My daughter, Llama, has been exceedingly patient in having a new brother. Every day, when she comes home from school, we have a routine. She unpacks her backpack, removes her homework folder and starts working at the kitchen table while I put Dude down for a nap. Dude is only 9-months old, so I nurse him to sleep in our guest room which is right above our garage. This process involves me laying down on the bed with him and not being able to move or talk for about 15-minutes. This took some practice with my daughter, but she has learned to be very quiet and not call out for me during that time. I usually park my car in the garage, but currently, we are trying to sell our entertainment center. This large piece of wood furniture was located in our upstairs bedroom, but to make it easier for our potential buyer, we moved it into my space in the garage. Thus, I’m parking outside.
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When I was a kid, I used to sign up for classes through Tucson Parks and Recreation. I did ballet, tap dance, acting, piano, magic, painting, baton twirling, babysitting, pottery, self defense, gymnastics… you name it, and I probably took a class in it. As I became an adult, I found less and less time to pursue those types of leisure activities. Now, with two young kids, its almost impossible to leave the house. Having young children is rough and neither my husband nor I like to have two kids by ourselves during the bedtime hour. Very difficult. However, I miss learning the fun skills that let me pursue new artistic ventures. Those classes gave me an outlet to express myself as well as accumulate a ton of random interesting hobbies and skills (I actually switched to private baton lessons for a little while). Since my schedule is pretty tight for the time being, I’ve found my creative inspiration in Craftsy. If you haven’t checked out Craftsy.com and are arts-and-crafts inclined, I suggest you take a look. The site has a wide variety of video lessons to choose from. Everything from sewing and drawing to cooking and… jewelry! I’m refining my jewelry skills through a class on Craftsy right now by learning how to work with wire. So far, my teacher on Craftsy has taught me how to wire-wrap top-drilled stones which is how I made these lovely earrings: And used the same elements in the design of this necklace: Also, I learned how to create the nifty wire circles that appear in these earrings. Look for a Whimsicle necklace that uses that wire circle soon. All of these items are available for sale as well 🙂 Classes range anywhere from $15 to $50. The class includes materials lists, step-by-step beautifully produced videos and access to the instructor and other students. The online class hosts its very own online community where students can post pictures of their work and ask questions. Best of all, the video lessons are available to you forever. If you need to re-watch something to remind yourself of how its done, you can. If you are looking for a new hobby but can’t find the time to take a class, I definitely recommend Craftsy. If you end up enrolling in a class, let me know! Especially let me know if its good so I can add it to my wish list. I’m a little addicted.
“MOOOMMMMM…Carson pooped on the floor!” I grab a plastic bag and walk up the stairs, mentally preparing myself to stay calm. I take one look into the room and scream, “CARSON! Bad Boy.”
I had delusions about being the perfect mom. I would be loving ( I think I have that one), patient, have my kids dressed in cute little outfits and make my own baby food from scratch. Many moms fantasize about this. In truth, it doesn’t happen- unless you are Super Mom and I salute you. Take baby food. When it was time to wean my first child onto solid food -between working and being a first-time mom – I picked up a jar of Gerber pretty fast. It worked. We packed the baby food in our diaper bag when we went out to dinner. My husband and I fed her, taking bites in between spoon-risings to eat out our own meals. Life was happy. Since I decided to stay home after the birth of my second child, I attempted to give this “Baby Food Chef” thing a go. I became super excited as his 6-month birthday neared. I chopped, peeled and boiled sweet potatoes for our own dinner and made a batch of sweet potatoes, minus the good stuff(i.e. cream, salt, butter) for him. I pureed his food and sectioned the puree into the individual compartments of an ice cube tray- so they would be “convenient” later. When the time came to feed him, I mixed a bit of sweet potatoes with some expressed breast milk. As I brought him his food, I thought, “this is it. Perfect. He’s going to love it and eat the whole thing.” He refused to even open his mouth. Wouldn’t take it. I tried again the second night. Same thing. This time with crying and clamorous shouts of disdain. That’s when I decided to give baby-led weaning a try. In short, baby led weaning is letting the baby eat real food entirely by himself. No purees. No spoons. No adults putting anything in the baby’s mouth. The process is supposed to encourage healthier eating by letting the baby regulate his or her own food intake as well as exposing baby to a much wider variety of food. To start, I gave my son whole avocado cut into bite sized pieces. He smeared the avocado all over his tray and wouldn’t eat any of it. The next day, I gave him some baby carrots boiled so that I could mash them easily between my fingertips- about 45 minutes of boiling. He picked up the carrots and gummed them a little. A piece of carrot broke off and he immediately started gagging. The books on baby-led weaning warn you about babies gagging on their first foods. My husband and I reach for our son and get ready to finger sweep his mouth. Before we get to him, the piece of carrot flies out. My boy just reaches it for it, unfazed, and tries to eat it again. Every meal time, we fed him some of our meal minus dairy, nuts and of course, honey. He ate strips of whole wheat tortilla, chunks of broccoli, bits of […]
My daughter and I like to go on weekly dates every Friday after school. It’s a time I use to talk with her and to have a little treat that has no redeeming nutritional value. Friday dates are a blast! This past Friday, we chose Starbucks so that we could indulge in Frappucinos off their secret menu. Well, secret to some extent. Since Starbucks makes drinks to order, you can have them combine whatever flavors you desire. You just need to tell them exactly how to make it. Our choices this time? Cotton Candy Frappuccino. Made with: Vanilla Creme Frappuccino as a base 1 pump raspberry syrup Harry Potter Butterbeer Frappuccino Made with: Vanilla Creme Frappuccino 3 pumps toffee nut syrup 3 pumps caramel syrup caramel sauce drizzle I recommend the cotton candy variation. The drink is very reminiscent of the candy floss and was yummy to both my daughter and me. We didn’t enjoy the Butterbeer as much. I felt the toffee nut flavor was overwhelming, so that it didn’t taste like Butterbeer really but was more like having a Toffee Nut Frappuccino. Ordering off the secret menu is a lot of fun! I used the website: http://starbuckssecretmenu.net It works very well on a cell phone. I just browsed over to the recipe and showed the barista. If you are intrigued by the concept of secret menus, I also recommend the website Hack the Menu What Starbucks variations do you recommend?
Love clam chowder, but can’t justify the heaviness of it? Try this slow-cooker recipe that lightens up this delicious soup. Although most of the fat has disappeared, the soup is still very creamy and has a ton of flavor. As a bonus, it is incredibly easy to prepare. You will need:1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil1 onion, diced2 ribs celery, diced2 tsp minced garlic2 cans clams (8 ounces each)1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice3 potatoes, cut in bite sized cubes (I used red potatoes)1 can (12 ounces) 2% evaporated milk Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Throw in the onion and celery. Cook until the onion becomes translucent (about 12 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more (or until you can smell the garlic). Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. Add the clams (with juice), bottle of clam juice and potatoes to the slow cooker. Stir well. Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, or on low for 3-4 hours. I found that 3.5 hours on low worked well for this recipe. Stir in the evaporated milk the last hour of cooking. Season with pepper and serve. Tabasco green sauce would also make a tasty seasoning. I served this soup with a salad (greens, turkey, pepperoni, mozzarella, tomatoes and green olives) and bread rolls from the bakery. It was a very easy and tasty weeknight meal. Enjoy! Recipe from The Runner’s World Cookbook.
Once…I went to Georgia. It was my cousin’s wedding and the rehearsal dinner was held at this spectacular BBQ place. The pulled pork literally melted in my mouth. As a semi-vegetarian (in that I didn’t really like meat all that much, so ate a lot of cheese based dishes instead), I had no idea meat could taste that good. Every time I’ve eaten at the BBQ place since then, I have ordered the pulled pork off the menu and hoped it would be as amazing. I’m always disappointed. This crock pot recipe comes pretty darn close to the deliciousness of that Georgia restaurant. The best part is that it is super easy and makes the house smell good all day. You will need: 5-6 pound pork shoulder roast 2 yellow onions, sliced 3 Tbs chili powder 1 tsp coriander 2 tsps cumin 2 tsps onion powder 1 Tbs dried parsley 2 tsps salt First, slice up the onions and place them on the bottom of the crock pot. Then, mix the spices together to form a dry rub. Rub the spices all over the meat. Attack any children nearby. Place meat on top of the onions and close the crock pot lid. Cook the meat for 5-6 hours on high. Then lower the heat to low and cook an additional 3-4 hours. You do not have to add any liquid. At the end of the cooking time, your pork will look like this: I recommend taking the roast out and draining all of that fat. Including the fat is super yummy, but it isn’t needed. The meat is still very moist and flavorful without it. Shred the meat and serve. We chose to have carnitas burritos the night we made it. We used whole wheat tortillas with sour cream and Tapatio sauce. You can eat the meat just by itself too (as Erik chose to do). This recipe makes a lot of food. Leftover carnitas make an excellent salad topping as well, if you aren’t up to eating a plethora of carnitas burritos. However, this meat is so good, using a fork to eat it straight out of the refrigerator works as well. Original recipe from Everyday Paleo.
I’ve been called bossy my entire life. Ever since I was little, it’s been “my way or the highway” as my dad would put it. He and my mom dubbed me “Queenie” from a very early age. I liked to dictate play activities, tell my little sister what to do and have full confidence that I was always right.
Conversation with my daughter: Cam: Mama, I want to make a surprise for Daddy. Me: Ok, what should we make? Cam: Something with chocolate because Daddy REALLY likes chocolate. Since I knew anything we made, she (and I) would end up consuming as well, I wanted to keep this treat on the healthier side. A few years ago, I read in Runner’s World that chef Richard Blais (from Top Chef) dips pieces of clementine in dark chocolate for a mini indulgence. I thought this sounded easy and fantastic, so.. This is incredibly easy to do. All we used were dark cocoa candy melts and clementines. 1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. 2. Peel clementines and divide into slices. Make sure to remove any stringy pith from the slices. 3. Follow directions on candy melts to melt the chocolate. I used the microwave. 4. Dip half of clementine slice in melted chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off into the bowl. Lay the dipped clementine slice on the baking sheet. 5. Place cookie sheet in the refrigerator to harden for half an hour. We like our clementines cold, so to store them I simply took them off the cookie sheet and placed them in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator. They lasted about 2 days…. because we ate them. Do you have any easy, healthy snacks to recommend? Please tell us in the comments below!
“I can do this. I can do this,” I tell myself as I peel myself up from the couch. My son has a fever, I feel achy and cooking dinner does not sound fun. “Mmmm.. Someburros,” briefly crosses my mind and I mention it to my daughter. After my afternoon with a very discontent 7-month-old, I really want to get frozen yogurt tonight. I can’t justify greasy, delicious Mexican food and frozen yogurt. So, frozen yogurt wins and I get up. Thankfully, this recipe is really easy and incredibly healthy (which really means more calories for frozen yogurt). I found it on the Fitness Magazine website and have adapted it from there. You need: 4 crushed garlic cloves 2 limes 2 tsps chili powder 2 tsps cumin 1 lb salmon, cut in 4-5 oz portions (I like the skin still on, I’ll tell you why) 1 1/2 cups frozen corn (defrosted) 1/2 red onion, sliced 1 red bell pepper, sliced 1 Anaheim chili sliced 1 Tbs olive oil 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream 2 tbs chopped cilantro salt Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets by covering them with aluminum foil. I do this because I hate clean-up and this simple step just makes it easier. First, mix the garlic, juice from 1 lime, chili powder and cumin in a shallow baking dish. Stir until it resembles a thin paste coating the bottom of the dish. Place the salmon skin side up in the dish and let marinate (at least 15 minutes). Next, mix the corn, red bell pepper, red onion and Anaheim chili in a bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. In a seperate bowl, mix the sour cream, juice from 1 lime, and cilantro. Salt to taste. Place this in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. Remove salmon from marinade and place skin side down on baking sheet. Do not spray this baking sheet with cooking oil. The skin of the salmon will stick to the foil, thus letting you serve a perfect skinless filet of salmon. Toss remaining marinade from salmon with vegetables. Spray second baking sheet with cooking oil. Spread vegetables out on cooking sheet. Place both baking sheets in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove and plate your entree! Spoon a large helping of veggies on a dinner plate, place a filet on top and spoon sour cream sauce on top. Yum! My 7-month-old loved the salmon. Even though he was feeling sick, he kept asking for more little bites. My five-year-old complains about all food these days (unless the food is covered with cheese. She was very upset when I decided against Someburros). She ate a little bit of this with very little complaining. Victory! Comment below to let us know if you try this recipe. Also, let us know any helpful cooking tips you might use!