Frozen. How Fresh Stays Fresh

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Frozen Foods Institute and the Frozen Food Roundtable for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

"What is all this?!" she asked with a mixture of disbelief and hopefulness. I laughed at her expression, pondering box upon box of frozen foods normally foreign to our kitchen.

"Yes, it's for us. Yes, you get to eat it. Yes, even that." (I don't remember what that was, but it was all for us, so whatever.) After the baby comes. (Side note: I unpacked my haul, purchased with free coupons, approximately 8 hours before labor started. Timing is everything!)

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You'll never catch me arguing the benefits of frozen foods. We are blessed with two refrigerator freezers and a chest freezer, each one consistently saving me time and money as I stash double and triple batches of muffins and meals, and almost always have bulk beef, pork, and chicken at the ready. Frozen food for the win!

In my freezers before the baby arrived:

  1. several dozen bags of muffins, making breakfast super easy even when mom sleeps in with the baby (one of our favorites)
  2. tater tot casserole (X2, but we caved and ate one a couple weeks before the baby arrived
  3. cavatini (X2, but um… we also ate one of those before the baby arrived ~ totally her fault, we thought she'd be here nearly 2 weeks earlier! ;)  )
  4. chicken spaghetti
  5. 3 dozen brown bag burritos
  6. 3 dozen pigs in a blanket (ummm, well… we tore into some of those, too)

As excited as I was to be fairly well stocked for the babymoon, I also knew it would be fun for the whole family to have some frozen convenience foods handy when we're all bleary-eyed with the transition. Here's what we've tried:

Jimmy Dean's Pancake and Sausage on a Stick

Thumbs up! Actually, the kids ate these again this morning on our way to Miss 11's basketball tournament. I love the portability, because getting six kids out the door by 8:00 a.m.? Well, it's super handy to have something to eat on the road.

Speaking of eating on the road… I am totally out of practice with this nursing a newborn thing. I forget just how.much.time. it takes, and that I need to add in an extra hour of prep to get out the door. Last week when I was headed out the door late and an hour past lunchtime and still hadn't eaten anything myself, I grabbed a frozen French Bread Pizza from Stouffer's. There were two of them in the box and I totally regretted leaving one for my husband. Ha! Mine was really good and I wanted more! The french bread crust crisped up nicely and was easy to eat while I was driving.

So what did the family eat while I was on the road? Mr. 8 had everything under control. A budding chef, he did admit that he would rather "cook than just heat things up" (<———- I love that kid!) but for lunch that day they had a little appetizer party with some Bagel Bites, Chik'n Nuggets from MorningStar Farms, and Delimex Rolled Tacos. Party on, kids! (Side note: We were giggling because the Chik'n Nuggets were veggie nuggets and the kids had absolutely no idea.)

We could chat about the merits of fresh vs frozen and homemade vs convenience, and I'll be the first one to tell you that I prefer to make my own food when I can. Do frozen convenience foods scare me? Nah. Especially when it looks like this.

Friends, if you have never enjoyed a slice of Edward's Key Lime Pie, may I suggest that you do that. Like, now. I'm a fairly confident cook, and I love to bake and make desserts, but I can't do better than this. Oh my yum! THIS is what they mean by Frozen. How Fresh Stays Fresh.  Absolutely perfect date night in treat, but don't tell my husband that two slices come in the box. I enjoyed the first slice on my own the other night while he had the kids at the county carnival, and I'm just not sure he needs to know about the other slice hidden in the freezer…

Freezing is how fresh food stays fresh. Freezing naturally pauses inspired recipes made with fresh, quality ingredients and suspends them there until the moment you’re ready to enjoy them, locking in freshness, flavor and nutrients. It's been a long time since I've stocked up on frozen convenience foods (I used to buy them all the time when I was single) and it's been fun to revisit some of my guilty pleasures with my family. I might even let them try my Toaster Strudels. ;)

Do you enjoy any guilty pleasure foods from the frozen foods aisle? What are your favorites? I'm always up for trying something new!

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Essential Oils for Labor, Delivery, and Postpartum Care

Word of warning: If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to the infinite ways essential oils can benefit mom and baby during labor, delivery, and the postpartum days, you’re in the wrong place.

Did I use my essential oils when having Baby #6? Yes, I did. Was I glad I had them? Yes, I was. Did our birth care room smell better than any other in the hospital? Sure did, and we received many a compliment. But here’s the thing. A bit of a confession, if you will: I’m an oily minimalist. (Shhhh, don’t tell. ;) ) Read on, if you dare, and prepare to be underwhelmed.

Essential Oils for Labor, Delivery, and Postpartum Care

Did I ever tell you about the time, with Baby #1, that I shoved my husband away and nearly kicked him out of my room because he had the audacity to eat pancakes behind a curtain while I was in labor and then come talk to me. Talk to me with syrup breath. How dare he breathe syrup on me! (Never mind that the poor guy had been up all night and hadn’t eaten for 15 hours.)

All that to say, historically I don’t do well with most scents during labor.  I knew that about myself well in advance, and knew that I’d need to keep it simple with my oils despite usage advice in books and on the interwebs. What I enjoy in the everyday may not have settled well in the throes of my back being torn apart by a 6 pound, 15 ounce freight train, so I was super conservative with my oil usage.

What I also knew was that Valor calms me, relaxes my muscles, and is one of my very favorite oils for stressful situations. <—– Unmedicated childbirth with horrible back labor = stressful.

oily3

“You have Valor?!” my husband asked, aghast.  We laughed later, but yes. I hid a Valor roll on from him for weeks, knowing that 1) it was out of stock and wouldn’t be replaced any time soon, 2) it may be the only remote comfort for me, and 3) it’s his favorite oil, too. A “cure all,” he calls it.

I rolled Valor on my shoulders and my lower back from the moment I knew contractions had started. (Okay, yes. I rolled it on in the days and weeks before labor, too. I needed it.) Let me be perfectly clear here: No amount or brand or type of essential oil is going to take away your labor pains.  Bummer, I know. But still, this “courage in a bottle” (<—— Valor’s nickname) did its job. The worst thing about having six children is that you totally know what’s coming, and if your labors are like mine, the anticipation is sometimes more awful than the real thing, making you tense up emotionally and physically.

So, before and during labor = Valor. That’s all I did.

After labor = more Valor, and this time I shared. :) Lance’s muscles were sore, too, what with pushing his full body weight through his fists into my back for counter pressure. I rolled it on my shoulders, back, and lower belly to help with the after pains.

Also after labor, we cranked up the diffuser. What I didn’t want (and truly didn’t have time for since we were only at the hospital for 3 intense hours before delivery) during labor I craved after. I chose lavender and orange because 1) lavender is super gentle. I had no concerns about using it around my new baby girl, and 2) orange ~ any citrus oil, really ~ is my favorite. Citrus is very energizing and uplifting for me. The two together = healing, calming, and uplifting. Postpartum bliss.

Healing Lavender Bottom Spray

My postpartum ace in the hole was actually a Plan B homemade Healing Lavender Bottom Spray. I wanted to order ClaraDerm. It was out of stock. I finally was able to order Lavaderm, but it didn’t arrive on time. So… I kept it simple. I knew that lavender was all sorts of gentle and healing, recommended for bruising, abrasions, and trauma (<——- hello, new mama bottom!) and witch hazel is cooling and often used for postpartum hemorrhoids (<—– those little circle witch hazel wipe things, I used to stick them on my pad in my underwear) so I put the two together (about a cup of witch hazel and 20 drops of lavender essential oil) and sprayed directly on my bottom and on my pad after every bathroom trip and any other time I wanted it. Bonus? It cost less than $2.

Since coming home from the hospital I continue to diffuse oils daily, sticking with Gentle Baby, Lavender, and some citrus oils. I’ve also taken several epsom salts baths with Gentle Baby, and I still have my Bottom Spray bottle handy. I used my rewards points to stock up on NingXia Red and drink that daily. Really though, that’s about it. I have ordered Roman Chamomile because it is also recommended for use with restless babies, and while my wee one is a well-mannered doll at age 13 days, I want to be prepared for tummy aches and sleeplessness. Just in case. ;)

Other than that, I am content. Are there other oils I could be using? Absolutely, and I have the book Gentle Babies (highly recommended!) to reference when needed. For now, though, with my newborn and my own needs, I’m all about less is more because it’s working for me. Keep it simple, mama.

Interested in using essential oils for your next labor and delivery? Want some Valor just because it is awesomesauce? I feel ya. The bad news is that Valor is out of stock. The good news is that it, along with 10 other popular everyday oils (including Lavender), is available in the Premium Starter Kit. The best news? We’re still celebrating the arrival of our sweet girl, so for the next week, I’ll throw in a 15 mL bottle of Orange Essential Oil (in addition to the reference book I already provide) when you sign up as a wholesale member with the Premium Starter Kit. Instructions and my direct link (member #1367433) can be found here. Offer expires Monday, August 4, at midnight. Shoot me an email to tell me you signed up via this post! (amysfinerthings @ gmail . com)

What comforts get you through labor and delivery? As for postpartum discomforts, this post that I wrote after baby #5 still rings true for me.

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Summer Learning with Zoobean

We barely took a breath in June. I had no worries about screen time or rotting brains because there was just.no.time. for laziness. That schedule continued into the first week of July, but it's funny how things can take a 180° turn. "Go outside! … [Keep reading…]

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Birth Story: Baby #6

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Day in the Life {July 15}

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What’s Your Guess?

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Dear June, You about did me in.

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Oh, summer. You are a wild ride! Yes, I realize it's already the second week of July. Yes, I realize this blog is nearly dormant. Life is keeping us hoppin' friends, and we don't even have a new baby yet! Here are my excuses, rolled up into a … [Keep reading…]

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Celebrating Mom Giveaway Winners

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Yes. Finally. (Also? Yes, still pregnant. Yay! My first goal was to make it through all of the baseball tournaments, and I did! Next goal? Make it through Thursday this week: last 2 swim meets on Tuesday and Thursday, moving my parents on Wednesday, … [Keep reading…]

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Nesting with New Furniture from Sauder.com

I'm drawing a total and complete blank as I try to think of any piece of furniture in our home that we purchased new. Living room set? Twenty-ish years old, purchased as a bargain hand-me-down from family. Beds? Hand-me-downs. Dressers? More … [Keep reading…]

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