Simple,Vegetarian Dinner Ideas

Who has a husband who loves to eat meat?!?! Mine does and he’s a hunter so we always have a stock of meat at home available from his hunts. However, sometimes I just want a lighter meal with different textures and flavors. So this week I said “No to the meats”(que Arby’s slogan) and just focused on all vegetarian dinners.

Here are a couple of recipes I tried and I have one left that I’d like to try this week.

Zucchini Lasagna/Ravioli

I found the recipe here. It was very easy to make and you don’t have to get as fancy as they did. The only part I struggled with was getting the zucchini cut in thin strips! Our peeler was not wide enough to slip over the width of the zucchini! What I ended up having to do was use a sharp knife to cut the strips very thin.

Taste wise, all the flavors went really well together and I got the husband stamp of approval.

The Buddha Bowl

I have seen these pop up on my instagram recently and I thought those look delicious! I dared a little with this one and made a few additions that aren;t in the recipe and it was absolutely delicious. I have to just say – don’t plate your food like this – layering makes it taste so much better. I found the recipe here. I also bought quinoa boil-in-a-bag (I did not know this existed!) to cut time to make the dish and it was a success!

Roasted Veggie Pitas

We keep pita breads on stock for last minute pizza dinners but I’ve been getting bored with them lately and was looking for something different to use them with. Obviously, Gyros are the first thing that came to mind but I’m avoiding meats this week. As a was floating through Pinterest I stumbled upon this bad boy of a recipe here! This was absolutely excellent and it made two large sandwiches (one I had for the lunch on day two and it was still good). I really enjoyed this one! I did mix it up and added in some extra seasonings for the chickpeas that I already know I like; dill weed, garlic powder, and onion powder. I also used FAGE plain yogurt instead or sour cream!

Homemade Ramen Bowl 

This is my next recipe in line for this week. I actually got the idea to try a recipe like this because our local grocery store Wegmans started making plain ramen noodles and I have dying to try them! It looks so delicious and I am a sucker for a salty soup. The recipe I will be doing is this one here.

Please feel free to share your favorite veggie dishes below!



Our DIY Barn Wedding

Ahhh, so I got married last year and I am finally getting around to blogging about it because my wedding photos are finally in! As a DIYer I really wanted to DIY everything in our wedding including my wedding dress (kinda, lol) and we had a tight budget(as in still way too much to spend on a one day) for 250 people.

Now if you just got engaged a little advice – take a deep breath and everything will work out. Our wedding was two years in the making so it doesn’t happen overnight.

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We picked out our venue using Wedding Wire. This was the easiest site to use to narrow down venues that would accommodate the amount of people, cost, and type of venue we were looking for. We nailed it on our first visit using this site! We also used this site to create a FREE wedding website. No need to spend any money on a website when they have tons of templates to choose from fooo freeee.

We really needed a big barn to accommodate our large family where we could get married inside or outside depending on the weather. We landed on a gold mine about an hour from where we lived called Barnes Barn . This venue is a working family farm with sprawling acres, set in the beautiful countryside of Upstate NY. I still pinch myself that we found this place! We had the entire week to come and set up, they provided tables and chairs for the reception and ceremony, and they had the best overlook of hills in the area. We also could choose our own catering! This was a huge cost savings compared to other venues as most would force you to use their overpriced catering. Lastly, the owners here are just wonderful people, they were super understanding and helpful throughout the entire process.

After we chose the venue I started looking for a florist. This was really frustrating because I had no idea how expensive flowers would be. After just about giving up altogether I decided to make my own arrangements. I Pinterested flower arrangements of what I liked and walked into JoAnn Fabrics on a mission. I spent about two hours arranging the bouquets until I landed on something I liked. In hindsight I probably should have done this last but it ended up working out. Outside of the flowers I only had to buy a couple of spools of twine, heavy duty scissors, mens pins, and women’s bracelets for accessories ($30). I basically just put the flowers together the way I wanted and wrapped twine around it with a couple of knots. No fancy stuff needed here. Also JoAnn Fabrics has 40% sales all of the time so I waited for those to come up to buy all the flowers as I finished each project. I ended up spending about $700 total on my flowers for the entire wedding (including some real flowers too). I went out the week before and bought potted flowers to decorate our ceremony and entrance way to the barn. We then repurposed these flowers in our landscape at our house, which was a double bonus.

I had to do a little problem solving that week before to try to figure out how to cover or replace the plastic bottoms of the potted flower arrangements. I ended up buying burlap fabric for super cheap at again, JoAnn Fabrics! I then cut that into large pieces to wrap around the existing pots and secured them with twine. Overall, I was very pleased with the end result and it only cost me some time and about $15 for the fabric.

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I found that what helped me the most with decorating the venue was looking at what other people had done on the venues facebook page. That helped me envision what I liked and disliked. I found the whiskey/wine barrels were something I really wanted for decoration with the barn. However, finding barrels to rent became a huge headache. I had exhausted all avenues as most quotes to rent barrels were about $1000 dollars for the day (wtf?!?!?). Finally we got a reasonable quote from the The Finger Lakes Barrel Co. The owners were so sweet and even delivered our barrels an extra 50 miles total round trip for us.

The welcome sign I originally was going to buy from Etsy but then I saw the price tag for that too….are you seeing a trend here? Everything’s expensive when it says “wedding” on it. I ended up borrowing my Sister-in-laws chalk board and bought chalk pens on Amazon. I was really nervous this would ruin her chalkboard but I bought their cleaning solution and it came right off.

I also knew I really wanted drapes for the barn door openings. A bunch of other couples who had been married had them and I thought they looked so pretty. I found some sheer white curtains on Etsy that were perfect! We needed them to be a really large size as the barn doors were 15 feet high. Now I didn’t realize they came only as one piece but that was no problem in the end. We just cut them in half to make two pieces and placed the cut sides towards the doors.

One thing I regret was renting the tablecloths through the caterer. I had specifically requested floor length and certain table sizes and we definitely did not get that. At the end of the day we just rolled with it and made the best of it. I think it still ended up beautiful.

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I wanted to keep the decor simple since the barn was very intricate itself.

I have broken down where I got each piece of decor above. The old apple crates were antiques my parents had that I borrowed. My in laws had brass candle sticks just laying around waiting to be used. I bought Magnolia candle sticks from Target to put in each brass candle stick holder. All of the votive candles were 10 hour candles from JoAnn fabrics. The burlap cards banner was from Amazon. The card holder was from JoAnn fabrics. My father in law cut the wood slabs for us from his backyard. The guestbook was from the dollar bins at Target. The table numbers were from JoAnn fabrics. All of the picture frames were from Marshalls ($70 dollars total and I think I had gotten 10 frames). The wine bottles were either from us or we bought some for super cheap on Ebay.

The biggest DIY undertaking went to……. the flower boxes and the seating chart!

For the seating chart I had an idea in mind from someone else but I could not find anything remotely close to that online to order. I started by finding an empty frame to match the wood of the apple crates. I would like to take a moment and say I on a personal level choose not shop at Hobby Lobby but I ran out of options of places to look and did find my frame there. Then I needed to find chicken wire. We found some at Lowes but let me tell you – be careful- this stuff is sharp and not easy to cut. At home I used a staple gun to adhere the chicken wire to the back of the frame. Then I bought stencils at JoAnn fabrics and used leftover white paint at home to color in the letters. I used some white card stock and little white clothes pins from JoAnn fabrics to pin up the table assignments and boom it was finally done!

The flower boxes I bought unfinished from Joann Fabrics and stained myself. I then took my leftover chicken wire and cut it to fit the square hole. The long part of the process was cutting and arranging the flowers how I liked them. Originally this was going to be my centerpiece idea but the boxes needed so many flowers and it was super, painstakingly difficult that I gave up after two were completed and decided to use them as another piece of decor for the wedding.

We used compostable plates and utensils because we really wanted to “Go Green” for the wedding. These were so cute and also a huge cost savings as it cost us about half the price of renting real tableware from the caterer. Our napkins were linen and the caterer supplied those. They came pre-folded which was such a relief for setting up!

Our wedding was catered by Seymour’s Catering and they were fantastic. We really liked the idea of having Barbeque and they were literally right up the road!

My neighbor, bridesmaid, and one of my best friends made our cake for us. Now she could have made extravagant cupcakes and flavors but we really wanted to keep it to simple flavors and colors. I took some of the leftover flowers and gave Danny the arrangements on each tier and it came out perfect. Ughh, she is so talented! She also made the arrangement platters for less than $20 all together! She bought the most beautiful glass plates from the salvation army and glued on glass candle stick holders from the dollar store (ahhhh they were so elegant).

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One of the last priorities on our list was invitations. You can really save a lot of money by using the online sites when they have sales. We used Shutterfly but there are a ton of online sites for this stuff.

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We had our rings custom made by a family friend so there is no other ring like mine and its rose gold! For pictures I put it in a vintage ring box from my grandmother and this is her handmade vintage table runner she handed down to me too. Not pictured was the rest of my wedding jewelry. I got matching rose gold earrings and a bracelet from this cute Etsy shop.

Update: I recently had my ring sauntered together so that it doesn’t move around as much! Also getting the ring handmade will save you literally thousands of dollars compared to buying it in the store. Spending a little time looking up if there are any local jewelers in your area can definitely save you money.

We started the day by getting ready in the dressing room built right into the barn! It was so cool! The ceremony was not until 4 pm so we had the entire morning to get ready at a relaxed pace. One thing I had not thought of was lunch the day of, ekkk! I was so lucky to have wonderful friends who went out of their way to bring us subs so we didn’t starve until dinner!

My hair was a main focus of mine. I tried out a couple of hairstyles but at the end of the day it just looked better down and curly. One of my coworkers where I work is a hair dresser so she came to do everyones hair for the wedding which was really lovely. I wanted my curls to be very tight and then she hand separated them instead of combing them out. I go back and forth with what I should have done because I don’t necessarily like the the uncombed out look but my hair snarls in the back easily and my curls usually fall quickly so we decided to just hand separate. I think it was the best choice as you can see by the end of the day the curls were definitely falling.

I want to take a moment to say that we did not buy any fancy outfits to get ready in (I bought myself a romper of course lol) just because everybody in my group had different styles and I just thought it was more us to just be ourselves. This also allowed me to get a meaningful gift for everybody instead. I found the cutest personalized leather clutches for my bridesmaids and matching rose gold with crystals bracelets for the moms.

Makeup was a toughie too. I was originally going to do my own makeup but then I started to panic the closer we got to the wedding. I’m glad I chose to get a makeup artist because my makeup lasted all day and was better than anything I could have done myself. You get what you pay for! I was able to do a make-up trial and I would highly recommend it – we changed a couple of things before the wedding day.

Picking out my dress was by far the longest decision I made in the whole wedding planning process. I probably tried on over 100 dresses in total. There were so many that I loved but they just didn’t feel like they fit my personality. The more I dress shopped the more I was able to define what styles I liked and what flattered my body type. Still there wasn’t a dress where I loved the top and bottom together as a whole. I also knew I really wanted a blush colored dress so that was always in the back of my mind although I was open to white or ivory. If I could have found mermaid or a trumpet style dress in blush I would have, even today, but the dress just did not exist.

What did I end up doing? I found bridal separates. Yep you heard me right. The skirt of my dress is by Martina Liana and is called the Stevie Skirt in blush. I literally could have never, ever, ever in my wildest dreams, afforded this skirt but I found one on a used wedding dress site for 1/5 of the tag price that had never been worn and snagged it. The top, made by Watters, I had been eyeing was from BHLDN (the cutest bridal site!) but I really couldn’t afford it. Then magically it went on sale for half off and I bought it! I was literally sweating bullets with every passing second trying to imagine what would happen if it arrived and didn’t match but thankfully the colors went perfectly! I paired everything up with a belt I had bought on a whim while dress shopping earlier at Davids Bridal (I don’t think they sell this anymore b/c I could not find it). For my shoes I needed a heel because my skirt could not be hemmed and a wedge just in case the ground was soft so I didn’t trip. I found a really cute, comfortable nude wedge from DSW for $35 that fit the bill (I now wear them to every wedding I attend because they go with everything). Last but not least was my veil. At first I thought I was doomed but Davids Bridal started selling plain champagne veils a couple of months before the wedding at a reasonable price of $50 dollars.

Just a quick side note. I had no idea what type of bra to wear with this top since I am large chested (34DD or 32DDD) and the back went down lower than normal. I ended up finding a really cheap option that actually worked from Target that was stick-on! I know, right?!?!?! I never thought I’d say a stick on bra worked but it did! I had to buy two of them because of trying the dress on for alterations and just saved the second one for the special day.

When we picked out the bridesmaids dress color and the suit color I had to bring the flowers and swatches just to double check they coordinated with everything. The men ended wearing a mute navy from Tuxedo Junction. They were quality material and the only place we could find where the navy that wasn’t that bright blue. The girls all chose the same dress (I originally thought they’d want to chose their own style but turns out I was wrong)! They chose a long, one shoulder dress with a cute slit on the side in the color Sangria, which was a little more pinky of a wine color, from Davids Bridal.

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I learned when planning our timeline that if you have an early wedding you don’t need to do a first look but if you have a late wedding like us at 4pm there is no time for pictures after the ceremony. Therefore, we did a first look even though I really wasn’t fond of the idea. I wanted to make it more personal than just looking at each other lol so we decided to read our vows aloud to each other at our first look for a personal moment together.

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^^^^^such a cutie ❤
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We also really wanted to include our dog Birdie into the wedding but didn’t want the responsibility of actually taking care of her on our wedding day. We ended up paying a friend to drive her up to the wedding for pictures to hang for a few minutes and then return her home. We wanted to dazzle her up for the day so she got a bath in the am and a handkerchief to wear! It took me forever to pick one out on Etsy but I finally found the perfect handkerchief!

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We really enjoyed our photo shoot time but we wished we had looked up poses and actually practiced a couple prior to the wedding. When it came to the day of we had no idea what to do even though I have a million pins of what I liked. Definitely would have come in handy.

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One of my favorite gifts was from my Mother-in-law. I was really close to my grandparents when Kevin and I first met but they both had passed away over the years before we got married. She had charms made for my bouquet so they could be with me on our special day and I just think it was the most thoughtful gift.

Then it was finally time to get married!!!!! We had our DJ play songs for the guests as they sat down. We chose the songs for this playlist. This was definitely a fun little touch. Now I have to say I am not super emotional in public but when I heard the music I chose to walk down the aisle to start playing I was actively trying not to cry. I chose for everybody, including me, to walk down the aisle to the acoustic version of “How Long Will I Love You” cover by Ellie Goulding.

We chose the half circle set up for the ceremony 🙂
My mother in laws dress was to die for!
My one niece was perfection while my other niece was crying haha. This was actually perfect timing for me because it stopped me from crying and kept me laughing down the aisle.
My sister-in-law had gotten these unfinished baskets for when they go apple picking in the fall and I asked if I could stain them for the wedding and she agreed! We bought fake flower petals on amazon for them to throw down the aisle!

We planned our ceremony to be 10-15 minutes long total. Neither Kevin nor I like the attention on us for too long. We also wanted to make the ceremony as “us” as possible. Our best friend, groomsman, that we lived with for about a year while I was going to school married us. I had my Grandma read the St. Francis of Assisi Prayer as our one and only reading (my grandfather who passed loved that prayer and his name was Francis). Then we shared our own vows. This was really hard. We both promised to keep them short so that helped. Our best friend also put some speech stuff in before, in between, and after each of us and he blew it out of the park! I think all in all it was 10 minutes total and that was perfect!

“Jane: You know how the bride makes her entrance and everybody turns to look at her? That’s when I look at the groom. Cause his face says it all you know? The pure love there.”
-27 Dresses

Now our biggest regret of the day was not doing a receiving line. We thought since we had so many guests and the reception was down a big hill that we would just make our rounds during 1.5 hour cocktail party and let everyone start to get food and beverages. However, we were wrong! There were so many people to talk to that we had to split up to conquer! Just do a line…

We wanted our reception to feel laid back and fun so we included an outdoor area with lawn games and table games to play throughout the day and night. These were a big hit!

Life size Jenga! My brother-in-law and his girlfriend made these for us and gave it to us as gifts at our bachelor and bachelorette parties!
Cornhole 🙂
Washers!

The rest of the night went pretty smoothly. We had dinner, gave speeches, and danced the night away. We skipped the cheesy stuff like cake cutting and bouquet tossing, etc. We even got to sneak off to the tip-top of the property to take some sunset pictures for 30 minutes and enjoy some time together alone. It was sincerely the best day ever.

My mom and dad are so cute ❤
First Dance Song was Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, The Rest of our Life.
Mother and Son Dance. Song choice Thomas Rhett, Unforgettable.
(Ugh isn’t this photo is just lovely<3)
Father and Daughter Dance – Song choice John Lodge, Simply Magic.
Our family is huge 🙂

We did get to sneek away to the edge of the owners property at sunset for a little alone time. We were floored to see almost a 360 view of the rolling hills. Definitely one of my favorite little moments of the day.

This is my favorite photo of us ^^^^^

Last but not least I did change into my rehearsal dinner dress for the last hour of dancing since my skirt was big and the dance floor was steamy. I had packed it just in case! I pulled a quick hair change to a low pony and I was ready to really get low on the dance floor.

Just want to give a huge thank you to our photographer who flew half way across the country to take photos of our wedding. Her photography, Kara Gardner Photography, is out of this world and she is just a lovely human being. We were so blessed to have her there with us to document our day.

How to Explore Acadia National Park in Two Days

I have been dying to cross Acadia National Park off of my summer bucket list over the past few years. This summer we had a vacation planned in New Hampshire and took the chance to jump on a weekend trip!

Essentials to pack:

  • bikes, kayaks, paddle boards (we only have bikes so we hooked those up to our car)
  • rain coat
  • hiking boots
  • hiking pack with water sack
  • bathing suit
  • bug spray

Acadia is the first National Park I’ve ever visited! Alike to most trips I like to do my research. Unfortunately,  I found there was not much available as I was combing the internet for blogs with reviews. I did stumble upon one blog that was very useful, Musings of a Rover, with detailed information about the park!

Quick note: One cool app I found as a reference from a friend was the REI National Park App 

After the long car ride we had a general list of things to accomplish but no real game plan. Essentially, we tackled Acadia National Park by winging it and it actually worked out!

First things first, before you go over the bridge onto the Island you need to stop at the  information center, Thompson Island Information Center, on the right of the road where you can get a free map of Acadia(you will need this) and a weekly Almanac guide to Acadia with tide times and sunrise and sunset times – grab those too. Then buy your park pass here for $30 for your car – it pays for everyone in the car. If you are planning to bike ride – print out a separate Carriage Road Map before the vacation.

[Thompson Island Information Center: Hours open May 16 to Oct 12 are 8:30am to 5pm  Address: 1319 Bar Harbor Rd, Bar Harbor, ME 04609]

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Number one on your list should be to drive the Park Loop Road. This road is amazing because most of the major attractions are along the ride.

Note: the top half of the park loop is a two-way street and the bottom half is a one-way street so you will need to drive clockwise around the loop. We drove counterclockwise and got lost for a bit. It wasn’t the end of the world but it would have been easier if we had this information to start.

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We started our journey around the island around 1:30 pm by driving up Cadillac Mountain. It was full of switch backs and beautiful overlooks. When we arrived at the top there was a large parking lot fulls of cars and people. This is definitely a tourist spot but the view was spectacular. We stayed for no more than ten minutes and then decided to head back down the mountain.

Note: you can hike up the mountain separately & many decide to view the sunrise/sunset here.

Next we headed towards Jordan Pond – do not do this! Turn around and drive the opposite direction because you are driving counterclockwise around the loop.

I wanted to try the famous popovers at Jordans Pond Restaurant for lunch but the parking lot was packed. We had to wait ten minutes just to drive through it! When we eventually arrived back at the road we decided to skip this lunch spot and continue driving.

We ended up at Seal Harbor. This was a beautiful surprise….. once we realized where we were! We found parking was easy on the street and we were quickly able to bike around and explore the harbor at low tide. This harbor was a quiet, family friendly beach spot worth the extra couple of minutes of driving (this is not technically part of the park). After about thirty minutes of venturing we headed back out on the park loop.

At this point our time had been crunched. On our way back around the loop we stopped in Bar Harbor. We quickly dropped off our things where we were staying at The Central House. We were a little nervous as we were early for check-in but the owner didn’t mind at all and let us right up to our room!

The rooms were better than we had anticipated for the price and the location was the perfect spot to walk around the harbor.

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Note: I had read in a magazine and other blogs to stay in some of the lesser known harbors on the island because of overcrowding in Bar Harbor but I totally disagree! This is the perfect spot! There are endless side streets to choose from to explore. I felt like we could have spent an entire week here. At the same time it was nice because it was equally quiet due to the islands vegetation. The spot is a must stay, sorry not sorry.

A little past three pm we headed out to accomplish our hike. We had decided upon the Gorham Mountain Trail. We parked on the road by Sand Beach and headed towards the Beehive Trail head. Gorham Mountain Trail is tricky because it technically starts at the Beehive Trail head (so you could essentially do both). Honestly, we had some extra time at the end of our hike and I chickened out on the Beehive Trail. I regretted this choice later on as we talked with one of the locals at dinner about the trail. He said the Beehive Trail is fine as long as you are sure-footed and take your time. Note: Some trails are periodically closed during the year due to falcon nesting because they can attack people at speeds of 140 miles per hour.

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Gorham Mountain gave us magnificent views all the same and only fell slightly shorter in height than the Beehive trail. It boasted the beautiful Maine coastline, wild blueberries, cairns, and a spectacular view of Sand Beach. The best part was that compared to the Beehive Trail there was saw very few people.

As we descended the mountain we decided we would check out Sand Beach. We had heard that the beach is typically jam-packed with people but were curious. The beach was actually the exact opposite. To our surprise when we arrived it was mostly empty. Walking off the trail onto the beach it felt like I was in a dream. This is the type of beach you see in the movies but don’t actually believe exists. If I had a week to spend in Acadia I would have spent an entire day here!

As the night was coming to a close we decided to cruise around the rest of the park loop. There are so many spots to pull over and walk around on the rocks! However, due to our time constraints we just enjoyed the ride and made our last stop at the Otter Cliffs before dinner.

As we finished the loop and made our way around back to Jordans Pond Restaurant. This time we were pleasantly surprised to see an empty parking lot. We were seated right away and enjoyed the popovers with the quiet of the pond looming in the background. The popovers were like nothing I’ve ever tasted. They tasted like a mash up of a croissant, eggs, and crepes. They were delicious! After dinner we took a walk around the pond too. The pond is as magnificent as the pictures, definitely one of the highlights of the weekend.

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After dinner we headed back to get drinks at Bar Harbor. There were so many cute places to stop to grab a beer and dessert. I can’t say this enough but we really enjoyed the nightlife here.

In the morning we walked to Thrive Market for breakfast. Kevin thought smoothie bowls might balance out our beer intake from the night before, lol. I of course loved all of the superfood ingredients and the presentation of the food!

After a nutritious breakfast we headed out to the Carriage Roads. We typically take our bikes on every vacation therefore this was the perfect excursion for us. We followed the Musings of a Rover  Aunt Betty Pond Loop. We ended up getting lost at first. because we didn’t have a map of the carriage roads, but we eventually found our way. We saw “Rockefeller’s teeth” and a grouse flew right above us at one point. The hills were challenging at times but it was a very leisure ride overall.

With only a couple of hours left to spare we headed to our last stop at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. The drive through the rest of Acadia was serene. The smaller harbors were quaint but much smaller than Bar Harbor. The lighthouse was majestic but alike to Cadillac Mountain it was very touristy. You definitely won’t be there by yourself. That aside we saw some crabs and sea life that were neat. As a last stop this was definitely fitting.

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Before we headed to New Hampshire we grabbed lunch at Seafood Ketch in Bass Harbor. This harbor was really cute! However, at low tide the smell of fish was so intense that I left extremely nauseated. This was a real bummer but the food was great.

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So that was our weekend trip! I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any cool experiences to share from your trip Acadia Trip – share below!

An Introduction to Solid Foods

“When should I start solid foods?”

While it’s a seemingly simple question it ends up with a wide variety of answers and how-to’s. Here is a short guide of why, when, and how to start your baby on solid foods.

How do I know when my child is ready?

Around 6 months your child will develop the skills to be able to eat, swallow, and absorb pureed foods. This is based on research of how the gastrointestinal tract of infants develops and what’s best for their short term and long term health. Organizations who support this are: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the list goes on. (If you’d like more details on the health benefits scroll to the bottom of the page)

Signs to look for around 6 months 

  • Your baby can sit up well without support
  • Your baby has interest in foods
  • Your baby brings hands and toys to their mouth for exploration
  • Your baby no longer has a protrusion reflex

Protrusion Reflex: also known as the tongue-thrust reflex, your babies innate choking reflex, is when your baby pushes its tongue out as anything comes into the mouth or pushes on the tongue

How to start foods (6-8 months)

  • Small spoon and bowl (never put food in the bottle)
  • Start small, 1-2 tablespoons at a time (their stomachs are only the size of an egg)
  • Introduction of new foods every 1-2 days 
    • It’s recommended to start a variety of foods from 6 months on to reduce the risk of allergies.
    • Acidic foods like, berries, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and some vegetables may cause a rash around the mouth or buttocks that goes away relatively quickly. This is not an allergic reaction just a common irritation from the acidity.
  • Texture to start should be pureed
    • Gradual introduction to textures increases neck and swallowing strength from 6-8 months to reduce the risk of choking
    • Gradually transition over two months from pureed -> mashed -> lumpy -> soft finger foods
  • Foods to start are pureed meats, beans, vegetables, fruits, baby cereals, whole milk yogurt (click the link to go my favorite handouts and books from Nutrition Matters) 
    • If you are fully breastfeeding having cereal, meats, and beans are important because they are the only food sources your baby will have that include a quality source of iron.
    • Most people start with cereal as a first food but the order of first foods doesn’t necessarily matter. As a rule of thumb I recommend vegetables before fruits because your baby’s taste buds will be primed and ready for anything sweet.

Feeding From 8-12 Months 

  • Remember, breast milk and formula should still be the main source of nutrition until age 1 to support healthy brain and central nervous system development. Your baby should have 24-32 ounces a day or breastfeed every 4-5 hours.
  • Your baby may still have pureed foods but soft, chopped up table foods with established mealtimes should now become the main routine.
  • If you haven’t already, introduce the sippy cup and cup. I recommend 360 cups as they have a lip on the cup, which supports the strengthening of the cheek muscles needed to speak, and are better for your child’s teeth. They are also relatively spill proof, which is good for mom too.
  • Introduce finger foods (crackers, bread, cereal, cooked pasta)
  • No added honey – this food that may cause food borne illness in your baby
  • Yogurt melts and infant puffs are non-essential foods. They are relatively new on the market and should not replace whole foods as they provide little nutritional benefit and no variety in texture.
  • Skip the salt, juice, water, whole milk, cookies or goodies (while they won’t hurt your baby they just aren’t nutritionally needed at this age)
  • Avoid hard foods or round foods that your child may choke on

 

Health Benefits of Waiting to Start Foods Until Around 6 Months of Age 

  • Your baby will be physiologically able to swallow and chew pureed foods without the fear of choking.
  • Your baby will be better protected from illness. The greatest immunity benefits come from exclusive breastfeeding. This is because exclusive breastfeeding promotes the development of “good” bacteria within the gut.
  • Your babies gut will have the time it needs to mature. Your baby is building its digestive system as it grows. Before 6 months your babies gut is “open” and allows for the passing of pathogens and macromolecules directly into the bloodstream. This is beneficial when its just breast milk but can be harmful when other foods and bacteria are introduced. Introducing foods early can also cause spit up, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.

 

 

Tackling Tofu

So I am getting married in June and I’ve been really trying to choose healthier options at every meal. I’ve found that trying new things has really helped keep me going and I’ve tried to branch out and try more vegetarian options. One food in particular that I have been curious about but have never tried to make at home has been tofu. I also have wanted to try it since I work at WIC and we give out tofu as a substitute option for milk so I should know some ways to cook it.

The jury is still out whether I feel confident about with cooking with tofu. I personally feel like I might benefit from taking a cooking class with it. That being said for just googling recipes they haven’t been all that bad but not something I would keep in rotation yet. One thing I did learn is that tofu is very bland and takes more seasoning than normal to make taste good in comparison to cooking meats. You will definitely want to pick out spices and flavors with a punch of flavor.

What I made:

Baked Tofu. Screen Shot 2018-04-27 at 12.33.43 PMI love tofu in salad I get at a local restaurant. I wanted to recreate this so I found a recipe through another dietitian Sharon Palmer that I follow on Instagram. Her website is sharonpalmer.com. She has tons of good stuff on there. The tofu came out baked and edible but it didn’t have the pop up flavor or the crunch I loved from the local restaurant.


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Tofu Scramble. This is how I typically recommend to try to use tofu at work for as a substitute for eggs. I just googled tofu scramble and I found a blog called the Minimalist Baker. It’s a very cute blog with recipes and beautiful pictures. I used the Southwest Tofu Scramble recipe. It was good and hearty but I still prefer the taste of eggs.

 

What would I still like to try to make? A Chipotle sofrita copycat recipe. I found one on a blog called a Pinch of Yum that I may be trying soon.

Please share any easy ideas to use tofu and recipes you love below!

 

 

 

 

Lazy Girl Meal Planning 101

Meal planning recently has become a new healthy habit that I can check off of my list. I never really thought I needed it because I had budgeting tools and tricks I learned from school and work. However, all of the sudden it felt like Kevin and I started to get sick of our normal routine of meals and this sprouted up organically.

The reason I am sharing some of the tools we use weekly is because I always thought meal planning was mundane and too time consuming and I really wanted to show a meal planning process that is realistic and easy to use.

Here are a couple of things to know before you fill in the Meal Planning Sheet:

  1. Count how many times you normally cook a week, not how many times you’d like to. This is essential! We cook 3-4 nights out of the week due to our busy schedules and eating out once per week for dinner. So we plan for four dinners.
  2. Just meal plan for dinner. Most people have their breakfast and lunch routines down or can mix it up relatively simply without any planning at all.
  3. Write down your leftovers. They are so important. They help you reduce your waste by using up what you have first and save you from avoiding buying duplicate foods at the store.
  4. Aim for each meal to include a protein, fruit or vegetable, and whole grain.
  5. Have the recipes ready. We have a recipe section under our bookmarks tab on our laptop and save it so both of us have access to the recipe.

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How do we actually meal plan?

First, we have a notepad on the fridge and when we run out of a staples like butter, frozen fruit, coffee or any food that we don’t typically need to buy weekly we write it down.

Second, we go over what meats, fruits, or vegetables we have as leftovers. Write these down in the leftover section.

Third, we Pinterest, Google, or think of recipes we know that could use up the leftovers. Put those meals down first.

Fourth, figure out new meals you will need to make from scratch. Cue in more Pinteresting or frantically searching through recipe books for inspiration for something else to cook this week.

Fifth, after you have the recipes write down only the ingredients you need to buy on the Ingredients section.

Sixth, add the foods from the first step to the Ingredients list.

Now take that paper to grocery store to shop. Then take it home and stick it on the fridge for the week.

What do I leave out of meal planning?

  • Having rigidity of what days to have what meals. This is the time consuming part of meal planning that I just skip because you don’t need it. Everyones appetite ebbs and flows. I like having the freedom to decide on that day, what meal I’d like to make.
  • I do not include staples we buy weekly on the ingredients list like eggs, milk, juice, etc.. Writing these down are a waste of time and unnecessary as most of us go on autopilot and just grab and go in those sections of the grocery store.

How long does this take us?

Literally, ten minutes or less. This is so easy that Kevin does this even when I am not home…..

Is this cost efficient?

At first I honestly did not think I was going to save any money. In my head I already knew all the tips and tricks about grocery shopping…. I was dead wrong. Kevin and I typically spend $70-100 a week for groceries for the two of us to eat a very healthy diet. When we meal plan we notice that we have less food waste at the end of the week and we spend closer to the lower end usually $70-80 a week! That saves us $80-120 dollars a month with minimal effort. Not to shabby.

I hope you love this easy guide to meal planning. Let me know any tips or tricks you use at home that saves you money at the grocery store!

 

 

Our Vacation to Charleston South Carolina

This February we were lucky enough to get to visit my future brother in law while he was snow birding down in Charleston, South Carolina. We had the most beautiful weather for the time of year and were able to explore all of Charleston’s southern charm and food.

We stayed at a friends home on Johns Island which was a beautiful spot on the river off of the ocean. We were able to explore the channel via kayak and paddle board. The homes were breath taking and the docks were full of character.

 

The first day we went to breakfast at Sunrise Bistro. It was a cute little breakfast joint with exquisite food. I ordered the smoked salmon bagel and Kevin ordered a grits scramble. I did not get to take a photo but the dishes delicious and presented beautifully. I had never had grits before so this was a first! The kind waitress even took the time to explain how they made their grits. I learned that grits are ground corn that make a porridge. The corn creates a starchy base and heavy flavor that can be easily swapped out for potatoes at breakfast. I loved the texture and hearty taste overall. The texture and heaviness reminded me of “Cream of Wheat” which is one of my breakfast staples already.

IMG_7702After breakfast we went to James Island County Park to bike and rock climb. The park had paved pathways and dock you could walk out on about 100 feet. There we saw many little crabs in the sand and laughed every time they saw our shadows and hid into their little holes. After a little biking we adventured into the outdoor wall rock climbing area. It was so much fun but of course I did get slightly hurt. Word to the wise don’t push off too hard at the top because you’ll come back at the wall just as hard. Either way its quite the workout.

That night we went on a Valentines Date to Frothy Beard and enjoyed some home IMG_7722brewed beers and pizza. They had some funky beers to try that we loved and a unique atmosphere. There was also a trivia night that we thoroughly enjoyed coming in last at. We blamed it on the brews…

The next day we got an early start and hit up a new drive through breakfast joint called Southern Brews Coffee. I got the Chai Tea Latte with almond milk and it was amazing! Then we headed off to do some dog training on an old plantation that had been converted into a hunting field.

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It was a gorgeous day out and we were able to soak in some sunlight and ride the four wheeler around the plantation. It was so much fun! We also got to check out a plantation just up the road from this one and it looked like it was taken straight from a scene in a movie. Just driving down the streets on Johns Island was quite breath taking as the trees arch over the street form a canopy above you.

The rest of the day we went to SEWE the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition  on the IMG_8092Charleston harbor. We got to drive around downtown and we were able to see the historic section of Charleston and learn about The Battery. If we had had an extra day in Charleston we would have liked to rent a boat and travel around the harbor or visit Fort Sumter where the American Civil War began.  Nevertheless SEWE was a blast and we had the opportunity to chat with so many other gun dog owners and meet other gun dogs like Birdie.

That night we celebrated Kevin’s brother’s birthday at a local brewery that is unique because it allows dogs and has a nightly rotating food truck. We relaxed for the rest of the evening at Low Tide Brewery and enjoyed some IPA’s in combination with homemade wood fired pizzas.

On our last day in Charleston we wanted to explore the beach. We had heard that Folly Beach was amazing but that day happened to be “Folly Gra” so the beach unfortunately was packed with people so we impromptu changed our plans. Besides Folly Beach we found there were plenty of other beach options around Charleston to explore and it was hard to chose between all of them. We ended up choosing to go to Kiawah Island for the morning.

The beach was amazing! While we couldn’t swim (little kids were but not us – too chilly) we could bike the beach. The beach is so flat at low tide and sand is hard enough that even my road bike did not have an issue biking! The beach went on for miles too so we

didn’t even come close to exploring it all. There was so much room on the beach that even though there were people you never really ran into anyone. It also would be a great place to run in the morning if you are a runner!

IMG_7767After we hit up a little seafood joint called Lokals Seabar and I got fresh shrimp tacos by their local marina. The only downside we found to Kiawah Island was that you couldn’t explore the whole island as it’s a gated community so our adventure ended here.

On the last night there we were treated to a Low-County Southern Boil. The Low Country Boil IMG_7847is a one pot wonder where they seamlessly combine water, shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn, onions, and wide variety of added spices and flavors to your personal liking. It cooked down for a couple of hours and we finally enjoyed it while sharing stories in lawn chairs surrounding a small bonfire. It could not have been a more fitting end to our trip. With new flavors and friends it was a trip to remember.

 

Feel free to share below any of your favorite southern dishes or recipes!