Monday, August 31, 2009

SIDS information

Here are some helpful articles on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Anyone with an infant should be sure they are up-to-date on the current information!

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Here's what I did with our tomatoes from the garden. I wish I had pictures to share, but when I was doing the process I just wanted to get it done.
1. Clean tomatoes and cut off stems.
2. Bring big pot of water to boil -- boil for a couple minutes before using.
3. Take an old flour sack towel and place about 6 tomatoes in center.
4. Grab towel by ends and place in boiling pot of water for 2 minutes. I use an oven mitt hold onto the end moving the towel back and forth. This softens the skins.
5. Take tomatoes out and let cool to touch -- you could put them in a bowl of ice. I didn't have too many at one time so I was able to get them right away.
6. Take a sharp knife and peel skins and bad pieces off. Cut into quarters or smaller.
7. Put into freezer bags and store until ready to use.

I wore gloves when peeling the skins. I also used our foodsaver. If using a foodsaver be sure to seal the bag before the juices run out. I portioned our bags with 2 cups of tomatoes. A small can of tomatoes is 14.5 oz and 2 cups is 16 oz.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Minute Rice Review

A while back, Minute Rice contacted me and asked if I wanted some samples. In return I kindly replied that I would post a review about the products. The samples I received were as follows:

Brown Rice: I really like the taste of this product. If you are accustomed to using the regular white rice from Minute Rice you will need to adjust how you scale back the size. I often make just a quarter cup for my daughter and I noticed that with the brown rice the water-to-rice ratio was a little more tricky. The nutrition content is better than the white rice and I appreciate that.

Ready to Serve Brown Rice: I was so impressed with how easy these were to use and how good they tasted. The single serving portion make it perfect for a lunch. While I'm a stay-at-home mom right now, I envisioned buying these for lunch at work. They would be great for traveling, too. Finding food to travel with for a daughter with food allergies can be pretty challenging. I really enjoyed this product!! There several other flavors of the Ready Serve Rice such as brown and wild rice, yellow rice and chicken rice mix.

I am a regular user of the white rice from Minute Rice, so I highly recommend using these products.

$1/2 Minute Rice products found here
$1/2 Minute Ready Serve Rice found here

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Sloppy Joes (even better)

I was planning on making sloppy joes the other night and when I went into the pantry to get the tomato soup I found none. Guess my stock pile is gone. I bought so many tomato soups and cream soups in the spring that I just now and running out. I looked at the browned beef in the skillet and thought about making something else. Then I looked at the thawed buns on the counter and realized I better just come up with an alternative. I knew there was a recipe out there with ketchup, but I've never liked anyone else's recipe with ketchup before. After a quick Google search I came across this recipe. Normally, I read the reviews and make some conclusion on making the recipe the best it can be, but there wasn't any time. The recipe is adapted from here.

Sloppy Joes (alternate version)
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped finely
1/2 to 1/4 cup yellow onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard
3/4 cup ketchup (I used 1/2 cup and then added a little more)
3 tsp brown sugar

1. Brown meat with green pepper and onion. Drain.
2. Mix remaining ingredients with browned meat. Keep on medium-low until heated through.
3. This can sit on low for half hour to get flavors mixed well.

For more great recipes check out The Grocery Cart Challenge!

A couple craft ideas

These were really easy to do and didn't take much preparation. And it was just long enough for my daughter's attention span this morning.

My daughter loves anything in the sky. All day she will tell us the clouds are moving and will often talk about the moon and twinkle stars. We created two pictures -- a day sky and a night sky.

This is the day sky. I used cotton balls and blue paper. We spread the cotton balls apart and glued them to the paper. My 2-year-old helped spread them apart and glue them. We used a sticker for the sun.

This is the night sky. I simply used stickers on black paper and she created a night sky

Now, these simple projects might not look like much. Here are some skills that were reinforced while doing this project: concept of day and night, following directions, making decisions (on where to glue or stick items), working together with mom. Here is language used -- stars, glue, moon, sun, sky, clouds, stick, black, blue, yellow, green, white, orange, red, day, night. Also, when we do projects I like to display them in the house for her to look at and show off to Daddy later. We put these pictures by her new big girl bed. My hope is that it will be something she will want to look at when she wakes up or needs to fall asleep.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This week's surprise box

Here's what is in this week's surprise box.

Theme: Number recognition zero to five
Hands On: Small Foam Numbers 0 to 5; Magnets 0 to 5 with a pie tin.

Here's a couple of ideas to go along with this week's theme. I noticed a week ago that my daughter didn't seem to recognize her numbers, even though I'm pretty sure she know them. I decided to just focus on 0 to 5. When I read 5 Little Ladybugs, I asked her to pick up the corresponding foam number that went with the page. It's good for following directions and for recognizing the numbers. With the other stories I just reinforced the numbers and asked her to say the numbers with me. Finally with the magnets, I placed the numbers in front of us and asked her to give me each one (out of order). We also did do some counting with the stories but the main focus was recognition.

I'll try to post each week to help with ideas.

Daddy do it

For some time now I've wanted to give my husband a true taste of what I do all day every day. I often rattle off 15 tasks I've accomplished in the evening and hope for a standing ovation. Come on, no one could get all that done in one day and live to talk about it. Instead he gives me something such as, "that's good." I sigh and finish eating the supper that took an hour to make because my two-year-old insisted that she wanted to get undressed or requested a book be read or just came over to throw a tantrum for no reason. Tacos shouldn't take an hour to make, right?

I must add that he is a wonderful husband and does everything he can for our family to provide for us. He helps me at night when he can, even though he works long hours. He always get our daughter ready for bed and reads her stories. I have no complaints. I do however think he sometimes thinks my job as a SAHM is relaxed or not that challenging.

So yesterday I decided to leave for most of the day. I would much rather sleep and lounge around the house for a day off, but our little girl is pretty demanding these days. The only way to truly get a break is to leave. I left in the morning for about 3 hours and for 2 1/2 hours in the afternoon. I left a list for my husband to "complete." I knew it wouldn't get done -- even on a perfect day one or two things couldn't get finished with the little girl who doesn't like to nap during the day or be alone at night.

Here's the list:
  • 3 loads of laundry -- I sorted and even started one load before I left, one load was just sheets off the bed
  • Vacuum
  • Mop
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Run to the store (he needed sunflower seeds and only gets them at a certain store)
  • Play outside
  • Feed lunch at noon -- ABC spaghetti, peas, oranges
  • Start nap at 1 p.m.
I left at 9 a.m. I thought about maybe sabotaging something, such as jamming up the diaper pail or putting a color shirt in the whites. But I didn't think that would be fair. Turned out the washer stopped working during the second load. It has an imbalance problem that if it has too much water it won't work. So, my husband said he had to hook up the landlord's washer. I figure he lost about a half hour because of that.

When I stopped at home around 12:30 p.m. to put away some groceries I bought at Whole Foods (I never get there because I have to label read and my impatient toddler sometimes makes that hard). He told me he was a little behind. As far as I could see nothing was done. He told me about the washer. Then he held up the list and said "I couldn't find peas or oranges, so she had peaches and a vegetable medley." Made me laugh. No big deal. Peas and oranges were just a guideline. I did see he got to the vacuuming.

I reminded him that our daughter needed some outside time yet. I left shortly after and ran to a couple more stores. Seems like when I get the energy and the freedom to do it, I got to as many as I can. Didn't spend a whole lot, but got some things we needed. Sometimes it's about the shopping and not the buying. I returned home around 3 p.m. and my husband was still sitting on the floor in our daughter's room trying to put her down for nap. Guess she didn't want to nap. Later the truth comes out they both fell asleep on the rocking chair. He said she fell asleep twice and she wouldn't let him leave the room. So, the laundry wasn't done, the bathroom didn't get cleaned, he didn't run to the store. He proudly told me he got the floor mopped. We tackled the rest for the tasks and a couple more for the rest of the day. When we were eating supper I asked if he made the bed. He said "I didn't know that was part of laundry." All I could do was laugh.

I can only hope that he got a little better understanding after his "day in the life of a stay-at-home parent."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's Cookin' - Macaroni Salad

I found this recipe on America's Test Kitchen Website. It's a really simple and clean tasting pasta salad.

Macaroni Salad
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 celery, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp mustard (I used French's the recipe calls for Dijon)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cup mayo (I used Hellman's)
Pepper to taste

1. Boil macaroni. Set aside.
2. Mix all other ingredients together. Add macaroni.
3. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. I like to let salads sit for an hour or so in the refrigerator before serving.

**The original recipe calls for adding all ingredients but mayo and pepper and letting sit for a couple minutes. I didn't really notice a different in taste when I just mixed all together.**

**Also, I think hard boiled egg would taste really good in this. I just haven't gotten around to adding it when I've made it.**

Monday, August 17, 2009

Surprise Box

Each week I've been putting together a theme box for my daughter. It's a great way to rotate toys, books and games. It also give me a good way to assess her knowledge.

I call it a "surprise box" because each week there is something new. We have a special blanket that we sit on and we go through the box. I try to include a couple stories, a hands-on activity and a toy or puppet. The purpose is to focus on sitting still while we do an activity together. I usually pick a time of day where we need something to fill some time. I also try to include something new that she's never seen before. Don't over think it, just pull a few things together that connect together.

With young children don't expect to have them sit for too long. Keep it really simple. For older children you can include an independent reading or writing activity along with the surprise box.

Here are a couple examples of surprise boxes I've done with my 2-year-old:

Theme: Zoo
Zebra puppet (I made in school)
Homemade zoo book about one of our visits to the zoo

Theme: ABCs
Hands-on: Foam ABCs
Book: Alphabet Mystery by Audrey Wood
My daughter's name in foam letters on a laminated piece of paper

Theme: Colors
Hands-on: Color Book with rectangles
Books: Colors; Brown Leaf, Brown Leaf; Blue Hat, Green Hat Sandra Boyton
Zebra puppet (focus on an animal with two colors -- black and white)

Friday, August 14, 2009

More notable savings of the week

Here are a couple more savings that I received this week.

  • Free underwear from Victoria's Secret (no other purchase made)
  • Target brand Zyrtec 120 pills for just under $19.73, which will probably last through all of next year since I only take it when I'm my worst (regular Zyrtec is $18.99 for 30 pills)
  • My JC Penny Deal
  • Family pack of Golden Plump drumsticks for $3.99 plus a $1/1 coupon making it only $2.99 (we will get at least two meals out of this)
  • Free Ground Turkey with $5/1 coupon I received a while back with a Jennio Turkey recipe book (one to two meals will come out this)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My latest JC Penny deal

I love those $10 off $10 coupons that I get in the mail from JC Penny. I recently had a survey coupon for 15 percent off. Here's the breakdown of what I bought.

2 Toddler Shirts (for the fall)
Original price $9.99 x 2 = 19.98
On sale for $5.99 x 2 = 11.98
After $10 off coupon and 15 percent off = 19 cents

I just love getting new clothes almost free!!

To see some of my other JC Penny deals go here, here and here.

What's Cookin' -- Ranch Roll-ups

Ranch Roll-ups

3 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz sour cream
1/2 packet Ranch dressing seasoning
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, shredded
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
5 tortilla shells

1. Mix cream cheese and sour cream together with Ranch dressing packet.
2. Add broccoli, carrot, onion and bacon to cream cheese mixture.
3. Spread on each tortilla and roll up tightly.
4. Refrigerate in cling wrap for 2 hours or longer.
5. Cut into inch pieces and serve as appetizer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lots going on

We've got lots going on including difficulty putting our toddler to sleep making my blogging time (as well as just about everything else) cut a little short. Shh, she's napping today with no crying. Hooray!

I will be back to regular posting soon. In the meantime, watch for a great tasting appetizer for tomorrow's "What's Cookin'". To be posted either tonight or tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's Cookin' -- Summer Squash

Our garden is finally producing some really yummy vegetables. Here's what I did with Summer Squash. I took the idea from a couple different sources and concluded this would work best.

Deep Fried Summer Squash
1 squash, cut 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour, more if you need it

1. Heat oil in large skillet to 350 degrees
2. Mix milk and egg in one bowl.
3. Mix flour and salt in separate bowl.
4. Coat each piece of squash with milk and egg mixture. Then dip in flour mixture.
5. I placed each coated piece on a plate.
6. When all pieces are coated heat in oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.

**I dipped mine in Ranch dressing -- really, really good!**

Check out more of my recipes here!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Thank You Cards

This project took us several separate times to make. For my daughter birthday party, I decided instead of mailing thank you cards a week (or so) later that we would just give them out at the end of the party. Here are the cards that we made. I like that she was helpful in making them -- it's okay that they aren't perfect. She worked very hard to make them.
Step 1: I cut out paper. My daughter colored inside each page -- that day she was drawing bunnies.
Step 2: Cut out square on front, cut out stars and cut out stars. I wrote on stars saying "Thanks for making my party sparkle."

Step 3: Not pictured is the step of cutting out diamonds for front and stamping "Thank You."
Step 4: Glue diamond on front.
Step 5: Not pictured is the step of glittering the star after glued on.


When I first started staying at home, a few weeks before my daughter was born, I wasn't sure how to do it. All this "free" time to fill up. Somehow I had to motivate myself to clean and cook, which was all I did at that time. We shared many of the other duties and I couldn't do laundry because of my big stomach. Once my daughter was born the role changed. We moved five weeks after she was born and again a few weeks later. My husband had a new job and began working long hours each day. In addition he was commuting making our days really long. I took on role of household manager and struggled to figure it out. My daughter as an infant (and even now as a toddler) took unpredictable naps. I might get from 9 to 9:30 a.m. on day and from 8 to 9 a.m. the next day to work on something. It was very hard to figure out when to do everything. For the first six months I did laundry every day, and nursed every two hours. Then I realized that saving the grocery shopping and other shopping for the weekend pretty much ate up the weekend, which wasn't much fun. So I started taking my LO with me during the week. Trying to do that within her unperdictable schedule was a struggle, but we made it work.

I can happily say that two years later, I have found much more of routine in our days. I do laundry twice a week (maybe I'll do an extra load of toddler clothes during the week), we grocery shop early in the week in the morning, and I now have found time to make lots of fun and new meals or baked goods. I even allot two or three days a week for doing something "special" with my daughter. By special I mean more than just our daily walk or playing in the backyard. We usually hit the library once a week for storytime if that is going on and then I'll take her to the zoo, a splash park, the fair, a different park (she likes to look at the Capitol), a conservatory, etc. I found that giving her those special moments has enriched her language and gives her lots to talk about.

So the beginning was tough to get into routine. Now, while there seems to be little breaks in between, the time we spend seems routine with fun peppered into the mix. There is no rule book to follow and you have to do what works for you. Once in a while I even get a morning, such as today, where I can balance the checkbook, pay bills and even post a blog entry before she gets up. It's amazing how much you can get down without interruptions.


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