheduling a visit. Babycenter.com actually has a whole "is it normal?" page. Thank you for that! 

If it's your first, you will probably also break down and cry about your newborn's poop in the first few days- totally normal- happens to the best of us. I also like the birth club boards and forums on babycenter.com. It's nice to know that other moms are experiencing the same thing you are and reading strategies that have worked for others. Sometimes it's just nice to know that you're not alone! 

Have some tools in that mommy toolbox for fussiness.
Baby's cry. It happens (though a lot less I've found after watching that video above...seriously...watch it!).
In the book Happiest Baby on the Block, Karp talks about "the 5 S's" to sooth crying babies. In short:
1. Swaddle
2. Side lying position
3. "Shh" in their ear
4. Swing (or bounce)
5. Suck (binky or thumb)
I also LOVED the book The Wonder Weeks. It talks about growth spurts babies go through, both mental and physical, and why that makes them fussy as their perception of the world is changing. Serious game changer for me. With Jillian- who was especially fussy- it helped me understand WHY she was crying so much during a growth spurt and helped me empathize with her, which made enduring fussy bouts much easier for me.

And there you have it. Guaranteed to make the first few months of your new life more manageable. 
Any other tips? I'm all ears!!! 

Also check out my favorite baby products for newborns!