Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Gratitude Jar

It's hard. It doesn't always come naturally, and sometimes it can be hard to find things to be grateful for. Our daughter is 4, and we're still doing more prompting than we would like to get those "Thank You"s. I want gratitude to be all over our day. It's a discipline, and it is a habit worth working on. We've started working on it pretty hard at our house, and part of that is our gratitude jar.

{Read more at Fancy Little Things}

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Favorite First Foods

Hi friends!

I can't believe it, but Owen is already starting to eat solids! 

I'm a big fan of homemade baby food for two reasons:
     - I know exactly what is going into it
     - it saves a ton of money

I remember reading somewhere once that no baby food company has been found to be completely honest about what goes into their food. Whether that is completely true or not, I would much rather know exactly what my little one is eating. That gets much harder to do as they get older, so I'm going to do it while I can!
Also, have you seen the price of baby food lately? Holy COW! No way. 

So here they are, my favorite first foods!

Vitamins: A, C, Folate 
Minerals: Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium 
Prep time: Zero! I usually grab a jar at the store. Just make sure it doesn't have added sugar. It is sweet enough on its own. Making applesauce is super easy, too. This one is super chunky and not great for first eaters, but I peeled and sliced some apples last weekend, threw them in the crock pot and cooked them until they were mushy. Perfect applesauce!

Vitamins:  A, C, Folate  
Minerals: Potassium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Magnesium, Calcium

Prep time: Zero! Mash and serve. Bananas are also great because you can get them pretty much anywhere. Even gas stations have them, so if you find yourself out and about without baby food (or you left it on the counter which, of course, I have never done) you won't have to look far.

Vitamins:  A, C, Niacin, Folate  
Minerals: Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium
Prep time: Zero! Just like bananas, mash and serve!

Sweet Potatoes
Vitamins: A (tons of it! ), C, Folate 
Minerals: Potassium, Sodium, Selenium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Calcium
Prep time: 30-45 minutes. I prefer roasting sweet potatoes in the oven. The get super sweet and delicious, and they keep a great texture. You can also boil them or, in a pinch, microwave them. Then just mash and serve!

My Favorite Tips
     - Make large batches and freeze them in ice cube trays. Easy single servings, ready to grab and go!
     - Mix in breast milk, formula or water to thin out foods for early eaters.
     - If your child doesn't like something, keep trying! It can take over 10 tries to enjoy a new food

     - Try new foods one at a time, with a few days in between. That way if your child does have a reaction,           you will know which food caused it.
     - When in doubt, mix it with sweet potatoes! Little one not a fan of peas? Mix them with sweet potatoes.         Spitting out spinach? Mix them with sweet potatoes. Seriously. They're made of magic.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional or dietitian. Just a mom who has done this before. Most pediatricians recommend starting solids between 4 and 6 months of age. There is all sorts of research that debates starting solids and development of food allergies, but this is the recommended window. There are also some developmental things that need to happen for babies to even be able to attempt eating solids, and most of those have happened by this age as well. In all honesty, we started a little bit early, but Owen was showing every sign of being ready, so we gave it a shot. He had been extra hungry, and was SO interested in our eating. We figured if he didn't take to it we would wait a while and try again later. He took to it like he had been eating off of a spoon since he was born! We also don't have a family history of food allergies, and have stuck with low-allergen foods. When in doubt, talk to your doctor.

Have you ever made your own baby food? 
What are your favorites?

Be blessed,

Friday, March 21, 2014

Caprese All The Things

This post brought to you by Gro-ables. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hi friends!

We just moved into a new condo. While we love it, we lost  our back yard. Bummer. This is our new deck:

It's actually a great size and holds our grill, but it's not really big enough to put a table on to enjoy that way. You know what it is big enough for, though? A container garden! I can't wait for the weather to warm up so that we can get going. I have always dreamt of being able to go out into my back yard and grab fresh veggies. My mom has always had a garden in her back yard and I have great memories of fresh summer meals.
Now here's the thing. I'm TERRIBLE at gardens. I love the idea, and I really really want one. I'm just awful at actually making them an actual thing. So I need all the help I can get. Enter new MiracleGro Gro-ables. These babies are simple pods that contain everything you need to start a successful plant. As long as I use them correctly (and let's be real...that's a big if!) they are guaranteed to grow, and $1.29-$1.49 a pod, you can't beat the price. I love knowing where my food has come from, and Gro-ables help me take the guess work out of that.

I have the pods for Globe Tomatoes, Basil and Sweet Peppers. Three of  my favorites! I can't wait for summer veggies.
Sweet Pepper photo 12_MG_Pepper_5506_1209002_V01_zps84f2f428.jpg

Is there anything better in the summer than a fresh Caprese salad? Especially when it comes right from your own garden? So simple. It doesn't get any easier than tomatoes, fresh mozzarella (always fresh!), basil and a little balsamic. Yum! I can't wait for these little pods to grow so that I can make my own!
In my excitement over the Caprese goodness in my future I found all sorts of great variations on the classic. Here are 10 of my favorites!

 1. Caprese Pasta Salad from Simply Scratch: A great side dish for those summer time barbeques!
2. Caprese Salad Bites from Elizabeth's Edible Experience: I've made little bite-size skewers like this for parties before. They're extra good when you use marinated mozzarella!
3. Panzanella Caprese Salad from Drizzle and Dip: Caprese salad and crusty bread all in one bite? Yes, please!
4. Fried Caprese Salad from Bell'Alimento: Crispy and salty, but still with Caprese's classic freshness.
5. Broiled Caprese Salad from Pass The Sushi: Gooey, cheesy goodness!
6. Avocado Chicken Caprese Salad from Iowa Girl Eats: This turns the simple salad into a full-on meal!
7. Bacon Caprese Salad from Real Mom Kitchen: Because everything is better with bacon.
8. Hasselback Caprese Salad from Fuss Free Cooking: These would be so pretty for an outdoor dinner!
9. Peach Caprese Salad from Iowa Girl Eats: I don't know what it is about Iowa, but this girl knows her Caprese salad! This one is definitely on my summer to-do list!
10. Strawberry Caprese Salad from Kids In The Sink: If you haven't had strawberries and basil together, you are missing out!

Want to learn even more about Gro-ables? Take a look!

I'll keep you updated on how (if?) my garden grows!
Do you have a garden?
Have you ever done a container garden? Any special tips?
Be blessed!
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

#onelittleword 2014: March Goals

Hi friends

It's goal time! I wish I could say that I tackled everything on my list this month, but that's just not the case. Being back to work, even part time, is really messing with my ability to balance everything and get things done. Hopefully I can figure out some tricks this month!

Here are last month's goals, and my progress:

- Eat at the dining room table. This one we did! I think there was only one day in the past month when we had to eat at the living room table. SO nice!
- 2 loads of laundry washed, dried and folded 5 days a week. Still working on this one. Most days I can get a load or 2 washed or dried. Folded? Not so much. Put away? That's a funny joke!

- In the Word every day. Oh, am I still working on this one. Why are the things you know are good for you so hard to do? Thank God I have some good apps on my phone. Even if I can't study, I can at least get a little something.
- 8 cups of water daily. Nope. Not even a little bit.
- 2 workouts per week. Hahahahahaha!!

Keep reading How To Blog... Still chipping away at this one. It is so nice reading this book as part of a group!
- Finish new design! :) It's so close, you guys! Like, SO close!

- Write a snowball plan for remaining consumer debt Nope. Honestly, I've been putting this one off because I just don't want to see the numbers. I know that we are going to get it paid off this year, so I should be super motivated to see how far we have come, but it's just stressing me out. Time to get it done!

OK, so this month pretty much stunk goals-wise. There's no hiding that. All I can do is stay focused this month. I need to figure out routines that work for me, and stick with them. Since I mastered so few of February's goals, I don't feel like I can add anything new for March. Here's to a finished list in April!

Do you have any laundry secrets? How do you power all the way through?

Do you have a good household routine? What is it?

Be blessed,

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Stained Glass Shamrocks {and what they taught me about perfection}

Hi there, friends!

I am so sick of gloomy skies and snow. It was 37 and sunny the other day and I was this close to throwing the windows open! We need some color when we look out the window, and these fit the bill perfectly.

So this was my plan. Fill up a piece of contact paper with torn green tissue paper, trace some shamrocks on it, cut them out, and hang them on the wall. Easy peasy, right? We'll be done in, like, an hour, right? Right.

Plan: Fill a piece of contact paper with torn tissue paper.

Reality: A patchwork of tearing and sticking for small amounts of time over 3 days. Concerns from the 4 year old including, but not limited to: It's too many, what if I don't finish before dinner, that piece is too big, that piece is too small. Responses from Mama including, but not limited to: You can do it! Dinner is in 5 hours, you can do it. That piece is perfect, you can do it.

Jobs appear really big to her. We have learned that we need to break big things into smaller pieces, or she gets overwhelmed and doesn't know how to start. She's a bit like her Mama that way.

Plan: Trace shamrocks onto contact paper and cut them out. Follow the lines, of course. You know, because fine motor practice and life skills.

Reality: "I just want to cut a circle around them."
This is where I got stuck. I really wanted her to cut on those lines. I encouraged. I offered her the bigger one with bigger curves. I cut out the bigger ones to show her how simple it was. I pushed. And still, "I just want to cut a circle around them."

Ok. Here's the thing. She gets overwhelmed. She is absolutely terrified of making mistakes. It's hard to find the balance between encouraging her to do her best work, and letting her set her own standards of success. Will there be times that I need to set the standard of following the directions correctly? Of course. Was this one of them? Not even a little bit.

So I don't have a window full of perfectly cut out shamrocks (because, let's face it, that was my plan). What I do have is something that Abbey can look at every day and see success. She finished a project and it made our house prettier. And because she felt successful, she wanted to do more

It's not spring without a rainbow, right?

"Now it looks like spring all the time!"

Yes it does, baby girl, yes it does. And you did it!

Be blessed,

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