Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Oh these two.....

Monday, March 25, 2013

Healthy Choices #FrozenFacts #Spon

This whole no dairy/no soy diet, or the jailbird diet as our pediatrician referred to it, is tricky but not totally impossible.  And, thankfully, it is forcing me to eat healthy which is really a pretty great side effect. 

The only thing is, that it cuts out the majority of “convenience” foods (blue box mac & cheese, for one!) but it doesn’t TOTALLY limit my options. ConAgra Foods, makers of Healthy Choice and Marie Callender’s foods, provide GREAT options, as I have come to find out.  I didn’t realize that these brands, specifically, use fresh vegetables and meat in their preparations – I was always under the impression that all frozen foods were highly processed.  Since most of what I eat right now is “clean” it’s great to know that there are still “convenience” options available!


(yay top chef!)

In fact, my lunch was ready today in 4 minutes.  How’s that for convenience?


I have also never been a huge fan of prepared/packaged frozen meals because I just assumed they were going to taste terrible.  Not true!  The Healthy Choice meal I had for lunch today was seriously SO GOOD.  I could really taste the freshness and I can’t tell you how happy I was about this.


Also, it was really easy to prepare – the directions were simple – and the packaging was sturdy that I wasn’t worried that my food was going to fall on the floor the minute I took the thing out of the microwave!


I mentioned that eating healthier is something that has happened by default with my “forced” diet change – but something that is really nice about the Healthy Choice meal is that it is one serving.  No worries about portion size or wasting food – and I was truly full when I was finished.  We all know portion control is a huge key to weight loss and healthy eating, so it’s nice that not only are the ingredients fresh, the food is tasty but the portion sizes are perfect.  Healthy Choice and Marie Callender’s have more than 80 meal options under 400 calories!

A little background on the video below from ConAngra:

Healthy Choice and Marie Callender’s created a video that follows two women on the adventures of their daily lives, imagining how new technologies will impact their routines, especially in the grocery store. From apps that store your grocery list to recipe research on Pinterest, the landscape of shopping is quickly changing. With various resources available to consumers, they are now, more than ever, interested in learning where their food is coming from.

And just in time for National Frozen Food Month (March), these brands are helping shoppers to predict the future of shopping for frozen food!


I am absolutely going to add Healthy Choice meals in to my work lunch and quick-dinner rotation!


ConAgra Foods frozen meals give families access to real ingredients like crunchy, freshly cut vegetables, homemade pasta and ripe fruit year-round. Just like most people blanch veggies before freezing them – ConAgra Foods does too – to help preserve color, texture and keep them fresh!

Give it a try sometime! Marie Callender’s hearty pot pies are filled with tender meat, freshly cut vegetables and Marie’s authentic golden, flaky crust. And Healthy Choice recipes use chef-inspired ingredients like, apples instead of sugar for tart sweetness and a splash of red wine for a punch of flavor instead of added salt.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ConAgra Foods.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

7 week stretch

My little peanut is 7 weeks old. Which seems completely impossible if you ask me. Here's a little recap of the past few weeks, mostly for memory keeping purposes.

- silent reflux is just as terrible as the projectile puke variety. She is miserable a lot. Crying, screeching, back arching (or curled up teeny-tiny), hoarse voice, angry face and visible (& audible, actually) discomfort.
- also terrible is MSPI. She can't tolerate any raw dairy or soy in my diet & the kind you find in most foods is a no-go also. I am completely mourning the loss if Reese peanut butter eggs. My waist line will probably thank me later.
- what is totally awesome though is her personality. When she is comfortable she is so chill. She coos & smiles and is in love with the birds on her swing. Morning is for sure the best time of day for her.
- she has started to track us a little bit with her eyes. Except, she has a bit of a lazy eye going on. Her left eye for sure, but I see some laziness in the right as well. The one trait no mom wants to pass on! Her pediatrician is aware and we will discuss things more at her 2 month appt in a few weeks.
- Aleesia LOVES her sister. It is amazing actually that at such a young age she interacts and engages with Gianna. And if G starts talking or singing to her, she calms down (maybe only for a minute or two).
- she is not much of a napper right now - especially if napping requires being out down. She will gladly fall asleep while we are holding her, but put her down and she will most likely wake up pretty quickly. While it is great to have a little snuggler, it is also slightly inconvenient when you need to do things, like go to the bathroom or eat!
- but!! Since she really doesn't sleep during the day, she started sleeping for 6-9 hours at night. So, that is pretty awesome. She was sleeping in the rock & play beside our bed. But now she sleeps in it, in her room. We tried the crib (slightly elevated) last night with moderate success. As long as she sleeps in her own room, though, I don't care too much. I know the rock & play is more comfortable for her right now.
- also contributing to her stellar night sleep is the fact that she loves to be swaddled.
- she is a pretty good breast feeder. I realize I have nothing to compare to but she eats well, latches decently most of the time, etc. she is a SLOW eater though - 15-30 minutes at a time! Also, she is so hard to burp!
- she only will take the "soothie" kind of pacifier.
- we do a lot of rocking, bouncing, shooshing with her to keep her happy
- the similarities between G and A are uncanny - similar personalities & infant mannerisms, almost identical reflux/MSPI issues, pretty close to identical looks! Aleesia's eyes & hair are lighter and she is a little smaller than G was at the same age, but otherwise - spitting images!
- we love her so so much and even though she has only been here 7 weeks, I don't really remember life before her and her sweet snuggles.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pump Pump

I don’t LOVE breastfeeding, but I don’t hate it and it is incredibly convenient. I think we are doing okay, I am constantly second guessing myself about if things are working right, but I think that’s normal.  Or I hope it’s normal.  So, overall, it’s okay and tolerable.

Except when I have to pump. Because I HAVE to pump since I am going back to work. (April 1st…only part time for the month, but still. ick)  I do hate that.  Especially double pumping.  But that is really beside the point right, because it’s a necessity.

So here is where I need some help or reassurance or something.

I try to pump once a day right now, usually in the morning, I get about 2oz from one side/3-4oz if I double pump.  That seems okay for now, but I obviously know she is going to need more than 4oz a day! 

What I really need to know/understand is how much I need to leave for Aleesia if I am going to be gone for 10 hours a day and how much I should be pumping while at work.  I have a masters degree but for some reason, this confuses the hell out of me.  Or it just intimidates the hell out of me.

I want to do this for her and I want to make this work for all of us. But I don’t want to be totally stressed about it either, because I know that’s not going to do anybody any good either.  I would guess that she will take 4-6 bottles while I am gone just depending on how things work out and what kind of schedule we finally establish once I am back full time.

Things I am worried about: determining a schedule that works for both of us, keeping my supply up (this non dairy/non soy diet is rough!), being able to pump enough at work, not losing my mind

help me out fellow working mamas, what do I need to know/do/understand etc about breastfeeding/pumping and going back to work?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Things are a little nuts around here.
Thankfully these two are super cute when they aren't screaming at or talking back to me.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I am not a stranger to being pulled in what often feels like a million different directions and juggling a lot of responsibilities.  In fact, I am good at (for the most part) keeping it all together and do a better job when I have a jam packed schedule.

Throw a newborn into the mix of our already crazy lives and take me out of work for 8-12 weeks and I feel like I am totally in uncharted territory!

And the juggling doesn’t always feel like it’s going so well.  I am tired a lot, so that never helps anything.  I am also not used to being home so much – it is great, so please don’t get me wrong – I am ADORING spending this much time with my girls especially knowing this is such a finite experience for us.  It is all just very different from my “old” normal.

It is HARD to juggle the needs of an independent almost-four-year-old who still needs (& craves) a lot of mama time with the needs of a six-week-old who also needs a lot of mama time, and who does a lot of crying.  Add on top of that feeding said children (and myself), making sure the house isn’t overrun by toys, dishes, laundry and dirt and also making sure the children are not overrun by dirt and we have food in the cupboards - my head spinning a lot of the time.  It is getting  better (or I am caring less about certain things) and some days it is easier.  Other days – it is just pure chaos!

admittedly this whole 2 kids thing is a lot harder than I expected.  probably because I was SO used to our little routine and was away from the “newborn madness” for so long.  Aleesia is finally starting to get on a bit more of a “schedule” which is a huge blessing.  Gianna is finally starting to figure out her big sister role and how this all works – and that we all need to work TOGETHER.  All of these things make the juggling a bit easier, but I still pretty much always feel like I am forgetting something important.  Because I usually am.  I rely HEAVILY on my phone to keep me organized! Technology, FTW!

Part of me hates to start to feel any kind of “normal” right now though, because I know as soon as I settle in to a routine it’s going to change drastically when I go back to work.  I will be setting up my part time schedule next week (for April 1) and I am dreading it because I don’t want to go back yet but also looking forward to it in a lets-just-get-this-over-with-already kind of way.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Who needs cheese anyway

Like most people, I SWORE I had parenting all figured out before I actually, you know, was a parent.

My family gives me crap all.the.time because I swore I would never do approximately 98% of the things that I do regarding parenting my kids. (I still find it really strange to type kidS!) 

One of the things I could never understand was how or why anyone would EVER want to give up dairy to continue breastfeeding.  Formula is fine, why put yourself through that nonsense especially when breastfeeding can be hard enough.  Ice Cream, Cheese, all amazing foods in my book.  And let’s be serious, what good is an oreo without milk?  (remember I had a baby with MSPI and reflux once who survived just fine on Alimentum and Prevacid!)

And then, I had another baby who I decided to breastfeed.  Who appears to have a big issue with dairy (and soy, I think).  Not a huge surprise since her sister did too – but here I am shoving my foot in my mouth again.  Because I gave up dairy last week. Without even really thinking twice about it because my baby is hurting and I would do anything to make sure she is happy.  And, while I don’t LOVE breastfeeding – I do enjoy it enough not to quit it just because I can’t have a milkshake.

Aleesia is less gassy (that girl had some horrendous smelling gas!) and her skin is much less red and blotchy.  She still has a lot of reflux that quite obviously makes her uncomfortable but it is slightly improved from what it was this time last week. 

I did cut out dairy totally but have still been eating some soy (in stuff, like soy milk in my coffee at Starbucks) and I think that the soy has to go also.  Which is a lot harder than just dairy, but that’s okay.

It is not easy.  And I never really paid any attention to food labels/ingredient lists.  But it is enough to make your head spin – and your stomach churn a little – when you look at the list on something you think should be so simple and there are about a million things on there that you can’t even pronounce.  I already don’t eat “enough” so not being able to calorie-load on ice cream or greek yogurt is crappy but I am finding some (not necessarily as satisfying) other high-calorie non-dairy alternatives.  And I really like almond milk, so that’s an easy switch!   There are also so many great resources out there of what is good/not good to buy and good recipes (that I haven’t yet tried).  I think the change in diet, while maybe or maybe not forever, will be a good one and hopefully will help “clean up” some of the junk we tend to eat out of convenience. 

The hardest part is just waiting to see a change.  and not comparing this experience to the one we had with Gianna.  I have been considering putting her on a probiotic as well, there is a lot of information out there that supports their use in babies.

While I am morning the loss of ice cream and greek yogurt and cheese – I am just keeping my fingers crossed that we are on our way to a happy baby.  and add another thing on to the “I had no clue what the hell I was talking about when I said that” list.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday


This girl, she is hilarious.  And ready for summer!


This girl, she doesn’t sleep much, despite the sleepy and yawning pictures.  And is quickly growing.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tubby Time {Mommy’s Bliss Sweet Slumber line Review}

I am a huge fan of bath time – for myself as well as my kids.  I just really enjoy that time with them in the tub – goofing off and whatnot.  Maybe it’s because when I am working, that is some of the only quality one on one time we get during the week.  Maybe because I like bath toys and goofing off with them.
I also LOVE the post bath fresh baby smell.  I am always looking for new bath products so I happily reviewed the Mommy’s Bliss Sweet Slumber line.  The line includes a 3-in-1 Baby Wash, a nightly Massage Cream and a calming bedroom mist.  Each product contains essential oils that are associated with relaxation and sleep (including English Lavender Oil, German Chamomile Extract and Ylang Ylang flower oil among other botanical ingredients) and anything associated with better sleep gets bonus points in my book.
Once we could give Aleesia a real bath – I tried them out.
The 3-in-1 Baby Wash has a really nice, gentle smell (I’m not a fan of anything with a big fragrant presence), lathered well and I felt like it got her nice and clean. It’s tear free (obviously) and didn’t irritate Aleesia’s skin at all. Gianna even used it as a body wash without an issue.
photo 1photo 4 (not really sure baths are fun yet)
After her bath, we used the Massage Cream.  Again, the fragrance wasn’t too strong and the lotion appeared to be moisturizing.  Aleesia has the usual dry newborn skin and this worked pretty well for that.
photo 2photo 3 (was not a fan of the after-bath coldness)
I did spray the bedroom mist near where she sleeps in our room – but I can’t say I was a huge fan of that.  This could have to do with the fact that, especially at night, I am hyper aware of smell!  I would try it again though, it certainly didn’t hurt anything.
As far as the “slumber” part of this product. The first night I used it, Aleesia slept 5 hours in a row for the first time ever.  So, I vote that it really does have a calming effect.  At least it did that night.
We have used the products for a week (and my sister even used them when she gave my niece a bath the other night!) and I still like them and will continue to use them.  They are gentle on the skin, and like I said, the fragrance is pleasant without being overwhelming.  All of the products are hypoallergenic (also gluten, soy, alcohol, sulfate phthalates and paraben free) and the whole line is 100% vegetarian and vegan with  100% recycled packaging. 
All of the products can be found at Walgreens.  The 11.5 fl oz body wash retails for $7.99, 8.25 fl oz massage cream for $6.99, and 3.25 fl oz Slumber Mist for $5.99.
photo 5
*I was given a sample of the Mommy’s Bliss Sweet Slumber line to review.  All opinions are 100% mine.  All pictures are mine as well.

Monday, March 4, 2013

From Scratch

Aleesia has been here for a little over a month and, generally speaking, I pretty much feel like I have never had a newborn living in my house before. 

Or possibly that it really doesn’t matter how many children you have or how close (or far apart) in age they are because they are each different and therefore each time is different.  Parenting from scratch, if you will.

I am doing a lot of things differently this time, but still, I feel like I am totally out of my element in so many ways.  But really, two pretty major things.

The Sleep Sitch

My little peanut has a serious dislike for sleeping in her own bed.  This is totally foreign to me because Gianna slept in her crib every single night from the day we came home from the hospital. Aleesia wants no part of that nonsense.  I put her in there for naps and she wakes up by the time my feet hit the next floor.  I try to put her in there for night time and she wakes up even faster.  So, right now she is sleeping in the rock & play (that thing is AWESOME!) next to our bed.

I’m not going to lie – it is really nice in the middle of the night, I can just reach over and calm her and/or feed her without much fuss. And without getting out of my warm bed.  But also, I feel pretty strongly that kids and parents need their own sleeping spaces.  Any tips on helping her to transition/adjust to sleeping in her own room? 

She likes to be cozy – so we either swaddle her (even though she MUST have her left arm out!) or put her in a sleep sack at night, so that’s all fine.  I have considered putting her rock & play in her room for now (she likes the snuggly-ness of it, plus the incline helps her reflux) but I don’t know if that will just end up being one more thing to “transition” her out of in the long run.  I know she’s still teeny and maybe I shouldn’t make a huge deal out of her still being in our room – but it will be a huge deal to me when I go back to work.   And also, she sleeps pretty well how things are right now – she goes anywhere from 2-5 hour stretches at night.  Obviously, I don’t want to mess THAT up either! I cherish anything over 3 consecutive hours of sleep!

She isn’t a huge fan of the nap (although, she has been doing pretty good today) probably because she doesn’t feel so hot a lot of days.  She seems to have pretty intense gas pains, hiccups a plenty and reflux to boot (thankfully, it is not NEARLY to the degree that Gianna’s was at this point so I am hoping we can manage this on our own without meds. but, we’ll see) all of which contribute to her inability to relax/nap.  She sometimes takes small cat naps with a longer stretch at some point during the day.  Almost always the longer stretch is laying on me, occasionally she’ll stay asleep in her swing for an hour or so.  Again, not a huge deal right now – but I’d LOVE for her to nap in her crib  (or in the swing, I guess) for Mike when I am at work!  I’m sure she’ll learn to appreciate the nap eventually.

The Breastfeeding Sitch

This is all new territory for me so I am obviously learning this from scratch.  Overall, it’s going well.  She gets kind of lazy with her latch, so we are working on that.  I am not used to the “schedule” or rather, lack of schedule, associated with breastfeeding.  Aleesia will feed from anywhere between 10 and 40  minutes at a time and go 1.5 – 4 hours (at night, mainly) between feedings.  I’m sure she is getting enough, but the Type A part of me feels this need to know EXACTLY how much she eats each time (mostly because I need to make sure I pump enough for her).  I did do a weight before/after feeding with her last week and she only ate about an ounce that time.  Who knows if that is normal for her.  I don’t LOVE it or anything – but it is working so far.  I have noticed her reflux and fussiness (and possibly some dermatitis) is a little worse if I eat raw dairy especially (milk/yogurt/cheese).  I am going to talk to the pediatrician about it tomorrow.

Pumping can totally suck it though – I already know if I am going to make it to six months (let alone a year) of pumping/feeding I am going to need a lot of support.  I finally got the right size shield for my pump so that helps – but oh my goodness what a pain!  I know it’s worth it – but it is hard for me to fit in a pumping session during the day.  Or maybe I’m just not making a ton of time for it so far.  I know I need to work on this because I do have things going on in the evenings this week and every other week until I go back to work that she will need to eat when I am not home!  Any magical tips to keeping up your supply/making pumping more bearable?

I’m sure I will have a whole post dedicated to this eventually.  I really do feel clueless and I (irrationally) worry she isn’t eating enough a lot of the time.  This is tricky!


Overall – I just feel like everything is SO new and SO different from “last time” that I need to forget about “last time”.  Aleesia is her own person, she is going to test us in new ways and do her own thing.  I should probably take the perspective that any similarity she has to her sister (that we know/remember how to manage) is a lucky break for us!  I have gotten pretty good at managing my (non-existent) expectations up until now, but these two things are really throwing me off. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I grew up with sisters, obviously. But we really didn’t have cousins our age (at least me and Jacqui didn’t) so I never really thought much about the cousin relationship.

Until my niece came along.

Gianna ADORES Luci – she loves to play with her, make her smile and generally act goofy with her.

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Luci likes it too.  she has the best smile!

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Aleesia and Luci are only about 4 months apart in age – I know they are going to grow up to love each other like sisters.  And I think that is so awesome.

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I also think it’s awesome that I will forever be able to torture all three of them with goofy pictures! I already have a plan for them next month that may or may not involve bunny ears and plastic eggs….

These are my three favorite girls I the whole world and it makes me all kinds of excited to see how their relationships change and grow as they grow up together. 

did you grow up with cousins? did you love it as much as you loved your own siblings (if you had them)? what kind of shenanigans did you and your cousins get into?! (I need to know what to expect, after all!)

Friday, March 1, 2013

A letter to my {second} daughter: one month later

Aleesia -

My little peanut, I have no idea month how you are a month old.  How just four short weeks ago I was walking the halls of the hospital waiting for you to come on out.


And today you are (finally) sleeping on my chest as I type this one handed, and your big sister is sitting next to us, in a princess bathing suit eating a sucker & watching the cat & the hat.  Just another day in our house!

One month is such a short time, yet I barely remember life before you were in it.  You have fit in to our family so well & all the worry I had about not being able to love you to the same amazing, endless degree that I love your sister was for nothing.  I love you different, but certainly not less.

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You make me smile with your tiny voice and tiny noises.  (you can certainly assert yourself though and cry REALLY LOUD when you want)  The way you curl on my chest makes me melt and the way you look at me when you are eating is a special kind of look.  I don’t love every minute, but most of them are pretty great.

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Sleeping has been a challenge – you aren’t a fan of your crib so far & really not a fan of naps (at least not anywhere but laying on me).  You have a touch of reflux – so far not as bad as your sister had it – but enough we can tell you are uncomfortable and hurting.  I’m sure this relates to the whole sleep problem!  You do okay at night though – we are still trying to figure out if you are a fan of the swaddle!  The binkie soothes you sometimes, but so far, you don’t HAVE to have it.  You seem to like the car and your car seat, which is great.  I am a big fan of your companionship so far – you run errands with me while Gianna is at school and are great at making people smile.  In fact, you DO smile when you are content – I can already see you have your sisters beautiful smile. Lucky!

I just moved the newborn clothes out of your dresser. Not because they don’t fit – but because you have so many other things to wear!  Your sister ensures you are always properly dressed and accessorized.  Probably, you should get used to that!

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Speaking of your sister.  I have never witnessed a relationship so pure and loving as the one you two already have.  You make her smile like no one else can. 

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She could stare at you and hold you all day – or until she is ready to play!  You look for her and don’t take your eyes off of her when she is near you.  Gianna is making sure you are growing up properly in her eyes – she gives you stickers, makes sure you like bows, crowns and “teaches you the princesses” at every chance she gets. 

Aleesia – you are the perfect addition to our family.  We all love you just as much (or more!) than we expected and I hope that you feel that love every second of the day.  I never imagined the love I could have for one child, let alone two.  I can’t wait to keep watching you grow, teaching you, seeing your relationship with your sister and your cousin (and the rest of your family), loving you.

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love you peanut,


Cooking One Handed with Minute Ready-To-Serve Rice #LoveEveryMinute

I am in the stage of newborn-hood that involves a lot of forgetting.  Forgetting to brush my teeth (you’re welcome), forgetting to shower and/or change my clothes (you’re welcome again) and forgetting to eat.

I have grand plans of getting meals prepared ahead, using my crock pot and serving food to my family that doesn’t require a toaster.  But then you know, the baby doesn’t want to stop eating, or stop being held, or stop eating long enough to make those plans a reality.  And it’s okay, if you don’t mind eating waffles and pop tarts for days on end. (Gianna has not complained, in case you were wondering!)

Then I was reminded that there are other convenient, healthy and EASY ways to make dinner (or lunch).

Minute® Ready to Serve Rice has been a staple in my food pantry drawer at work for over a year.  There are more than 10 different varieties and anything that tastes good after only being in the microwave for 60 seconds is a winner in my book!  So I picked some up at the store when I was out this week. (I got mine at Target this time, but you can get it at any major retailer/grocer)

So I put my thinking cap on.

And my baby (because, really, she dislikes sleeping a lot unless she is laying on me).


And made some dinner.

I decided on the brown rice variety and some grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce.  I cooked the chicken on my handy George Foreman grill, so it took no time at all to prepare the entire meal.  (although, to be totally honest – I wanted to make this with fish that I thought we had, but didn’t! so rice and fish is a yummy, easy, combo also!)


Easy, fast and most importantly TASTY!


As I was cooking the chicken, I checked out the inside of the Minute Rice packaging – look at this you guys!


So many yummy, different ways to make this rice – what a great way to add some variety to what can be boring brown rice.  And how much easier can it get?

And, my favorite part, a coupon to go get MORE rice.  I clipped that bad boy right out of there and will be picking up some more next time I hit the grocery store.

Gianna made it very clear that she wanted to be involved in the food preparation.  DSC_0656

But not really the food eating (surprise surprise).


I give the Minute Rice Ready To Serve Rice two great big thumbs up – it’s easy, yummy, and I can easily eat it with one hand! 

Minute® Ready to Serve Rice is an ideal portable solution for lunch or breakfast because you can eat it on the go, straight from the cup. In just 60 seconds, you have fully cooked rice for any meal or snack. You’ll never get bored with your lunch since there are 10 flavorful and wholesome varieties. If you’re looking for a healthy option, Minute® Ready to Serve Rice provides easy portion control since it’s conveniently packaged in two individual single-serve cups.

Visit for recipes, including Minute® Ready to Serve Stir it Up recipe ideas and more information about the Minute® Rice family of products.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Ready to Serve Rice.