Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Best Chicken Noodle Soup Ever

I love homemade soup, especially chicken noodle. Here's the recipe for the soup I mentioned in my last post!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or you could use shredded rotisserie chicken)
4-5 stalks of celery, diced
4-5 large carrots, peeled & diced
1 small onion, diced
Olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic (I just use minced garlic from a jar)
Fresh thyme, oregano, and parsley (or dried versions...fresh is just prettier and tastier)
Salt & Pepper, other seasonings to taste (like garlic salt or garlic powder, etc.)
1 lemon
Your favorite kind of pasta (I like rotini, shells, or egg noodles)
Chicken stock

I like to roast the chicken in the oven instead of boiling it with the soup - the flavor and texture of the chicken is just so much better. You could also just roast it in a skillet on the stovetop, but I usually do it in the oven. Season chicken w/ salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste (I like to use oregano and thyme), drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 400 for 25 min. (Baking time will vary depending on how big the chicken breasts are. Make sure to butterfly them open if they're extremely thick).

While chicken is roasting, start the veggies.

In a giant pot (really, use the biggest one you have because this will make a lot of soup), heat about 1-2 T. each of olive oil and butter (the flavor combo is the only reason for using's just good, trust me). Add garlic and sautee for about a minute.

Add veggies and stir together. Sautee for several minutes - until onions and celery begin to turn translucent.

Add chicken stock, water, and noodles. I honestly don't measure the stock/water. I use however much stock I happen to have around (a box or 2, or several cans), and then supplement the rest of the liquid with water. Of course, you could also use chicken boullion to turn your water into broth. You want the ratio of liquid to veggies/pasta to be about 2 to 1 before the pasta is will absorb a ton of liquid. If you use more stock than water, you may not need as many seasonings, if you use more water, use more seasonings.

Slice lemon in half add all the juice to the soup - it just adds a freshness and brightness that is so delicious. It doesn't create a strong lemon flavor at all.

Add herbs and seasonings to taste.

Cook that stuff until the noodles are cooked and the veggies are soft, then enjoy. You will need bread - I love to eat it with sourdough toast with butter and some parmesan cheese.

Colds During Pregnancy

Well, here I am at more than 39 weeks pregnant and sick with a cold...again. I just had a cold a month ago! The only upside I can think of is that it's a good distraction and has made me quit wishing I would hurry up and go into labor. Now I want her to wait until I'm, there's that.

Anyway, having a cold is the pits when you're NOT pregnant. But when you ARE, it's even worse! Since most cold medicines are off-limits, you have to get creative about managing your symptoms and finding ways to knock that virus out. Here are my tips...since I'm pretty much an expert now:

  • Drink plenty of water (duh). Plenty means like, 80-100 ounces a day. Yes, you will be parking yourself on the toilet a lot. But if you're pregnant, you're used to that anyway. You want to flush that sickness out of your body.

  • Sleep (duh). Take a benadryl at night and say adios, world. Also, naps....naps are underrated!

  • Hot water w/ honey and lemon. I think 8 oz. water + 2 slices of lemon + a spoonful of raw honey is the perfect ratio. It soothes the throat, and honey and lemon both have germ-killing properties that might help tackle the virus.

  • Tissues w/ lotion in them. Yes, you need them, trust me. Spring for the lotion kind! Isn't that raw, red skin around your nose the worst? Aquaphor ointment is a must-have too. It's the BEST ointment in the world. Put it on that red, raw skin if you have it, and use it to moisturize your lips, since you're now a mouth-breather and your lips are surely chapped. Bonus: you can use it on baby too, once he/she gets here! It is safe and effective on sensitive skin and will help with dry skin and diaper rash.

  • Halls sugar-free cough drops. I hate cough drops. They're just yucky. The ones that taste good don't do anything to sooth your throat and sinuses, and the ones that feel like they make a difference are just icky-tasting. Bummer. I like halls sugar-free strawberry flavor because of the menthol (and they taste the best of all the halls varieties, I think). Since nasal decongestants are probably first on the list of pregnancy medication no-no's, you will need all the help you can get in that area. I like that halls has the sugar-free option because I hate sweater know what I'm talking about.

  • Essential oils. I'm a doTERRA fan and already have a lot of these oils on hand. It's recommended that you put a small amount of Melaleuca on your tongue when you first notice cold symptoms, and then repeat this several times. Melaleuca tastes terrible, but I did it anyway. I also rubbed melaleuca and lemon oils on the bottoms of my feet. They're both oils with germ-killing abilities, too, so I'm hoping they're helping to kill the virus. I also like to rub eucalyptus/peppermint/Breathe oil on the bottoms of my feet, then sleep with socks on. It works wonders for nasal congestion. You can also diffuse the oils in your room while you sleep, and can rub them on your chest or under your nose to help clear your sinuses. Another great place to use essential oils is in the shower. Put a few drops of eucalyptus/peppermint/Breathe on the floor of the shower then get the steam going and enjoy being able to breathe through your nose :). A bath would be nice too - toss some Epsom salts in with your bathwater, add some essential oils, and soak for a while.

  • Simply Saline spray. It's just saline and baking soda, and it will help to clear your nasal passages when nothing else will!

  • Tylenol & Benadryl. Yay! 2 medicines you can actually take. Tylenol has helped take the edge off the headache/body aches and Benadryl has helped me to sleep, mostly, but also stops the sneezing. 

  • Mild exercise. If you feel up to it, do something to get your blood flowing. Go for a short walk, do some chores, etc. Even just getting up and taking a shower will help you feel better.

  • Comfort food! I don't know if orange juice and chicken soup really do anything to cure a cold, but they sure make me FEEL better, and that's important. Last night when my symptoms started, I made a big batch of chicken noodle soup with lots of veggies, garlic, roasted chicken, and herbs. I served it up to myself with a couple pieces of toasted sourdough bread and felt better almost immediately. Also, can't go wrong chasing that soup with a glass of OJ! Tropicana makes a bottle with extra Vitamin C & Zinc! That's juice made for people with colds! Also, did you even need another reason to keep popsicles and ice cream around? If you're pregnant, you probably have them in your freezer already...haha.

I'm going to go follow my own advice of luck! If you have more suggestions for managing a cold while pregnant, please share! :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


That's what I'm calling these 2 weeks off from work...NestFest2015. I feel it's an appropriate title...

Can I brag about my nesting accomplishments now? Okay, good:

  • Air ducts cleaned and sanitized
  • Carpets and nursery rocker cleaned and sanitized
  • Fridge/Freezer cleaned out and wiped down
  • Nursery done
  • Hospital bags packed
  • Car seat installed (correctly, even! Had it checked at the husband is so great at following instruction manuals)
  • Car vacuumed and wiped out
  • Bathroom deep-cleaned
  • Groceries stocked up
  • Baby clothes washed, sorted, folded, ooh'ed and aah'd over, put away
  • School/substitute plans made
  • Dog/iguana sitter arranged
  • I even went through our closets, took boxes of old clothes to D.I., and organized our closets. And, my clothes are now sorted into 3 sections: maternity clothes, tents designed for hiding a post-baby body, and "maybe again someday, if you're lucky."

Yay! Aren't my obsessive-compulsive, first-time-mom tendencies impressive?! I thought you'd think so...

Monday, May 18, 2015

38 Weeks!

2 weeks until my due date?! What?! How did that happen? It feels like it's come up fast. Here's how I'm feeling:

  • I think I have carpal tunnel issues with my hand. My middle and ring fingers on my right hand have been tingly (feel like they're asleep) for a straight week now. Sometimes it radiates further up my arm, but it's not painful.
  • Feeling baby dropping - can't wear non-maternity pants without them falling down!
  • Lots of cervical pressure and occasional lower back and lower abdomen pain/cramping.
  • Getting huge. I just feel enormous. I can't roll over in bed without a whole series of grumblings and groanings, and it's like comedy hour watching me get up from sitting on the floor.
  • Sooooo much excitement! I get excited whenever I feel a twinge of pain, hoping it might be the beginning of labor :) 

More updates:

  • We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary on 5/13. It was very low-key - we went for a long walk by the river and had dinner at our favorite Italian place, Rovali's. It was a fun night and we reminisced a lot about everything we've been able to do in the past 4 years. It's a great feeling to know that we have crossed so many items off our bucket list and feel ready to start the next chapter as parents.
  • Sean's business is starting to take off. He has been working on his own business for the past year and it has made huge progress in the past few months. He's got such an amazing mind and I'm so proud of all he's doing. It's so exciting and at the same time, such a relief, to see that his business is becoming successful. We've put pretty much all our eggs in this basket, which is very scary, but we have always had the feeling that this is the right thing for us to be doing and that he is meant to have this business.
    • Side note: his business is called Take Shape Systems and it's a CNC machining company. Currently, he's specializing in large sheet plastics/safety guarding, but can also work with metal, wood, foam, etc. and is getting into 3D printing.
  • Post on the nursery coming soon, because I'm so proud of how it turned out.
  • I'm officially on maternity leave! Yay! No more teaching on my feet all day! It's nice to be able to sleep/nap whenever I want (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that won't last long....thanks for reminding me) and not have to time my bathroom trips around a class schedule. Also super nice to not have to wear actual pants (maternity leggings ftw!) and no shoes...cuz cankles.
  • I love getting to snuggle my dog baby and hang out with him all day every day. He's my buddy and I've missed him while I've been so busy the past few months (, since the beginning of the school year).
  • I WILL tackle the to-do list that my little nesting self has created. It's a beast, but I finally have time and motivation to work on it. I'm glad to have so much to keep me busy while I wait for this baby.

Monday, May 4, 2015

36 Weeks

"OhmygoodnessI'mhavingababy!" I had a little freak-out this morning. And I might have had to call my mom. I am so excited for baby girl to come, but today it hit me hard when my friend, whose due date was 2 weeks before mine, had her baby! I remember thinking, "When she has her baby, I can start getting excited because I won't be far behind!" Now, I'm trying to convince myself that baby will be a week late so I'm not frustrated when she doesn't come early...but still, she could come next week! It's just crazy!

Here's what's going on:

  • I'm nesting. Turns out that's a thing. I have been cleaning, organizing, laundry-ing, and mommy-fying things all over this place all week. I even got up at 6 a.m. on Saturday... SATURDAY...just think about that for a sec. I cleaned my car (inside and out, up and down, for hour), I cleaned the entire house, did all the laundry I could find, finished the nursery, cleaned out the fridge and freezer, got the car seat installed (well, Sean installed it...I watched, ha), made freezer meals, worked on the most obsessively detailed lesson plans ever created, folded baby clothes, and painted my nails (priorities, people). I did a lot of stuff. Really. 
  • Achy, swollen, tingly hands and feet (I'm getting used to it though, and I have narrowed down my shoe wardrobe to only the cankle-friendly pairs. I've also given up on my wedding rings.).
  • Itchy, tight belly.
  • Heartburn (if you need a Tums, ask me....I have them hidden everywhere).
I feel great for the most part though. If this is as bad as pregnancy gets for me, I'm happy and will consider myself lucky.