13 Freezer Meals {with a free printable!}

Since having Lincoln back in May, we have been on the go…non-stop.  Between figuring out life as a family of five, summer camps and vacations, doctors appointments and work commitments, cooking dinner has not even been on my radar.

Luckily, we have a FANTASTIC support system of friends between our neighborhood and church, who graciously provided us meals every other day for about six weeks straight.  Like, hot meals.  Hot meals that my kids would eat.  Hot meals that made great leftovers too.  Hot meals that usually came in disposable containers {aka no clean-up either!}.

Needless to say, we’ve been blessed {and quite spoiled!}

But now we’re back to the real world.  We’re settling in and the kids are actually expecting me to start cooking again.  Too bad I’m not really ready yet!  So, it was a good thing that I prepared for this day ahead of time!  About a week before Lincoln was due, I scoured Pinterest for yummy freezer meals that I could make in bulk, ahead of time.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

I chose 13 of my favorites, and then mapped out how I could prep, and then freeze, all of them for after Lincoln arrived.  Here’s a list of the recipes I made, and where I got them from:

1. Healthy Mama Barbecue Chicken    (www.mamaandbabylove.com)
2. Stephanie’s Goulash (www.mamaandbabylove.com)
3. Enchilada Casserole (www.joyfulmommaskitchen.com)
4. Chicken Curry  (www.mamaandbabylove.com)
5. Quesadilla Casserole (www.joyfulmommaskitchen.com)
6. Sausage & Peppers (www.bakedinthesouth.com)
7. Stromboli (http://joelandkitty.com)
8. Stuffed Shells (http://joelandkitty.com)
9. Chicken Tacos (http://joelandkitty.com)
10. BBQ Chicken and Veggies (www.allthingskatiemarie.blogspot.com)
11. Baked Oatmeal Cupcakes to Go (http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com)
12. Café Rio Chicken (www.mandysrecipebox.blogspot.com)
13. Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken (www.ringaroundtherosies.net)

Here’s an example of what the spreadsheet I made looks like.  It lists the meal number and name {and source}, the ingredients and prep work for each ingredient, how to assemble and store the completed meal, and then what you’ll need to do to thaw and cook.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

It took Dave and me about 4 hours total to prep and assemble everything…which was well worth it so we could have more time to stare at this cute little guy now!

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

 The first worksheet you’ll need is the one labeled “Steps.”  This is an overview of everything you’ll need to do to prepare all of the meals.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

Next is a more detailed list of the most efficient order of prepping all the food, and what meal {and bag} they go with.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

I highly recommend labeling all of your ziplock bags with your meal number, name, thawing directions, cooking directions, and garnish/side dish list.  Then line up your bags in order and fill them as you prep!

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

And for Number 15 on the “Steps” worksheet, I made a list of all the other ingredients that you don’t need to prep, and which bags they will need to go into as well.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

 

For the couple of meals that aren’t slow cooker meals, I recommend getting disposable foil pans from the dollar store.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Here’s an example of the list of ingredients and storage materials you will need, listed by aisle in the grocery store {very handy to print out and take to the store with you!}:

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

And I didn’t list it on the materials list, but I stacked all of my completed bags on jelly roll pans and cookie sheets, so they would freeze flat for optimal freezer storage.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

If you’d like to download and print your own copy of the 13 meal plans and prep worksheet, click here.

We’ve only tried a handful of the meals, but so far, Meal #3 Enchilada Casserole has been our favorite!  I can’t wait to try the rest!  And if you try any of these meals, I’d love feedback {I didn’t create any of them, so I won’t take it personally!}.  And leave a comment if you have a tip or recipe alteration that you’d like to share…be sure to specify which meal # it’s for!  Thanks and enjoy!

Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

Kuddles Baby Product Launch Party at Bi-Lo

Last week I was honored to be the co-host of the Kuddles Baby Product launch party at a local Bi-Lo Supersaver.  Bi-Lo is rolling out their own huge line of baby products, and I was thrilled to be on the front lines to tell everyone about them!

#Kuddles Baby Product Line from Bi-Lo from Palmettos and Pigtails

So I joined the Bi-Lo reps, Alissa and Miranda in welcoming parents with diaper bags full of Kuddles products and coupons.     I was so impressed that there were full-sized samples of wipes, baby wash, and diapers in each of the canvas bags.  There was also a raffle for a free year of diapers!

#Kuddles Baby Product Line from Bi-Lo from Palmettos and Pigtails

And since the Kuddles Baby Product Line Launch was a family event, Bi-Lo made sure the kiddos were entertained too.  They brought in Carolina Party Artists to do face painting and balloon critters.

#Kuddles Baby Product Line from Bi-Lo from Palmettos and Pigtails

#Kuddles Baby Product Line from Bi-Lo from Palmettos and Pigtails

Jayna had a princess party later that day, so she just had to get a Frozen-themed face paint.  Luckily, Kathy from Carolina Party Artists has grand-daughters!!  And whatever Jayna gets….Millie wants too!

#Kuddles Baby Product Line from Bi-Lo from Palmettos and Pigtails

#Kuddles Baby Product Line from Bi-Lo from Palmettos and Pigtails

And the balloon artist was incredible!  From princess wands, to flowers, to swords, to monkeys on palm trees…the kids were lined up to receive just about any balloon creation they could think of!

#Kuddles Baby Product Line from Bi-Lo from Palmettos and Pigtails

#Kuddles Baby Product Line from Bi-Lo from Palmettos and Pigtails

While the kids were being entertained, the parents had plenty of time to grab a free, stocked diaper bag and learn more about the new Kuddles baby line.

The Kuddles baby product line is huge!  Diapers in sizes 1-6, plus training pants, and scented baby wipes.  Formula, rice cereal, baby lotion, baby powder, baby oil, petroleum jelly, baby wash and shampoo for the little ones.  Detangler, snacks, yogurt bites, juices, and supplements for the older kiddos.

#Kuddles Baby Product Line from Bi-Lo from Palmettos and Pigtails

  Kuddles offers everything today’s value conscious parents need to keep their baby dry and happy at prices they can afford. I cannot wait to try out some of these products and let you know more about them!

Stay tuned…I may just be giving away some of my favorites!

Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

Fourth of July Recap

The Fourth of July is one of our favorite holidays around here.  Not only are we a family of military vets and have tremendous pride for our country, but we also happen to live in a neighborhood that is big on celebrating!

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

Thanks to the Target Dollar Spot, we stocked up on tattoos, headbands, glowsticks, flags, and decor.  All completely necessary since we were participating in our neighborhood’s annual Fourth of July parade.

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

The parade line up stretched over several blocks, as wagons, bikes, and golf carts were decked out in red, white and blue garb.  Some of the golf carts blared patriotic music, while others had bubble machines going and threw candy out to the few spectators {mostly moms and grandparents with infants, as everyone else participated!}.

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

Even little Lincoln attempted to participate by sporting a stars and stripes-themed burp cloth…but he just couldn’t keep his eyes open for the parade!

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

The parade ended at our community center, which happens to be an old farmhouse with a cherry orchard.  We set up a couple of tents with some of our neighbors and joined the rest of the neighborhood for a potluck BBQ, swimming, and…pirates!

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

Captain Tom {who actually lives up the street} sailed in on his golf-cart themed pirate ship, and led about a hundred kids on a plantation-wide treasure hunt.

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

Throughout the day the adults participated in corn hole tournaments, while the kids ran relay races and just played in the massive fields.  I just loved watching them delight in old fashioned Tag and Duck, Duck, Goose!

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

And of course the girls enjoyed the evening finale of fireworks.  We are so lucky to have fantastic {and professional} neighbors who shoot them off for us every year {and a neighborhood fire department to supervise!}.

Fourth of July - Palmettos and Pigtails

Happy Fourth of July!

Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

{Guest Post} DIY Painted Rug

Howdy, y’all! I’m Olivia from DIY Mother and I’m excited to be able to share one of my DIY projects with you, thanks to Shara being a bit busier lately!

I’ve been wanting to take a stab at the painted rug trend that’s been happening for quite some time now, but I was never confident enough and was kind of afraid I’d ruin a decent rug. But then I found an amazing deal on a simple, solid color, low-pile rug at the hardware store and I knew that even if I messed it up, I could at least use it outside.

While I’m not LOVING the rug on its own yet, I will admit that it looks pretty good around furniture in a clean room. I might end up moving it to our deck, but for now, it’s staying in the nursery. If you want to see any of my other projects, visit DIY Mother! Also, I’d love to know if you’ve successfully done a painted rug.

Materials you’ll need:
Low-pile rug
Acrylic paint (I actually used a combination of acrylic paint and spray paint and preferred the spray paint.)

I was on a budget, so I managed to find a 6×8 ft. indoor/outdoor rug for less than $30. It’s probably better suited for outdoors, so I’d recommend looking at others if you’re looking for strictly indoor use.

IMG_1706 (1280x836)

I have a 6-month-old daughter with a pretty bare room, so I wanted to do a fun geometric print for the rug. I measured where the center of the rug was, and spaced my triangles out from the center. I used regular painter’s tape to mark off each triangle.

IMG_1707 (1280x853)

IMG_1709 (1280x853)

Then, I started painting inside of the triangles. Don’t worry about purchasing textile medium-unless you don’t like the stiffness of dried paint. I, personally, don’t mind the stiffness.

IMG_1716 (1280x853)

IMG_1720 (1280x782)

IMG_1724 (1280x853)

When they were finished, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the end product. Even though I love simplicity, I thought it needed something extra. So I decided to turn the triangles into “banners” running across the rug.

IMG_1836 (1280x853)

That required me to connect the triangles to one another, which proved to be much more difficult than taping off the triangles.

IMG_1903 (853x1280)

When it was all said and done, I was pleased with the final result. IF I could have done anything differently, I probably would have been more mathematical when measured out the banner part of the design. I tend to do everything by eye, but this isn’t one of those designs you should eyeball. Lesson learned. The baby loves it!

DSC02309

DSC02301

 

Olivia from DIY Mother

Olivia GlendaleHowdy! I’m Olivia. I’m a 20-something year old mother to two rambunctious little girls, and wife to a handsomely handy contractor. Our family purchased our first home last year, and since then we’ve been embarking on any DIY renovation project we can dream up; I’ve also become a bit of a decorating nerd.

Somehow through all of the madness happening in our home, I still manage to find time to blog about our DIY and my personal decorating experiences. When I have 30 minutes to myself, I’m usually listening to 60’s girl groups (The Crystals, The Ronettes, you name it) or looking up pictures of Ryan Gosling. I take my free time very seriously.

Lincoln’s Newborn Photo Shoot

I know, I know.  Lincoln is well over a month old.  And I’m just now getting his newborn photo shoot pictures to you.

Lincoln's Newborn Photo Shoot from Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

I’m so sorry…I’m still trying to figure out how to fit blogging into the 12 minutes a day I now have to myself.  I suppose when I start getting more sleep, you’ll start getting more blog posts! =)

Lincoln's Newborn Photo Shoot from Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

Lincoln's Newborn Photo Shoot from Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

Once again, I am absolutely in love with Rachel Weber Photography’s photos.  She is amazing.  We use her all the time, and I’m tickled that she has photographed my kids for most of their lives…which makes each shoot so easy, since my kids are so comfortable with her.

Lincoln's Newborn Photo Shoot from Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

Lincoln's Newborn Photo Shoot from Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

Lincoln's Newborn Photo Shoot from Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

Usually, Rachel shoots my family outside.  She is fantastic at capturing the true personalities of the kids.  They certainly aren’t canned smiles, but somehow their souls shine through the photos!  For this session, we shot inside of Lincoln’s nursery {other than a few shots of the whole family out on the front porch}, to take advantage of the bright, natural light…while keeping him comfortable.

Lincoln's Newborn Photo Shoot from Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

Lincoln's Newborn Photo Shoot from Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

And what’s better than a happy baby?!?

Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

July 2014 Cleaning Calendar

Happy July!

What are your big plans for the 4th this year?  We will be celebrating with our neighbors and closest friends as we enjoy a neighborhood picnic, parade, games and fireworks!

And cleaning.  I gave you the day off for the holiday!  Here’s your July 2014 Cleaning Calendar!

July 2014 Cleaning Calendar - Palmettos and Pigtails

Click HERE or on the picture above to download and print your own copy of the July 2014 Cleaning Calendar!

Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

Family of Five

People keep asking me, “so how is it having three kids now?”

Newborn Shoot by Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

I bought the kids’ coordinating outfits from Red Pajamas on Etsy….aren’t they adorable?

And my answer is always, “Great!”  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade it for the world {well…most days!}.  But we are still struggling to find our groove as a family of five.  All in all, juggling three kids is not much different than juggling two.  The biggest challenges are coordinating “get-out-the-door” time with “feeding-spitup-blowout-time” and teaching the girls to have patience while I deal with baby stuff.  We do a couple more loads of laundry each week now {thanks to Lincoln’s excessive spitting up}, and it’s admittedly a little harder to navigate grocery stores and crowded VBS hallways while lugging a heavy infant carrier too.  Thank goodness for my carrier tent and carrier cushion, which keep germ hands away from Lincoln, and saves my arm!

Newborn Shoot by Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

Overall, we are slowly starting to adjust.  Jayna is super helpful with holding, feeding, burping and diapering.  Millie is a little less enthusiastic about her brother, but still loves to kiss him and bring him pacifiers.  Maggie ignores him.  Dave has stepped up and is wonderful about nighttime feedings and dealing with the “girl drama” so I can get a break here and there.  Lincoln is a content baby, and really only cries when he needs something.  He eats every 2-3 hours, but after feeding and burping, I only have about an hour free in between.

Newborn Shoot by Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and PigtailsNewborn Shoot by Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

So admittedly, my house is a wreck.  I haven’t vacuumed in days.  I haven’t cooked in weeks {stay tuned for how I’m able to pull that off!}.  I have three goals per day.  Goal #1: Keep everyone alive.  Goal #2:  Attempt to keep my sanity.  Goal #3: Accomplish something. Anything.

I keep my expectations low each day, and so far, I haven’t really been disappointed!  Even if that means that some days my goal is to just empty the dishwasher.  Other days, my goal is to get a 20 minute nap.  Either way, as long as I accomplish it, I’m happy!

Newborn Shoot by Rachel Weber Photography - Palmettos and Pigtails

Meet my new family of five!

Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

All photos on this post were taken by our favorite family photographer, Rachel Weber Photography.  To see more of her work with my family, check out our pregnancy announcement photos, our fall family pics, and Millie’s newborn photo shoot.

Bonus points for you if you can find which of my kids is a model on Rachel’s Portfolio Page…

Lincoln’s Birth Announcement

Just wanted to officially “announce” our son, since I can’t send each and every one of you a postcard birth announcement.

Clever, huh?

It's a Boy!  Funny announcement card

 Haha, just kidding!  I saw this on Pinterest and laughed out loud…both at the thought of my grandmother inadvertently participating in a card like this, and the just general absurdity of it!  Admit it, you are giggling too!

Here’s our real birth announcement:

Lincoln's Birth Announcement from Shutterfly - Palmettos and Pigtails

I think my grandmother will like hanging this one on her fridge better, what do you think?

Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

Bringing Lincoln Home {and a couple of reviews}

*I received the products mentioned in this blog post for free in exchange for a review on my blog.  As always, all opinions are 100% honest and my own!

We brought baby Lincoln home on Saturday afternoon, May 17th, after spending 48 hours in the hospital.  It’s amazing how, even after three kids, you have battling feelings of relief and panic when being issued your discharge papers from the hospital.  As much as I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, taking a shower, and getting back into our little groove…I also was keenly aware that by going home, I was also going to now be responsible for 3 lives, day-to-day activities and chores, and giving up sleep.

When our girls were born, we didn’t slow down.  The new baby just got toted along for the ride.  We went out to eat, we visited friends, we went to church.  But even though our schedule wasn’t really interrupted, I was constantly worrying about dirty hands touching the baby, the sun in the baby’s eyes, strangers staring, etc.

So when Trisha from Cute As a Button Etsy Shop contacted me about doing a review for her tag toys that double as reminders to wash hands, I jumped at the chance.  I LOVED the idea of a little sign for the carseat carrier, and so incorporating it onto a hanging toy was perfect!

Cute as a Button has a ton of different color/fabric combinations, and several different ways to ask people to wash hands.  I chose the more straight-forward request, and then added on a little hand sanitizer onto the clip as well.  No excuses for germy hands!

Wash Your Hands before touching the baby Tag Toy from Cute As a Button Etsy Shop

I have gotten SO many compliments on my tag toy….people are loving the idea, and I love that I don’t have to be the bad guy anymore by having to awkwardly ask people to wash their hands.  Cute as a Button has lots of other things as well, check out their Etsy Shop to see all of the embroidered and monogrammed items: including seat belt covers, bloomers, safety items, etc.  You can also follow them on Facebook or on Pinterest.

And you might remember Heather from Gemini Red Creations, from my Big Baby Giveaway last month.  She made me a carseat carrier tent to die for!  I had always been skeptical about them for two reasons.

a) Lincoln would be at his tiniest/most vulnerable during the HOT summer months
b) I make and use a carseat carrier cushion on my carseat handle.  I can’t live without it.  So I was worried that the tent wouldn’t fit around it, or that it would be awkward to use both items together.

Carseat Tent from Gemini Red Creations and Tag Toy from Cute as a Button Etsy Shop - Palmettos and Pigtails

But Heather’s tent ended up being perfect for us!  It has the adorable tie print cotton on the outside, and a lightweight flannel liner on the inside.  It’s heavy enough to protect the baby from sun, wind and loud noises, but doesn’t trap the heat inside the carrier.  The straps that go around the carseat handle are sturdy, and located in a wider position…which accommodate my carrier cushions perfectly!  And I love that it’s open in the middle, but the fabric is wide enough that it can overlap easily to hide the baby if needed.  And have you ever seen such a cute fabric print?  Just the right amount of subtle boy! =)

You can follow Gemini Red Creations on Facebook, Pinterest, or Shop her current products.  She’s got a ton of crafty products, from jewelry to aprons to pillows!  Go check her shop out!

Needless to say, these two items have become staples for us, as we cart Little Man around in his carrier every day.  I love the way they look, and I’m confident that both the Tag Toy and the Carseat Tent are keeping him safe and germ free!

Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

Introducing Lincoln!

Hi there!  Did you miss me?  I missed all of you, mostly because I just couldn’t wait to share our newest bundle of joy with you!  Lincoln has officially arrived, and we are slowly getting used to our new #familyoffive {the hashtag that I have been using on Instagram, if you want to follow me!}.  Thanks to post scheduling, I’ve been able to concentrate only on my family for the past two weeks, miraculously being able to pretty much stay off of the computer.  It’s been heavenly.

Our new #familyoffive from Palmettos and Pigtails

Let me back up and tell you Lincoln’s birth story:

His official due date was May 21st, but for about 2 weeks before, I was having some pretty intense Braxton Hicks.  This happened with Millie too, and resulted in her induction and VERY fast delivery a week early…so I got scheduled for an induction on Thursday, May 15th.  We went in at 6am and I got all hooked up to IVs and my Strep B antibiotics by 8:30.  The nurses started my Pitocin at 9am, increasing the drip level every half an hour.

Welcome to the world, Lincoln!

By 11:00, I was bored and uncomfortable. I was having lots of pressure and contractions about every 90 seconds.  But, I was still only 2cm dilated {yes, you read that right, I was less dilated than I had been at my 39 week appointment!}  Talk about frustrating.  At 1:15, the nurses broke my water, and I had very slow progression of dilation after that.  Finally, I got my epidural at 5:30pm and became a little more comfortable, but more frustrated at the lack of progression.  I was afraid that I was going to end up having to have a C-section since he wasn’t coming on his own.

I went from 5cm at 8:45 to 9cm at 9:10…my doctor {who was off duty and home doing homework with her kids!} was called and she arrived just in time for my pushing to begin just after 10.  I pushed through 3 contractions {so a total of about 3 minutes} and Lincoln Christopher was born at 10:15pm.

Many thanks to the Delivery Dream Team {aka Dave and Loo}, who have coached me through three amazing deliveries now.  And I had a fantastic set of nurses and doctors who went above and beyond to help deliver Lincoln.  I’m always impressed at our experience at our hospital…the staff there are just. so. great.

Lincoln weighed 8 lbs 14 oz and was 20.5 inches long.

The girls came on Friday morning to meet Lincoln, and they were so sweet with him.  Jayna immediately wanted to hold him {and did hold him for about 45 minutes!}, while Millie gave a couple of kisses…and then wanted a snack.  Typical.

So, here we are at home now, slowly figuring out how to do life as a family of five.  The girls have been terrific so far, “babysitting” their brother so that I can try to get some stuff done around the house.  Jayna loves to feed and burp Lincoln, but has informed me {after witnessing a couple of Lincoln’s “fountains,”  that she won’t be doing diaper changing!}.   And Dave has been wonderful with nighttime feedings and picking up the slack around the house.  And our friends and neighbors have been Godsends, feeding us almost every night!  All in all, we are settling in!

Stay tuned for more updates!

Palmettos and Pigtails Signature