Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I love comfort food, even in the summer time.  Everyone needs a little comfort in their lives – especially when we are all so busy running kids around these days.  Meals that are semi-easy to make, relatively healthy, create delicious leftovers and perfect for freezing and eating later are just what I need more of in my life!

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I finally got around to making this recipe last night and we all really enjoyed it!  Ended up bringing half of it to a couple who just had a baby – perfect prepared meal for new parents.  Just place the prepared shells in a foil disposable dish with marinara sauce and it is ready to bake.  Add a vegetable and a side of crusty bakery bread and you have a nice well-balanced meal.

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Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Adapted from A Healthy Slice of Life and Skinny Taste blogs


  • 1 package of Jumbo Shells (approx. 38 shells)
  • 1 garlic cloves, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
  • 10 oz reduced fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 2, 10 oz packages of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed well
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 Tbsp chopped or leafs of fresh basil for garnish
  • 5-6 cups of prepared marinara sauce


Boil water and cook shells according to the package directions.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl combine the spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, salt, pepper and garlic – mix well to combine.

Prepare a large baking dish with marinara sauce, covering the bottom.  Once shells are cooked and cooled fill each shell with the spinach and cheese mixture (approx. 1.5 to 2 Tbsp) and place the prepared shells over the marinara sauce.

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Top the shells with the other half of the marinara sauce, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Uncover foil and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Serve with additional sauce as desired and garnish with fresh basil.

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Leigh Stella {Five Months}

Okay, okay…this post is really late as Leigh will be six months on the 26th, oops (sorry Leigh)!  The summertime schedule is in full swing and we have been busy with trips, get-togethers and on the run with two little girls.  It has been so hard to find the time to sit down and write out this post or the five other posts in my head and several recipes.

I am going to try hard to stick with what happened last month and not skip ahead too much, lots more to come in the 6 month update.  Leigh turned five months old on June 26th!

photo 2photo 1The month of June was a really memorable month filled with so many special outings and events.  Leigh received the sacrament of baptism on June 8th, celebrated Father’s day weekend with both grandpas, daddy and uncle Troy, got a new play cottage from mom and dad, toured Husky Stadium, fun dinners out, BBQs, play-dates with friends, first overnight away from mom and dad and special time with grandparents and family.

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Leigh’s baptism was such a special morning.  Her godparents, grandparents, cousin Natalie, and sister Olivia were all there to watch.  We are so blessed and happy to have witnessed her  sacrament of baptism into the Catholic church and watch her journey begin.  I can hardly wait for more Sunday morning masses together, Sunday school with big sis and first communion to come.

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Such wonderful memories and thoughts back to my experiences – love that I can share this with my girls.  Leigh wore the dress that her great grandma Mary Ann, grandma Jean, momma and sister wore for their baptisms too.  The dress is in great condition that I really think it will last another generation if not more.





Leigh’s first Father’s Day weekend was pretty great too!  We traveled down to Olympia to spend time with my dad and take him out to brunch.  Then on Father’s Day we enjoyed a BBQ with Jeff’s dad and family.

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Leigh Stella also tried solids for the first time, avocado on the 15th.  She had been showing all of the signs that she was ready so we thought what the heck and dove right in!  She did pretty good for her first tastes of real food and took down a few teeny bites.  We are slowly working on solids and doing really well – more to come at the 6 month update!  I can’t believe it has been a month strong with solids and breast milk.

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The girl’s gift to daddy for Father’s Day was a tour of Husky Stadium and dinner out to celebrate Father’s Day on the 20th - it was a great day and Leigh did so well!  Not a peep from her the entire time and she napped great in the Baby Bjorne.  She loved her first visit to Husky Stadium :) !  She can’t wait for her first football game.

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A few other fun things to note in Leigh’s fifth month:

Ruston Way for a walk and lunch with mom, dad & sis

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Play-time with friends and sister

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Leigh continues to eat really well, started solids as described above and eats 5 ounces every three hours still.  Sleep is the same at five months as it was at 4 months – working to transition her to her crib has been a challenge, more on that in the next update.

At the four month mark she really got started rolling back and forth and scooting around.  So amazing to watch her learn new things every day.  Sitting up at this time also continues to get better and more stable.  We have a mobile baby girl!

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Leigh Stella – Random Facts at Five Month:

  • Stats:  we have a big baby girl, not sure on specifics…we go in for her 6 month check-up on the 25th – stay tuned!
  • Diaper Size:  we actually started using cloth diapers a month ago and it is going strong, we are using Bumgenius 4.0s with snaps and love them.  So easy and I have no idea why I did not do them with Livie too.  She does sleep in a disposable at night and we are just moving her to size 4 – she does fit into her sister’s size 5 diapers so we may just jump to that, not sure
  • Clothing:  9 – 12 months and some 12-18 months
  • Likes:  being the center of attention, rolling around on the floor and scooting everywhere, tummy time, sitting up, eating her solids and breast milk, talking, swaddled, held/snugged, eating, bubble (binky), play time, baths, watching big sister
  • Dislikes:  being hungry, gas pains, dirty diapers

My Leigh, you continue to amaze us every day and we cannot imagine life without you.  You are such a happy, smiley baby – your sis, momma and daddy love you very much!

Happy Father’s Day {2014}

Happy Father’s Day!  A special thank you to the father of my two precious girls – Jeff, you are the best daddy and we appreciate you so much and all that you do for us each and every day – you are amazing!

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To our two special grandpas and one very special great grandpa – thank you for all that you for always being there for us and to the best uncle ever, Uncle Troy – Happy First Father’s Day to you!  We love you.

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Happy Father’s Day!


Sesame Noodle Salad

This dish we enjoyed last 4th of July on Whidbey Island at a BBQ with good friends.  I received the recipe right after, but it has taken me almost a year to finally make and post.  I was pregnant last 4th of July, not feeling well and then was busy with a toddler and had Leigh.  So glad I finally made time to make this dish – it is the perfect summer salad pasta dish to take to a BBQ, summer event or any type of pot-luck.  After tasting this dish almost a year later I quickly remembered why I had to get this receipt ASAP.  You could easily add shrimp or chicken as protein as well which we will do very soon!  It is amaze – thank you Lynda!!



Sesame Noodle Salad


  • 1 lb. angel hair pasta (prepared per box instructions)
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup dark or black soy sauce (this is important, regular soy sauce won’t taste right)
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar (you can find this and the black soy at any Asian Market)
  • 2 tablespoon chili oil or Sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 4-5 green onions, chopped
  • Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

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Prepare the noodles per instructions, drain and rinse with cold water until noodles are completely cool.  Mix the “dressing” in a 9×13″ baking dish (or another dish with a lot of base surface area) until most of the sugar is dissolved.  Place the noodles in the dish, add onions and sesame seeds, toss to coat.  Refrigerate for a couple of hours until chilled.  When ready to serve toss the noodles to mix the dressing.

A candid shot of Miss Leigh lounging :)  Happy weekend everyone!

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Leigh Stella {Four Months}

Leigh Stella turned four months old this past Monday, the 26th!  She is getting to be such a big girl now and I cannot believe that she is already four months old and we are in the month of June.  So excited to experience summer with Leigh and Livie!  We just ordered an awesome new play cottage for the girls and I can hardly wait to watch them enjoy it this summer!


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This last month has been a busy one – I went back to work on the 6th and things have slowly fallen into place with this new normal.  Leigh has been doing really well at “school” with Livie two days a week.  She is such a chill baby who enjoys watching the bigger kids and playing so she does very well in the daycare environment.  Leigh also has been having fun with Grammy on Wednesdays when they get their special time together and with mom the other two days at home.  The schedule is really perfect for us and I feel very fortunate.

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Leigh is an awesome baby – we really haven’t had much of any issues, not even much gas pains lately (knock on wood!).  She is really a happy, smiley baby most of the time.  She did get her vaccines on Friday at her four month ped appointment and she was a little off the last two days, but it was because she had a mild fever and didn’t feel well.  Those vaccines can do weird things to their little system, ugh.  It does make me feel a bit better because she is such a big baby since they don’t change to dosage of the vaccine for size.  Today she seems to be back to her old self.


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Leigh is sleeping well, typically falling asleep in our arms at 7 pm, to bed at 7:30 pm and then will wake up once or twice a night to eat 5 ounces and then back to bed.  However, she is still sleeping in the swing, ugh!  Our goal is to transition her out this month since she is so big and will not fit in there much longer.  She just loves being swaddled and the coziness of the swing.  We have been trying the crib at the start of the night and she will go for several hours, but does not last as long and gets restless on her back.  She has also had a couple good naps in the pack n’ play lately.  We need to get better about it, but it is hard to want to try new things when we all sleep so good right now.  You do what you gotta do to get rest!  We know we need to get her out of the swing though.  Some people we have talked to their child slept the entire first year in the swing, but I think Leigh is just too big for that and we can’t go much longer.


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I also just ordered a musical crib mobile so that may help her get distracted and then fall asleep on her own since we always have to hold and rock her to sleep.  Napping is going well and she usually has a couple nice longs ones with several cat naps.  She typically naps in her infant seat, strapped in with her blanket surrounding her head.  She is so funny and our two girls could not be more different at this age – Livie was not a snuggler, did great in her crib and went to bed on her own with no swaddle or anything.

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Leigh continues to be an awesome eater – just like her big sis was at her age!  They are so similar in their stats at this age, Livie was a little heavier and over an inch longer.  Crazy to compare them.  Leigh is still going with 5 ounces every three hours and that seems to be perfect for her right now.  She tries to hold her bottle too – love when they do that.  She is still completely fed breast milk and that is going strong!  I am all stocked up with frozen milk for several summer time trips and events that we will be away from Leigh.  I hate leaving her, but you have to do it sometimes.

We are looking forward to starting solids with her soon.  We started Livie at 5 months old with solids, sweet potato puree and avocado puree.  If Leigh seems interested we may try at 5 months or wait until 6 – we’ll see and it just depends how she reacts to us eating.  Livie also got her first tooth at 5 months so we will see if Leigh follows those tendencies.  Leigh drools a ton and is always chewing on toys, but no sign of any teeth popping through yet.  I check often!

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She is a rock star at playing and keeping herself entertained for a long time.  She loves all of her toys, exersaucer and her play mat.  She is so strong and a tough little cookie!  I love watching her play and learn new things.

Leigh has been grabbing toys, pulling them to her mouth and is getting good at sitting up.  She has been rolling over since mid-April and does it every now and again from her tummy to back.  We have yet to do the back to tummy.  She has also found her feet and will grab them.  She has not pulled them to her mouth yet, but I am sure that will be in the next few months.

She loves to talk and has such a strong voice.  She loves to be talked to and sang to – she is such a sweet little girl.  Just love my little Leigh-Leigh.

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Leigh has had a great month with lots of exciting things going on – first weeks at “school”, play dates, lots of family time, Mother’s Day, Memorial day weekend BBQs, four month doctor appointment and lots more fun stuff!

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We are looking forward to the start of summer and watching Leigh grow!  We have her baptism to look forward to next Sunday, Father’s Day, special surprise family outing to celebrate Father’s Day on the 20th and her first overnight away from mom and dad the last weekend in June because we are headed to Whistler for a wedding.  Lots of exciting things!

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Leigh Stella – Random Facts at Four Month:

  • Stats:  16 pounds, 9.4 ounces (95%), 25.5″ long (89%), 42 cm (76%) as of Friday, 5/30/2014
  • Diaper Size:   size 3
  • Clothing:  some 3-6 month, 6 month, 6-12 month and some 12 month
  • Likes:  tummy time, sitting up (I assist her up and she can stay up for a while), talking, swaddled, held/snugged, eating, bubble (binky), play time, baths, watching big sister, morning hours, story time, get sang to, clean diapers
  • Dislikes:  being hungry, gas pains, dirty diapers

Have a great week everyone!

Two and A Half Years Old.

Olivia is two and a half years old this month – my little girl is getting so big and so grown up.  How did that happen?!?  I did a post at two and thought it would be fun to come back for an update at 2.5 years old.

(All pictures are from the last several months)

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These last two and a half years have flown by and have been such a blessing.  So many wonderful moments and memories that I love to think back on.  I now see how parents with older children grown always say to enjoy it because it passes by in a blink of an eye.  Being a parent is such a precious journey that I feel so fortunate to be on.  I look forward to all of the things to come with both of my girls and watching them grow into young women.

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Life with Livie is amazing – she is such a caring, intelligent, animated and energetic little girl.  I am so proud of her and love being her mommy.  She is the best big sister and is so good with Leigh.  She dotes on her and loves to tell people that Leigh is her baby sister.  At the grocery store this past week she had to tell the cashier at check-out that Leigh was her baby sister – it is so cute to watch!

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Livie is for the most part very well-behaved, but of course she has her moments – we are definitely experiencing “the terrible twos”.  Parenting is challenging and hard work.  She has a mind of her own and a very strong personality which can make for some challenges from time to time.  We are trying to stay strong and know that this is one of many phases.  Just hoping this one passes very soon ;) !

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Livie usually goes to bed around 8 pm, wakes up at least once at night for a water refill in her sippee cup or she looses T / Terry in bed (her cozy security pterodactyl, yes, you heard me correctly – she picked the ugliest thing out of the bunch :) ) and wakes up for good around 6 am.  She still takes an afternoon nap which on average is around 1.5 hours.  She has been in her “big girl” / toddler bed since the beginning of December and loves it.  We are planning to transition her to a full size bed and revamp her room to a big girl bed when she is three and potty trained because we’ll need to get the changing table out of there.  Really looking forward to making her room a big girl room, decorating and painting the walls.


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Livie is still a pretty good eater.  Lately she has been really into breakfast and lunch and then doesn’t eat as much dinner.  I also think it has to do with the fact that it is light out and the weather is getting nice so she wants to go outside and play or go to the park.  She would much rather play and run than eat.  She tends to not be too picky, but does have her favorites and things that she just will not eat or touch.

She likes to dress herself or should I say put her clothes on by herself.  I usually will choose her clothes and put them out for her to put on herself – Miss Independent who likes to do things on her own.  She pretty much has a shoe fetish and swaps out her shoes several times a day or should I say hour!

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Livie enjoys Mondays and Fridays with mommy and Leigh at home.  Tuesdays and Thursdays she goes to preschool / daycare with Leigh and Wednesdays she gets special time with Grammy who comes up to be with the girls.  The schedule is working out pretty good – I am going on my third week being back to work.  Livie really enjoys MJ’s and loves having Leigh there with her now.  We feel so fortunate to have found that place and got in when Livie was a year old.  Hard to believe she has been there for so long!

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Livie’s Favorite Things & A Few Details - 2.5 Years Old (interviewed on 5/19):

Food & Drink:  cheese, chicken nuggets, pasta, pizza, tuna sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, toast with butter, yogurt with granola, oatmeal, oat bran, grapes, orange juice, milk

Dessert:  chocolate

Color:  pink

Activities:  outings to the park, dress-up, playing outside, running, playing with friends / play dates, walks, playing with baby sister, playing with baby dolls, coloring, swimming, spending time with family, beauty parlor

Things:  jewelry, shoes, dolls, dresses, tutus

TV Shows:  Bubble Guppies, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Bear, Curious George, Winnie-the-Pooh

Movies:  Frozen, Lilo & Stitch, The Lorax, Sleeping Beauty, Dumbo, Cinderella, Monster’s University, Tinkerbell

Friend:  Annalise (from preschool) and Elizabeth

Clothing Size:  3T and 4T

Shoe Size:  7s are real tight, onto 8s

Potty Trained:  nope, still in size 5 diapers and hoping she will decide she wants to start using the potty very soon

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We love you sweet girl – thank you for bringing such joy and laughter into our lives.  You truly are the best gift and we love watching you grow.

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We hope everyone is having a great start to the week!

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

Sunday morning pancakes were a hit today!  I have been wanting to make my banana bread and pancakes for a while now, but find it hard to find the time so I thought I would combine the two.  These are a fun twist!  Peanut butter and banana is one of my most favorite combinations ever!

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Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes


• 1 ½ bananas

• 1 tablespoon honey

• ⅓ cups peanut butter or PB2

• 2 eggs

• 2 teaspoons vanilla

• 1 cup milk

• 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour

• ¾ teaspoons baking powder

• ½ cups old fashioned oats

• ¼ teaspoons salt

• cooking spray for cooking the pancakes

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Preheat pan or griddle over medium-high heat.  Mash up the bananas.  Add the honey, peanut butter, eggs, vanilla and milk and mix well.

In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients and gently stir until combined.  Add the wet banana mixture to the dry flour mix and stir until fully incorporated.

Spray the pan with cooking spray and pour about 1/3 cup of batter into the pan.

Cook until bubbles start to form and flip.  Cook for about 2 more minutes.  Remove and serve with syrup, berries and more peanut butter! Enjoy!