Friday, December 7, 2012

Give the power back to the girls...see what happens

I won't talk too much on this one. I'll let it talk for itself. This is blowing up the interwebs today. Apparently, the card is old, but that's no excuse for it's existence. I fixed it as a suggestion. Hallmark is welcome to hire me, I'm very easy to negotiate with.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sweater Dress Awesomeness

I love doing these samplings from the cool folks at Old Navy and in partnership with Crowdtap. This was my 3rd sample share with Old Navy and by far the most successful one I've had in trying on all the garments. Usually I find that things are looking very cute before they are on me, but these dresses looked great on the hanger and I felt cute in every one of them. I had a  great experience there. I've used my 3 sample coupons at 3 different ON locations, Arundel Mills Mall, White Marsh Avenue, and Columbia Dobbin locations, and each time I've had wonderful staff and decent selections of styles. I'm always amazed how widely the selection can vary from ON to ON.

I was at first apprehensive when walking in because I had looked for ideas online first, always a good idea when you'll be doing the instore shopping with a toddler and no back up adults. Each style I was in love with online was an "Online exclusive" design and I was starting to feel frustrated that I wouldn't be able to try any of those styles on. I was pleasantly surprised once I got in the store because I found 5 great styles to try on and I liked each of them, but only loved two of them.

I ended up taking home the middle one, with the bold stripes and the fun blue contrasts with the turquoise and navy. I just loved the way it fit and looked. I was so excited to get it home and pack it for my vacation, I just knew it would be a perfect sightseeing dress that I wouldn't mind being photographed in and I thought it would look great with cold weather accessories.

I ended up styling it with a hand crochet alpaca scarf of my own design in a pale grey, black leggings, and my favorite cold weather Khombu boots. It looked so chic while keeping me very warm, and I love all the photos of me in that dress. It is sure to become a favorite staple in my wardrobe, and I know it will get some serious love during the Christmas holidays as well. :)

If you want to join me in Sample and Shares from Old Navy and lots of other brands, you can join Crowdtap here! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sloppy Janes - Pressed Sandwich Recipe

Well after that Artisan Bread post last night, I wanted to see how the bread would grill up, so when The Hero requested Sloppy Janes, a sandwich favorite around here, I thought it was a brilliant idea and got right to work. We first had a Sloppy Jane at the Tilted Kilt, but TK is very far from where we live in the city, and if I'm going to drive 30 minutes for a dinner joint, I'm going to choose one that's a. not a chain, b. a bit classier. (sorry, TK, but you're not serving much class. Fun place, though, I'll give you that! And good pub chips.) So anyway, we've taken to making them at home. I've toyed with our version of the recipe a bit, but always was just a touch unhappy with the result, until last night! They were absolutely perfect. I think part of the reason was that I didn't make a traditional coleslaw to put on them, I grilled the carrots and cabbage into the sandwich fresh, and let the dressing do a little impromptu pickling while it was grilling up. The taste, texture, and flavor combo was divine. So anyway, if you're looking to spice up your grilled sandwich go tos, this is your post:

Sloppy Janes
  • Smoked Turkey Breast (preferably the whole breast, to be shaved or sliced by you at home, it's more flavorful and moist that way, and way healthier, we like Koch's Brand Smoked Turkey.) 
  • Cabbage, sliced very thin
  • Carrots, grated
  • Swiss Cheese (though I've used Jack and Cheddar and been happy with either of those too!)
  • Thousand Island Dressing
  • A good crusty bread that caramelizes well when grilled up. The Artisan Bread recipe worked fantastically for us! 
  • A press grill, pannini press, George Foreman, waffle iron, or skillet and weight, like a bacon weight
Shave up your turkey, the thinner, the better, and slice your cheese thickly. Layer your sandwich like this:

a modest smear of Thousand Island

Pop it just like this into the hot press (or skillet on medium/medium low) and really press it down to compress the ingredients. You want the cheese to melt slowly so the veggies cook just a bit and the bread has time to caramelize without any oil or butter!! That's not a health request, that's to make sure your sandwich stays together, so follow it! Flip your sandwich halfway through, and give it a half rotation to make sure it cooks evenly. This way the dressing is on top for the last part of the cook time, and it isn't making your bottom bread soggy. When it's grilled to perfection and the cheese is super melty, remove to a cutting board and let it rest before slicing in half to serve. We like it with sweet potato fries or a hearty soup, last night we had pan fried sweet potatoes with a maple and allspice glaze. :) Goes great with a summery beer as well, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm a bit sad we didn't have any Marzen last night, that would have been a good compliment.

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

PinterTested - Artisan Bread


This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of  "PinterTests", where I will actually attempt things from pinterest and report back my findings. Can a real person do these things? How easy was it? Was it any good, or did it just photograph well? Should it be done again? (Also, let's all ooooh and ahhhh over my fun new template above for sharing the original pin and my own test run.....oooooooohhhh! Ahhhhhhh!)

So this week I tested a pin I've seen floating around a lot: Artisan Bread, a no-knead, long rise, traditional style wheat flour bread. It's key is a long overnight rise with very little yeast. I wasn't hopeful, because while I've been baking bread for years and my loaves are usually what one might describe as "edible" and sometimes even "tasty", I'm enough of a bread snob to tell you that the cell structure was horrid, and I was always overkneading, or underkneading, or letting rise too long, or not rising long enough, and even if a beautiful puffy loaf went in the oven, a floppy and deflated loaf came out. I wanted the pretty, lofty, strudy bread, one I could smear with toppings and grill and it would stay together, not one that crumbled upon slicing. This recipe totally came through for me!

The original pin led to this recipe on the Frugal Living NW page, where she describes an adaptation of another recipe. I followed her instructions to a tee, and even did this first batch with all bread flour, though we're whole wheat people in this house, so next week I'll try that. I don't have a cast iron dutch oven, (I know, it's pretty shocking. You can be ashamed of me, go ahead, I won't mind) but being a good New Mexico girl I do have a large pyrex tamale pot, so I used it and got a wonderful result. So easy, no fuss. My dough even stuck to my well-floured (aparently not well enough) towel, and I had to wrestle it to get in the hot pot, so I thought for sure this loaf was a goner after the abuse I put it through. To my surprise, it puffed up beatifully anyway and formed those great cracks that a loaf of this nature has. In the image, the OP is on the bottom left and my loaf, sliced, is on the top right.

Cost Effectiveness: 10/10 - you can't beat the cost of making your own bread, pennies on the dollar

Easy Factor: 8/10 - Yeast breads can and are intimidating, this is as easy as a good one's going to get!

Taste: 7/10 - I think I need to bump up the salt next time, it came out blah-ish, but I'm also used to a hearty whole grain and went with white this time, so maybe that's contributing? Otherwise, outstanding, and the texture's divine.

Time Consuming: 8/10 - Yes and no, you really don't have to spend much time doing anything to the loaf, but you must have the time to wait for the 12-18 hour rise and the 3 hour process for the second rise and bake. If you have other house things to do, or sleep to be had, it's not really time consuming at all, but it's not fast!

Overall Rating: 9/10 - This is a fantastic bread, I may never make another again. (well, except for Challah, can't really beat that stuff!) Way to come through in a big way on this one, Pinterest!

If you'd like to follow me on Pinterest, you can find me here:

If you'd like to suggest a Pin to be PinterTested by yours truly, please email, comment, or leave a message on the facebook page:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Diaper Conversion - DIY

You may remember from previous posts that we use cloth diapers. I've absolutely loved them, but as time wears on and parts wear out, some age better than others, namely, our snap fastened dipes hold together much much better than our aplix (a generic term for "velcro") fastened ones. Some of our velcro fasteners are aging and not sticking to each other as well, and this seems to pair really poorly with our genital-fascinated toddler, who found the aging velcro pretty easy to remove for some good old fashioned nudity. Now this is all fine and good sometimes, but other times, I want that diaper to stay ON! Not wanting the money we spent on the diapers to go to waste, I set out to find an inexpensive and easy way to make them stick better. I settled on our favorite: snaps! I looked at all the snap diapers we own, what I like best about them and how they're put together, and got a good idea for how I wanted to proceed. Observations will build a foundation for success, so spend a lot of time looking! Next, I got some coupons, bought my snap press and some size 20 snaps, and got to work. Here's the step by step:

DIY: Convert Aplix Diapers/Covers to Snaps

  •  Diaper or cover to be converted
  •  Size 20 Plastic Snaps 
  •  Snap Press
  •  Sharp Awl
  •  Seam Ripper
  •  Marker or Dressmaker's Pen(cil)
  •  Ruler
1. Use the seam ripper to gently remove the old aplix and the leftover threads from it's application, it should not affect the structure of the diaper. Be careful not to rip into the waterproofing layer (PUL) below the aplix, you don't want a new leak because of a mistake!

2. Measure your diaper tabs and the front where you want them to adhere. Figure out a good ratio of space apart for your snaps. I picked 2cm apart, based on the size of my tabs, the narrowest part I'd be working with. Decide how many sizes you want, and space them appropriately, familiarity with multi-size snap diapers will come in handy here. I wanted this diaper to work for newborn sizes too, so I added some female snaps to one tab as well, you'll see in the finished photos.

3.Mark carefully and measure each time you mark. remember that your snaps are bigger than the dots marking them, so space accordingly. Take your time on this part, it'll pay off in the end.

4.Use the sharp awl to poke a hole at each mark. Go all the way to the end of the awl and back through, creating a spot for the snap backing (the tack-looking part) to rest securely in the fabric.

5. Press a snap backing all the way through from the "wrong" side of the fabric, relative to the business end of the snap. For female snaps, the backing goes on the inside of the diaper, for male snaps, it goes on the outside. Double check before pressing!

6. Place the proper male or female snap plate onto the backing post, like the back of an earring.

7. Carefully place the "snap sandwich" with the fabric in the middle into the cup of the press machine, with the post sticking up and the whole thing centered well. Press down firmly, but you don't need to powerhouse it, it's made to do this! You can see in the photos to the left what a male snap looks like before and after pressing side by side on the diaper tap.

8. Continue to press the snaps. You may want to start with the male snaps first and leave all the female snaps for the end, as you'll probably be using less male snaps. You don't want to get them confused! Just be sure to work slowly and check your work as you go.

That's it! That's the whole thing! There are variations, of course, depending on the type of diaper you're converting and how much you want to do with it. You could use the seam ripper to open the layers of a cover if it has layers, and "hide" the snap backs inside, stitching it up when you're done. If the place you want to put snaps is only one layer of fabric thick, I recommend adding a second layer of fabric to reinforce the snaps as they pull, you don't want a stress hole in the diaper! As you can see in the final three pictures, I chose 8 size points, for a total of 16 female snaps and 4 male snaps. The next to last photo is the finished product sized for a toddler and the final photo is sized for a newborn. I hope the post is of some use to you! I plan to get a lot more life out of these diapers!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

Now I know, usually I'm posting how to make something unhealthy healthier. Well, I'm going to come right out with it on this one: this still isn't healthy by any measure, but it doesn't have a ton of chemicals and other icky stuff in it, so it technically is healthier, just not healthy. You know, there are days you just need a little marshmallow fluff, I won't hold it against you if you don't hold it against me! When I was pregnant with DB, I ate a whole jar of it in the course of 5 days. Ewww. Just remembering that makes me a little nauseous. That stuff is so sweet and sticky! But just think of all the things you can make with it! Fluffernutter sandwiches, tasty icebox pies, sundae toppings, cake icings, the list is endless, and if you've sworn off the shelved stuff, that knocks a lot of those recipes off your list. Well, pout no more, here is a simple and cheap recipe for homemade marshmallow fluff, and just compare these ingredient lists:

Famous Fluff Brand, Rhymes with Taft:

Corn syrup
Egg whites
Cream of Tartar
Xanthan Gum
Artificial Flavors
Natural Flavors
Blue 1

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff:

3 Egg Whites
1 C. Sugar
1 t. Vanilla Extract

In a double boiler or a bowl set over boiling water, melt the sugar and egg whites together until they are hot and the sugar is totally melted, about 5 minutes on the nose. Stir it with a fork gently while waiting for it to melt down. It will be a thick syrup. Pour the syrup into a very clean and dry mixing bowl, a stand mixer is preferred, because it will be a lot of work if you're using a hand mixer, but either will do. The cleanliness of the bowl is important, foreign particles, especially grease, will prevent the mixture from fluffing, and you'll just have sweet egg white syrup, which is not particularly useful. Whip on high speed for a minute or so, when the mixture looks opaque all the way through, slowly drizzle in your vanilla extract. Allow to whip for another 10 minutes (seriously, it's a long time. don't just sit and watch or you'll think it isn't setting up. walk away for a bit.) or until the bowl is cool to the touch and your fluff stands in a soft peak when you lift the mixers out of it. It's ready to use immediately! Store it in the fridge, if you have any left over! *note: you may wish to add cream of tartar for stability, I never do.

I used mine to frost my experimental batch of oatmeal flour S'mores Cupcakes....but that's a post for another day! Enjoy! Let me know how your fluff turned out! What did you do with it?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Baby Sized Chores

DB's been super into "helping" recently. While it can be very tempting to try and distract him so I can do housework faster, I want to help him grow into a person who does chores easily and without separation from everyday life. I want to foster his desire to keep helping others all the time. For reference, DB's 19 months old, every child is different, but it's a pretty great age to start some consistent helping chores around the house, according to your child's interest and ability. You don't want to make them miserable! DB is highly motivated by my frequent "thank you's" , time with me, and the learning and play aspect of doing these chores together. I'm going to compile mini lists of the chores DB seems to really enjoy/excel at, and I'm starting with this list of 10, some for every type of chore, every area of the home.

1. Sorting colors. Now that DB has his colors down really well, this is a great one. We also use it as an opportunity to remember types of clothes.

2. Moving wet clothes to the dryer. We have a top loading washer and a front loading dryer, I hand him a few pieces at a time and he tosses them in for me.

3. Handing me Hangers. before putting clothes away, I put a pile of empty hangers out in the floor, and get the laundry basket a good 8 to 10 feet away so he has to go a little way to get them. He enjoys bringing me one at a time, and it keeps him busy enough that he's not unfolding all the folded items. (which was his hobby before I invented this one)

4. Using the vacuum attachment to get under sofas, in the cushions, and around window sills if they are reachable. My son loves the vacuum, so this is a big treat for him, but not for all kids, some may not like the noise.

5. For hard floors, wiping down the baseboards. When in doubt, hand them a damp washcloth. I show him where I like help cleaning and he cleans it, mostly, but if it doesn't get done or he gets distracted and starts wiping down everything else, I don't mind. I got time to get the floor swept/mopped and a few things got semi wiped down. Win win!

6. Damp washcloth again, I ask him to wipe down his training potty (since I've already cleaned it each time it's used, he doesn't need to be thorough), walls, and cabinets. just enough time for me to do a quick commode scrub, vinegar on the faucets, and a mirror shine. Then he can help me when I start on the tub, me with a magic eraser, him with his damp cloth.

7. Putting away dishes. Nonbreakables, of course. I make sure there's nothing in the lower level of the dishwasher that's breakable, and I unlatch all the necessary cabinets and direct him where to place things like pot lids, tupperware, dish lids, measuring cups, measuring bowls, silicon baking pans, utensils (I lower the crock for him to put them into). Usually I can get most of the other things put away while he's asking questions and organizing bowls.

8. Wiping up spills. DB's learning to drink without a lid on his cup, so he spills often. I definitely clean them up when I need to, but usually, I hand him a cloth and ask him to wipe up. It's not a punishment, it's just what we all have to do when we spill something. He enjoys it, for now, and not enough to spill on purpose.

9. Simple Food Prep. DB's favorites include: mashing fruit like bananas and mangoes, snapping fresh green beans for me, I just check for stems as he hands me the pieces, throwing my chopped ingredients into a pot/bowl, using a plastic butter knife, "cutting" soft things or scraps I don't intend to use. Measuring things like rice, flour, grains, etc, using a spoon to fill a larger measuring cup. Using coconut oil to oil a cake pan or cookie sheet, coconut oil is perfect because we just rub it into our hands when we're done, not washing it off like shortening, which is yucky anyway and a pain to clean up.

Playroom/Play Area:
10. CLEAN UP! Ok, this one has to be turned into a game. When I present an empty canvas bin, and name a particular toy or colored item, DB gets really excited to find all of them and place them away. It works nicely. Just focus on one thing at a time, for example, I say, "Help me stack all the books right here, please!" and place a book on the sofa. When all the books are put away, we highfive and start a new project, like putting all the cars into this box or all the blocks in that bin. If the toys are not as easily categorized, I put a box out for green toys, and after he finds them all, I sort them more finely. It's the principal that matters, learning to clean up our messes.

Remember, plenty of Thank You's, and keep it fun, specific, and simple. As long as it's a game, it's building positive responses to doing small housework. It's laying a foundation for the future. They're still babies, don't sweat it too much. :) Have fun with your new cleaning buddies!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Trusting Women Again

Have you heard a woman say something like "I'm just not good at making friends with women" or anything even remotely like it? I have. I've also said it. More times than I care to reflect on. It wasn't until I read this blog post by Jaime at I Am Not The Babysitter this morning, that I realized I should think on WHY I feel this way and WHY I feel I need to say things like that.

I'm studying and working to become a doula and lactation consultant, someone who supports and empowers women, so shouldn't I be examining my own relationships with women and why they are weak or I perceive them as weak? I started thinking that if I am actually going to be a good support person, asking other mothers and women to put their trust in me, I should be able to put trust in them as well, I can't ask for something I'm not willing to give. I'm constantly asking women to trust their own bodies and support systems, a support system that I want to be a part of. I'm constantly saying "why don't doctors and medical professionals TRUST women (and their instincts, intuitions, abilities, etc.)?" But I myself don't trust women nearly enough. How can I make a true difference if I don't find the root of the issue and put my mind to setting things right?

I've been hurt by a lot of women in my life, and I'm sure I have blame to share in hurting other women. I don't like how ugly things can get, and how long those scars can last. Once I read that article this morning, I started examining my relationships with other women more closely. I've been making and maintaining stronger relationships with women, realizing the value of their friendship, and working hard (as one should in any relationship) to keep the relationship alive and fruitful. It's something I'll have to work hard to correct, the tendency to reject female companionship and femininity in an effort to protect and prove myself, but it's worth doing.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Grilling Out and Local Food

I think local food is highly under appreciated in many parts of the country. It usually requires a bit more work than the one trip to the grocers, and many of us don't have the time! I'm very fortunate that I shop at a grocer who carries local milk, eggs, meat, and produce, and labels it boldly to make my shopping for local food easy. Local food has so many advantages, both to health and to the local economy, buying from farmers and supporting small local business is a great way to spend your dollarvotes. I just recently visited the farmer's market in my city (Baltimore, Maryland), and it was fantastic! DB got to pick out some food he wanted, and settled on blueberries, strawberries, and currants. There was lots left over, so I made a berry icebox poke cake out of the rest of them at the end of the week and topped it with local cream I whipped up with a touch of sugar. The rest of the veggies left at the end of the week, and there were a lot as we went a bit overboard at the temptation produce carnival known as the farmer's market, went into a salad. Salad and cake went with us to a barbecue and complimented summer perfectly, with seasonal local food!

McCormick spices have always had some of my favorite grilling flavors and they recently sent me a box of spices to try out this summer. I have to say that it made me try a new flavor I wouldn't usually pick. I liked that the ingredients listing is simple on the seasonings I tried, and I could pronounce EVERYTHING on it, which is a big deal in our house! I enjoyed testing out some of their new marinades and rubs. We had a great cook-out. Food, cold beer, and summer backyard grilling conversation, it doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A new look, a new leaf

Notice anything different around here? I spent some time recently deciding on and designing a new look for the page. I thought the old design looked...myspacey. Yes, I know. *shudder* That's not a good thing in the design world. Ick. Now I'm no design pro, but I know my way around a font or two, and Photoshop is a friend of mine, so I just committed to getting it done and I did it. How do you like it? I'm going to be slowly converting the buttons and widgets to a lighter color scheme to match, but for the most part I'm done and I like the new, light, fun look.

I also have a new facebook fan page, so if you care to, go on over and "like" me, facebook official! I'm working on a few new blog posts, slowly but surely. You know that if they take more than a fw minutes, they're packed full of great stuff, so hopefully you'll appreciate the effort in spite of the delay! Family first, internet second, and I've been soaking up lots of time playing with DB recently. Have suggestions or feedback? Leave a comment or email! I'd love to hear from you! Namaste!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Swim Suit Time!

I recently had the pleasure of being able to go to Old Navy and review a sample from this season's swim suit line. I was online shopping before hand so I could take less time in-store, as shopping for clothes with a toddler is always a bit of an ordeal, with or without help, and the more prepared I am walking in the door, the better! I should have learned by now though, that shopping online before going in Old Navy doesn't work out as well as I'd like, things always look SO different in the store and I usually end up walking out with something that I had dismissed online, as well as disliking something in store that I loved online. C'est la vie! I took my husband along to help watch the kiddo and lend his expert opinion on the suits, because I know he'll be honest no matter what! (and he was, he vetoed several selections!)

I ended up with an interesting plaid bikini, I've been working hard to eat right and work out, so I wanted to reward myself with a two-piece that I would not fall out of. I think it's cute! There were lots of options I liked, and though I usually only get one suit per season, I thought of getting two!

This suit was given to me in exchange for my review, and I found this sampling opportunity through Crowdtap! If you want to join me on Crowdtap collaborating with brands and providing them feedback, you can click HERE!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Home Made Sidewalk Paint! (AKA too hot to do anything else)

  It is so hot here! So hot! It's been in +100 this week a few times, which is nothing like +100 back in the southwest. Today DB wanted to get outside, and I don't blame him, we've been cooped up due to the temperature, but he's too little to understand that there's a temperature point where even the most modern of playgrounds become scalding hot torture devices. I knew that even if he could stand the oven of a car ride to an appropriate play area, he'd only be outside for about 20 minutes before he'd be too red and sweaty to have any more fun, so I had to brainstorm. Front yard? Too steep, a hill of doom, if you will. Back yard? Too many rats, and the neighbors throw rat poison around out there all willy nilly, DB's not even allowed back there. Front steps it is. Now how to make the boy not kill my pathetic little grouping of edible plants? Then DB solves the problem for me with his typical 19 month old attention span. The chant changes from "outside outside outside" to "paint paint paint!" Bingo. I google. Trusty google. "homemade sidewalk paint" turns up way more entries than I had even hoped for. And they're easy, eco-friendly, and cheap. All my favorite words. So we mixed some up and had a BLAST painting our porch, steps, and landing. The paint was "all gone" (there were a couple spills/crashes depending on your fluency in car-obsessed toddler terminology) in about 20 minutes, just as my beet-faced little boy was soaking his curls with sweat. Here's how we did it:

Homemade Sidewalk Paint

  • Cornstarch
  • Cold Water
  • Food Colors
  You want equal-ish parts of cornstarch and water. I found it easiest to mix the cornstarch and water in separate containers from the beginning as opposed to dividing it later. It tends to settle a bit no matter how freshly stirred it is, so this way they all have equal opacity. You can use more or less water to reach the consistency you want, ours was about like 2% cow's milk in appearance. The paint may seem very thin but that's fine, it may even look like you're hardly using a color at first, but it will brighten considerably as it dries and on a hot day like today it was drying very quickly. We went with about 2 Tbs. of cornstarch and 2-3 Tbs. of water per cup, and we did 4 cups of color. Add food color drops until it's the shade you want, I'd err on the side of a few more drops than you think you might need, the actual color of the dried paint will be more pastel than the shade of wet paint. DB picked Purple, Blue, Green, and Yellow. Take a variety of brushes out with you, and have fun! It can wash off with rain or you can spray it off later and it's fine for plants and animals and even tots, if they get some in their mouth. There is a possibility of staining, though our clothes didn't, so play in clothes meant to get dirty.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

It's a Jungle In Here! (a wild Madagascar tot picnic brought to you by Crowdtap)

If you've been following the blog, you've seen a few of the opportunities I've had to host parties, sample products, and provide feedback to brands through the brand interaction found on Crowdtap. Well last week was a really fun one as I got to host a Madagascar themed party to celebrate the theatrical release of Madagascar 3, which will be in theaters tomorrow!

We had a whirlwind week, but wanted to find some time to get a celebration in there anyway. I decided the best way would be a lunchtime picnic, indoors, with all the best tot-friendly healthy lunch choices I could muster up and an invitation to pot-luck in some of your own. We picked a Friday midday and I laid out the biggest quilt I had, rented Madagascar 1, and had some friends over!

DB's just starting to figure out what a movie "oovwee!" is,  so he was fairly excited to have a new one to watch. In typical tot fashion, no one watched the whole thing, but the whole thing did play, and bits and pieces entertained the youngsters as we hung out, enjoying good food and good company.

I made some Marty the Zebra themed cookies, low sugar and gluten free, and they were a hit with the tiny tots, as were all the berries and cheese, I expected to have some left over, but there was NONE! :) I myself ate more than my share of whole grain peanut butter and local jam sandwiches that an attendee brought with her, and the big batch of fresh popcorn with sea salt I popped up at the beginning of the picnic was completely gone by early afternoon. We had a great time and it was nice to have friends over, we usually always go out somewhere! If you'd like an opportunity to sample brands, host sponsored parties, and provide brand feedback, you can join me on Crowdtap by clicking here!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Reason Not to Nurse In Public: "Intimate Moment" Fallacy

"But nursing is an intimate moment between you and your baby, you should have a quiet moment for just yourselves. Wouldn't you be more comfortable alone somewhere to enjoy that? You shouldn't do that here."

I've actually heard this a few times. It's the RNTNIP I hear that I find hardest to respond to. Partially because they are correct about a little part of it. I've thought for a few weeks on how to write this post out, and last night it finally came to me exactly how to put words to my feelings.

Sure, nursing CAN be an intimate moment between mother and child(ren). Some of my favorite nursing memories of me and DB are laying quietly on our big fold-out sofa under the sunlight streaming from the window, just staring at each other. Intimate, lovely, peaceful. But allow me to interrupt this beautiful breastfeeding moment to bring us all back to reality. Nursing is just food. For every beautiful nursing moment of bliss, there are at least 40 other times that were just business! That's not to sound callous, it's just a fact. Breastfed infants nurse upwards of 14 times a day. Older infants and young toddlers can still nurse upwards of 8 times a day (these don't even include night feedings!). Keep that number in mind as I explain why the "intimate moment" fallacy doesn't hold water.

Imagine this scenario: you and a close friend, perhaps a partner, perhaps a date, perhaps a spouse, are enjoying a wonderful brunch in bed, or cande-lit dinner, or a moonlight picnic. It's a lovely, intimate setting for a meal, and it really is enjoyable and wonderful. Now imagine that no matter when or where you were hungry, you HAD to re-create that moment. Every time. Three meals a day and snacks besides. Sound exhausting? That's because it would be! It would be horrendous! It would also likely rob those intimate moments of all their "special", because you would be working constantly to make this intimate setting over and over day after day.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that most people would find the scenario above to be ludicrous. People simply don't do that. You have to eat, you eat! You drive through and get a smoothie, you pick up a sub sandwich, you pull in to the farmers' market and grab some fruit, you eat a packet of almonds out of your purse, or you grab a snack as you walk into Target. Sure, you enjoy a nice intimate dinner or brunch, maybe you even have an intimate meal once a day, connecting with another human over a meal is almost instinctive, it seems, but that's not the main purpose of food.

Walking up and to someone eating a burrito as they rush around getting errands done and saying "why aren't you using the good china and sitting down at a white linen table" isn't something we'd do, because we understand that sometimes, you just have to EAT! We can't expect nursing mothers to be forced into this preconceived and poorly conceived notion of intimate nursing when their babies are just trying to eat, and have to do so easily 2-3 times more often than you do! Not only that, but these mothers really are eating for two, so they also have to balance their own meals in addition to being someone else's meals!

When you say something about the "intimate moment", it may be because you genuinely thought that's what a mother needs, it may be because you aren't fully educated on a nursing mother's needs, and it may be because you are simply uncomfortable and want her to be elsewhere but don't know how to say that without sounding ignorant and closed-minded. Whatever your reasoning, it's not ok. Unless a nursing mother asks your opinion, don't share it. People have to eat, even and especially tiny people, sometimes at a candle-lit dinner, and sometimes in line at the grocery store.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Look? Doesn't Mommy look PRETTY? Can you say Ooooh, Pretty? (Or, how to fish for compliments from a toddler)

So I got a new dress! In my "professional" life, I play ballerina and wear soft stretchy things to work. I wear soft stretchy things around the house, and then when/if I go somewhere not work or home, I pair jeans or hiking pants with soft stretchy things. Don't get me wrong, I love love love fashion, and I have some stellar pieces, I just don't get to wear them often. My wardrobe goes from plain-jane to rock concert goddess to high-fashion with no in-betweens, so finding a cool casual dress that I like is usually a challenge that I just don't accept.

The lovely folks at Old Navy gave me a chance to go pick out one of their new dresses and give it a test-drive recently. I had it in my head that Old Navy dresses would mostly be beachy cover-up and cheap jersey dress type pieces. Not the case! There were a surprising number of different styles and materials of dresses, from business to beach, jersey to linen, crepe to chiffon. I had a hard time in the dressing room, most of the dresses just hung funny on my frame, but there were three contenders by the time the flurry of trying on was done, and this one was the winner!

This dress is super soft and swishy, I find myself swinging around in it just to feel it move, which is either the little girl or dancer in me, maybe both. The print is a fun black feathers on cream. It looks like a vintage material, and I like that air of quirkiness about it. The length is nice, which is always hard for a short girl like me. Dresses tend to be way too long, way too short, or an awkward middle that just makes me look somehow shorter. This one falls perfectly. I like that the waist drawstring is adjustable, it helps give me a bit of shape, and since I'm a bustier petite, it's an empire waisted dress, though on some it might fall at the natural waist. It's cut just sexy enough that I feel confident and gorgeous in it and not so sexy that I'm falling out all over and feeling trashy. Today I finally had a chance to get dressed up in it. I paired it with some vintage turquoise earrings, cowboy boots, and a micro-crocheted lace belt as a headband.
I spun around the living room and tried to get DB to tell me I looked pretty. He giggled that I was spinning and asked me to put on his sandals. Oh well, at least I tried! We took The Hero some lunch to work and he thought it was a great look on me. I held my head up high all day as I ran my typical mom-errands. I felt like a million bucks.

Full disclosure: I was given my choice of dress from Old Navy as a gift in exchange for review. I found this sampling opportunity through the awesome site Crowdtap! I've been a member with them for over 6 months now and I can say that it's been great fun, I've earned over $70 in gift-cards to Amazon as well as opportunities to sample and give feedback to brands. No spam, legit rewards, minimal effort on my part. All a win! If you want to give it a shot too, you can accept my invitation by clicking on the link above.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You made a cake out of WHAT??

BEANS! Yes, Beans! Black Beans, to be exact. I stumbled upon this logic defying recipe on Pinterest the other day, while just browsing. Now no one in my family has to eat a gluten free diet, but we do believe that all human beings are not really designed to eat gluten and we try to limit how much we have. I love my baked goods, however, and most gluten free (or even better, entirely grain free) recipes leave a bit to be desired in the texture department for me. That's the thing about flour, the gluten is what lends that perfectly cellular texture of the trapped leavening, so most gluten-free recipes just leave me feeling deflated with my flat baked goods. Not this one! This is an amazing cake! If I hadn't made it myself, I would never have guessed that it is grain free. I certainly would NEVER guess that it's made of beans. Even The Hero, who's quite the food critic when it comes to healthy-fied recipes gave it two thumbs up and he was super impressed with the ingredient list. The recipe I linked to is for a sugar-free version, I used sugar, 1/2 C. of  Raw Turbinado, to be exact. I think I'll try this recipe again with agave when that comes in soon. It's so tasty I'm about to have a sliver again right now, before I slip off to bed. Don't tell anyone, OK?
Pictured: Epic Bean Cake!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"I Spy" Shake Jar

I buy most of my dry goods in bulk, and sometimes the last little quarter cup or so gets lost in the cabinet. Today I was attempting to clean out our cabinets when I found a bag of odds and ends: rice, split peas, lentils who were waiting for me. I had intended to use them as a scooping toy in the spring or summer outdoors, but I  haven't been totally sold on it, as with many city domiciles, we have some rodents about and I neither want to feed them nor do I want DB playing near them. I also don't want a toddler rice scooping party in my kitchen. Things like that happen enough spontaneously, and I go along with the flow, kids should be kids, after all, but I'm not quite ready to just unleash grainapalooza 2012 in the house. Then it hit me! The perfect solution! An I Spy Shake Jar!

I used to work in a book store, we also sold little toys and games and the one I found most nifty was a tall cylinder full of small wooden pellets the size of sprinkles and little trinkets. The goal was to twist and turn and shake the jar until you found every trinket listed as being in the jar. These things are crazy expensive for what they are, and I always told anyone who would listen "you could make that for so much cheaper..." (This is just ONE of the many reasons I will never pursue a job in sales) So today, that's exactly what I did!

"I Spy" Shake Jar:

  • Empty jar, preferably plastic, with a well-fitting lid. Taller is better than wider, as you want to be able to maximize space against the sides and minimize "hidden" space in the middle. I used a Hellman's Mayo jar. 
  • Rice, Sand, Tiny Somethings to fill the space with
  • Trinkets! 20-50 little things you have lying about. Check the bottom of your purse, drawers, that costume jewelry box, the scrapbook drawer, tool box, or yard. :) I'm including my list of 40 for inspiration. Just make sure it's something that can't go bad and isn't TOO big. You'll have a chance to edit!
Place your trinkets first. I made a list as I put them in, so I know what's in the jar. The older future DB will like to have specific things to look for, for now, 15 month old DB just likes that he has something wonderfully heavy to carry around, shake, and see what he sees. I like that it's too heavy to throw at me or the cats. It's a cool toy that's fun for tots, kids, even teens and adults.

Once your trinkets are in the jar, top it off within about half an inch of the top with your filler. Screw on the lid and test it out. If you want more filler, add, if you want less, subtract. If you feel like you have a trinket too large, go ahead and take it out. I think that having enough filler than there doesn't appear to be space when the lid is all the way on is perfect. it is actually plenty of shake space when you turn it upside down.  Once you're satisfied with your jar, put a ring of hot glue just inside the lip of the lid and screw it on tight. You're all done!

 You could print out the list and tie it on, glue it to the lid, or leave it the way it is. This project is highly customizable and the possibilities are endless.  You could make one with a theme, have several different types on hand, or make them as an activity at a child's party. It's a great travel toy for cars or planes, waiting rooms, rainy days, or just for quiet time.

1. Cork                                                           21.Yellow Car
2. Penny                                                          22. Diaper Pin
3. Nickle                                                         23. Tiny Bow
4. Dime                                                           24. Toothpick
5. Quarter                                                       25. Claw-type paperclip
6. Wooden Spoon                                           26. Anchor Charm
7. Wooden Bead                                             27. Butterfly Earring
8. Purple Flower Ring                                      28. Red Leather Heart
9. Cardboard Letter E                                     29. Red Ribbon Lapel Pin
10 Cardboard Letter O                                   30. Skeleton Key
11. Cardboard Letter N                                   31. Yellow Paper Clip
12. Bobbin Spool                                            32. Sewing Pin
13. 5 Gold Beads (snipped from a necklace)    33. Golf Pencil
14. Screw                                                        34. Green Pony Bead
15. Bent Nail                                                   35. Turquoise Bead
16. AA Battery                                                36. Rubber Band
17. Metal Washer                                            37. Brown Button
18. Thumb Tack                                              38. Puzzle Piece
19. Bobby Pin                                                 39.  Infant Nail File
20. Red Kidney Bean                                      40. Silver Pearl