Games

Game Night: Spaceteam

spaceteam

Hello all! It’s a lazy Sunday morning after a fun friends and family game night and I want to share a quick review of one of the games we played.

We started the night with Spaceteam, the self-described “chaotic and cooperative card game”. I would definitely agree with the “chaotic” descriptor!

I bought this game for my sister and her boyfriend for Christmas after looking through Amazon review of it, and the other night they brought it over to play when we got together. When we first read the directions, we were very confused. To be honest, I seriously considered moving on to another game because it seemed very complicated. I didn’t want to spend the entire night figuring out how to play a game. Enter Youtube and the magic of the how-to video. We watched this video to better understand what we were in for and if you are interested in playing the game, I suggest you do so, too.

Spaceteam is a card game where the goal is to build a complete spaceship, while fixing malfunctions. Parts for the completed spaceship are divided up in the deck and among players. Each person plays a malfunction card at once and begs for the correct “tools” needed to resolve the problem. Tools have names like “Lorentz Whittler” and “Quasipaddle” and can be identified by name, picture, or symbol. This makes for a particularly hilarious aspect of the game in which your husband is shouting across the table, “I need the purple anal probe!” Everyone is yelling for the parts they need to solve their malfunction and, unqualified cosmonauts that you are, no one know the names of the tools of their trade. It makes for some funny stuff.

The hilarity of attempts at descriptions for inane “space tools” is my favorite part of the game. It is also very short (5 minutes, not including the time it takes to understand how to play the game), so it’s great as a starter or finisher on game nights. We played 3 rounds at increasing difficulties and then moved on to Taboo.

It’s definitely not the main course on game night, but it is a great addition! Also, I’ve seen that it’s an app, as well? Let me know what you think if you try it!

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Make-Ahead, Recipes

Make-Ahead Meal Prep Week #1

Hello friends! I spent most of Sunday evening doing meal prep for the week ahead. As per my resolutions to organize, be healthier, and save time, I decided to try a few make-ahead meals for the week. Here’s what I made:

The first thing I made were the Breakfast Cups. These were super easy to make and cooked well with the substitutions I made (milk for almond milk and honey for maple syrup). You simply mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl and then spoon into a 12-cup muffin pan. Then, bake for 20-25 minutes, and they’re done! My husband asked me while I was making these, “Yeah, but are they more expensive than belVita?” The answer (for my recipe) is “No!” Let’s break it down…

So there were only two ingredients that I didn’t have in my fridge or pantry: oatmeal and blueberries, which cost me about $4.50. Since each batch of Izzy’s Breakfast Cups makes 12 muffins, each cost me about $0.22 to make while a belVita cookies costs about $0.60 each. I feel thrifty and productive. Well, kind of thrifty, but definitely on the path to healthy – these cookies have no preservatives and fresh ingredients! Bonus, they taste delicious! My husband kept sneaking to the fridge to get some…hopefully they’ll make it into the week! I’m actually going to take these for afternoon snacks since I made breakfast sandwiches, too. It’ll be a great pick me up around 2:00 when I’m tired and ready for a nap!

Next up were the Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Sandwiches. These were very easy to make and they made my kitchen smell amazing…I guess bacon will do that! You start by baking eggs (much easier than frying them, which was what I was going to do), then cooking the bacon, and toasting the english muffins. Finally, build your sandwiches and wrap them in aluminum foil. Stick them in the freezer and they’re ready in the morning!

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I was initially going to make these with turkey sausage, but when I read Emma’s method for cooking bacon, I decided to give it a try. I’ll be doing this from now on instead of making a mess frying the bacon on the stove! How delicious does this look??

The last prep I did was for lunches for the week. My husband usually takes a sandwich every day, while I alternate between frozen meals and leftovers.This will be a much healthier, budget-friendly option we can throw in the mix each week, as well. I found the idea for make-ahead bowls on Pinterest and came up with something simple for us to try:  chicken, rice, and green beans.

First, I made garlic green beans with almonds. These are very simple to make. Trim the ends of 1 pound of green beans, boil them in water until tender (about 3-5 minutes) and drain, saute 1/3 cup of sliced almonds in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with 2 cloves of minced garlic or 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, then add the green beans to the mix until coated. Transfer to the refrigerator to cool.

Next, make the rice (white or brown). While this is cooking, prepare the chicken. Heat the oven to 400°F and prepare the marinade. Whisk together 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and a splash of white vinegar. I sprinkled in some thyme and rosemary to the mix and poured it all into a ziploc with my chicken. After letting it soak for about 20 minutes, I cut the chicken into cubes and spread it on a baking sheet coated with aluminum foil. Then, I sprinkled with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, drizzled some olive oil on top, and popped it into the oven for 20 minutes. The chicken came out juicy and tender!

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Finally, I dug out 4 tupperware containers and divided the food among them. Now each of us has two ready-made meals in the refrigerator for our busy week! I’ll probably end up taking leftovers for the other two days, and if this goes over well, I’ll try to make four meals for each of us next week. I’m hoping later (when I become a make-ahead pro), I can start freezing meals and stockpiling for future lunches.

What make-ahead recipes have you tried and loved? Are there any you want to make, but haven’t yet?

 

pregnancy

21 Week Update

Each week I’ll update everyone on what’s going on with the bump, like so:

  • Energy Level: low and lazy
  • Exercise: none (it’s my last week off before back to school, give me a break!)
  • Cravings: Jack and the Box chicken tenders and curly fries (3 nights in a row and still unfulfilled…)21_pomegranate

I had my 21 week appointment today and all is well with the pomegranate (that’s the fruit size-alike for the baby this week). My doctor said the report from the perinatal ultrasound on Tuesday was great and that everything looks good with me. He asked how I’m doing with water (this has been somewhat difficult for me), and, while it’s true I’m doing better, I’m still not reaching that gallon-a-day goal.

Does anyone have any tips for meeting water goals?? I have an enormous cup and I drink through a straw (which I’ve found helps me drink more), but other than that I’m stuck…

On Tuesday we had the 20 week ultrasound to check on the development of the baby and everything looks good! The ultrasound technician kept commenting on how great the baby’s back looks, so I’m expecting to be impressed by a stellar back when we finally meet the little one (lol)!

The appointment itself was interesting because the whole gang was along for the ride. Penny had about a million questions for the technician and the doctor, and Abigail kept leaning on the table to get closer to the screen. They were both super excited to see the baby and it I’m glad we were able to include them in it!

We said this time that we are not going to find out the sex of the baby. We found out for both girls during the 20 week appointment, so I wasn’t sure how it would go not wanting to know. I’m proud to say we didn’t cave and we stuck to our guns! The doctor had us turn away while she checked anatomy in that area so we wouldn’t accidentally see (not that I’m sure I’d even know what I was looking at anyway…) People ask me if I think its a boy or a girl, but I honestly have no clue. So unless this baby starts sending out boy or girl vibes, I’ll be just as surprised as everyone else to find out!

 

Recipes, Uncategorized

Cold-Weather Beef Stew

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Given that it’s 29°F where I live in Texas (what?!), I decided last night that it was the perfect time to try to whip up some nice hot stew. Stews and soups are pretty inexpensive, especially if you have leftovers you can save for future lunches or dinners. This is a (relatively) quick and (definitely) easy recipe for warm and delicious Beef Stew.

First, you need 1-1 1/2 lbs of stew meat. I ended up with a little over 1 1/2 lbs because I like my stew to have protein in every bite! Cut the meat into smaller, bite-size pieces and trim off any excess fat. While you cut your beef, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.

Then, toss the beef in 1/4 cup of flour to help it brown in the pan and thicken your stew.

Once the oil is warm, brown half of your meat in the pot at a time. Try not to stir the meat too much, or it will cause it to take longer. Remember, your meat does not need to be completely brown on all sides – it will continue cooking in the pot later! When the meat looks mostly-brown, transfer it to a bowl and cook the rest of your beef.

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While the meat is browning, chop the onion into wedges and mince the garlic (I use a Vibe by Chef’n — it saves a ton of time!) When the other batch of beef is browned, add the first half of the beef back to the pot. Then, add the onions and garlic to the pot with the meat and saute for 2-3 minutes.

Next, add 3 oz. of tomato paste and 3 cups of beef broth to the pot. Stir the pot until all the browned bits stuck to the bottom have dissolved (your spoon should move freely on the bottom of the pot). Afterward, add 1 bay leaf, 3/4 teaspoon of dried thyme and 3/4 teaspoon of dried rosemary. Stir together and add pepper to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons).

Cover and allow to come to a simmer. Once it is bubbling, turn the heat to low and continue simmer for 30 minutes.

While the stew is simmering, peel and slice 1 lb of carrots (about 3-4) and peel and cut 1 lb of potatoes (3-4 small potatoes or 2 russets) into small cubes. After 30 minutes are up, add the carrots, potatoes, and 1 cup of frozen peas to the pot. At this point, you can also add 1 cup of red wine or 1 cup of water to add more broth to your stew (I made this batch with water and it was still delicious). Allow to simmer for another 20-25 minutes (or until vegetables are tender). **I also made a batch of white rice to serve the stew over at this time. This step is totally to your taste, I actually enjoyed the stew more without the rice and next time will probably make a batch of corn bread to accompany it instead.

Finally, taste the stew and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Some people add Worcestershire or steak sauce at this point, too, but this is up to you! You can also shop some parsley and sprinkle over the top when you serve it.

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Note: I was even able to freeze 4 servings to take when we go back to school next week, too.

If you try it, let me know what you think in the comments below! I’d love to hear any adjustments you make as well. Hope this stew warms you up in the cold winter weeks to come!

Uncategorized

Welcome to ‘The Toikey Sammich’

1276273_10103597150503430_871557704_oHi, I’m Aubrey! Welcome to my blog!

I’m a mother, teacher, and wife. While I love every minute of my time with my family and students, I often struggle daily to balance everything that goes along with these busy titles. I’m betting I’m not the only one!

This blog started with a New Years Resolution (well, a handful, to be honest) and I can’t wait to see what it grows into.

Let’s begin with the resolutions:

1. Focus on a happy, healthy pregnancy

Yes, I’m pregnant! I’m currently at 20 weeks and, right from the start, I had a goal. I was going to enjoy my pregnancy and stay as healthy as I had the first time around (this is Baby #3). I have kept the stress to a minimum, but I haven’t kept up with exercise or many fun pregnancy activities (belly casts, belly painting, etc). Part of this is due to being a busy mother of two and a full-time teacher, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make time for health and fun!

2. Get my home organized

My husband and I realized something recently. We have too. much. stuff! After an inter-state move over the summer (and several dumpsters-full of stuff and things), we still have a garage packed with unopened boxes and unorganized clutter everywhere we turn. My mission is home-organization, through any means necessary, and I’m committed to the time and energy it takes to get the job done.

3. Maintain healthy finances

My family is finally in a position where we can get in a healthy financial situation. We are out of debt (minus student loans) and at a place where we can begin saving some money. Our goals include determining the best budget for our family, saving money in an emergency fund, and figuring out how we can begin to invest for the future.

What You’ll Find on The Toikey Sammich

  • Posts about momming
  • Organization ideas and DIY projects
  • Budget-friendly ideas
  • Time-saving recipes
  • Reviews for products, games, etc

I can’t wait to share my experiences with you, and hope you’ll join me in building a great community! Come along on my journey to (successfully) juggle family, work, and fun!