Quick & Easy Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Spicy Marinara Sauce

Have you tried spaghetti squash?  I tried it for the first time about six years ago and I'll be honest, I wasn't a fan.  I think it was because I expected something a little different so I didn't give it a fair chance.  At any rate, I decided to give it another try a few months ago.  Mainly because a co-worker talked about the convenience of it when microwaved (yep you can microwave it!) and it sounded like the best kind of weeknight meal - quick and easy!  And I'm so glad I gave it that second chance because I loved it.  And now I'm a huge fan.  Like I-think-I-could-eat-it-once-per-week kind of fan!  And like I said, you can make it in under 30 minutes in the microwave!  And double bonus: because it's a vegetable, spaghetti squash is actually good for you!  Clean eating at its finest!

Here's how I like to prepare mine, though I'm open to additional recipes using spaghetti squash!  If you have a good one, send it my way!
Quick & Easy Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Spicy Marinara Sauce

Quick & Easy Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Spicy Marinara Sauce
What You Need:
Two spaghetti squash
Olive oil
Minced garlic
28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
Can of mushrooms
Red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper

What You Do:
1. Pierce squash with a fork two or three times, then microwave the whole squash for 15 minutes.

2. Allow to cool another 15 minutes, then cut in half lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scoop out seeds. Shred the squash with a fork.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.  Heat oil in a large saute pan and add garlic; simmer until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes, mushrooms, red pepper, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Stir to combine.  Cook until the sauce begins to simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Top shredded squash with sauce (and Parmesan, if desired) and enjoy!

Note: This recipe makes four adult dinner-sized portions.  The sauce is also good with diced onions and green peppers included!

A JORD Wood Watch for my Valentine (with a Giveaway!)

It seems like Christmas was just yesterday, but alas January has nearly come and gone and the next holiday is already upon us - Valentine's Day.  Craig and I don't typically celebrate the hallmark holiday, but when JORD reached out to me and asked if I'd like to gift my husband a men's watch to be featured on my blog, I couldn't say no!  Besides, he works so hard every day to be able to provide for our family (yes I work full time, as well, but his salary > teacher salary) and I am very proud of him in his {not so new anymore} role as a manager, so it was nice to be able to use my blog to reward him!


As fun as it would have been to surprise him with a watch, I also wanted him to love it so I let him choose his favorite.  He chose the Dover Series Black & Koa watch.  The black is very classy, yet the natural koa gives it a casual look allowing him to wear it to work, to church, or while working in the garage on the weekends.  Additionally, the visible gears through the sapphire crystal glass makes this unique watch extra manly (aren't all guys curious about how things work?) and gives it a super cool look.  And because the watch is made of wood, it's surprisingly lightweight!


Using JORD's wrist sizer, I ordered the watch pre-sized to perfectly fit Craig's wrist.  Though I didn't customize the watch beyond its size, you can do so by engraving either the watch itself or adding a personalized engraved message to the cedar box the watch is packaged in.


So if you have a special Valentine in your life, check out JORD's line of men's watches here...or if, by chance, you are in the market for a new watch for yourself, you can find their women's watches here.  I'm eyeing one or two for myself. 😉


And now for the fun part!  JORD is giving away $100 to one lucky reader!  One person will win but everyone will receive a consolation code worth $25.00!  Entering this giveaway will take all of one minute (I promise) and let's be honest, I don't have that many followers so your chance of winning is 👌😉.  Enter by following this link HERE.
The contest will close on February 5 at 11:59pm. 
Both the $100 and the $25 codes will expire on 4/30/2017.

This post was sponsored by JORD, but all opinions--and my hunk of a model--are my own.  

P.S. Craig, happy early Valentine's Day!  I know we don't do gifts regularly, nor did I pay for this watch, but if I had, you deserve every bit of this gift and then some.  You are an amazing husband, father, friend, and employee.  Your co-workers are lucky to have you, as are the four of us at home.  Life gets crazy and I may not tell you often, but I appreciate you more than you know and I am lucky to have found my best friend to live life with.  Love you, honey!

R is for Rhett

Although there's no major significance behind his name, I wanted to blog about how the littlest member of our family became Rhett Kauffman.

It's no secret that our other boys have unique names.  I wouldn't call them weird by any means, but Brantley and Holden are definitely not common.  As someone who has a super common name, that's exactly how I like it.  We wanted a similarly unique name for 3.0.

Early in my pregnancy, even before we knew he was a boy, Craig suggested the name Rhett.  I wasn't sold, mainly because I like multiple-syllable names, especially with our one-syllable last name.  Rhett Sides was just so short.  But Craig was persistent.  He said it sounded like the name of an athlete.  He also said the name had been a favorite of his since he was younger.  As the days passed, the name grew on me and by the time we learned of our baby's gender, I had finally agreed that Rhett is what we'd name him.  (We didn't have a girl name, fyi.)

The middle name, Kauffman, has pretty big significance to our city (Kansas City).  As most people know, it's the name of our major league baseball stadium: Kauffman Stadium.  And we are pretty big Royals fans around here!  But the stadium is actually named after Ewing Marion Kauffman, who did quite a few things for Kansas City including establishing the Royals as a baseball team in 1969.

Much like Rhett, I wasn't initially sold.  Although I liked the name itself and the connection to our city, I worried about it being a bit too cheesy.  Furthermore, Rhett is kind of like Brett; George Brett is a Kansas City Royals legend.  I didn't want people thinking we went overboard on the Royals connections.

Nonetheless, a few days after Craig suggested it, I was again sold.  It was official: our baby boy would be Rhett Kauffman.

So you could say Craig 100% named this baby.  After naming the other two, it was only fair I let him name one. 😉

A few interesting facts:

Brantley is the name of a country music signer (Brantley Gilbert).  Rhett is the last name of a country music singer (Thomas Rhett).

Holden is a character in the book Catcher in the Rye (Holden Caulfield).  Rhett is a character in Gone with the Wind (Rhett Butler).

We kept Brantley's name super secret until birth.  We told a few people with Holden, but it was still pretty secret.  Although I didn't publicly broadcast Rhett's name unless someone asked, it was the least secret of the three after Craig let it slip to our neighbors at a firepit last spring.

So there you go!  That's how our littlest became Mr. Rhett Kauffman Sides.
Inspiration behind our other boys' names:

Matchy Matchy with Finn + Emma

One of my favorite things about having three boys is getting to dress them in coordinating or matching clothes.  So when Finn + Emma offered to send us a piece or two, I knew right away I wanted matching pajamas.  I ordered some and then waited (and waited) for Rhett to make his appearance so I could snap some photos let my kids wear them and swoon over their cuteness.  And cute they were!

 These organic and eco-safe pajamas are very high quality, much thicker than the pajamas we typically wear, yet made from buttery soft cotton.  There are so many adorable patterns to choose from, as well as a large assortment of styles (the rompers might be my fave).  It's going to be hard to go back to our normal (i.e. cheap) non-matching pajamas after wearing these!!

If you wan to give Finn + Emma a try, use this link for 15% off all orders over $50!  And this rug by Lorena Canals--I blogged about its greatness here.  Not only is it the perfect rug for our nursery, but it makes for a pretty great backdrop for photos, huh? ;)  You can get one for yourself here.

And seriously, how cute is this?  Holden adores Baby Rhett and can be the best big brother there is!  I love watching him take on the role of big brother.  Although he and Brantley are closer in age, I think there's going to be a special bond between these two and I can't wait to watch the relationship grow.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Finn + Emma, but all opinions are my own.

10 Benefits of Formula Feeding

We've all heard the phrase "breast is best yada yada yada", right?  I really hate it because it implies that those of us who must--or choose--to feed our babies in other ways are doing something wrong...but that's another post for another day.  I was forced to supplement each of my first two babies with formula in the early days because of their lack of weight gain, and though I'm proud to say I've made it nearly six weeks this time with only a few ounces of formula, there are some definite perks of taking the formula route.  And speaking from experience, formula does not equal failure.  Society definitely made me feel that way since I couldn't give my babies what they "needed"--even though looking back I know now what they needed was formula.  So if you're in the same boat I've been and likely beating yourself up over it, here is some encouragement: 10 benefits of formula feeding.  (Not to be confused with 10 reasons to formula feed.)

1. Your life is not ruled by feedings, pumping, etc.  When breastfeeding, your life is definitely not your own.  It's impossible to sneak away for more than a few hours because, at the very least, you have to pump.  Even silly things like what you choose to eat (oatmeal for breakfast, anyone?) is tied to breastfeeding.  For me anyway, I felt a thousand times more like myself once I was done with breastmilk and that was a great feeling.

2. This goes without saying, but your husband can help!  No longer are you the lone parent in charge of feeding your babe, which can be so liberating...and a huge perk during those overnight feedings!
3. You can wear regular bras.  Maybe it's just me, but I really hate my nursing bras.  They are not comfortable, nor are they flattering.  Many new moms look forward to fitting into their pre-pregnancy clothes once again, but I look forward to my pre-baby bras!!

4. Your baby may stay full for longer.  Breast milk is digested very quickly so oftentimes the baby is ready to eat again much sooner than after a bottle of formula.  Perhaps this is part of the reason my first two babies slept through the night at such an early age?

5. Feeding is so much easier to do in public!  Sure people may judge you for not breastfeeding (let's be honest, you can't win), but it's way easier to whip out a bottle than a boob (in my opinion).  

6. Want that third glass of wine?  You don't have to worry about pumping and dumping!  (But really, you don't have to worry about that darn pump period, which is the major benefit here!)

7. Formula includes vitamin D so you don't have to remember to give your baby the drops on a daily basis...and then feel really guilty when you forget.

8. Perkier boobs.  People always say breastfeeding ruins their boobs so if you're not doing it, then maybe your boobs will stay younger longer?

9. No clogged ducts. No mastitis.  Because let me tell you, neither is fun.

10. And finally, the biggest benefit, your baby is fed.  Fed = full.  Full = happy.  And happy baby = happy mama, which is the most important in the grand scheme.

All the Christmas Things (+ NYE)

Here we are, two weeks later and I'm finally blogging about our Christmas!  I have a ton of photos from the entire holiday season so instead of multiples posts, I'm just going to recap bullet-point style.

Long before Christmas Day--and even before the birth of Rhett--we ventured down to Union Station for all things festive.  The boys always enjoy looking at the trains (Holden would not ride the train however) and I enjoy snapping photos in such a gorgeous setting.

Our Christmas tree went up waaaaay later than normal this year because I was trying to avoid Christmas decor in newborn photos.  I finally gave in because, well, someone was being super stubborn about his arrival.  Turns out, the decor avoided any and all photos anyway, so we totally could have put it up mid-November.  Oh well.

We celebrated Christmas early with Craig's parents when they came to meet their newest little grandbaby.  I don't think the boys minded the opportunity to open presents mid-December.  Among their gifts?  Two 6-foot tall goal posts that sat in our dining room for three weeks before getting the boot to the basement!

It's not Christmas without matching jammies, am I right?  Definitely made a point to take photos of the boys in both sets.

This year, I thought it would be a good idea to decorate a gingerbread train.  I should have purchased the pre-made house, but the train was just too cute!  Anyway, our caboose fell apart, but the boys had fun adding embellishments to the engine.  Brantley was super into it, examining the picture of the train on the box, and wanting ours to look just like that one!  And despite my control freak tendencies, I stayed out of the way and let them do the decorating.


Some of our newest neighbors hosted a "Jingle while you Mingle" Christmas party the weekend before Christmas.  The hits of the party were definitely these face coasters that double as masks (I'm not even sure what to call them).

On Christmas Eve morning, we had reservations to eat breakfast in a gingerbread house at Great Wolf Lodge.  It was quite different than we had pictured, but fun nonetheless!

Just some Christmas Even afternoon selfies, no big deal.  Clearly, Holden woke up from his nap on the wrong side of the bed.

Because we didn't travel this year for Thanksgiving, we thought it was only fair to our families to also not travel for Christmas.  I have wanted an excuse to stay home for years and I so enjoyed waking up in our own beds on Christmas morning.  Staying here also meant we got to attend the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church.  Perhaps my most favorite part of staying in Kansas City.  I busted out the tripod before we headed to church for a Christmas Eve family photo.  To my surprise, no one complained and we even got 4/5 smiles!

Upon returning home from church, my boob was beginning to hurt.  A few hours later, I had a 101-degree fever and could barely even play the part of Santa Claus.  I woke up on Christmas morning feeling even worse with all the classic signs of mastitis, so I spent much of my Christmas Day on the couch.  I was thankful to get an antibiotic that afternoon, but still not a fun way to spend a holiday.  Needless to say, photos were not my first priority that day.


Despite being sick, I was overcome with gratitude on Christmas morning.  I couldn't help but feel so incredibly lucky to have three healthy kids, especially the youngest after our earlier scare with Down Syndrome.  For some reason, it hit me extra hard on the holiday and I just couldn't thank God enough for blessing me in the ways he has.

My sister and her family came to meet Mr. Rhett during Christmas break.  We got adventurous and braved Union Station and Sea Life for a day on the town.  Craig was working so it was me in charge of three kids...a small glimpse of what my summer is going to look like.  (Spoiler alert: I survived.  Barely.)  Anyway, Brantley and Holden loved the time with their Iowa cousins.

Our neighbors hosted a NYE decades party (dress from your favorite decade), which meant I got to crimp my hair and wear my fanny pack all night.  Meanwhile, Craig busted out the Doc Martins...the ones from the 90s that he never got rid of!!!!!  For me, the night wasn't quite as crazy as last year.  Turns out, breastfeeding kind of ruins the fun, but I did make it past midnight which I consider a huge win!

P.S. When you ask the 4-year olds to snap some group photos, this is what you get!

And finally, I was home with all three boys for two fulls weeks during their break from preschool/daycare.  I definitely enjoyed the extra time with them, but I also finally understand the line in that Christmas song "Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again."  They've been back at daycare for three days now and I'm back to enjoying my quiet, clean, relaxing maternity leave.