Friday, August 30, 2013

Learning Activities with a 19 Month Old

My daughter is growing up quickly and is getting more and more inquisitive. I'm noticing if I don't give her enough attention and healthy play throughout the day she is just cranky and, I'm assuming, bored. She is normally very good at playing by herself. I know even with the little things she does, she is learning. I just can't help thinking "am I doing enough?" This is what sparked yesterdays happenings. Well, that, and the fact I really didn't feel like doing the housework!

I was researching activities to do with a toddler when I looked down and noticed that Melody was playing with her connecting shape toys. This may not sound amazing but it was the first time she was able to pop them together all by herself! I was so excited for her! She seemed very proud of herself, and scrounged up as many as she could find and started clicking them all together.

After seeing this, I got down to business! I honestly have never really thought about the play and activities we do together, but today I wanted a little structure for her, and also more focus on the task at hand. I decided I needed to take a look at her massive stack of toys spread across the living room and make some changes. I put some older toys away and brought one or two "new" toys out. I remembered a toy we had got at the thrift store and thought she might be able to play with it in a different way than before.

I was right! After cleaning up and separating her old toys we sat down in the living room with this little Fisher Price "cd player". I first showed her how to open up the front and take out the disc. Then I showed her how to put the disc back in through the slot in the top. (She wasn't able to comprehend this a few months ago, which is why it didn't get used.) With just one time of me demonstrating, she started doing it herself.

Honestly, she played with this long enough for me to do all the dishes! Win, Win!

After that I thought I would try helping her with one of her other toys that hasn't really been played with in a learning way. She got this little bug for Christmas last year. She plays with it all the time, just not with all the shapes that attach to it's body. So, with a clean room, I gathered as many of the shapes I could find and we sat down and I demonstrated with a couple shapes. As I was showing her how to attach the shapes in the matching holes, I said what shape it was and what color it was. She was able to do a few but kept pushing down the ladybug on top accidentally which pops all the shapes back out. That frustrated her a bit!

At this point I was in the learning/teaching mode and decided to make a trip to the Dollar Store to see if we could find anything useful. I really wanted some foam letters and/or numbers. No such luck. I can always make some myself so I wasn't too bummed. We did get a book, some crayons, and pack of learning sight cards.

We read the book before nap time, (4 times) but haven't opened up the rest yet. I might let her do some coloring today at some point.

After lunch I decided to do an activity I've seen on a few different places. I'm sure Melody has done some versions of this by herself at different times, after she has completely emptied my kitchen cupboards! I wanted her to try to do it with more focus, though. The hard part of this activity was for me. I had to get all her balls out from under the couch. This is a little difficult with a big round tummy! We took a muffin tin and sat in the middle of the living room with all the balls. I told her to put all the balls in the cups and she went at it. When all the balls were in the cups she said "Dah!", which means "Ta Dah!". Then she dumped it out and started again.

There wasn't quite a rhyme or reason in where she placed the balls, but I'm sure that will come with time. She really likes to stack things lately. She has a set of stacking cups that are played with daily. I tried to see if we could do some color matching since we have been working on colors a lot lately. I tried to get her to put the balls in the matching colored cups.

I probably shouldn't have had Backyardigans playing in the background! It was getting close to nap time and her focus was dwindling. She ended up just stacking the cups and she did put the balls in the cups but not the matching colors. Hey, it's a start!

I think next week we might start learning colors. I think I will do one color a week, with different activities involving the weekly color. Hopefully we will see some improvement in that category!

Do you have any favorite activities for a 1 year old?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WIAW- Blame it on the morning sickness!

I don't know if it was because I was a little nauseous, or I was really just lazy, but I was totally slacking yesterday! I should have had some coffee in the morning but I didn't have time to make it. Melody woke up crying in the middle of the night so she ended up in our bed. That on top of being completely uncomfortable at 30 weeks pregnant, made for a pretty restless night!

Breakfast- 2 eggs on wheat toast with swiss cheese and salsa, half a banana on the side.

I had an early appointment to get my nails done. So I thought I would have some time to relax. Boy was I wrong! It's definitely not as relaxing with a clingy toddler on your lap the whole time!

Funny thing was, she was completely fine when we got back home. She was dancing all over the living room while I tried to lay down on the couch!

My lounging didn't last long though, because a load of dirty cloth diapers were calling my name... After they were in the wash, I made lunch for Melody. I wasn't feeling hungry (even though I didn't have a snack after breakfast) so I didn't eat until after she went down for her nap.

Lunch- Left over Caribbean Jerk Burger with some veggie sticks. Hey, somebody had to eat the left overs! I should have only made half though, because I couldn't eat the whole thing. The only reason I really had this for lunch was because I had a lazy week (did I mention my laziness the last couple days?) and didn't do any food prep this week! I really need to get on that! It's just the last thing I want to do when I get back from grocery shopping.

Snack- half caff half decaf  with creamer. I was trying to get some motivation to clean my floors! I'm sure a green smoothie would have been a better choice but Melody was still sleeping so I didn't want to use the blender.

Dinner- Baked sweet and sour chicken and fried rice

I was totally craving Chinese food when I made this week's meal plan and we ended up getting some take out on Sunday. So this recipe wasn't as good as it usually is, just because I had just had the real thing a couple days before!

Hopefully this laziness/ slight nausea thing doesn't last all week. I really have a lot to get done. I can't believe how fast this pregnancy seems to be moving! (I say that now! Haha!) I only have a couple months left before this baby will be here! I don't even have the kids' rooms ready! Heck we don't even have a name picked out yet! I'm getting anxious about everything being done in time! I guess that's normal though, I'm pretty sure I started feeling the same way about this time in my last pregnancy. Sorry to my husband who gets to hear me complain nicely remind him every day about what needs to be done!

Don't forget to link up for WIAW!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Caribbean Jerk Burgers

This weekend was pretty cloudy and rainy. I loved it! And it didn't stop me from grilling out back! We grill all throughout the year. The only time we don't grill is if it is windy!

A couple weeks ago I tried a pretty tasty recipe for Caribbean Peas and Rice. I made a jerk seasoning just for this recipe and I loved the flavor! It was sweet and spicy! I thought it would make a great seasoning for burgers! So on Saturday I tried it out.... YUM! The only thing that I wasn't happy with was my cole slaw I made. I guess it's a trial and error type of thing.

I started with all of my ingredients, (I also broke up the egg a bit with a fork) and combined all the ingredients in a bowl. I would suggest taking off your jewelry! Unless you like ground beef stuck in your rings.

Once everything was well combined I formed them into four, somewhat similarly sized patties. I'm not that great at estimating size!

At this point I would suggest refrigerating them for about a half hour, though you don't have to. I didn't this time. I preheated my grill on high, then right before I put the burgers on I turned it down to medium-high. I grilled them for about 5 minutes per side.

At the last couple minutes I added slices of swiss cheese. You could use any kind of cheese you like, though.

Yum yum yum!!! I want another one just looking at these! Haha! To finish the burgers I put them on whole wheat buns, with a scoop of cole slaw on top of the patties. The cole slaw really does go well with the flavor of these burgers, but you don't have to use it if you don't like it.

These burgers were so good I am thinking about doing a burger night once a week. I'm sure my husband the meat eater wont mind that!

Caribbean Jerk Burgers


* 1lb ground beef
* 1/2 a red onion chopped
* 1 egg 
* 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
* 2 Tbsp lime juice
* 1 1/2 Tbsp Jerk Seasoning (recipe below)
* 4 whole wheat buns
Toppings: cheese slices and cole slaw (optional)


Preheat grill on high heat. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well but do not over mix. Form meat mixture into 4 patties. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Turn grill down to medium-high heat. Grill patties for 4-5 minutes on each side. If using cheese, add them to the burgers at the last couple minutes of cook time. Place burgers on whole wheat buns and add toppings of your choice.

Jerk Seasoning


* 1 Tbsp garlic powder
* 2 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
* 2 tsp onion powder
* 2 tsp thyme (dried)
* 2 tsp parsley (dried)
* 2 tsp brown sugar
* 1 tsp ground allspice 
* 1/2 tsp black pepper
* 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) crushed red pepper
* 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake lightly.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Homemade Fruit Snacks

Melody LOVES fruit snacks! She constantly is saying "nack?" "nack?". I hate buying the cheap ones at the store because they are loaded with preservatives and sugar! I do love the Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks but they are just so expensive to be buying them as fast as melody eats them. Yesterday, I tried making my own homemade fruit snacks for her. I wouldn't say it was an epic fail, because they turned out the way they were supposed to. But, it wasn't a huge success because melody didn't really like them. UGH! She at least did enjoy helping me make them, though, so at least something good came out of these suckers! They are fairly easy to make, I just tweaked this tutorial found on Pinterest a bit.

In the tutorial, she used all organic items. I didn't this time, but I would have liked to. I'm sure it would have been slightly more expensive. I spent almost $24 on everything for my fruit snacks. That did include, however, a couple foil pans and the small flower cutter (found at Hobby Lobby).

I bought enough fruit to make each flavor of gummies in the tutorial. I only had enough room in my fridge to do two of them at a time, though. The banana flavor will have to wait for another day. Maybe Melody will like that flavor better... hopefully! I made the strawberry orange and blueberry grapefruit.

Unfortunately I forgot to put the honey in these pictures. In the tutorial she uses stevia in the raw packets, but I had honey on hand so I substituted the stevia with a tablespoon of honey. ( I also added a teaspoon of raw organic sugar to each recipe...shhhhh!)  That really didn't make them any sweeter. After reading some of the comments on this recipe saying that they were a little sour, I decided to use a little less lime and lemon juice and more orange in the strawberry orange batch. They are still quite sour. Which is probably the reason Melody doesn't like them very much.

After adding the fruit to the citrus juice, you will boil the mixture for 5-7 min. Then transfer it to your blender. Blend it smooth then let it cool for 5-7 min. Then add your sweetener of choice, and 5 packets (yes, 5!) of gelatin. Blend it smooth again and immediately poor onto a cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least one hour. (FYI- I think the banana flavor only calls for 2 packets of gelatin as its a smaller batch)

Once they are firmed up, you can cut them. You can use any shape small cutter or just cut them into squares with a knife. I found a cute flower shaped cutter at Hobby Lobby in the clay/soap aisle. (that is also where she got her bear cutter in the tutorial)

When you realize your child wont eat all of these, you can have them help you with this step!

She really did enjoy this! I cut out most of the flowers and she put them in the tupperware bowl. Then at the end I left a little bit of room for her to go to town with the flower cutter.

They do taste good, if you like a little sour. It's a good sour though, not that fake sour taste! I'm hoping maybe Melody will like these if we try again. She could have just been in a picky mood. If not, I'm trying a different recipe. Maybe just fruit strips instead.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Diaper Wet Bag

I have been cloth diapering Melody now for 2 or 3 weeks. I really do love it! Well, now that I have my diaper sprayer anyways! It really is a must have with toddler poo! (In my opinion.) I'm sure lots of moms are doing just fine without the sprayer, but it really is extremely helpful. I hardly see any staining since I have been using it!

I usually carry around these nifty little scented bags to put dirty diapers in when we are out and about. I ran out of them the other day and thought, I need to make a wet bag! Something I can put her dirty cloth diapers in when we are out. So of course I hit up Pinterest and found a nice tutorial on how to make a wet bag!

On Sunday I made 2 small wet bags according to the tutorial. They came out great considering I have never sewed a zipper before! That meant I had to watch a you tube video on how to attach the zipper foot on my sewing machine. (And no I didn't know witch one was the zipper foot ) Yes I admit it! That just goes to show how easy this project really is!

For the small wet bag I used:
* 2 pieces of cotton fabric 10" x 12.5"
* 2 pieces of PUL fabric 10" x 12"
* 1 strip of cotton fabric 4" x 14"
* 9" zipper
* polyester thread

In the tutorial, she says you may also need either baby powder or tissue paper. I had both but used baby powder because it was easier to get to. It really makes it easier to sew the zipper on the PUL. Otherwise it's a little slippery. I also want to mention (which she didn't in the tutorial) that I washed and dried both of my fabrics BEFORE cutting them to size. I know the cotton fabric did shrink a bit but the PUL didn't noticeably shrink.

So I followed the instructions and attached the zipper. I think for my first zipper ever, I did pretty good!

I didn't take pictures of all the steps, you can check out the tutorial for that. The first bag took me about 3 hours including the time it took to cut out the fabric. The second bag only took about an hour. These small bags will hold about 3 cloth diapers each.

small wet bag

Now, when I bought the fabric, I apparently couldn't do math because I got A LOT more fabric than I really needed! So, since I had all this left over fabric, I decided to make a large wet bag to put in the bathroom for diapers after I have sprayed them. This would help me not have to carry a drippy diaper across the hall back to the nursery. 

Yesterday, after making a trip to the fabric store for a larger zipper, I put Melody down for her nap and gathered my supplies:

For the large wet bag I used:
* 2 pieces cotton fabric 17" x 29"
* 2 pieces PUL fabric 17" x 28.5"
* 1 strip of cotton fabric 4" x 14"
* 16" zipper
* polyester thread
* grande peppermint mocha frappucino (optional)

This was a little more difficult with larger fabric. Then again, my work space (aka dining room) was a little tight. For some reason I kept poking myself with pins and then cut myself trying to rip a seam I wasn't satisfied with. Maybe the frappucino was a bad idea! Overall, though it turned out nice! You could make this any size you want! You would just need the width of the fabric to be an inch longer than the size of your zipper. You also want the length of the PUL fabric to be about a half inch shorter than your cotton fabric.

 I am thinking, since we only have about one poo diaper a day right now, I might just use this large bag next to the changing table and put a small one in the bathroom. Right now I am just using regular trash bags in the trash can and throwing them out when I wash the diapers. (which is every two days) Not very eco friendly or thrifty of me, I know. My next plan is to make a bag without the zipper and just use elastic around the top. (AKA trash can liner) We will see.

*Again, if you would like the full tutorial for the small bag please visit A Lemon Squeezy Home.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WIAW- What I Ate Wednesday!

I'm super excited about this post, as it's my first WIAW post! A few blogs I follow have been doing these posts for some time now, and well I thought I would join in on the party! Jenn from Peas and Crayons usually hosts this weekly link up where everyone shares their eats from either one day or just a few different days' eats. I really think this will help me see what kind of foods I am actually eating and help me strive for healthy choices.

Coffee with cream and a banana

I have been waking up a little earlier lately, around 6-6:30am. It gives me at least an hour or so to myself before Melody wakes up. Since she has been fighting naps, this seems to be crucial for me to get some time by myself! I will use this time to blog and peruse Facebook and Pinterest. When Melody does wake up around 7:30, we have breakfast together.

2 eggs scrambled with red onion, spinach, and cheddar with whole wheat toast

She may or may not eat all of her eggs, it really just depends on the day. I try not to sweat it. She usually will eat her toast but then again, she went on a toast strike last week. Just goes to show, you never know with her. If she doesn't eat something for a while I don't worry though, because she will usually pick it back up within a couple days.

After breakfast we made a quick trip to the fabric store to pick up a zipper I needed for a sewing project. When we got back to the house, my mom came over to visit and pick up her items from our Azure Standard order. She stayed for lunch and I decided some salads sounded really good!

romaine and kale salad with tomatoes, avocado, kalamata olives, cucumbers, and feta
We also snacked on these veggie straws

The salad was great, but would have been more filling with a little rice or quinoa. Unfortunately I was slacking this week on food prepping. These veggie straws did the trick, though. These are the Whole Foods brand and they are good, but they seem a little more salty than the veggie straws I usually get. They only have 10mg more sodium than my usual, but they tasted much saltier.

After my mom left, I was lucky enough to get Melody to go down for a nap! Woo Hoo! I could finally clean the floors! Apparently, cleaning floors makes me hungry because when I was done I needed a snack! 

organic low fat yogurt with peanut butter and Love Grown granola

Yesterday was my dad's birthday, and I was actually already making Taco Slop in the crock pot. I wasn't expecting to go out anywhere but we all decided to go with my dad and step mom to Red Robbin (his favorite restaurant). This, of course, means I splurged a little!

Crispy chicken burger and fries

Happy Birthday Papa!
We were making taco slop leftovers tonight anyways, so I guess it was ok. At home, we lounged on the couch and watched season one of Heros on Hulu. Melody thought the box our new pool pump came in was much more interesting!

Because we stayed up a little late watching Heros, I got a little hungry so I had a bowl of cereal. (No picture, sorry) For some reason cereal has been my go to snack lately. I know it really isn't the healthiest, and its definitely processed with tons of preservatives, but it has been my guilty pleasure lately! My favorite is the Reese's Puffs cereal! HORRIBLE!! I know. It's my weakness.

Do you have a weakness for a specific food/ snack?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Azure Standard Drop at Pinkpeas

A few months ago I was at a Le Leche League meeting on my side of town and had the great fortune of being introduced to the non profit organization Pinkpeas. They are a group of midwives, doulas, and childbirth/ lactation educators who help families through pregnancy and parenting. They offer a wide range of classes, from childbirth education to support groups to prenatal care. They are a family based community so feel free to bring your children! Pinkpeas was designed with children in mind, as they have a wonderful play area and even a park right out back!

My first visit to Pinkpeas was on a Tuesday morning, to a class called "The Mashup". It honestly was just a time and place for mothers to get together while their children play together either inside or outside at the park. Even though I was new, I felt completely welcomed by all the women and had a wonderful time. It was nice to get out of the house for both myself and my daughter. Now, we are currently taking a Bradley Method birthing class at Pinkpeas as well.

After talking with a few of the girls there, I heard about Azure Standard. It is a bulk and organic food delivery service that comes once a month. There are several drop locations for this service in Las Vegas, and Pinkpeas is one of them. I decided to try it out this month to see the quality of food and if it is cheaper than buying at Whole Foods every week. I didn't want to order by myself the first time, since I wasn't sure of how much we would actually use. So I asked my mom (also a huge advocate of whole/ raw foods) if she wanted to go in with me on this order. She of course agreed!

At my first look at the order guide, I was completely overwhelmed!!! Holy cow, they have so many different things! Grains, dairy, meats, produce, canned goods, essential oils, bath products and the list goes on!! All I could think was "Where the heck do I start?!" After talking with one of the girls who handles the drops at Pinkpeas, she filled me in on what she normally orders from them. Her advice was to just look for what you normally use everyday. I wouldn't recommend getting a bunch of produce unless you are splitting it with someone else or plan on freezing some, otherwise you probably wont use it all before it goes bad. I did order a couple produce items to split with my mom this time, though.

After your order is placed and paid for, the truck drops off the orders at Pinkpeas. Everyone who ordered shows up to lend a hand helping unload the truck and organizing the orders. It really is a quick process with everyone helping! Plus, while you are waiting, the kids get to play together!

Melody playing with a couple of the girls at Pinkpeas
I was hoping to get a few pictures of everyone helping unload the truck but I didn't. (Jeez Devin!) I know, I'm slacking! I'm still getting used to capturing my life on film for blogging purposes!

5lb bag organic carrots-$6.25, 10oz package organic baby spinach-$5.00, 3lbs rBST free butter-$3.60 per lb, 2 small bags organic avocados-$3.50 per bag, 2lbs bulk raw almonds- $12.95, 2 dozen organic range free brown eggs- $7.15, .5oz bottle tangerine oil- $2.90

2 whole organic chickens aprox. 4-5lbs each- $3.83/lb, Ezekiel bread- $4.20 

I still have some research to do as to whether some of these things would be cheaper at Whole Foods or not, but from the looks of it, it seems to be about half and half. I know the almonds are cheaper this way, and I'm sure that most of their bulk grains are cheaper as well. I will order some next month. I think the avocados are cheaper than Whole Foods as well. I think it will take some ordering trial and error for me to figure out the best items to purchase through Azure each month. Overall though it was a fun new experience for me!

If you are interested in learning more about Pinkpeas or Azure Standard, please visit the Pinkpeas website. Just call their phone number listed.

Also, Pinkpeas is having a great fundraising event called Pinkpeas in the Park, on  September 28th from 5pm-8pm. They will have all sorts of vendors and fun activities! I hope to see you there!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekly Menu and Grocery Shopping

Since becoming a SAHM, I could say I've gotten a little OCD with some things. Mostly just being organized. I know that's a broad spectrum but I fit it. I like a clean, organized home. If I want to start a project, my work space and everything else around it must be clean. I even created my own cleaning calendar to make sure every room in the house gets touched/ deep cleaned once a week. (I'll go into that more in another post)

Monthly cleaning calendar

Now when I say, I'm a "little OCD", keep in mind I am in no way perfect. Just like most mom's, you can find at any given time somewhere in my house at least one basket of laundry that still needs to be folded and put away, a gaggle of toys strewn across the living room floor, and possibly a sink full of dirty dishes depending on the time of day.

When it comes to groceries, though, I have a system that I try my hardest to stick to. It changes some from week to week but the basics stay the same. Because it's just one income in our home, I've had to cut back on the grocery budget. (Technically, though, we haven't set an exact amount. We try to stay around $100-$150 per week) Gone are the days we could walk into the grocery store and just throw anything we wanted into the cart! I now plan out each week's meals and only buy what I have on my list. For a while I had been "couponing" and it was ok, but I noticed we were straying from the healthy whole foods we should be eating, and getting more and more packaged foods because they were on sale and I had a coupon. Here, in Vegas, it isn't like the show "Extreme Couponing". The store rules and coupon rules are much more strict and rarely will you ever find a store anymore that allows doubling coupons.

So the last couple weeks I decided to try doing the bulk of my shopping at Whole Foods. Yes they can be more expensive but in my opinion the quality of food is better than what I can get at Walmart. Plus, the amount of organic items is much greater. Do I buy ONLY organic? No. Nor can I afford to. I try to get the bulk of my produce at farmer's markets, the Farm at Grand Teton, and Gilcrease Orchard. Then do the remaining of my shopping at Whole Foods. It has been working out well so far. I can say that the non GMO, no antibiotic meats not only taste amazing, but also I feel better after eating them. I really didn't think there would be that much of a difference until I made spaghetti last week with the ground beef. Amazing!

My old routine was to do my meal planning and grocery list on Sunday and then shop on Monday morning. Now, because I want to hit up the farms on Saturday, I have been meal planning on Friday. Here is what my list this week looked like:

I have been using this "eat sheet" for at least six months now and I love it! You can find the free file here.

*Monday- chicken and broccoli stir fry
*Tuesday- Taco Slop
*Wednesday- left over Taco Slop
*Thursday- Southwest Salad
*Friday- Caribbean jerk burgers w/ slaw
*Saturday- Fish and veggies with rice/ quinoa
*Sunday- left overs

Sunday is always left over night. Sometimes we may decide to go out to dinner, and in that instance I may move some of these nights around and use a meal for the next week's plan. 

I made this meal plan on Friday, so Saturday morning we went to the farm. This was our haul:

total: $5.75
On Sunday morning I was lucky enough to get to go shopping all by myself with no toddler! This made my trip much quicker!

organic wheat tortillas- $2.39, organic white tortillas- $2.39, block cheddar- $2.99, organic baby swiss- $6.99, nitrate free smoked turkey breast- $$7.99, orange juice- $2.99, 2 organic whole milk- $11.98(total), organic sour cream-$2.79, ground beef-$3.99, chicken thighs-$6.77, chicken breasts- $13.23, atlantic salmon filet- $10.55, half head of organic cabbage-$2.10

organic chocolate o's cereal- $4.99, veggie straws- $1.99, tortilla chips- $2.29, organic GoGo applesauce- $3.00-$.60coupon= $2.40, organic broccoli- $4.75, organic limes- $1.00, organic red grapes- $4.13, organic romaine hearts- $2.50, red and orange bell peppers- $2.79, bananas- $.86, honey wheat bread- $2.99
Minus $.50 for my reusable bags, my total for all this was $107.34. I also stopped at Smith's to grab a bag of whole wheat hamburger buns- $3.39. Including the farm haul and buns, my weekly total came to $116.48. I don't think that is that bad considering all the meat I got this week. 

Hopefully, this system will go smoother the more I use it! So far though, I have no complaints. This month I am also receiving my first order from Azure Standard. I will post about that tomorrow! 

Do you have a system and/or budget for weekly groceries?