I savored every last minute of the weekend. I had to, last week at work kicked my ass hard. It was a 60+ hour week. I’ve worked in advertising for 10 years so I know long hours are common but as I get older and now with a toddler, it’s gets harder and harder. There were a couple days I didn’t see Juliet because I had to work late and I missed her bedtime (usually I work from home after she goes to bed but during really busy times I have to stay at the office). And that really sucks. Erik told me that when he was putting her down to sleep she kept saying “momma momma”. Uh.

And this week and next is going to be the same. Busy as hell. So I guess on this Sunday evening I am feeling a little negative and tired and I should be working but instead I’m blogging about work.

I have time off over Thanksgiving week and in December so I am holding onto that.

I did have a great weekend. Friday evening was a much needed girl’s night out (after Juliet’s bedtime) and I had a couple glasses of wine (I could have drank 10). Then Saturday included a big pancake breakfast with Juliet, a trip to the zoo and a Saturday afternoon filled with playing and a momma/toddler naptime (those are the best). I also made Juliet blueberry fruit snacks and she devoured them.

On Saturday evening Erik and I had a dinner party. I made this beef lasagna which is my go-to lasagna recipe. Our friends Nick and Deanna have a 2 year old and Juliet and her go to daycare together. They are friends but also typical toddlers and there was some fighting going on. During dinner they were yelling at each other “my daddy!”, “no, myyyyyy daddy!” Silly little gals. Most of the group went out after dinner and Juliet and I went to bed at 9.

Sunday included church and a lot of relaxing around the house. I made this ham, corn and cheddar chowder for dinner and Juliet loved it. She is getting really good at eating soup and yogurt with a spoon, it’s messy but she loves the independence.

After a busy weekend, Juliet was ready for bed by 6:30 this evening. Erik and I are spending the rest of the night cleaning up, doing laundry and watching Walking Dead (our favorite show).

I do plan on blogging at least once this week. I’ll be back to talk about my partnership with Aldi and my favorite products and more on my experience grocery shopping there over the past month. I admit, I am becoming an Aldi-lover like so many others.

Wish me luck in getting through the next couple weeks!

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{Instagram pic from @eatdrinkpretty}

This isn’t the best photo but it is the BEST grilled cheese. Grown-up grilled cheese. Fancy grilled cheese. I could eat 100 of these in one sitting grilled cheese.

I made this meal for lunch a couple weekends ago for a couple girlfriends. There is nothing like homemade soup with a grilled cheese for a comforting, fall meal. This chunky tomato soup is so easy and tastes amazing. It’s a homemade tomato soup using Italian canned tomatoes (you must use Italian tomatoes for this recipe, it’s key to a great tasting soup). It’s an impressive soup and makes great leftovers, too. And it is best when served alongside this grilled cheese.

White cheddar, proscuitto, arugula and tomato grilled cheese (recipe inspired via Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

4 slices whole wheat bread (or any bread of your choice)
4 slices sharp white cheddar
1 cup arugula
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter, softened)
1 ripe tomato, sliced
4 thin slices proscuitto

Preparation

“Butter” the bread using the coconut oil. Lay 2 pieces of bread down and top each slice with 2 pieces of cheese, 2 slices of proscuito, arugula and tomato.

Heat a pan over medium heat. Place the sandwich on the pan and cook until the bread begins to brown and the cheese begins to melt. Flip and cook until the bread begins to brown and is crispy.

Cut in half and enjoy.

Definitely give coconut oil a try on your grilled cheese as a substitute for butter. It gives the bread a super crispy exterior and is really delicious. Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste sweet or like coconut at all.

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Juliet is 20 months! I’m still behind on these monthly posts but not as behind as I was last month. Juliet turned 20 months on October 16th and whoa has this been a crazy month development-wise.

Juliet’s language has exploded. I think I mentioned in her 19 month post that she was starting to use few word sentences. That has continued in full force and she is saying lots of sentences now. She says:

“Momma doing?” (momma what are you doing?)
“Momma hold you (momma hold me)
“Get down Mo” (get down Gizmo) (my parent’s dog)
“In a highchair” (I want to get in my highchair)
“My momma”, “my dada”
“Momma read”
“Thank you”
“Shoes on”
And I’m sure a bunch of other things I’m forgetting.

Juliet is taking in so much. She is learning a ton at daycare and at home with us. She knows her numbers 1-10 and can count to 10. I’ve heard her count to 5 but Erik insists she can count to 10. She knows a few of her letters, too.

We sort of starting potty training this weekend. I haven’t had any plans for potty training but assumed we would start when Juliet turns 2. Well, my mom was babysitting Juliet on Friday and put her on the potty and she peed. So I bought her a potty chair and she has peed on it about 6 times since Saturday. She tells us when she has to go and then she goes. She enjoys it and we praise her big time but we are trying to keep it very low pressure and laid back. She seems ready but I don’t really know for sure. She still seems young to me but maybe not? I honestly have no idea what the right approach is for potty training and I think I’ll just go with the flow.

Juliet loves listening to music and clapping and dancing along when we sing. Her favorite songs are “if you’re happy and you know it” and “wheels on the bus”.

She recently learned how to say her daycare providers name, “Yara” (Sarah) and she says it all the time. Sometimes in the morning when she first gets up she calls for “Yara”. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t break my heart but at the same time I’m so glad knowing that Juliet loves her daycare provider. She is a very happy girl every morning when I drop her off and I feel so lucky about that.

Juliet’s current favorite foods are eggs, raspberries, strawberries, smoothies, peanut butter, peas, edamame and Annie’s Mac n Cheese. She also loves yogurt, hummus, carrots, crackers and the organic fruit and veggie pouches. She would suck 5 of those down a day if we let her. She is a great eater, yay!

It was yet another awesome month with my darling girl. Love you so, so much Juliet! Happy 20 months.

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Happy Halloween! My little sweetie is going as the itsy bitsy spider and we will be taking her trick-or-treating around our cul-de-sac. We are still working on getting her to say “trick or treat!”.

This photo of Juliet and her friend is from last Friday at a Halloween event at a nature center. We had so much fun trick-or-treating in the woods and going on a hayride. I’m sure Juliet would say the best part was the sucker I let her have as a treat.

Posting has been super light this week due to crazy work. I’m tired and a pretty stressed these days. I can’t wait until December, when my workload lightens up a bit. Good thing I have this little ray of sunshine to come home to everyday.

PS. Everyone thinks Juliet is a dinosaur.

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kale and cream cheese quicheI whipped up this quiche on Saturday morning with ingredients I had in my fridge. I had a pie crust, cream cheese and kale and I thought it might make a decent breakfast. Erik wasn’t so sure so he passed on the quiche but I thought it was really good (sort of annoying because he wouldn’t even try it). Instead he made pancakes, sausage and scrambled eggs for him and Juliet. She had a couple bites of quiche and liked it. Eggs are one of her most favorite foods.

I made this quiche with and without crust. I usually opt for quiche with crust but it’s nice to have a lighter option without crust as well.

Kale and cream cheese quiche

Ingredients

1 refrigerated pie crust
1/2 cup baby kale (I buy the packaged, washed organic baby kale)
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 eggs

Directions 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Unroll the pie crust and press into 2 mini tart pans (I only used half of the pie crust and froze the rest for another day). Prick the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork. 

Place the mini tart pans on a baking sheet, and bake for 9 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set the tart pan on a wire rack to cool. 

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, eggs, cream and kale. Add in a bit of salt and pepper. 

Pour the filling into the mini tart pans. Pour the remaining filling into oiled ramekins. 

Return the tart pans to the baking sheet and bake, until they are puffed and golden brown, 20-25 minutes. The quiche is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Did you enjoy the weekend? I did! Lots of fun with friends and family. And as always, lots of great food. 
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I had my first ALDI experience last week. I’ll back-up a moment…an ALDI representative reached out to me a couple months ago to invite me to participate in a brand ambassadorship. I was pretty excited to jump in on this because my perception of ALDI was already pretty good based on my friends and family who are big fans. My parents shop there (I think their favorite item is the hummus), my younger brother and his fiance are ALDI shoppers, my sister-in-law and my brother shop there and so does a my friend and colleague Eden. When they talk about ALDI they sort of rave about it. So I figured, what the heck, I’d love to check it out.
To be honest I’d been hesitant to add ALDI to my grocery shopping routine because I’ve been a Super Target shopper for years with bi-weekly trips to Trader Joes. I live close to an ALDI but wasn’t sure about adding yet another store into my busy routine.

I finally checked ALDI out last week and realized I can save a decent amount of money shopping there.
To be completely transparent here, I only buy organic milk for Juliet so I’ll continue getting her milk at Trader Joes (ALDI doesn’t carry organic milk). But Erik drinks regular skim milk and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the ALDI brand Friendly Farms milk is made with no artificial growth hormones and it is cheaper ($2.49/gallon) than the price I am use to paying (anywhere from $2.79 – $3.50). Erik drinks A LOT of milk, so that will be nice savings over time. I brought the whole family grocery shopping with me

A couple important things to know before shopping at ALDI:

Be sure to bring a quarter with you, you’ll need it to get a shopping cart. You put a quarter in to get a cart and then you get the quarter back when you return the cart.

You have to bring your own bags (or buy a reusable bag there) and bag your own groceries.

These things help keep costs down and prices low in the store.
Here is the grocery stash from my first trip. I spent $63, this is the lowest amount I have spent grocery shopping in a very long time. I usually never leave Target without spending at least $125. This stash included bacon-wrapped beef Erik picked up, eggs, bread, deli meat, produce (salad mix, peppers, mini peppers, apples, carrots), fresh mozzarella, hummus, cereal, artichokes, peanut butter, milk, frozen sliced fruit, almond milk, greek yogurt, dish soap and probably a few things I’m forgetting. Not bad, huh?

Another reason I know I’ll save money from shopping at Target less and ALDI more is that I won’t be tempted to buy random things I don’t need (like shirts, accessories, etc). ALDI is a pretty small store (only about 5 aisles) so you get in and out quickly. You don’t waste time wandering around aimlessly (which I’ve been known to do plenty of times at bigger grocery stores). I was able to pick up a few organic items including spinach, apples and carrots. I stocked up on sliced frozen fruit, greek yogurt and almond milk which are my daily smoothie essentials.
Peach, banana and spinach smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk but dairy milk would be fine, too)
Ripe banana
1 cup frozen peach slices
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
Handful of spinach
Ice

Preparation

Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy.

Needless to say my first trip to ALDI was a success. Are you an ALDI shopper? What are your favorite items?

Disclosure: I am participating in a sponsored brand ambassadorship with ALDI. As always, all opinions stated are my own.

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