Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Easy Slow Cooker White Bean Soup with Garlic Bread Croutons... It's What's For Dinner!

On Monday, I posted a pic of the yummy white garlic bean soup I made in the crock pot that day and it seemed like a hit, so here I am posting the recipe.  Because I love you guys.  And, you need this soup in your life.  

This soup is fabulous because....

- it requires simple, inexpensive ingredients
- you can make it in the slow cooker
- you can make it in the slow cooker
- you can make it in the slow cooker...

Anyway, yeah, I freaking love slow cooker/crock pot recipes. Which is it anyway? I use those terms interchangeably...

Slow Cooker White Bean Garlic Soup with Garlic Bread Croutons


** 2 cups dried white beans
** 8-10 cloves of minced garlic
** 1 bay leaf
** 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
** 2 1/2 cups water
** 1 tsp ground sage
** 1 1/2 tsp thyme
** salt and pepper to taste
** 1 5oz can evaporated milk, warmed
** 1 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes (drained)
** garlic bread croutons

What Ya Do...

1. Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight.
2. In the morning, drain beans and add to slow cooker --- add in the garlic, bay leaf, sage, thyme, and broth/water.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours (I let mine go longer actually and it was just great)
4. Puree with an immersion blender --- stir in the evaporated milk, potatoes, and additional seasonings.  At this point, you can play with adding cornstarch if you need thickener or more broth if you want it brothier, etc.  Cook on HIGH for at least 15 minutes.
5. Test it again at this point and adjust seasonings if needed.  Serve in a bowl with garlic bread croutons.

Oh, garlic bread croutons?

Easy!  Make some garlic bread (I used generic texas toast) and over do it just a touch, then tear up the bread and bake a little more if you like, so it's harder/more crouton like and toss those in the soup. YUM YUM YUM

This would also be tasty with a dollop of sour cream on top, but I didn't have any. sad face.

Yum is what I say to this soup!  This is definitely going on our meal plan rotation - it's a keeper.

Enjoy :)

- Amber

Friday, August 22, 2014

Soon, I'll Have A Lot More Time To Blog...

So, I'll be home a lot more soon and NOT because of maternity leave.  My post doc position, where I've been working for the last year, ends on 9/2.  This is just how post docs go.  Some positions are for 1 year, some are 2, etc.  Mine was 1, so it's coming to a close.

The way things work in grad school are year to year, so this is nothing new to me.  You do a clinical practicum for one year, then move onto the next.  Full-time internship (the last big hurdle) is a year... So, this is nothing new.

What is new?

Not having the next thing lined up.

Normal, for me, means you know what your next gig is months and I mean MONTHS in advance.  Take internship... you found out in February where you'll be starting between July and September.  I secured this post doc position March of 2013 and started in September.  This is NORMAL for us psychology grad school folks.

This real job, real word business is not normal... not my normal at least.

Of course, I've been pursuing future jobs for months now.  There was one I was pretty set on and was told was pretty much a done deal and I was SO excited about that because a) it was the kind of work I wanted to do and b) they didn't seem to care that I'd be starting the job when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant.

But then, most things don't work out as perfectly as they seem and this job was no exception.  I was told a few weeks ago that they wouldn't be doing anymore hiring in that particular department for a whole host of reasons that were out of everyone's control.

No job for me.

On to plan B...

Thankfully, I had other "irons in the fire" (that's the expression, right?) and have been applying for jobs.  I've had one interview so far, more scheduled, and more applications recently filed, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that when my job ends on 9/2, I won't be starting anywhere else on 9/3.  This will be SO WEIRD to me.  I have a lot of friends/family saying "enjoy it" and "relax," but that's awfully hard to do when you're not planning on this kind of break from employment you've got bills bills bills (hello student loans!)

The other strange situation with all of this is that with me being home for who knows how long (could be days, could be weeks, could be until after baby is born), we can't pull the kids out of their childcare situations.  Audrey's in before/after school care and it is HARD to secure those spots.  We don't want to pull her out because, let's say, I start a job in mid-September... then that would have been a terrible idea.

Same thing with Jameson.  I'm pulling him back to part-time once baby girl is born and I'm home on leave, but in the interim, I don't know how long this employment break will last (days? weeks?), so we don't want to pull him out of his difficult to secure preschool spot at a center we just LOVE.

It's funny... I've always said I'd want to be a stay at home mom if I could send my kids to school, like that'd be my ideal situation.  Joking, of course.  But, here I am about to be in that situation.  I'm sure I'll be pulling together some part-time work here and there in the mean time, but man, this is a STRANGE feeling.  I'm trying to roll with it and honestly, I'm considerably less stressed about the whole thing than I was a few weeks ago... time does heal I suppose.

You know what else is strange??!  Interviewing while REALLY, OBVIOUSLY, RIDICULOUSLY pregnant.  Like me.  I've had 2 kids, but somehow managed to avoid that awkwardness until now.  But, I'll save that ranting for another post.

Until then, send some employment vibes my way :)  I know everything will work out - I'll just feel better when things fall into place.  You guys know I'm a ridiculously organized planner, right?  This kind of situation doesn't sit well with folks like me... but that's life, yeah?  And honestly, one thing that has helped me is keeping a bigger picture perspective.  Shaun and I are really blessed.  We are blessed with our health, our kiddos' health, food to eat, a place to live, and wonderful families who are there for us and will help us in any way we ever need.  It's a lot harder for me to complain when I realize that I have ALL that.  I AM a lucky gal.  I'll still take those employment vibes though ;)

- Amber

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August Updates

Somehow, we're already a week into August.  That doesn't make any sense to me.  What about you?  I feel like this is the kind of post I've become really accustomed to lately, but get ready for rapid fire updates from the past month, because that's what I'm throwing your way!

1. We drove to and survived a trip down to Georgia to visit friends!

This is definitely news-worthy.  The trip down to visit our friendlies and their kiddos was 13 HOURS. 13. hours. in. the. car. with. my. 2. kids.  Oh yeah, and I was 25 weeks prego at the time. Stellar idea, right?!  Well.. it ACTUALLY wasn't half bad.  Our trip and visit were incredible.  It was so fun to spend four nights with our buddies whom we only see once or twice a year since their move down south.  I was absolutely amazed that our road trip wasn't more horrible.  Here's what made it workable:


Pretty much!  I scoured pinterest for "kid road trip ideas" before we left...and there were LOTS and LOTS of suggestions, but most of them involved A LOT of work for me.  Examples: cut out pictures and laminate them and make a matching game, make another elaborate game that involves lots of supplies, time, and $, buy them a bazillion new presents and wrap them all etc. and so forth.

Is it too played out to say "ain't nobody got time for that"  Well, either way, it's true!  I was exhausted just reading those ideas.

Here's what we did instead... each kid got a bag full of stuff to occupy them.

For Jameson (3): a bag full of construction vehicles/cars to play with, new library books, coloring book/crayons.  boom. done.

For Audrey (6): a new tiny lalaloopsy doll with styling accessories, blank note pad with crayons, markers, etc, audiobooks from the library called "playaways" SO COOL - they are these little pods with an audiobook on them, just stick in a battery, and plug in headphones - we got her 3 of these and they were great.

Then, we brought TWO portable dvd players in case they didn't want to watch the same movie (oddly enough, they always agreed) and a boat load of movies.  We also brought a ridonkulous amount of snacks.

It worked for us!!  Those are MY travel trips.  Save yourself the energy.  When you're going on a road trip that long, you've got enough to plan for already.  Why make it harder?!

taking at break at Stone Mountain, Georgia

2. Jameson saw his first movie in the theaters

While we were in Georgia, we went to see Planes: Fire & Rescue.  He freaking LOVED it and hardly moved the whole movie... he was quite loud though, "There's Dusty!" "He's flying!" "Oh no, fire!!!"  It was adorbs.

3. Another big event for the little guy... he finally had his 3rd birthday party

After his original party was cancelled due to illness, he finally had a make up party with a small group of family and friends... and a Planes: Fire & Rescue cake, courtesy of an awesome local baking mama, Molly at Confections of a Baker.  It was a HUGE hit!

4. I passed my ever-important licensing exam!

I'm officially a licensed psychologist in Maryland.  Wow... what a weight off. I started my graduate program in psychology in 2006 and here I am, 8 years later, OFFICIALLY done (aside from CEU credits... no biggie!)

5. I'm on the job hunt

Becoming a grown up means I also have grown up responsibilities like finding a job... I won't elaborate too much here, as I'm not really up for it, but a job that I was sure was going to happen for a good 6 month period (and was promised it would), fell through.  Now, I've got less than 4 weeks at my current postdoctoral position with nothing lined up to come next.  That is NOT a great feeling.  Oh yeah, and I've got to walk into interviews almost 7 months pregnant.  awkward...  Wish me LOTS of LUCK on that front.  I know something will come through soon.

6. Audrey starts first grade in 20 days.

Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!  I guess I have to go school supply shopping.  It's sneaking up on us quick.  Fortunately, she is so super excited to go back.  I hope she maintains that enthusiasm, but I'm not holding my breath ;)

PHEW - that's all for now... no promises on the when the next post will be, but there WILL be a next post.

- Amber

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bump Update - 24 1/2 Weeks!

7 weeks since my last bump update, so do believe it's time for another.  I think it's especially time for another since a) I'm not keeping a pregnancy journal this time (I did for the other 2) and b) I'm taking weekly bump pics (sorry, 3rd kid).  So, basically my posts here will be my only way of documenting my pregnancy.  I should probably write more than one post, yeah?  Here we go!

Pregnancy Review:
How far along: 24w4d

Total weight gain/loss: Let's not talk about it, guys.  Really... why do I fill this part out?  I'd say about 20lbs so far.

Maternity Clothes? Yup, almost exclusively, but I can still get away with maxi dresses/skirts and some tops that are non-maternity.  

Stretch Marks? Nothing new, but plenty of old battle wounds!

Sleep: Shitty lately, but on account of being sick, not pregnant, though I really do hate sleeping on my side (I'm a tummy sleeper!)

Best Moment this week: all the baby bumping, kicking, and rolling going on in my belly!

Movement: See above!!  Girl has been wild and I love it ;)

Food Cravings: In the last week, ICE CREAM and OREOS with milk.  I housed like 18 oreos in the past 2 days and I am not even exaggerating...

Gender: baby GIRL!!  Wow - still kind of in awe, but it's so exciting to finally know and refer to the little one in there as "her" and say "she" is kicking

What I miss: tummy sleeping, margaritas

Labor signs: none

Belly Button in or out: still an "innie," but getting flatter

What I am looking forward to: Getting Audrey and Jameson moved into their shared big kid room, starting to work on the nursery a bit - I'm thinking of grey/mint/coral tones.

Milestones: almost into the 3rd tri - how did that happen?!  My next appt is at 28 weeks and then I go every 2 weeks. WHOA

- Amber

Friday, July 11, 2014

Just a "Hello, I'm Still Alive" Kind of Post

I feel like a lot of my post lately have been catch up/rapid fire kinds of posts and this one is no different.  Actually, this one probably IS different.  It'll probably be shorter and without general purpose.  The purpose in my mind is just to say "hi" to the blog world - I'm still here.  It has been a rough past few weeks!

My girlfriends and I had a FABULOUS beach vacay that was just so refreshing and much needed.  Unfortunately, I came home to house full of sickies and quickly contracted the ickies myself, which has not been so great.  I do think I'm *finally* improving, but the icky sickies haven't left for good and so that's leaving me pretty whiny/bitchy/grumpy.  

Funny story... this morning, I said to the husband, "Well, great, another weekend will be totally shot and ruined by me being sick."  To which my sweet husband replied, "Now, what would you say to your daughter if she said something like that?"  I really hate when he uses my own psychology talk on me...I knew exactly where this was going, so I just rolled my eyes at him.  He then said.. "You know.. you would say, well, with that kind of attitude, it probably will.  You can't control everything that happens around you, but you can control how you handle it."

UGH.  Do I really say stuff like that?  Yeah, yeah, I do, and I believe it, but after 2 weeks of this crap, I just wasn't buying it.  I AM trying to take some of my own medicine though and remain optimistic and just carry on.  I'm at work today and am feeling remarkably more functional.  In a few hours, I get to go watch Audrey at her swim camp's talent show.  So hey, things could be worse.  I'll probably even wrap up my day with a bowl of ice cream... who am I kidding?  Make it 2.

Talk to you soon, bloggy land.  Stay healthy!!

- Amber

Friday, June 27, 2014

What's Been Happening Lately

Since I haven't had time to post as often as I'd like lately, I decided to cram what could be 5 separate posts into one.  Just hang in with me :)

So, in quick succession and recap style, here's what we've been up to lately.

1. Audrey completed Kindergarten!

Yep, I officially have a first grader.  This gal is so excited for summer breaks, long trips to her Mimi's (where she is now!), and summer camps.

2. We got a cat!

Jameson's allergic to dogs.  We used to have 3.  We miss having pets you can really 'pet.'  Audrey's got a guinea pig, but she doesn't really count.  So, we adopted Lucy, who is the sweetest, cutest, best kitty we could imagine.  She's 10 y/o and has a lot of love to give.

Oh, and she's the MOST tolerant cat on the planet.  Perfect for my kids.

3. I've been trying to keep myself (and my family) active and healthy this summer

Now that I'm finally feeling less blah this pregnancy, I've been lacing up my sneakers and taking long walks with the kids as often as I can.

I've also been purchasing our produce for this week and washing/chopping it all up and keeping it in containers you can SEE THROUGH, so that we always have healthy options visible and ready to go in the fridge.  It took me about an hour to do all of what is pictured below.

4. I've been studying for my licensing exam

Eeeeek - I don't really want to talk about it, but I only have one more big hurdle until I'm officially a licensed psychologist.  Studying has consumed a lot of my time and I can't wait until this test is past me!

5. I'm thinking of chopping my hair short for summer

This is now:

and here are some inspiration pics:

What do we think?

6. We found out we are having a baby GIRL

Okay, so yeah, I did a whole post on this already, but we're so excited about our little girl on the way.  I think it's safe to Audrey is wicked excited/relieved as well - she was really hoping for a baby sister.

Now, my little J-man will be sandwiched between 2 sisters, but I think he'll handle it just fine.

7. Last, but not least, I'm going away for a girls' weekend

Woo hoo!!!  Tonight, I'm headed to the beach for a quick getaway with 2 of my best gal pals from grad school.  One lives here in the Baltimore area, but is soon moving to ILLINOIS and the other lives in Connecticut, so these little getaways are so treasured.  I can't wait for a relaxing weekend with the gals.  I'm going to get in a little study time on the beach, but will mostly just enjoy being away, sleeping, and catching up!

Have a great weekend!

- Amber

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Long Overdue...and gender reveal news!

I haven't posted in far too long and I'm totally wiped from this weekend!  But... I couldn't let the night get away from me without a quick update.

Last week was our 20 week ultrasound for baby in the belly.  Yep, halfway through already (well, more than halfway - now at 21 1/2 weeks!)

Baby looked perfect (yay!) and rather than finding out the sex while we were at the u/s like we did with the other 2, this time, the tech wrote down the sex of the baby and we mailed it off to my Mom, who threw us a gender reveal party this past weekend.  It was my mom's idea and although I wouldn't have thought of it myself, I'm SO glad she did.  It was absolutely perfect - every detail was amazing and it was soooo incredible to find out if we were expecting a boy or girl surrounded by our friends and family.

I want to do a full recap of the party because it was just perfect, but for now, I'll just leave you with what you're really wanting to know...

First, everyone who came to the party had to choose a lei with their prediction -- pink for girl and blue for boy.

Here's my little fam:

The girls were thinking pink and the boys were thinking blue...




baby GIRL!!!

We are so completely thrilled with our healthy, sweet GIRL on the way!

More details to come in the next post ;)

- Amber