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Friday Faves: Boppy Nursing Pillow

As I said last Friday, I tried out some new baby products while with my second newborn this last year.  I found a few great ones that I don't know how I lived without last time, and will be highlighting them in the next few Friday Faves blog posts.  Now, I'd like to share my review on the Boppy pillow.

Boppy Bare Naked Pillow, $29.99, Photo Source:

I didn't have a Boppy pillow with my first baby, but thought I would try it this time around.  It got so much use that I feel silly for not having it the first time!  It is great for nursing, as it wraps around your waist and allows you to rest your arms cradling the baby on top at the perfect nursing height. I am embarassaed to say that last time I had to prop like three regular pillows around me (some folded) to make a half-ass version of what this pillow does automatically.  Not only can you use it for nursing, but as baby grows you can use it as a tummy-time aid, and as a way to help prop baby into a seated position.  It is easily one of my favorite baby products now.

My one complaint is that I was not a big fan of the patterns of Boppy brand pillow covers.  Therefore I got the Bare Naked pillow (without slipcover), and then purchased a custom, more fashionable slipcover on Etsy.  I chose this chic gray and white chevron-striped version below (which looks even better IRL, and has a soft minky gray backing):

Chevron-Striped Boppy Cover from Etsy Seller Designs-By-Christie

I figured that if I am resigned to have baby products all over my home for the forseeable future, at least I will have them match my home decor!


Favorite Casseroles and Meals to Make Ahead and Freeze Before Baby

When preparing for the birth of my littlest one, I remembered very well how busy and tired you are after having a baby.  It can be difficult to find time and energy to cook for yourself, your significant other, as well as any visiting family or helpful friends that may stop by.  I cooked over 2 weeks worth of dinners ahead of time to freeze, which worked out perfectly.  It's right around that point where you start getting your groove down enough  with the newborn in order to start cooking more on your own.

Here are several recipes that I found to work really well as make-ahead and freeze meals to reheat and eat post-baby.  Tips for making freezer casseroles based on my experience with my last two babies:

1) Line your casserole or baking dish with heavy duty foil before adding the food, and make sure they are big enough pieces that you have foil hanging off the edges.  This not only helps you lift the dish out of the pan, but you can also do the first layer of wrapping with the excess foil from the edges.
2) If the item includes a cheese topping, stop baking a few minutes early so that the cheese becomes melted but not browned.  You can then let it get browned and bubbly during the reheat process later.
3) After baking, let the entire dish (with baking dish, foil, and food) cool in the following order before removing the foil-wrapped dish from the pan:
      a. Cool on the counter at room temp for a few minutes
      b. Cool in the refrigerator until most of the heat is gone
      c. Cool in the freezer until set and firm (but not frozen).  This allows the food to retain the shape of the baking dish when pulled out.
4) Remove foil/food from baking dish, and wrap excess foil edges around the food. 
5) Take another long piece of heavy duty foil and wrap the food a few times around so that no food it exposed.
6) I found that if I was making a casserole that required a full 13x9 baking dish, that it was an ideal portion size if I froze it in halves.  I would actually have two pieces of foil in the pan separated down the center of the baking dish, like this:

7) After wrapping tightly in foil, I would then place the wrapped food in a large Ziploc freezer bag and try and suck out as much of the air as possible before sealing.  This gave an extra bit of protection against freezer burn.
8) Write the name of the dish as well as the degree temperature of the oven it baked in on the outside of the Ziploc bag.
9) When it is time to eat them, defrost by moving them to the fridge.  When defrosted completely, reheat in an oven at the same temperature it was originally baked just until heated through and edges/top crisped nicely.

Here are some recipes that worked well for me (and also tasted pretty yummy!).  Enjoy!

Chicken Enchiladas with Creamy Green Sauce

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3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
Coarse salt and ground pepper
5 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 jars (16 ounces each) medium green salsa
¾ cup heavy cream12 corn tortillas (6-inch)
12 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, coarsely shredded (3 cups)
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper; place with garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast (avoiding bone) registers 165 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine salsa and cream.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, shred meat, discarding skin and bones. Peel and chop garlic. In a large bowl, combine chicken, garlic, and 1/2 cup salsa mixture.

Stack tortillas flat, and wrap in damp paper towels; microwave on high for 1 minute to soften. Working with one tortilla at a time, dip in salsa mixture, lay flat, and fill with 1/3 cup chicken mixture. Roll up and arrange, seam side down, 8 enchiladas lengthwise and 4 crosswise in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with remaining salsa mixture, then cheese.

Bake until cheese is browned and salsa is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes; let rest 10 minutes. Serve, sprinkled with cilantro, if desired.

Vermont brand curry mix (can be found in the international section of grocery stores) has a recipe on its box that is really easy to follow.  It also makes a huge batch; about two meals worth.  Make as directed with the recipe on the box, split in half, and freeze directly into large freezer bags with as much of the air removed as possible before sealing.

Shepherd's Pie
Find whatever recipe of Shepherd's pie that you like.  It bakes and freezes well for a hearty meal.  Like recommended above for cheese-topped dishes, bake a few minutes less than directed so that the mashed potatoes are not browned on top.  This way you can let brown during the reheating process.

Chicken Rice Divan Bake

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1 (10 ounce) package frozen broccoli stems
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
salt and pepper
1 cup cooked rice
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sour cream

Cook broccoli according to package directions; drain well. Arrange broccoli in 13×9×2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half the cheese; top with cubed chicken. Season with salt and pepper; spoon on the cooked rice.

In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Blend in flour; add milk. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and fold in the sour cream. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meatballs and Mafalda
From Better Homes and Gardens

*I couldn't easily find mafalda pasta, so I used bow-tie instead.

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cups dried mafalda pasta* (about 4 ounces)
114½ ounce can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
18 ounce can tomato sauce
¼cup dry red wine
2tablespoons onion soup mix
1tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
Dash ground black pepper
½16 ounce package (16) frozen cooked Italian-style meatballs
½cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, soup mix, oregano, and pepper. Stir in meatballs. Bring to boiling over medium heat. Stir in cooked pasta.

Transfer mixture to an ungreased 1-1/2-quart casserole. Bake, covered, about 20 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Makes 4 servings.

Mediterranean Tuna Noodle Casserole

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cup olive oil, plus more for baking dishes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1pound wide egg noodles
2red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
½cup all-purpose flour
5cups whole milk
4cans (6 ounces each) tuna in olive oil, drained
1can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and thickly sliced
5scallions, thinly sliced
½cup finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil two 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook noodles until 2 minutes short of al dente; drain, and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add bell peppers; season with salt and pepper. Cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Gradually add milk, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer.

Remove from heat; add mixture to noodles in pot, along with tuna, artichoke hearts, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper, and toss. Divide between prepared baking dishes, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes.

Mexican Mac and Cheese
From Better Homes and Gardens

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12ounces dried mostaccioli or rigatoni pasta (3 cups)
1pound bulk pork sausage
1cup chopped onion
116 ounce jar green medium-hot salsa
28 ounce package shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (4 cups)
Tomato wedges, sliced jalapeno peppers, and chopped fresh cilantro
Salsa (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 3-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; set aside.

Meanwhile, in large skillet cook sausage and onion until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain fat, Return sausage and onion to skillet. Stir in green salsa.

In prepared baking dish layer half of the cooked pasta, half the sausage mixture, and half the cheese. Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes. Top with tomato, jalapeno, and cilantro. If desired, serve with additional salsa. Makes 12 servings.

Pesto Chicken Penne Casserole

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½cup seasoned bread crumbs
½cup grated Parmesan cheese
1tablespoon olive oil
1(16 ounce) box penne pasta
6cups cubed cooked chicken
4cups shredded Italian cheese blend
3cups fresh baby spinach
1(15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1(15 ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
1(15 ounce) jar pesto sauce
cups milk

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil in a small bowl until evenly moistened; set aside.

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the penne, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 11 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.

Meanwhile, combine the chicken in a bowl with the Italian cheese blend, spinach, tomatoes, alfredo sauce, pesto sauce, and milk. Stir in the pasta once done, and scoop into the prepared baking dish. Top with the bread crumb mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven until bubbly and golden brown on top, 40 to 45 minutes.


Right-Now Fashion Picks for Less

I love Net-a-Porter.  I am on their email list, and one of the best things about the emails is that they keep you up to speed on what is hot right now.  Like, this week.  Then, after a brief moment of fantasizing about actually wearing these clothes and accessories by these designers, I like to hunt for similar styles that are actually in my budget range.

For example, this chic, beautiful dress by Jill Sander was a Net-a-Porter Editor's Pick the other day:

Jil Sander Ninety Nine Cotton Sateen Dress

...and these Saint Laurent pumps are to-die-for... a classic piece for a shoe collection:

Saint Laurent Two-Tone Pointed Leather Pumps

...and how hot would this look be with this simple, classic clutch?

Valentino, The Rockstud Large Leather Clutch

Now, in the real world, this is more my speed, but with the same classic look!

Vince Camuto Pleated V-Neck Dress, Black
$69.99, Vince Camuto

Kelsi Dagger White Eliza Cap-Toe Pump
$41.98, Century 21

$24.95, H&M


Friday Faves: Rock n' Play Sleeper

My Little Lamb Platinum Edition Newborn Rock n' Play Sleeper, Photo Source:

Now that I have resumed blogging, I am happy to resume my Friday Faves series.  This series is a means for me to highlight and review some of my favorite products, recipes, services, etc.  Since I have spent the good part of the last year raising the latest addition to our family, 11 month old Sawyer Rhys, I have been grateful to have found a few baby products that made our lives so much easier.  I will share my top picks each Friday.  Here is the first!
This product has officially been a lifesaver.  The Newborn Rock n' Play Sleeper was not around when Grayson was an infant (Grayson is now THREE, BTW - where has the time gone?!).  Thankfully, G was not as "high need" as S was.  Thinking I knew everything about raising babies after having had one (moms of more than one kids can feel free to snicker at that assumption), I expected them to be exactly the same.  Boy was I wrong on so many levels!  One of the main ways in which they differed is that S could not be put down.  Ever.  He even had to sleep in our arms.  We tried the tricks we were aware of, including purchasing white noise machines and a vibrating chair.  A friend of a baby younger than my first told me about this, after which several mommy friends chimed in with their personal experience, or what they heard from others, about the Rock n' Play.
It worked for Sawyer from the moment I unpacked it.  He actually took a nap NOT in someone's arms.  The way it's built makes the baby feel cradled, and if they kick or stir, their own motion causes it to rock them gently.  Saywer ended up sleeping in it for months, until he became too strong to safely stay in it without trying to climb or roll out.  When we discovered this, it changed everything, and I had to share it with you.  If you are still expecting, put this on your registry.  If you have a challenging or high need newborn like we did, go get it at your nearest baby or department store now.  Don't wait any longer!


I'm Back!

It's been a while since I last posted, and man has a lot happened in that time!  In quick sum, we moved from LA to Austin, Texas, bought our first home, changed jobs, had another baby (another boy, a brown-eyed beauty named Sawyer), got a dog, and have had more travel adventures (including a trip to Peru to see Machu Picchu and spend a few wild days in the Amazon).  I have a lot of blogging to do, as I have many more faves to share (fashion, baby, beauty, recipe, and other items), travel reviews, DIY home decor instructions for several projects at our new home, and more kid's party planning.

I hope you also like my new "branding" and URL ( The name was inspired by my belief that we can have a little fabulous in our everyday lives, regardless of how busy we are (I am a proud working mom of two), how messy our kids can be ;), and what our budget may be as long as we have the right inspiration and are willing to roll our sleeves up and DIY!

Stay tuned, and in the meantime, follow me on Pinterest (which I have been keeping much more up-to-date) and Twitter.