Total Basset Case

Feb 14, 2018

5 Dinners You Can Make in Less than 30 Minutes

First off, Happy Valentines Day!!

I don't know about you, but we are always on the hunt for quick, healthy, yummy dinners.
My mom recently gave us a Crock Pot Pressure Cooker (their version of the Instant Pot) and that magical gem has answered a lot of our prayers.
We use that guy at least twice a week and the meals usually make enough for at least one night of leftovers.  That is a win for this mama.

Another very large bonus of the Pot is that you can cook fresh or frozen meat, both in a very short amount of time.

I cannot get over how quickly the Pot cooks and how easy it is.
I will say there is a learning curve to get the hang of it and the valve system but it is very doable.  Once you follow the directions and use it once or twice it all makes sense. 
Always remember (like a Crock Pot) it always needs a little water/liquid, usually at least 1/2 cup.
And! This is very important, always use a spatula to release the valve, do not burn yourself!

I have a million recipes pinned that I want to try but for today here are 5 that can get you dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes (some less than 10!)

I can't be for certain but I think this might be my favorite recipe that we've made.  We subbed out lasagna noodles for gluten free spaghetti noodles.  This made a TON and was a winner with the whole family. 
LM devoured it.  Thankfully this meal coincided with bath night.
Not to mention, it was ready in under 20 minutes.

We've made this chili mac twice now and have loved it each time.  From the moment you grab the items from the pantry to the time your timer goes off, this whole meal is ready in under 10 minutes.  If that doesn't scream perfect for busy week nights I am not sure what does.  This chili mac is so comforting and yummy. 
I think next time we may add another can of beans or ground turkey to increase the protein.
3. Chicken Breasts
We make chicken in the oven every single week for our lunches.  This past weekend we tried making it the Pot and it was so easy!  I added about a cup of chicken broth, garlic and some seasonings.  The chicken was done in about 20 minutes and very tender! 
While that is cooking you can easily cook some rice, roast some veggies or sweet potatoes for a side and dinner is done.  And healthy! 
I also saw a recipe that calls for pineapple juice instead of chicken broth...I can't wait to try that!
4. Taco Meat
This one is great for those nights when you forgot to take the ground beef/turkey out of the freezer.  Simply place the frozen (or fresh) meat with a packet (or homemade) taco seasoning and in about 15 minutes you have taco meat ready for tacos, nachos, burrito bowls or anything that your heart desires.
Talk about winter comfort food, this guy fits the bill.
And for a bonus recipe, we were with some friends this weekend (the one who really talked me into wanting a Pot) and they made the quickest, cheesiest, creamiest mac and cheese.  It was ready in less than 20!
The recipes you can make in the Pot are endless too! Yogurt, hard boiled eggs, cake, desserts, rice...and the list goes on!  Thankfully Pinterest is currently a treasure trove of recipes, ideas and tips on how to use the Pot.  

I have seen a few people say they were afraid to use/attempt to operate theirs and to that I say 'go for it!'  I promise it will change your dinner game and free up your evenings by getting dinner on the table MUCH quicker and clean up is a breeze!  

Let me know if you have any questions or please share your favorite recipes with me!

Feb 8, 2018

Winter Book Review

I've managed to plow through some books lately and wanted to share a couple good ones with you.
As I mentioned yesterday, I am in the midst of listening to 'Of Mess and Moxie'.
I am currently reading 'The Rules Do Not Apply', I am not far enough in to give an update but the reviews are good! 

Seven Days of Us was a quick, easy read that I enjoyed quite well.  It follows one family as they are quarantined in their house for seven days to make sure their daughter has not brought home a dangerous disease from her time doing mission work.  The whole book reminded me of an updated version of Love Actually meets The Family Stone.  

I would give 'Before We Were Yours' a solid 3.75/5.  I did really enjoy this book and thought it was very interesting but there is an element of sadness to it and I wasn't the hugest fan of that.  
The story follows a family of children as they are stolen and placed into various homes as well as the Tennessee Children's Home.  The other side of the story is a curious female who begins to investigate the history of her family and how they were involved.  

I love all things Lauren Graham and loved listening to her memoir 'Talking As Fast As I Can' was no different.  I listen to a lot of book tapes but I especially enjoy when the author reads them.  Lauren is fabulous to listen to, hilarious and provided quite a few anecdotes and stories about Gilmore Girls.  
I loved that book so much I immediately downloaded 'Someday, Someday Maybe' - her first fiction piece.  It is loosely based on her life and how she became involved in acting.  Again, a winner.  

'Me & Emma' was a very quick read with quite the interesting twist at the end.  I will admit, a few times during the book I kept wondering where it was going.  However it is one of those reads that right at the end it all comes together and makes sense.  

I've also had a couple duds lately as well.  A few I pushed through (mainly 'One of the Boys') and a few I just did not finish because I couldn't.  I enjoyed Kevin Kwan's first 2 books but could not get through 'Rich People Problems'- it seemed too all over the place.  

What have you been reading and what should I put on my list next?
If you aren't already, feel free to follow me on Goodreads, I love to keep track of my books and 'to read' list on there.

Feb 7, 2018

Currently : February

I am so excited to catch Anne's 'Currently' post this month.  I really love having these posts to look back on and I really enjoy finding new to me bloggers through the link up. 

Currently in the month of love I am:

Finishing: Earlier this week I started listening to Jen Hatmaker's 'Of Mess and Moxie' and I am LOVING it.  I loved 'For the Love' and am flying through this one just as quickly.  It's one of those books I want to hear everything she has to say but I also don't want it to end.  In any case, I may be finished with it very soon.

Subscribing: I have my favorite beauty YouTubers I am subscribed to but I am always on the hunt for new ones to watch.  And I was contemplating subscribing to the FabFitFun box.  I've watched a few unboxings and they always seem to be full of awesome products.  It is pricier than most but the lure of full size products is quite nice.

Wishlisting:  All things Spring! I am so ready for warm weather and some new Spring pieces.  Loft always has such great pieces that can be dressed up or down.  This navy dress is calling my name.  
I cannot fathom wearing shorts right now in these frigid temps but these scalloped chambray ones are too adorable and I do believe I will need them.
I am also on the hunt for all the cute bathing suits.  I always seem to be late to this game so I am trying to get ahead of it this year.  I already picked up this suit that Kait discovered.  It is a winner! And $20, you really can't beat that.  

 Watching: This one is always a never ending list...We just started A Handmaids Tale and are enjoying it.  If I have the tv all to myself it's all the Real Housewives and anything Bravo wants to rot my brain with.  And I think next up on our binge list is Broadchurch.  
When we traveled to Arizona I downloaded The Great British Baking Show for the plane and quickly became full on obsessed.   It is fascinating!  I flew through the first season and am on to the second now.  I treat myself to a partial episode before bed each night (otherwise I would stay up all night watching).  

Hearting:  Well my boys of course ;), having my mom live in the same town as us now, our church and friends we've made there, planning our monthly date nights (more on this soon) and watching LM grow and learn and experience every day. 

Linking up with Anne 

Feb 2, 2018

Working Mama : 1 Year After Maternity Leave

Today marks 1 year of being back at work after LM was born.  
To say that was a terrible, no good, sad day would be an understatement.  I was on the verge of tears the entire morning trying to get ready and I think I cried almost all the way to work.
My sweet neighbor met me in the driveway with a card and a Starbucks gift card, both were very needed and appreciated.
 (1 year ago...my last day of maternity leave)

That being said, getting back into a groove was good.  I missed LM like crazy and really just wanted to be at home with him, but it was nice to talk with other adults and put on real clothes.  It had been quite a while since I had done that consistently.  I left work on September 16th (not knowing I would not return for a while) and did not go back until February 2nd.  (Well I went back 1/2 days for 6 days right before he came home...that barely counted since I was only there for 4 hours and had to pump twice during that time.)

The advice I heard over and over again was to take it one day at a time.  And that is all I could really do and over time, it worked.  To all you mamas that eventually have to go back to work, I promise it works.  It sucks hard core but it does get better.  It makes coming home all that much better. 
My other big advice is to not start back on a Monday if you can help it.  I started back on a Thursday and only having to go in 2 days and not dread the weekend (if I had started on a Monday) made it a lot easier.

Even before we had LM I had the upmost respect for working mothers.  Now that I am one, I have enough more respect for fellow mamas (and papas).  It is hard work.  Plain and simple.  It is 100% worth it, but that doesn't mean it isn't hard.

It has definitely taking some adjusting and schedule wrangling but we make it work.
Our days are pretty much nonstop from the moment we get up until the moment LM goes to bed.
I get up at 5:45 (on days I workout) and about 6:25 on the days I don't.  
I start the coffee and get LM's milk ready.  I then speed get ready and by this time LM is usually awake and jabbering away in his bed.  Thankfully he is pretty good about chatting with himself and playing in his bed until it is time to get dressed.
By 6:45 I get him up, dressed and teeth brushed.  After that Mister takes over for milk time and off to the sitters.
It is our goal to pick LM by 5 (or before) from the sitter and rush home for dinner and play time.  It depends on the day of the week but usually he starts crashing by 6:30-6:45.  After pjs its milk and into bed.  

 As you can see, sadly my time with him in the morning is limited.  I have a bit of a commute so I leave as early as I can so I can in turn, leave as early as possible in the evening to return home.
It is my goal to be in the office between 7:30-7:45...barf I know.
But then I can leave around 4:15 and then we are able to maximize our time in the evening with him.
By 7:15-7:30 we all crash in some form.  LM in his bed and Mister and I on the sofa with dinner (terrible habit I know).  

Mister and I both have been pretty busy with work the past few months and often have to work in the evenings.  I do not mind this too much (I mean, yes I would rather be doing nothing ;) ).  However I do think it is important to set the expectations of those you work with and for if you are in a similar situation.  I've made it clear that I am okay with working in the evenings if necessary but refuse to do so while LM is awake.  Since he is only awake a few hours after we get home, I am not going to spend that time sitting on my computer. I did recently have to jump on a call when I got home and LM insisted on sitting in my lap (and I did not mind one bit) but let's just say thank goodness for the mute button.
Having 2 full time working parents is definitely new territory for us and is constantly changing but the groove we are in right now seems to be working as best as it can be.  Whether you work in or out of the house full or part time or your job is to be an amazing stay at home parent, you get all of my props.  Parenting is like 148 jobs rolled into one that you can't train for.  Throw that on top of normal life and craziness and jobs to boot...it can be a doozy!  I am guessing this is an area that we can all give ourselves a little bit of grace.  This is something that I am certainly working on.  

Thankfully Mister and I both work for companies that value family time and a work/life balance.  If LM has a doctors appointment or I need to leave early to get him, my office is great about letting that happen.  That flexibility means the world to us.  It makes a lot of difference to the balance we strive to keep.

I remember counting down the days until I had to go back to work and absolutely dreading it.  We are very fortunate that LM and we love our sitter he goes to.  While I'd love to hang out with him all day, I enjoy my job and he enjoys his friends and our setup is working at the moment.

I have a couple other thoughts on this subject and am thinking about starting a series around working mamas and how we make it work.  Let me know if you have anything you want me to touch on.

Jan 26, 2018

Current Beauty Favorites

I seem to be on a beauty buying bender the last few months and it's only right I share my favorites with you.
I love reading and watching beauty product/skin care/makeup recommendations from other bloggers and youtubers.  If you have any favorites I need to be using, send them my way!

I have always been a huge fan of Moroccan Oil products.  I LOVE the way the smell. So much.
For Christmas my mom gave me this great heat protecting spray.  It smells yummy and protects my hair when I actually dry it, win.
She also gave me their split end treatment.  While I love going to get my hair cut, I never do it on a regular basis and split ends inevitably happen. This seems to be helping.
Come to think of it, Mama gave me my holy grail mousse too.  We share a love of hair products.  I am always in search of more volume and Kenra Volume Mousse is magic. I usually cannot get volume to last more than a day but with this mousse I can get at least 2 days worth. 

As far as face products, I have continued to use Philosophy's oldy but a goody Purity face wash but recently picked up one of their masks as well.  Their Pore Extractor Exfoliating Clay Mask is excellent.  I try to use it at least once a week and can immediately tell a difference.  I feel like it brings out the impurities in my face but also clears them up very quickly. 
I have never really used any of Korres products but I've been using their Pomegranate Balancing moisturizer and it is lovely! It is super lightweight and a little goes a very long way.  I literally lightly dab my finger in the the jar and that amount will cover my whole face. 
Before I lightly swipe on my moisturizer I use BareMinerals Skinlongevity Vital Power Serum.  This guy has all sorts of good stuff in it and I can tell a difference that it is working.  It is for sure making my face smoother and also decreasing the appearance of wrinkles.  Again, a little goes a very long way.

In the makeup department, I finally purchased a Naked eye shadow basics palette.  Granted it is the small travel size but I can see what the hype is all about.  The colors are very nicely pigmented, stay on all day and go on like a breeze.  
On the drugstore side of things, Wet n Wild has really been winning me over.  Not only are they cruelty free but they are so affordable! At the moment I have at least 4 favorites from them.
Their foundation is currently my go to, it is a great medium coverage and lasts all day.  
I am also a very large fan of their Megalast Liquid Catsuit lipstick.  It is the first matte I've tried out and really like it.  
And they cannot be beat for face and eye shadow primers.  I've been using both for the past few years and they are both under $5.  Enough said.

Kait and Casey turned me on to Vital Proteins Collagen.  I wasn't sure I needed it at first but after a few weeks of putting it in my coffee each morning I can tell a big difference in the thickness of my hair and how fast my nails are growing.  I've already turned 2 other friends onto its magic.  

And those are some of my favorites in my beauty regime.  Are any of these on your list?  Do you have any that I need to try out??