Holiday Meal Prep 4-6 weeks out

thanksgiving-austinI know it is October and we have a few weeks before Thanksgiving, but now is the time to prepare.

Have you ever made a new creation at a holiday function and prayed that it would turn out right in time for the guests to come? Have you ever had that feeling of dread when said item did not set or turn out as expected? I have. The first time I cooked for a large group everyone waited almost an hour and a half for the main dish to finish cooking. Since I made such a large portion it took much longer to cook than my normal 9×13 pan. It was really embarrassing and I learned my lesson.

The time to test food is the weeks before the event. This will provide you the security of knowing how to make the item, make sure it tastes great, and you will know how long it will take to prepare.

Think about what your Thanksgiving line up looks like and think about how much time it will take to prepare. I am hosting my family for the first time ever and will be cooking for 10. That isn’t the issue, I will be doing all of this with a few week old newborn. Hence, preparation now is essential.

food-prep1Tips for Holiday Meal Prep

1. Create a menu and test any new items.

2. Create a master shopping list and start buying items to avoid heavy expenses and long lines the days leading up to the event. (Mark these items somewhere in the pantry as For Thanksgiving Only or whatever occasion)

3. Create a time schedule of when to cook what and what you can prepare ahead. Meats are better cooked the day of, but some sides, salads and desserts are ok to prepare the night before.


By the time the event happens, you will be more than prepared so don’t stress. Using these tips, you will have the easiest holiday yet!


Things to Know About Having a Baby – Pt 1

I am a Whale.Said-no-one

I could actually list a bunch of mammals that I feel like but this pregnancy has been super challenging. I am jealous of my first pregnancy self who had zero morning sickness, fatigue, crazy mood swings, or anything really. I felt 100% like me but I couldn’t see my feet while standing up. My second pregnancy self had more complications, morning sickness and I was put on “light rest” for a few weeks. It sucked, I couldn’t workout and I had Braxton Hicks contractions all the time. I also was pretty hormonal, and I really didn’t like my husband for some reason. (Sorry babe!)

This time around I had horrible morning sickness, horrible food aversions, horrible hormones (I cry all the time), horrible breakouts, random pains in places I won’t mention, way too many contractions to not be in labor and I have gained a LOT of weight. Seems like third time is not the charm! However I am carrying a girl this time, so many people just say that girls do that to you.

Everyday on Facebook it seems like someone new is pregnant and bursting with joy. I don’t want to pop your bubble, but here are some truths to pregnancy, labor, delivery, and recovery that people tend to gloss over.


-A good birth plan is nice to have- Having a baby is not a situation where you should just wing it. I winged it once, and it was a horrible experience. The second time around, I was fully informed in what I wanted and what was required. Many hospitals will give you a mock birth plan to work from and I suggest you fully research what you want and write it down! A good hospital will try to accommodate you. In a case of emergency, they might not let you do it all, but allowing you to have limited monitoring so you can walk or bounce on a ball will help the process so much.


-Can Suck- Everyone doesn’t have the Brooklyn Decker pregnancy. It was comical in the What to Expect movie, but in reality it sucks. You may have a friend that has a perfect pregnancy. If you don’t, hey welcome to the club. Don’t feel bad and try not to be jealous. Instead, drink ginger ale and eat saltiness.

- Never judge another pregnant person – While you may or may not have symptoms, you never know what someone else is experiencing.prego sux

-Freeze meals. How many? As many as your freezer will fit. After baby comes, cooking will be the last thing you really want to do. That and going to the grocery store with a newborn.

Labor and Delivery

-Epidural vs Natural- As soon as you have a kid the mommy wars begin and I feel like it starts with the way you birth. I will never understand the elitist mentality when it comes to bringing a child in the world. I have done both so hear me out!

  •  Natural- This will hurt. Hypno birth will try to make you brainwash yourself into believing that the surges (in lieu of contractions) are not that bad. If you can convince yourself of that, great. More power to you. If you can’t- I’m going to be honest, it hurts. Now your pain tolerance, position and state of mind all play a huge factor in natural birth. Also those things you can’t control like a tilted pelvis, uterus or anything different down there, will also impact the baby coming out. Laying on your back is the worst position possible, and many women will birth that way. If you choose to go natural, don’t listen to all of the naysayers. That will lead you to self doubt. Do your best and if you change your mind halfway through labor, that is ok too!
  • Epidural- After hours in pain, this will be the bliss that will allow you to get one final nap in. My advice, don’t look at the tray the anesthesiologist is working from. Keep your eyes forward, focus on breathing between contractions and think about the relief coming your way. You may have pain in the injection site for a few days or weeks. I had to use a heat pack for two weeks from the epi pain. It also took my anesthesiologist more than one attempt to get it in so that probably added to the pain as well.heat pack

- You will be surprised at the amount of people that may see all your goodies. I was at a teaching hospital for Thing 1 and I feel like by the time he came out, my audience had grown from my mom, sister and nurse, to 20+ med students, nurses and the doctor. That room was packed. It was awful. I would try to close my legs and pull my gown down, but the nurse kept shoving it up. The second time around I was in the room with just my husband, midwife and two nurses. I was able to wear my own shirt and I felt like they let me keep a bit of modesty. I strongly suggest you include things like -the only people you want in the room short of an emergency, what you wear, and times you are interrupted.


Recovery in the Hospital

- PEE – As often as you can and as much as you can. After all of the IV’s you get put in, that mess needs to come out!

- General soreness down there – Sometimes it hurts. The nurses will bring you ice packs and witch hazel for a reason. Use it and if they give you some pain pills, you may want to take them. However, every birth is different. One kid I had the pain, the other I didn’t. You never know.

- Look in the mirror- People may think you are narcissistic, but you will want to look back at your baby pictures and not cringe. You don’t have to bust out a full makeover, but you might need to brush your hair, dry off sweat, fix your mascara, or add a little color to your mouth.

- You may waddle after giving birth. You thought you waddled in month 9 but just wait my friend!

- Your loving nurses will turn evil when pressing on your stomach to “help” or “check” that your uterus is going down. It hurts. I think a tear might have popped out on occasion.

- You may need space. After pushing a little person out of your body, showing your goodies to the world, getting poked, prodded, checked, a catheter, and moved into your recovery room, you may feel overwhelmed. You just went through a lot. Don’t be afraid to ask everyone to give you a few minutes. You might want to sleep, you might want to watch your little precious sleeping angel, you might want to update your newsfeed. Who knows, but don’t be afraid to take a minute for yourself. You just did a selfless act giving birth. Enjoy these moments of peace and quiet.


Recovery at HomeBellefit-Corset-4

- Compress- I really wish I would have done this with Thing 1, but compressing helps pull you back in. Once the baby is out, you still have a belly that will rival a 5 month pregnant lady. The only difference is, your stomach is empty. You can press and mush it around and it will bounce and roll like flubber! Use a compression garment or even an ace bandage to bring everything back together. Plus it will boost your self esteem to look like you again, plus you will have a cute little baby as arm candy!

- Remember all those periods that you missed the past year? Yea. They all decided to come out at once and yea…overnight super maxi with wings will be your best friend with a few weeks. Those and the peri bottle.peribottle

- Use witch hazel pads. These bad boys are not just for hemorrhoids. These are a soothing happiness on your hoo-hah!tucks

-Never trust the celebrity recovery magazines. They have personal chefs, trainers, special lighting, nannies and best of all Photoshop! Don’t believe that they really look like that.

-You will be exhausted! Everyone will advise you to sleep when the baby sleeps, but that isn’t possible sometimes. If you can, I suggest you go on ahead and do it. I personally have a coffee/kickstart addiction after having the kids.



-Freaking sucks in the first month! I’m not trying to deter you, nursing is a wonderful thing, but people forget to tell you it hurts a lot in the beginning. I’m talking toes curling, worse than the contraction feeling, somebody knock me out pain. Your baby is learning how to latch, your milk makers are getting used constantly and there is nothing you can do but persevere. No one told me how bad it was at first, so when it was difficult, I felt like a failure and wanted to quit.

-Lanolin will be your best friend! You will only need it for the first few weeks or months and it is great for keeping the girls from getting chapped, cracked, and it soothes.

-It might be hard to do. If your child has jaundice or has to eat frequently for some reason, it might be exhausting

-Is awesome after the first month!- You won’t have to deal with all the washing of the little annoying parts that make up bottles, or try to make and heat a bottle at 3am when you are past zombie mom tired. You can put the kid on the boob and keep moving.

But this is just the beginning! I’ll add more later! Happy pregnancy!


Do you have any tips or things you found out about that surprised you during the baby process?

The List-less Lift

I NEED lists.

I am fully dependent on them.

If I don’t have a list, I can barely function.

Am I crazy? Probably, but my trial of the listless life proves that I am way too Type A to not write things down. Let me further explain.

As far back as I can recall, I have had a fascination and obsession with to-do lists. I enjoy writing them almost as much as I enjoy checking things off of them. With a list in my hand I have a purpose. I know what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and sometimes how it should be done.

I start my Monday morning handwriting my super to-do list/weekly list/cleaning and everything else list, in my notebook of life. Yes, it has my life in it. I write my blog posts, ideas for lunches, menus, grocery lists, monthly to-do’s and what to do for my side business. As the days go by I check and cross off what has been accomplished and Mama’s happy.

Take my list away and suddenly I’m not so happy. All my daily chores seem to fade into the background and all of a sudden I have ample time to waste playing Solitaire or reading a book. Sometimes I spend all afternoon in the kids rooms and then when my husband is on the way home from work, I realize that I haven’t done anything (besides hang with my kids). I know nothing is wrong with hanging with my boys. They need mommy time too, but I know that my house really needs to look a certain way when my husband gets home and I do as well.

One of my main problems have been napping. Yes, I harp on napping and wasting time all the time so I know I sound hypocritical. I also talk about the joys of coffee (ok I don’t think I have written that), but I do have a coffee/ kickstart habit, that I have been trying to kill this pregnancy. I have killed the Kickstart cravings, however, coffee is harder to accomplish. I went from drinking one a day to nothing in 2 weeks. I’m rounding week 29 of pregnancy and this little girl knows how to wear me out. Plus, I have to get up even earlier to take my son to school.

So since I stopped drinking coffee, started taking naps, and stopped writing lists. I have become a horrible awful housewife. Sometimes I like to shake up my life just to make it interesting. I wanted to see if I could live without a schedule and I can’t. Tomorrow I will fill in my weekly to-do master list and get to work. No I am not having company, and nothing big is coming up, I just enjoy my life by the routine.

Doing nothing makes me lazy. If you find yourself completely unproductive during the day and feel a mess every night, I invite you to try the List Life. It is super easy and fun. You can start small and just write a daily list of things you need to do and it can look like this.

Or you can become like me and have something that looks like this!

Whatever you decide, just know that if what you are doing isn’t working, try something new.


The Working Housewife

Living on one income can be challenging.

Our societies main goal is to take every dime we have in our pockets, and create debt buy letting us buy things with money we don’t have and constantly mailing us credit card in the middle of US dollar notes. Image shot 2005. Exact date unknown.

In the past year, I have had a strong desire to work. Our move from Japan created a huge living adjustment and we discovered what life without about an extra $2,000 a month was like. We had to buy a car along with furniture and our first real winter (we are Texans coming from a tropical island) was super expensive. I couldn’t believe the cost of electricity!

I actually got a temporary job working at a catering company during the Marine Corps Ball season (November). Pay was low, hours were 5 pm-1 am, but I got to take food home every night and earned 3 paychecks! I figured we would use the money for a winter trip back home and a few Christmas gifts.female-server-cocktail-waitress-briana

The job ended but I really wanted to pay off debt. I wanted to be free again! I wanted to pay the debt off as quickly as possible but we realistically couldn’t on one income. I took another part time job that turned into a full time job as an assistant manager at a restaurant.

Suddenly we had additional money, could save adequately, finally start the college funds for our kids and have wiggle room. I love wiggle room. I could go on a date with my husband and not have to check our budget and calculate how much we could spend.penny pinching


I was stressed. I didn’t necessarily hate my job but it wasn’t in the field or pay range I wanted. I had started school and that caused it’s own brain stress from all the readings, research and papers. I started to miss my kids and they would cry whenever I would leave.

Still the biggest issue for me was that I was still a housewife. I would go and work an 8 hour shift, come home to a house destroyed by my kids (whenever my husband would watch them), and still do all the cooking, cleaning, lunch prep, laundry, errands, shopping, bills, and it made me bitter. Sure I had spoiled my husband and he hadn’t had to do any of that for years, but I needed help. I couldn’t handle doing absolutely everything after working a long day. The house would get messy, my kids would break into the pantry and leave food all over the place and who knows what my husband would do.Illustration

I realized that being a working housewife is the most difficult job anyone can have. My brain hurts remembering those days. Anyway, it turned out my husband got injured and I had to stop working to take care of him and the kids. Our savings stopped growing exponentially, our debt snowball slowed, my budgeting nitpicking had to come back, but life isn’t bad.

I have been able to spend more time with my kids and see my son off to preschool everyday. (You know the random 7:40-2:30 hours) I’m back to eating and cooking clean and healthy from scratch meals. I can volunteer and have free time with that. I am not even a little stressed. My husband is happy I am no longer complaining about everything. There is no more food on the floor, and all messes are contained and cleaned up immediately. I feel like

There are days when my husband would like me to work again. He will even say he will help this time (I’ll believe that when I see it), and there are times when I really wish we could have dual income. But with one in private preschool, one on the way and my little crazy Thing 2, childcare would most likely be much more than I would make in this area.

When I was working, I felt bad because I did want to be a housewife. I also knew that we did need the money. I wondered how many wives out there truly wished they had additional income or how many were sick of nickel and penny pinching everything.

When I think about the stress it caused, I just focus on my budget now. Since I started living extra frugal, I have started to distribute money more effectively. I think the most extreme actions, like spending hours comparing food prices and menu planning, have paid off. I know it is only for a season and that we will be out of this soon.

I decided to try to work from home. While I enjoy the socialization with other adults, I volunteer 2x a week and can talk to my sister and husband everyday. If I am my own boss, I can play with the kids, clean, cook, do what I want, and then spend a few hours of intense focus getting done what I need. I’m there for when my husband needs me to run something for him, or when my kids need something. I don’t have to deal with other people and their problems and I enjoy that soooooo much.

I strongly considered changing the name of the blog to Phenomenal Wives. When I originally started the blog I wanted to be exclusive to the housewife niche. Now I realize that not all working women, are that far away from what we do. Some do have to do it all. SO- if you are a working housewife- 3 cheers to you! I want to let you know that you are welcome here and I know the struggle you are going through.working hw

To all my housewives- you are amazing as well! I’m back at home. I think I will be a little more happy when I am not pregnant, but for the time being, I am content. And being content is great!

I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him[b] who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:11-13


Quick Clean 2k14

If you wish to scroll through my archives, you will discover a post or two about this thing called the Quick Clean. Maybe I coined the phrase, maybe I just use it, regardless I live it. Yes LIVE!

My LIFE motto should be anything should be done in 15 minutes regarding the home.

Just think how much more time you would have if you could do all your laundry in

15 minutes

All of your dishes in

15 minutes

Dinner in

15 minutes

Sleep in

15 minutes (ok, this one may be a stretch)


Anyway, achieving the 15 minute goal is possible, but it does take preparation.

You can’t do 8 loads in 15 minutes, but if you have 1 load you probably can. What if you always immediately folded clothes and put them away after each load? Think that would be feasible?

I’m currently sitting at my kitchen table and not gonna lie- it looks a mess. School crap is everywhere along with 2 cans of Play-Doh, a Tupperware lid… heck, I will show you. the before (and we housewives never judge remember?)

Ok so to show a quick cleanable area, I like to clean the table at night, so in the morning it looks nice when I wake up. The timer is set-

After 13 minutes this is what I was able to do

-clear off the table

-clean my dusty centerpiece

-sweep the floor

-half pack my son’s backpack for tomorrow

-sweep part of the kitchen

-move all the toys

-wipe down the table

-put my coaster to use


This whole area looks much better and it didn’t take that long. I hate cleaning, I just like the results! Make it easier for you. Bonus- Make the kids do a 15 minute quick clean before bed!


Look in the archives for more cleaning tips!



Meal Monday – Cheers to fall!

Fall-Foliage-2-800x600If you live anywhere besides Texas, the cooling fall should be rolling in any day now. I personally can’t wait to put on my boots and jackets. Summer was fun, but it was really hot. My little bun keeps me extra warm, so I can’t wait to see the leaves fall! I digress, this is about food not fall!

Anywhere here is a simple dinner meal that you can easily make for your family tonight! Enjoy!!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup- directions hereRoasted Butternut Squash Soup-8


Side Chicken Salad- grilled chicken, feta, tomato, cucumber, romaine and spinach


Autumn Tea- recipe heretea

And for Dessert-

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies- recipe hereCookie-Dough-Bars


Majority of these dishes are really easy to prepare and as I write this, I smell chocolate chip brownies wafting in the air. It is very strange, because I am not baking anything! Maybe I just have a super heightened sense of smell and imagination! Anyway, enjoy your dinner!