Friday, June 28, 2013

Zuppa Toscana


Pregnancy has me craving lots of different things. The other night it was homemade apple pie and last night it was a fresh bowl of homemade Zuppa Toscana!
Here is my version of this delicious soup from my kitchen to yours!

Dry Ingredients:
1 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chili powder

1 pound lean ground beef - you can also use spicy sausage but I'm not a fan so I use ground beef instead.
4 ounces bacon - chopped into small pieces

Fresh Ingredients:
4-5 large russet potatoes washed but not peeled
1 large white onion - chopped
1 large bunch Kale

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup half & half
Note: you can use just heavy whipping cream or just half & half. I like to mix both because I get just the right thickness I like.
8 cups water
2 8oz cans chicken broth

Optional ingredients/additions:
Feel free to add minced garlic if you are a garlic fan
Add more chili powder to the ground beef for extra spice!
You can also add more salt/pepper or other seasonings to your liking.
 Cooking Directions:
Heat some oil in a large soup pot (I like to use Olive Oil) and add ground beef, salt, pepper and chili powder - brown meat until it is fully cooked.
Remove beef from the soup pot and put in a separate bowl. It will be added to the soup later.
*If you choose to use sausage, you don't need the other ingredients, just add the sausage and cook thoroughly.

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In the same pot, add the onion and bacon and sauté until the onion is golden brown.
In the meantime, slice the potatoes into even slices and set aside.

Once the onion is golden and the bacon is a little crisp, add the 8 cups of water and 2 8oz cans of chicken broth to the onion/bacon.
Bring to a boil and then add all of the potatoes.
Simmer for about ten minutes until the potatoes are a little soft.
*I had to change pots because the one I started with was too small. I suggest starting with a larger pot so you don't have extra dishes to wash at the end!
Lastly, add the heavy cream and half & half and kale and the ground beef that you set aside earlier.
Mix well and allow to simmer another 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are fully cooked.
Serve and enjoy!

For more recipes, visit my Recipe's tab at the top of my page!
Have a wonderful weekend!
♥, Denise

Monday, June 24, 2013

Wear to Work series

Image Via: Pinterest
Image Via: See Jane blog
How cute are these two outfits for a day at the office?
I'm going to be starting a weekly series called "Wear to Work"
I work in an office and get dressed for work more than I get dressed in weekend attire.
I often look to Pinterest for office attire inspiration that is chic yet still professional and comfortable.
I'll be sharing one of my work outfits with you once per week and some inspiration from the web every now and then!
If you are also a working woman (this can be any vocation; including stay at home mom which is a full time job!) and want to be featured on my blog, send me an e-mail!
I'd love to feature your work style on AllThingsNew!
Happy Monday!
♥,  Denise

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

pregnancy & the awkward unspoken

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Pregnancy is a beautiful thing:
You get to carry around this little life inside of you for nine months, you're glowing, and you feel your baby kicking inside of you.
It's such an amazing process!
I wouldn't give this up for anything!
 On the flip side, there are some things about pregnancy that no one ever told me...
If you personally know me, you have heard it all by now.
I have no problem answering questions about the good, the bad and the ugly. 
Here are a list of (some awkward) questions I never thought to ask before being pregnant.
Perhaps a mother to be somewhere can get a good laugh out of this and learn that we all experience many of the same things!

Why don't I look pregnant yet but feel like I gained 10 pounds over night?  
A few weeks after I found out I was pregnant my clothes started feeling tight around my waste. I kept asking my husband, mom, sister and anyone close to me if I "look fat" because I felt like I had gained 10 lbs over night! In reality I lost quite a bit of weight in my first trimester due to being nauseous all the time but I still felt like a cow! Hang in there, that bump will soon emerge and you will no longer feel like everyone is looking at you like you gained 10lbs, but rather like you are pregnant.

Is it just me, or did my face get "plump"?
My sister told me the other day that my lips have plumped up lately. I started looking at some recent pictures of myself and noticed that my entire face looks a little more "plump". Of course to me this automatically means....oh my goodness, my face looks chubby! In reality I'm sure it is not really noticeable to everyone else (yet), but you may feel like your face is more plump than usual. I'm almost in the third trimester so I'm sure I will feel this way even more as my pregnancy progresses. Water weight will also certainly add to the "plumpness".... all around. It's not something you can avoid so better just get used to the idea!
What is wrong with my nipples?
This topic might be awkward for some but it's been one of the biggest things to take me by surprise. Why on earth did my nipples get so dark.... and big?! They used to be so normal in proportion to the rest of my boob! I don't quite know the reason for this but I'm putting it out there. Maybe I'll save some of you gals from waking up one morning and having the reaction I had when I looked at my nipples in the mirror. Confusion, slight horror? I heard they go back to normal once the baby is born.. for the most part. Good thing boobs are something we cover everyday....
Oh and I shouldn't forget to mention that your nipples hurt extremely bad in the first trimester!
This makes me think... what will breastfeeding feel like?! Ouch.
Who would have known going poop was going to be this painful?
Yes, I am going to bring up the topic of poop on my blog for the first time ever....
Let me tell you, it hurts to poop. In the first trimester my doctor prescribed Zofran for my nausea and it constipated me so bad! On top of only being able to poop a few times per week and feeling bloated all the time, I was afraid to poop because of the pain. Pooping became a minimum 45 minute process which required extra privacy and courage. I had to give myself a pep talk before entering the bathroom.
In the second trimester I stopped taking Zofran and was having normal bowel movements but have had the occasional constipation now and then. We will see what happens in the third trimester, I've read that constipation comes back again. Oh joy!
Why does my belly button hurt?
My belly button hurts.
It's stretching and is ready to pop out. The other night I woke up and had to go to the bathroom and turn on the light and look at it because it hurt so bad! It's all the stretching that's happening as your belly grows and it causes a pretty sore belly button.
Is it just me or are my upper thighs and upper arms getting flabby?
I've never had the most toned arms but I do love running so I felt like my butt and thighs were always ok (not too flabby). However, I've noticed lots of extra flabbiness in the upper extremities of my arms/thighs. I think it is a combination of me not running or working out as much and my body preparing for the extra weight from carrying this baby. I'm learning to just let it go and let my body do it's thing. After the baby is born I can work on these areas in time.
Besides, my husband did mention he likes the roundness of my bottom lately so it's not too bad I guess!
You pee on yourself when you sneeze?!
About a month ago I was in the grocery store with my sister and I felt like I had to pee but was going to wait until I got home. I suddenly had to sneeze and when I did; I actually peed on myself. By "peed on myself" I don't mean all the way where it runs down your pant leg, but it was enough for me to notice and tell her we should head home. I guess it's my fault for not listening to all my friends who had babies and told me to do my kegels! So ladies, do your kegels while you still have time!

Can I just take a nap... all the time?
I'm tired. All the time.
In fact I'm tired as I'm writing this post.
It's crazy how much you can sleep when you are pregnant! During my first trimester I slept for at least 12 hours every night and still needed naps during the day! During the second trimester I had more energy but as I am nearing the third, the tiredness is slowly creeping back in. It takes a lot to grow a baby so your body needs lots of rest! When people tell you you're tired all the time during pregnancy, they literally mean all the time!
Am I losing my mind?
Amnesia is the word.
I'm much more forgetful these days.
My doctor told me that your brain actually shrinks by about 6% when you are pregnant making it easier to forget simple little things! Short term memory loss is a regular thing for me! My husband jokes and tells me I need to start carrying a notepad to remember things I need to do.

What is that burning sensation in my chest and throat?
Heartburn my friends is a very unpleasant thing.
It burns my chest and throat to the point where I sometimes feel like throwing up. Thankfully there are medications to help with this but still, sometimes it can be really painful and uncomfortable. Luckily for most women it occurs towards the middle and end of pregnancy but there are a few women I know who have had it their entire pregnancy.
Hang in there.... it's only temporary! (That's what I keep telling myself!)

Why does every comment bother me?
When you are pregnant people either tell you that you are tiny or huge.
You would think tiny is a compliment and huge means you have a cute baby bump, but no. No matter what people say you sort of take it wrong.
"My belly is tiny? Does that mean I just look fat and not pregnant? But I want to look pregnant!"
"My belly is huge? Gee, thanks for calling me huge?!"
Let's face it: your belly will be small at first and then huge towards the end.
It's natural. Get over it. Just let your body do it's thing it's not like you can do anything about it anyways.
Now if someone calls you fat... that is a whole other topic!

I'm sure I can come up with a few other things but these are the main questions that come to my mind now. All or some of these things will happen to you when you are pregnant or you may have already experienced them. I am still experiencing them since I'm still pregnant and I'm sure lots of new questions will come up in the third trimester!

Bottom line is; your body will do whatever it needs to do and you can't stop it.
Just stay healthy, stay positive and keep your focus on your baby that you will soon meet!
Enjoy all the fun and good things about pregnancy because they really do outweigh the bad.
Plus, it's nice to be able to joke and laugh about some of the awkward things our bodies do while pregnant.
You don't have pretend that pregnancy was the easiest and best thing ever... just admit it... sometimes your body did some wacky and uncomfortable things and you have every right to talk about it, laugh about it, cry about it and just simply whine about it.

♥,  Denise

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pregnancy Update: 27 Weeks

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 Denim Jacket: H&M / Dress: Joie / Belt & Sandals: Target

This is my last week in the 2nd timester! Only 13ish more weeks to go!
This week baby weighs almost 2 pounds and is about the size of a head of cauliflower.
He measures in at an estimated 14 1/2 inches long with legs extended.
I can tell he is getting stronger each week because his kicks and movements become more intense over time. 
Sometimes he is so active it feels like popcorn being popped in my stomach!

 I'm not sleeping as well at night.
Some nights when I lay down I get really bad heartburn.
I've discovered that sleeping with two or three pillows to elevate my head helps. 
Also, not eating right before bed helps as well.
Between the heartburn, waking up 1-2 times per night to use the restroom and the limited sleeping positions, some nights are harder than others.
I guess these are just some of the things that come with being pregnant!
I'm still craving lots of fruit and have noticed a major increase in appetite this week!
I feel like I could just eat non-stop because I'm always hungry!
I've been avoiding overeating by bringing healthy snacks to work with me and eating small meals throughout the day ~ but this doesn't mean I don't indulge from time to time...!

I've also been on the lookout for a crib and found one that we love!
The remodel of the nursery/upstairs of our home is more than halfway done and I'm so excited to be able to decorate and prepare our sons room for his arrival.

Every little thing about this pregnancy excites me because with each new development I am realizing how close we are to September... and we cannot wait!

♥,  Denise

Thursday, June 13, 2013

♥a romantic beach proposal♥

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It all happened on a warm day in May........
My older brother Eddie proposed and I couldn't be happier for them!
Here's to the happy couple!

..{Congratulations Eddie & Naomi}..

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pregnancy Update: 25 weeks

25 weeks have passed and only 15 more to go!
At 25 weeks our little guy is about 13 1/2 inches from head to heel and weighs about a pound and a  half.
He is going to start putting on more and more baby fat in the coming weeks and is starting to grow hair! I'm secretly hoping he has his dad's curly auburn hair!
I think we have narrowed down a name we really love but I will be keeping it a secret until he is born
(just in case we have a sudden change in how we feel about the name)
As for this mama, I am feeling so, so good!
I have lots of energy and am in good spirits.
I will be going on maternity leave in early September so I have been busy wrapping up projects at work and getting all my ducks in order.
I'm looking forward to having a little time before baby arrives to get the nursery ready and rest!
I've also been enjoying all the baby gifts people have been randomly showering us with.
This little boy is going to be spoiled rotten!
Life is good, I can't complain

Thank you for all your comments/emails about my previous post on body changes during pregnancy!
I got some great tips and it's just good to know how many mothers/mothers-to-be can relate!

♥,  Denise
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