Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Freezing Cooking in a Frenzy

I just realized this never posted:

Well, here you all go! I have fielded many questions about our over the weekend adventure of Freezer Cooking. I would like to first and foremost say that this would not have been possible without Nathan. Whew! The patience that man has is insane. I, on the other hand, have no patience at all. What is that saying my mother use to always tell me "patience is a virtue". I think I always responded, "not my virtue". Wow, was I ever right. A spatula was tossed, a glass bowl was shattered, and cooking sheets were knocked on the floor. Oh, did I mention sometimes I have a temper??  :)

So, for this freezer cooking, I can't take all the credit. I got most of the ideas off of pinterest! Actually, I got all of the ideas off of pinterest! I would have never done it without finding all of the ideas and recipes off of pinterest.

First, we planned out all of the recipes. I knew that this was going to be a big adventure, and I didn't want to have to go back to the grocery store upteen million times. (Nathan went back twice).  So, I wrote out all of the recipes, how much we needed of each thing and then I wrote out a shopping list by aisle at Hy-Vee.  I also wanted to make sure that we had enough baggies, seran wrap, and foil. Once we got to the store, Nathan questioned the idea of putting everything in a baggie. They were having a sale on containers, so we bought some of them and boy am I ever happy we did. (Did I ever mention I am marrying a genius??)

So, we got home and carried in all of the groceries. I organized them by what went with what. All the ingredients for each recipe stayed with that recipe so that things wouldn't get all jumpled together.  So, up into now, my organization has been great, right?  Here is where I messed up and sent the entire day spiraling down, until my Super hero swooped in and saved the day.

We started with the tater tot casserole. We got the hamburger browned and everything mixed up in bowls. I had the pan lined with seran wrap (mistake one--use foil instead). I put in all the ingredients and then placed it in the freezer. Everything that I read said to "flash freeze" for 90 minutes. My mother has since told me that because I placed so much in the freezer at once, and since they were all hot items, it would take much longer then 90 minutes for these things to freeze. So, my advice, freeze for a good 3-4 hours. The idea is that you can slice the items into single serving, place in a baggie and on you go. Ours did not turn out like that at all, but we made it work, and it still looks just as yummy! Hey, a casserole is just a bunch of shit all thrown in a pan together anyways isnt it??

We did the same thing with the lasagna, (forgot spaghetti sauce. Nathan's first trip to the store).  We left it in the freezer for much longer and it was frozen pretty solid it sliced much nicer. Also I lined the pans with foil instead of seran wrap.

Nathan enjoys stir fry (I'm not a fan). Usually he frys everything up in the pan and then he has like a week's worth of meals. We end up throwing some away. Which always annoys me, but I understand not wanting to eat the same thing every day, all day! So, we figured if he put things in single serving baggies, we wouldn't waste as much. He sliced up all of his pepper and onions and put it in with the raw meat. Then we threw them in the freezer and that was done.

Another thing that Nathan likes to eat are chicken enchiladas. We make these in the crock pot. So Nathan sliced up the peppers and onions and threw in the frozen chicken breasts. We use 1 hot jar of salsa and 1 mild jar of salsa. That just sat in the crock pot all day. It usually takes 4-6 hours. We put it into single serving containers. Nathan usually eats 3-4 of the enchiladas at a time, so that was the serving size we used.

We also made two lasagnas. We put foil in the bottom of the pan, and then froze the whole thing. We made 2 of them, and then also made one that we cut up into 6 single servings and froze them.

I really enjoy eating Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls. It is like sausage, potatoes, cheese and scrambled eggs. I thought instead of spending the 2.99 we do on these, or however much they usually cost, I could just make my own. So we scrambled up the egg and sausage. For the potatoes, I took red potatoes and cubed them. I sprinkled them with olive oil, put them on foil and baked them at 350 for 20 minutes! They were perfect. I just threw even amounts of each in containers and those were done.

We also wanted to make breakfast burritos to grab and go in the morning. We used ham, sausage, bacon, potatoes, scrambled eggs, and cheese.  This part SUCKED! I had no idea how hard it was to roll a burrito,  put it was totally worth it. These were amazing!

Overall, everything turned out okay and it will make our lives so much easier. I am very thankful that we did it, and I am also very thankful that I have a guy like Nathan who stays calm while I am throwing spatulas across the kitchen and breaking bowls on the kitchen floor! :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Family Traditions

Growing up, the one thing that we always had no matter what was family. Both my Mom and my Grandparents made sure of this. I was extremely blessed in the fact that I either lived with my Grandparents or lived right next door to my Grandparents my entire life.

Some of the time it was just me and my sister and my Grandparents, but most of the time it was the rest of my family as well. Every event was a huge deal for my family. It wasn't just holidays and birthdays, it was any random weekend when people would just show up. There was always plenty of food in fridge, snacks on the counter and pop in the basement.

Growing up we would play countless hour of wiffle ball in the backyard. If you missed the ball, it would hit the garage siding and my Grandpa would get so mad at us. But you knew as soon as he turned around, he was laughing as he walked away. We would ride the little motorcycle around the yard until there started to be tracks, cause then Grandpa got mad.

We would skate back and forth in the basement and create these little plays and then make the adults come down and watch us. Now when I am down in their basement, I look around and wonder how we ever had so many people down there putting on our "show" that we put on.

Birthday parties were always (and still are) the best. Growing up (and still today) I was the only one with a September birthday, so I never had to share my Sunday birthday party. Truth be told, I was always jealous of my cousin Afton because she got to share with my Grandpa. Now, the March/April birthday's are like half the family!!  We all sit down in the living room and open our presents and cards. We have to pass the cards around for everyone to read. My Grandma loves to read every single card. She keeps every card that she has even been given also. My Grandpa always had his Maytag Camera that he got for I beleive 35 years of service. My Grandma would make him take pictures of everything.  Then we go up to the table and we put the candles in. We sing happy birthday to everyone. No matter how many people there are, the candles get re lit and everyone gets their special birthday song.  if you are 27, 2 candles get put on one side and 7 on the other. My Grandpa would always get so mad, he said we were going to burn down the house!  Having all the memories swarm through my head, I always think about how riduclious some of these things sound. My Grandma has all of these little ways that she does things. They are non-negotiable, and to be honest, I wouldn't want them any other way.

Christmas is just as riduclious. Let me tell you what, if you want to see something that is reality TV worthy, you should come to my families house for Christmas. First off, the hours that would go into my Grandma shopping and wrapping each present for us, I cant even imagine. Then the perfect way that they would each be under the Christmas tree to make it all look like a puzzle. When Christmas morning game, my sister and I would have to sit on the bottom of our stairs until my Grandparents would come over, Then we could run out and see what Santa brought us (you see, I come from a family where Santa did not wrap the presents). Then once we opened our presents at our house, we would go over to my Grandparents. My cousins would be arriving at this time. We would all sit on this white couch that my Grandparents have in their family room. I always sat next to the tree, as I always hand out the presents. I would have to hand out one present to each person. Once they all got their present, I could start unwrapping mine, I would have to say who it was from. I then have to take off the ribbons and the bows and the name tags. Now, Ashley and Nick take these. (You see, my Grandma saves all of these and uses them year after year. Some name tags are ones that we wrote clear back when we were 5 or 6 years old). Yes, it is riduclious as it sounds. But it is our Family Christmas, and I love it.

This blog is getting a lot longer then I wanted it to. I guess my whole point of writing this is that I cant wait to start my own family traditions. The fun part is that we will get to take traditions from my family and traditions from Nathan's family and create our own. I think about cooking my family Thanksgiving dinner and having my kids get to eat "cherry shit" for Christmas breakfast. I love everything about joining our lives together, and creating traditions might be my favorite part!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our Wedding Day

I play our wedding day over and over in my head almost every day. I think about the moment that we will see each other for the first time. I think about walking down the aisle towards him. I think about saying my vows to him, and him saying his to me. I think about seeing all of our friends and family being there. I think about all of these things all of the time. But really, the thing I think about the most is hearing the words "I know pronounce you husband and wife".  :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The journey is the destination...

A women that both Nathan and I hold very close to our hearts told me "The journey is the destination". I think it was the first time in days that I was able to put everything into perspective. I for the first time realized that it isn't 6 months until our wedding, or 17 days until I see him again. Right now, these moments, they are all building our relationship. Its not the wedding that matters or having him home. Its all the moments in between that add up to a lifetime of love and happiness together.  I have heard every cliche saying since Nathan left. "Everything happens for a reason", "Absence makes the heart grow fonder". But really, the only thing that has finally made me realize that every thing, every little thing is going to be ok.

This hurt in my heart, this ache for Nathan will never go away until I see him again. It is just something that I have to deal with. I can't make it go away, and I don't want to make it go away. This pain that I feel in my heart, this ache for Nathan, it is a constant reminder of how deep our love is. This journey that we are on together is one of a kind. The love that we have for each other is unique. I knew it the moment I saw Nathan in the board room on my first day at CBE. I knew it on the day that Nathan asked me to spend the rest of my life with him after only 5 months of dating. And I knew it when Nathan asked me if it was okay if he went and worked in the Atlanta office for awhile. I know that the love we share will take a hell of a lot more then 912 miles between us to break that bond.

So, although my heart aches more than I ever knew it could, and I have a constant feeling of missing something, I know that this is only going to make us stronger. This journey we're on, this wonderful, amazing is building the foundation of our relationship. It is building the foundation for our children and their children. And I am so grateful that I get to spend it with my best friend.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Keeping up with Nathan

The name of this blog should have always been "Keeping up with Nathan" instead of "Keeping up with the Joneses" I have come to find out!! HOLY MOLY! It has only been 4 days that Nathan has been gone and this house is a disaster. I mean, I always knew that it was me making the messes and Nathan cleaning them up, but when no one is cleaning them up, I learned just how big of messes I really make.  The sink is overflowing with dishes(mind you we have a dishwasher, I am just too lazy to put the dishes in there), the trash is overflowing(I also didn't put the trash by the curb when I was supposed to), the yard needs mowed(hey, its supposed to rain, give me some slack), the laundry is overflowing(I'll do it on Sunday), and the living room looks like a tornado went through it(well, one sort of did. Its name is Amanda).  I finally unloaded the groceries from the trunk of the car(that I bought on Wednesday).

This house is more then a full time job and I am so thankful for everything that Nathan did around the house all the time that I was clearly unaware of. Or just took it all for granted.  Jack and I are having...welll...let's just  I tell you what! That dog (now that he is eating) wants food twice a day, wants his water filled up CONSTANTLY, he only goes outside for a few moments to do his duty and then he barks until you let him back in. Now that Nathan is gone, he takes up MORE than half the bed.

Ok, anways...time for me to buck up and start doing my part around this house. Especially now that there is no one else here to do it!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Circular Seating

So, for the wedding I decided on circular seating for the ceremony.  It would cost like an extra $500 to get everything all mic'd up for outside and that is just outrageous to me. So, I thought outside the box and this is what I have come up with.

Now, the only tricky part...We will have 4 1/4 moons and they will each need to sit about 38 people.  I cant figure out how to do the rows. Clearly, designing a puzzle was not my strong suite.

I suppose I will leave Nathan and his analytical brain to determine this!


Well, its no secret that as soon as Nathan and I get married, people are going to start wondering when we are going to have kids.Hell, people thought the reason we got engaged so fast was because I was knocked up!! Surprise, Surprise...a year later and there is NO baby! So now, I already get asked the question all the time "when are you going to have kids" and I simply answer "we will start trying next October".  Tonight, it was brought to my attention that this is maybe not the correct way to say this. It was brought to my attention that maybe I meant we would not start having sex until next October. Well, thats just not the case. I always thought that when people started "trying" to have kids, they just simply stated, they were trying to get pregnant.  I guess what I mean is that we will no longer be preventing it from happening. This probably gives a bad mental picture to some people, but to me, I think it is a beautiful thing between a couple to be "trying" to get pregnant. Its natural. It is what is supposed to happen. Why is there a politically correct way to say this??  Who knows! It seems that there is a politically correct way to say everything and it changes everyday.

Anyways. I enjoyed "dating" Nathan for the short amount of time that we dated, and I have enjoyed being engaged to Nathan for almost a year now.  I am in no rush to start a family, but I am also not dragging my feet. We get married in October and we will start trying a year later. I think that is a perfectly good timeline. I mean from the day we met until the time of us staring to try, we will have only known each other for 3.5 years, and only been romantically involved for 3!  People always have opinions about other people's lives, but I feel that as long as I am happy in my own life and Nathan is happy in his own life, and we are happy in our life together, there is no reason to make other people happy.

You also have the nay-sayers that tell me that I shouldn't plan on when I get pregnant. If you wait and plan it you will never do it. That is not what we are doing at all. I think there is a huge difference in being finically ready, because we never will be, and being finicially prepared. I don't like to jump into anything in my life, and I sure am not going to jump into parenthood.  Nathan is a very analytical person and he looks at things from ever angle. So, trust me, with mine and his planning personalities put together, our lives are fully mapped out!

Soon enough you will hear the pitter patter of a little Jones running around and then we all really will be "Keeping up with the Jonses" :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Saving Money

Saving money is a constant struggle for me. I am a spender. I love love love to spend money! Like, if I could get a job to just spend money, I would be amazing at it!! Anyways, Nathan and I have made a very concious effort to save practically EVERY penny that doesn't have a NEED to be spent. This is killing me and it is absolutely NOT the life for me! I mean, COME ON! I dont work hard 45 hours a week to never spend any money.

Well anyways, we had a lot of birthdays in our family in the month of March and April, so I got to buy a bunch of birthday cards and birthday presents for everyone this past week. Man on man did it feel good to spend money!

As soon as this wedding is paid for, a down payment on a house is made, new cars are bought, new furniture is paid for....WAIT WAIT WAIT....who am I kidding??  I'm an adult now, I will NEVER be able to spend money like its my job again!! It will always be something that we are saving for!!  Oh well, such is life! I guess its just time for me to start poppin out those babies so I have something to spend money on. Just kidding! :)