Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

Remember when I used to blog? Well, turns out life with two kids doesn't leave too much time for hobbies or blogging about said hobbies. ;) Anyway, I am taking advantage of Brielle's nap time today to whip up a quick post about one of our favorite recipes. We are living on quick meals and crock pot dinners. I posted some of our favorite crock pot dinners in this post a couple years ago, and I have revamped one of them to be a little healthier without adding too much prep time. It's my favorite thing to make right now. So, without further ado, I give you...



You will need:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can chicken broth 
1 bottle teriyaki sauce or marinade (Lawry's, etc.)
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Frozen stir fry veggie blend (I used the one from Costco)
Rice (and water to cook it)

First, get out your crock pot and dump in the first list of ingredients. Cook on high for 3-5 hours or low for 6-8 (may vary depending on your crock pot).

When chicken is cooked through, remove from crock pot and shred chicken. Put it back in with the sauce. Turn heat to low until you're ready to serve. 



20-30 minutes before dinner, start your rice. Follow the instructions on the back of the package to make about 6-8 servings, because this is a pretty big batch of chicken. 



10 minutes before dinner, start the veggies. I make as much as will fit in our big frying pan, and it takes about 7 minutes.


Lastly, assemble your bowl! You can do it in any order you like, but I find that my family is more likely to eat something if the veggies are hidden. It also tastes best if you put the chicken on top since the sauce gets on all the layers that way. Yum! I hope you give it a try some time. It is so easy, fast, and delicious. Happy cooking! 


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Brielle's Birth Story

I can't believe that it's already been more than two months since our little Brielle arrived. I wasn't able to post about her pregnancy much, due to insane amounts of homework, stress, internship responsibilities, and work. Fortunately, her pregnancy was pretty easy on me. Until the end, that is. Those were some of the longest weeks of my life! Anyway, I'm finally getting around to typing up her birth story for the books, so here it goes!

Brielle's due date was March 16th, but my midwives told me to plan on going into labor at least a week or two earlier. (This was largely due to the fact that Zia was born almost a week early.) Brielle was due just two weeks after midterms in my last semester of college, so I was torn between hoping she would come early and hoping she came late enough that I could take all my tests before she decided to make an appearance. Fortunately, midterms came and went without any action. I was having a few early labor contractions off and on, but they didn't lead to anything. Once midterms were done, I was so ready for her to come! I ended up having pretty painful prodromal labor for about two weeks leading up to her delivery. My contractions would get really close together, consistent, and painful, but they wouldn't lead to active labor because of Brielle's positioning. I wasn't sleeping much because of all the contractions, and every day and night seemed to drag on forever. I felt completely different when I was nearing the end of Zia's pregnancy--I wanted her to stay in as long as was safely possible! For whatever reason, Brielle needed a little extra time to cook.

The morning of Brielle's due date finally rolled around, and I was starting to think I was going to be pregnant forever. I decided to get a little dolled up (read: actually straighten my hair and do my makeup) and do some fun stuff with Zia before going to my afternoon classes. Here's my very last belly shot for the pregnancy! I had no idea that I'd be holding Brielle in less than 24 hours!


I was craving pancakes but didn't want to cook, so Zia and I took a little adventure to our local IHOP. Zia picked some chocolate chips out of her pancake but mostly wanted to play with the syrups. Silly, messy girl!



I went to my class a few hours later then hung around our apartment for the rest of the evening. We watched some TV and tried not to feel to antsy. Around midnight, my contractions started up again and started to seem real (again). I tried not to get excited, since this had been happening for weeks now. After trying for about an hour to sleep, I gave up and went back to the front room, trying not to wake Austin. I let him sleep during my labor with Zia, knowing I'd need him well rested, and I decided to do the same this time. I'd already called my parents a few times when contractions were less than 5 minutes apart only to have them fizzle out to nothing, so I waited to call them until they were quite painful. I think that was around 2:00 am, maybe 2:30. I called the on-call midwife not long after that, explaining that the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and quite painful. Since I was so calm, she was hesitant to have me come in. I expressed my concern that I needed to go in, since I progressed pretty quickly with Zia once my contractions were that close together (though I ended up pushing FOREVER...that is a different story...). She said it couldn't hurt to go in and get checked at the hospital, so I finally woke Austin up and told him to get ready. He was completely delirious, which would have been hilarious if I weren't in active labor. I finally got him up, and he took a quick shower to help him wake up. He called his sister and asked her to come over as soon as she could so that we could get to the hospital without having to wake Zia. Shantel was there within 20 or 30 minutes, and we quickly loaded the car, took out Zia's carseat, and took off. (Shantel thought something was wrong with me, because I was being kind of short with her, sitting down randomly in the middle of conversations, etc. She didn't realize that was my way of coping with contractions--going silent, sitting/squatting, etc. Turns out not everyone screams during contractions like in the movies! We both laughed after I explained to her days later what had been happening during that little chunk of time.)

While we were driving, I told Austin that if I wasn't already to a 7 or 8, I probably would need the epidural this time. Turns out that's what I say when I'm in transition. (I guess it's common to feel like you can't do it anymore as you near the end.) As with Zia's labor, Austin drove ridiculously fast to the hospital. Both times, I told him not to speed. Both times, it was a good thing he did! We walked in, leaving our stuff in the car, and headed up to labor and delivery. We filled out some paperwork and got checked into a triage room just after 4:00 am. The contractions were getting extremely painful, and the nurse quickly got me hooked up to the monitors and checked me. I was already to an 8 and soon started feeling like I needed to push.

The nurses called the midwife, who didn't realize how serious I was about going in to the hospital during our call. She flew to the hospital, breaking a few laws, as she later told me. Our L&D nurse reassured me that she had delivered many babies without the help of a midwife or doctor, and got ready to catch Brielle in case the midwife didn't arrive in time. Thankfully, the midwife, Jenn, walked in just in time. I went from 8 to 10 in no time flat, and Jenn finally said I could push. (I had been for a while anyway. I couldn't help it!) I stayed on my side, which was most comfortable through those crazy contractions, and in just 3 short pushes (according to Austin, I don't really remember), Brielle Isabelle joined our little family. It was incredible! She was born at 4:28, so we were checked into the hospital for less than 30 minutes before she was born!

My parents arrived a few minutes later, so they were able to see Brielle when she was still brand new. I think they have pictures of that time, but I was too preoccupied with meeting my daughter to think about taking pictures! I was also shaking like crazy from the roller coaster of after-birth hormones. That didn't happen after Zia's delivery, so I wasn't expecting it this time. Since I had some problems with hemorrhaging after Zia's birth, they decided to give me some pitocin in order to prevent problems this time. We didn't have any complications, so I'm grateful! Isn't modern medicine wonderful?

Anyway, that's her story! Short and sweet. Her labor was under 5 hours. I tell everyone that she just waited around an extra day because she needed to be my good luck charm--my little St. Patrick's Day girl. The nurses even put a little green bow in her hair with the pink one. So cute!

Here are a few pictures from our hospital stay and first day or two at home. Most of the pictures ended up on Austin's phone or my parents' phones, so I may have to add more later as I can collect them. Anyway, here's our sweet girl! I'll post more pictures with an update soon. She's getting so big!










-Malia

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Starting on the KonMari Journey

For my first official post since I moved from my little blog, Everything Springer A to Z, I would like to talk about this amazing book that has made its way into my life--and the crazy whirlwind of "tidying" that has followed. It's Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

First, let me give you some background about where I come from on the organizing topic. My mom is a professional organizer, and I've always felt like I need her help to get things tidy in my home. Then they fall back into disorder later on. I can never seem to keep up with it. (Let me be clear, I'm totally not blaming her. I'm just not naturally good at dejunking and organizing. My husband isn't either.) A friend on Facebook brought up this book in a conversation on minimalism and organizing. I was intrigued, and after seeing more and more people talking about it, I jumped on the bandwagon.

The author of the book, Marie "KonMari" Kondo, is a Japanese organizing specialist who has been helping people implement her methods for over ten years. The idea is that you must tidy your entire home as quickly as possible (it takes an average of six months), and you will never have to do it again. She turns the dejunking mantra on its head and focuses on asking what speaks to the heart and sparks joy--not focusing on the things we don't like, don't use, or bring us down. She also has you tidy by category in a very specific order--not room by room as I had always done before. I was skeptical at first that this could really make such a difference, but KonMari communities on Facebook and all over the world are having so much success with this method. Why wouldn't I?

So, I sped through the book and got started. Since I have two tiny kiddos, it has been slow going. However, I feel like the progress I have made so far has already made a huge difference on my mindset, the way I feel about our apartment, and the general energy of our home. Call me crazy, but I really think this might work.

As I said, the KonMari has you organize your house by category. I've gone through the first three categories and would like to share my experience and a few pictures. I was so excited that I forgot to take many, but you can still get an idea of the difference this is making for us.

Clothing is the first category. I went through my clothes, then all the girl clothes we had in the house (since I had newborn out for Brielle all the way up to 3T and 4T for Zia and all the in between clothes were in totes--so many baby clothes!!).

Here are some before pictures of my clothes (in our awkward closet, a little in the third bedroom closet, and some in our dresser (not pictured).






First things first, I dumped ALL my clothes on the floor in the third bedroom.




After asking myself, "Does this spark joy?" about a million times, I had about 5 bags worth of stuff ready to donate! (The pic is about halfway in. I had no idea I had so much stuff in my closet that didn't make me happy!)




Next, I organized all my clothes in our closet and dresser. The KonMari method recommends folding as much clothing as possible. I resisted this at first, but I wanted to go about this the right way, so I sat down and folded according to the book's instructions. Turns out, I love folding! I want to get a bigger dresser so I can fold even more stuff. Here are some after pictures of my clothes.







I love how tidy and pretty everything looks. And everything sparks joy! One reason that the book recommends folding everything is that it gives you a chance to make sure it still sparks joy and is in good shape every time you handle it. This way you can get rid of things that are no longer making you happy or have become too worn out, etc.

I forgot to take pictures of the girls' stuff, but I can give you the deets on just how much we got rid of. We started out with the two dressers in the girls' separate rooms plus 5 totes of in-between sizes. I got rid of 4 bags of their stuff that was stained, worn out, or just old looking--read: not sparking joy.




Here are some after pictures of Zia's room, where the change is most noticeable. I so wish I had before pictures, but I was too excited to get going. :)









I ended up taking Zia's Christmas jammies out of storage and putting them in her PJ drawer. She looooves all things Santa, and I thought it only made sense for her to have them out if they spark joy for her. She asked to wear them as soon as she saw them in the drawer, and I instantly knew I had made the right choice. And that's one less thing that needs to be put in storage.

The next category is books. Again, I was too excited to take before pictures, but this is how much I got rid of! Three paper bags donated to a thrift store and another bag of school books that I traded in on Amazon (an extra $160 for books I'm not even using--yes, please!). Now my books are just ones that spark joy. Some of them are children's novels that I want to read with my girls someday. Others are books that I'm in the middle of reading or know I will use in the future (pregnancy books, etc.). Our books used to overflow from our one full-size bookcase, but now they all fit. Yay! Austin wants to go through his books soon, so I'm holding off on an after picture until then.




After my books, it was time to go through our children's books. They were scattered all over the house but mostly ended up in a basket in Zia's closet--not very good organization for books. I didn't get rid of many--just a few duplicates and books that Zia had destroyed. But I followed the rules for organizing things from side to side (moving from big and heavy on left to light and small on the right) and really like the way things turned out.




The third category is papers. I got rid of a whole garbage bag of papers!! I went from having them everywhere to only having a little "needs action" pile and two small piles to be saved that fit in two page protectors. That might have been the most freeing of all.

Next is komono, all the miscellaneous stuff from around the house. That is split into even smaller categories and should be personalized to suit you and your home. Hopefully I'll remember to take more pictures from here on out!

Hopefully I have time to post another update soon! I hope you give this method a shot, too. Let me know how it goes, if you do!