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How far along are you? 21 weeks 1 day 
Cravings? Orange juice, milk and pizza. Although I can’t say any of my cravings have been super strong except the orange juice, which is strange since I never drank or craved orange juice or milk before this pregnancy. Now I drink both every day! Pizza, on the other hand, I’m trying to limit to once a week!
Weight Gain: I don’t have another doctor’s appointment until next week, so I have no idea!  Perhaps 15 pounds?
Fears: This is incredibly silly, but this week I’ve been battling body image issues as my body continues to grow and change. I’m SO thankful for these changes, because it means our little one is thriving and growing (yay!) but it’s still hard to see your body changing in such extreme ways. It’s something I’m surrendering control of daily. I try to remind myself that I’m eating healthfully and sensibly, and my body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing, growing this baby, Praise God! On the flip side, I’ve been worrying about baby not growing enough, since that’s something my doctor will be monitoring monthly with our 2-vessel cord. Reminding myself daily that it’s truly out of my control! 
Generally Feeling: Really good! I’ve been sleeping better and exercising more, mainly in the form of long walks. My appetite has really dropped off lately, but I think that has more to do with the fact that Joe and I both seemed to get a very mild case of food poisoning last week that took away both our appetites. Other than that, I’m feeling wonderful. 
Looking Forward To: Thank you for your tips on registering! Joe and I decided, with your suggestions, to use Baby List, and it’s been so fun to put together our registry with items from a variety of stores and sources. I’ll admit I’m still totally clueless, but I’m having fun thinking more about our baby’s arrival as I add items to the registry. It makes it seem so much more real. And Joe and I purchased our first item of clothing for baby which was so much fun. 
What I’ve Been Loving: Still absolutely loving all the movement of this little one. Lots of kicks and rolls that I can tell are getting stronger! Also, I feel like my bump has popped out a little more (see above photo) which makes sense since it seems baby is moving up, too. 
Maternity Clothes? Dressing is becoming increasingly difficult. I still don’t have a large bump, just a small/medium sized one that is hard to accentuate but hard to hide, too, so I find that I’m just sitting somewhere in the middle right now. It’s a fun challenge to try and maintain your personal sense of style while pregnant and figure out what works for you/your body. 
Boy or Girl: Keeping it a surprise until March! 

Madison

Cookie Dough Bites (2) | Espresso and Cream

How was your weekend, friends? Joe and I had the best weekend with absolutely no plans on the schedule. After traveling or being crazy busy for the last month, this was the first weekend that we had a chance to hang around the house with no actual plans. It was glorious. We did a big deep “fall clean” of the house on Saturday morning, tossing and throwing things away and sorting. Please tell me I’m not the only person who gets a huge sense of relief throwing/giving away things we don’t need? I think a little bit of nesting has been kicking in because I suddenly have the desire to organize and sort every drawer and closet in our house!

I also made a little time for baking cookies and am super excited to have a new recipe to share today. Most of the time I’m a from-scratch baker, not because I feel like that’s what I should do but because I find it incredibly relaxing to bake, especially when I don’t have anything on the agenda. But sometimes I like to bring in a little help.

Since I work for Betty Crocker, I ended up with a bunch of pouch cookie mix in my pantry after a photo shoot last week. I pack Joe’s lunch each weekday morning and like to put a little something sweet into his lunch each day and we had absolutely nothing sweet around the house that would suffice, so a quick cookie baking session was calling my name. But instead of devoting a bunch of time baking, I made these cookies during halftime of the Vikings game and was back on the couch in time to watch the second half. Win-win!

Be aware that these cookies don’t spread out like regular cookies, which is by design. The edges get delightfully crispy and crunchy while the centers stay soft and chewy. It’s a fantastic combination, and these little cookies fit well inside almost any lunch box, for husbands or for kiddos!

Loaded Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
 
These cookies do not spread out like regular cookies but, rather, they hold their shape in more of a "ball" form by design. If you want your cookies to be flatter, flatten each dough ball with the back of your hand before baking.
Ingredients
  • 1 pouch Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup creamy natural peanut butter (I didn't test with regular peanut butter, but I think it would work!)
  • ¾ cup miniature pretzels, finely chopped/crushed
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cookie mix, butter, egg and peanut butter until a soft dough forms and all ingredients are well combined. Beat in the pretzels and pecans until evenly combined.
  3. Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet (or use a cookie scoop like I did.) Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly golden brown and set. Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes; cool completely on wire cooling rack.

Madison

Sketchers Shoes (1)

My family, like a lot of families, has been touched deeply by cancer. I don’t think I’ve ever really mentioned it on this site, but when I was in middle school I lost my grandmother to bone cancer and a few years later my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Thankfully, my dad is many years post-surgery and cancer-free. Skin cancer also runs in my family and I have an aunt who had breast cancer, and all there really is to say on the topic is that cancer sucks.

Any time I can partner with a company to talk about cancer awareness, I jump at the chance. So when Skechers asked if I would be willing to partner with them to raise awareness about breast cancer in the month of October I said “yes” without hesitation. They sent me a pair of their Skechers Performance GOwalk 2 Flash shoes to work out in and share my motivations for staying healthy and active.

Honestly, before this campaign I wasn’t even aware that Skechers had a performance line of shoes for working out, but I was blown away by how comfortable and cute the shoes are. The weather was beautiful yesterday, so I took full advantage after work and went on a long walk in my new kicks.

Sketchers Shoes (3)

Since becoming pregnant, my workouts have changed quite a bit. I’ve been focusing more on staying active in the form of walking, Pilates and exercise videos geared toward pregnancy. That’s not to say that being active isn’t still extremely important to me! In fact, I think eating healthfully and staying fit is even more important now that I’m doing everything for me and our little one. When I’m lacking motivation, it’s easy to remind myself that I’m doing this not just to look good but to do good for my baby. If that isn’t enough motivation, I’m not really sure what is!

Sketchers Shoes (2)

PS: If you’re looking for a great shoe (seriously!) that benefits an amazing cause, I would highly recommend the GOwalk shoe from Skechers.With a few workouts in them under my belt, I can honestly say that I was super impressed by the comfort and quality.

Madison

Thank you to Skechers for supporting today’s post! The shoes were provided to me free of charge, but opinions are strictly my own. 

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How far along are you? 20 weeks 1 day 
Cravings? Lately food has really sounded unappealing to me and my appetite seems to either be raging or completely non-existent. It’s strange to fluctuate between the two! Pizza always sounds good, but I’ve been limiting my pizza consumption to once a week and opting for veggies, fruit, whole grains, protein and dairy instead. I’m pretty thankful not to have many cravings, since it means I can eat like my usual self. Sweet still sound terrible most of the time, which is strange since I usually have a huge sweet tooth. 
Weight Gain: I don’t have another doctor’s appointment for 2 weeks but I’m guessing close to 14/15 pounds at this point. 
Fears: We had our follow-up ultrasound with the perinatal specialist today and were blessed and relieved to get a healthy report from the doctor. I was scared to see a specialist, but given our 2-vessel cord, my doctor wanted to make sure everything else was healthy, especially the heart. I was SO nervous for the appointment, but feel such a sense of peace and well-being now, which is the first time I’ve really felt this peaceful all pregnancy. We’ll continue to have monthly ultrasounds to keep an eye on growth, but so far baby continues to measure ahead! Praise be to God! 
Generally Feeling: Great! This week I truly feel fantastic. After battling pregnancy headaches for weeks on end, I started taking an iron supplement since my prenatal didn’t have added iron and I heard that headaches can be a sign that you’re lacking in iron. I haven’t had a headache since and it’s such a relief! 
Looking Forward To: Registering! We haven’t really even thought about registering, but I think it’s time to get on that soon. If you have any registry advice, please let me know! I’m clueless. 
What I’ve Been Loving: Joe felt the baby move for the first time with his hand on my stomach. Seeing his excitement was the highlight of my week! He’s going to be a great dad. 
Maternity Clothes? Nothing new to report here. I have still been loving the maternity dresses I purchased from ASOS (thanks for the recs!) and have been wearing a lot of my pre-maternity tops and pants with the help of the Belly Band. I also purchased a few more pairs of these Gap leggings and a pair of black maternity dress pants so I can wear more of my tops. 
Boy or Girl: Keeping it a surprise until March! 

Madison

Limes(1)
Today marks the final installment of my partnership with Food Should Taste Good. It’s been so fun to have an extra reason to host and entertain friends while serving really delicious chips. But then again, I love any reason to have people over and eat a meal together.

We had our church group over last night for Mexican night. Although entertaining on weeknights after a busy work day used to stress me out, I’ve implemented a few simple strategies that make it much less stressful than it once was. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

1. Plan your meal mindfully.
I think one of the biggest stressors I used to have when entertaining was that I tried to do too much without adequate time. These days I pick my entree and sides with ease and flexibility in mind. The dishes I serve need to be easy to prepare and need to hold up well in case guests arrive late or I put something in the oven a little too early.

For this reason, I think enchiladas are perfect. I served two types of enchiladas (this recipe and this recipe) and prepped them in advance, then just tossed them in the oven 20 minutes before guests were set to arrive and left them in the oven until we were ready to eat. A little extra time in the oven doesn’t compromise the taste and texture of enchiladas, making them a perfect dish to serve on a weeknight.

2. Make the sides easy. 
Once again, the key is to not try to do too much with too little time. Focus on your entree and make the sides you serve on the easier side. Many times that means a pan of roasted veggies at our house that are cooked and seasoned perfectly. Last night, it meant Food Should Taste Good chips, salsa, homemade guacamole (recipe below), sour cream and lettuce. Nothing besides the enchiladas really took much time and most of it could be prepped in advance. Major win!

3. Play with size, color and texture.
A few little touches can make a big difference when setting your table. I’m not an entertaining master, but I do like to make the table look pretty. Place a few pretty cloth napkins underneath your serving pieces, use colorful paper napkins that fit your theme, serve your beverages in a metal pail with ice, etc. A few extra special touches go a long way in making your table look special without a lot of extra work.

Chips(1)

The chips we served at our party were the Food Should Taste Good Cantina chips, which are my absolute favorite. They taste the most like the restaurant-style chips that I eat way too many of when I’m out to eat with a great amount of salt that’s perfect for serving with salsa and guacamole. I probably should have had another bag on hand because they were practically gone by the time I got my food!

Guacamole(1)

I’m sure there are plenty of other more “authentic” guacamole recipes you could find on the internet, but I like to keep things simple with my guac, with just a little bit of lime, salt, tomatoes and jalapenos added to my avocados. The recipe I use is below! Although I have to admit that these days I don’t really use a recipe but rely on taste as my guide. Just be sure not to skimp on the salt!

Beer(1)

Quick and Easy Guacamole
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 medium ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into cubes
  • Juice from ½ of a small lime
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1 medium roma tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place cubed avocado in medium mixing bowl and use a fork to mash the avocado until some small chunks remain. Add the lime juice and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt. Stir in the tomato and jalapeno and stir until well combined. Serve with chips or on top of enchiladas!

This post is brought to you in partnership with Food Should Taste Good. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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