Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Baby Has Left the Closet

Remember how my baby slept in the closet for the longest time?  Then when she was a toddler she still slept in the closet for naps?

Well I'm (finally) packing up the pack-and-play.  The days of (occasional) blissful naps due to the darkness of my closet are over.

This little toddler is now capable of:

1. Climbing out of the pack-and-play.
2. Opening (and re closing) multiple doors.
3. Taking off her clothes and diaper.

Oh yes, we entered a fun new stage called "hey look the baby is naked and running around at nap time".

This wouldn't be so bad except we are leaving on a vacation soon in which she will be sleeping every night in a pack-and-play.  Or at least that was the plan.  Sigh.

Kids, gotta love them for keeping us on our toes!

For more info on how I organize my closet go here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Favorite Tank Top

Today I thought I'd share one of my very favorite clothing items.  It's not fancy or expensive but it is so very useful.

It's a Tank Top with Shelf Bra and adjustable straps from Costco.  They come in a pack of two (2 different colors) for about $11.  Can't beat that!  I have them in white, black, grey and torquoise.  I wear the white the most as it is the most perfect layering tank.

It's perfect because it is pretty long, but not too thick.  I wear it under t-shirts or tops that are just a bit too short or ones that are just a bit too low cut.  I even wear it to yoga class!  When it's really hot around here I'll even wear it by itself.
When I was pregnant I bought a size up and wore them the entire time.  They were just stretchy and long enough to cover my belly pretty much the entire time!  After the baby I went back down to my regular size and my BFF showed me how they are the perfect nursing top!  For us ah-hem smaller ladies they make nursing tanks obsolete.  You just wear it under your regular top and pull the top (shelf bra part) down when you want to nurse.  Because it has the shelf bra you can get away without wearing a real bra and there is a great spot to hold nursing pads.


So there you go, now you know one of my clothing secrets (in fact I am wearing one right now, ha!).

The black tank top under a sheer shirt for our Christmas Photos.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Milk Carrier

Today on Fisher Price Friday I thought we'd go down the food isle.  It's the #637 Milk Carrier.  This little toy was made from 1966-1985 although there were some changes to the bottles from 1983-1985.  The toy was designed for children ages 1-5.  I can tell you that my 1.5 year old absolutely loves these bottles.  She brings them to me one at a time for me to take the top off, for some reason she prefers them open. :)  They also make a great tub toy, just keep the carrier out of the water (it has stickers on the sides).

The set includes 6 plastic "milk" bottles.  Four of the bottles are white with blue, green, red and yellow lids.  There is also an orange bottle with a white lid which is "orange juice".  Finally a brown "chocolate milk" bottle with a white lid.  Starting in 1983 they swapped out the orange juice for a red "fruit punch" bottle.

The yellow carrier has six sections for the bottles to fit into and a plastic handle.

Each side of the carrier has a lithograph with Fisher-Price Toys on it.

It's a favorite toy around my house.  Did you play with the milk bottles when you were a kid?

Note: There are other vintage FP toys that had the same (or similar) milk bottles.  Including #131 Milk Wagon (1964-1972), #2104 Shopping List (1990), #2015 Deluxe Shopping Basket (1990-1996) and a few more from the 1990's.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quinoa Bean and Vegetable Soup Recipe

My BFF was raving about a new recipe this week and when she described it as a "Kale, Carrot, Pinto Beans and Quinoa stew" I had to give it a try.  You see I had all those ingredients in my refrigerator from a recent CSA box just waiting to be used. 

I love to try new recipes.

Anyway, the very next day I cooked the beans in the crockpot in the morning (local heirloom Pinto Beans) and that night I whipped up this soup.  It was a hit!  The husband and even the 5 year old thought it was great and said I should make it again.  Success!

Quinoa Bean and Vegetable Soup from Kimberly Snyder's Beauty Detox Solution
7 cups broth (original recipe calls for vegetable but we love chicken stock around here)
1 cup diced white onion
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups cooked pinto beans (or 1 can, drained)
2 cups kale, I recommend chopping it into little pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh marjoram
1/2 Tbsp minced fresh thyme
3/4 tsp fresh sage
1 tsp fresh rosemary

1. Saute the onions until translucent, add the garlic and saute for another minute.  Add the carrots and herbs and cook for 3 more minutes.  (note: I didn't have fresh herbs so I used dried)
2. Add the broth and quinoa.  Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes (until the quinoa is cooked through).
3. Stir in the beans, heat for 3-5 minutes.  Add the kale and cook for 3 more minutes.  Finally cover and simmer for 5 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Here's a little extra info on how to cook dried beans
1. Measure out 1 pound of beans. Pick out any stones from the beans and give them a quick rinse.
2. Put beans in a crockpot (slow cooker) with 6 cups of water for each pound of beans.
3. Put the crock pot on high for 4-6 hours.
4. When the beans are done cooking (tender) give them a quick rinse in a colander. Separate in two cup portions which is about the equivalent of a can of beans. Freeze to use later (in 2 cup portions which is about the same as a can).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

(semi)Wordless Wednesday - Bean Bag Babies

These two drive me crazy with their cuteness.  Not so much babies anymore, they are full fledged toddlers and the sweetest little friends.

Doesn't seem like that long ago they were itty bitty bean bag babies (2 months old).  

Love those faces! 

ETA: Go here for another bean bag update from 8/2015 :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

DIY Homemade Crayons

In honor of Earth Day I thought I'd share a fun DIY crayon project.  It's perfect for today because you reuse broken crayons and turn them into beautiful new (and usable) crayons.  Aren't these crayons lovely?  Read on and I'll tell you how to easily make your own!

We've been saving our broken crayons for quite awhile around here and this is what we ended up with, a sandwich bag full.

First up we needed to remove all the wrappers.  This was the most time consuming part, so my 5 year old and I spent lots of quality time together peeling them off!

Next up I cut the longer pieces of crayon into smaller chunks.  I found that the big knife worked best and kept the pieces from shooting all over my kitchen.

My daughter helped with the next step which was to arrange the pieces in a muffin tin.  I used a mini muffin tin but you could use any size that you want.  If you have a shaped muffin tin that would work great too, especially if you have a theme in mind.  For example if you had a heart muffin tin you could make valentine favors!  I didn't do anything to the tin ahead (no greasing) nor did I place any liners in, just the crayons. 

You preheat the oven to 230 and "bake" the crayons for about 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on them towards the end to make sure that the big pieces are all melted.  Remove the pan from the oven and it should look something like this.  Set on the counter to cool and once the pan is cool/warmish to the touch put it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

The crayons should then easily pop out of the tin and there you go, beautiful works of art!

My 5 year old loves them but I think they make a perfect crayon for a toddler as they're easy to grasp and hard to break.  I plan on giving them as gifts in sets of 6.

FYI: My 1 sandwich bag of crayons produced 22 mini muffin tin crayons.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Strawberry Banana Chia Pudding Recipe

Oh yes, you read that right.  I've got another Chia recipe for you.  This one is a lovely cross between a smoothie and pudding.  Basic ingredients that make it great for the entire family, even babies!

Why should you should eat chia seeds? Because just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds has: Five times the amount of calcium in milk (plus boron which helps you absorb it), Three times the amount of antioxidants in blueberries, Three times the amount of iron in spinach, Three times the amount of fiber in oatmeal, Two times the amount of protein of any other bean, seed or grain, and Two times the amount of potassium in a banana!

Are you sold?

Here's the recipe.  Note: you can make it dairy free/vegan by switching out the milk for almond milk (or other milk alternative).

Chia Strawberry Banana Pudding
2 1/2 cups (10 oz) strawberries, fresh or frozen
2 bananas
1 cup milk or 1/2 and 1/2 (we love it creamy here)
3/4 cup (90 g) chia seeds
Sliced fresh strawberries for serving

Combine the strawberries, bananas and milk in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass jar or bowl. Stir in the chia seeds. Cover the mixture and refrigerate 2hrs to overnight until thickened. Spoon into bowls and serve with sliced fresh strawberries.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Meet Timmy and Penny

It's Story Time today again on Fisher Price Friday.  I'd like to share two adorable Fisher Price Little People Books both published in 1986.  They feature characters drawn like the classic Fisher Price toys, Timmy and Penny.  Also Lucky (aka Fido) the black and white dog joins along in the fun.

The books are pretty much exactly the same, each featuring either Timmy or Penny.  They have the same adventures and the words are almost the same, just the names and she/he change.

Meet Timmy is easier to find on the out-of-print/used book market.  Meet Penny on the other hand is much rarer and more costly.  My Meet Penny book wasn't too expensive but that's because it has some wear and spine damage.  I had to have it though since I have two little blonds at my house!
Listen/watch the stories and see for yourself how cute they are.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

It may be spring but it's still the perfect time of year for a crockpot soup!  I already have a fabulous (and popular) Southwest Chicken Tortilla Soup crockpot recipe, but this Chicken Tortilla Soup is a bit simpler and just as lovely.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
1lb chicken breasts (about 2, mine were frozen)
1 16oz bag of frozen corn
15oz can diced tomatoes, drained
5-6 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup green pepper, chopped (I used an orange pepper)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp ground pepper, divided
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
tortilla strips
*optional: 1 serrano pepper, minced

1. Place the first 9 ingredients plus 1 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp ground pepper in the crockpot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours (mine was on Low for 7).
2. Remove the chicken breasts before serving. Shred the chicken with a fork or if you have a stand mixer put it in the bowl and shred with a paddle attachment.
3. Season chicken with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Return shredded seasoned chicken to slow cooker bowl. Stir gently. If serving immediately, divide among bowls. Top off with a generous helping of shredded cheese and tortilla strips.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Scalloped Potato Recipe - For the cheese lovers in all of us.

Let's just start by saying that this is not exactly a healthy recipe.  It's no Mediterranean Quinoa, Eggplant Salad with Chickpeas or Wheat Berry and Bean Salad.  However, it is delicious and since it's made with potatoes it is still officially a vegetable dish.  Sometimes you just need a little cheesy goodness and this recipe will do just the trick.

I especially loved this recipe because I was able to prepare most of it with my Cuisinart Food Processor.  I used the processor to shred cheese (from a HUGE Costco block), chop onions and slice potatoes.  Easy peasy!  Especially slicing the potatoes, that alone made my food processor worth every penny.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups onion, diced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2-4 cloves garlic, minced (we love garlic so I always do the top end)
2 1/4 cups shredded cheese (I used colby), divided
1/3 cup chives, snipped
4 large potatoes, skins on, thinly sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 375.  Make the sauce by melting butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the diced onion and cook until soft.  Add the flour, milk and garlic and keep stirring, cooking until it begins to bubble and thicken.  Remove the sauce from heat and add 2 cups of the grated cheese.  Set the sauce aside.
2. Take a 9x12 or 9x9 glass baking or casserole dish.  Place a single layer of potato slices on the bottom, followed by a sprinkling of snipped chives.  Then add another layer of potatoes and chives.  Continue until all of the potatoes are used up.
3. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and give the whole dish a shake to get the sauce to get all the way to the bottom.  Sprinkle the rest of the 1/4 cup of cheese over the top and add another dash of chives.  Place the entire dish on a baking sheet just in case it bubbles over and bake for 60 minutes until the top is brown and the cheese is bubbling.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Sesame Street Characters

There are two vintage Fisher Price play sets; the Play Family Sesame Street (apartments) #938 from 1975-1978 and the Sesame Street Clubhouse #937 from 1977-1989.  Each of these sets came with different Sesame Street Characters.  However, there were also two people only Sesame Street sets.  All together there were 15 Sesame Street Little People figures, I'd like to talk more about them today on Fisher Price Friday!

First up, the people from the #938 Play Family Sesame Street.  They included from L to R: Susan, Gordon, Mr Hooper, Big Bird (had a brown nest, but only with this set), Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch.  The exact same people were sold in (character only) set #939 Sesame Street Characters made from 1976-1979.  This set was made for an additional year after the #938 stopped production.

The #937 Sesame Street Clubhouse had a few less pieces than the other set.  They included from L to R: Grover, Bert, Big Bird, The Count, Ernie and Roosevelt Franklin.

Now last but not least is the second character only set, the #940 More! Sesame Street Characters.  This set was produced from 1977-1978 and included a few exclusive people.  These exclusives are the more difficult to find and higher priced pieces on the market.  The set included from L to R: Grover, The Count, Roosevelt Franklin, Snuffle-upagus, Sherlock Hemlock, Herry Monster and Prairie Dawn.  The exclusives being the last 4 characters.  

*Note: A few of my pieces are well-loved and so are missing some of their face paint.  Roosevelt Franklin for example.  He should have eyes and a mouth! :)

For a closer look here are all 15 of the Sesame Street Little People.

Big Bird
The Count
Mr Hooper
Prairie Dawn 
Cookie Monster
Sherlock Hemlock

Herry Monster

Roosevelt Franklin

Oscar the Grouch (closed)
Oscar the Grouch (open)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

(semi) Wordless Wednesday - Italian Greyhounds

These two are getting to be better friends.  The "puppy" (8 month old on the right) is now larger than her 8 year old-man "brother".  She outweighs him by 3 lbs and counting.

But look what I saw just this week.  So sweet!  Perhaps they'll be good friends after all. :)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Play Family House Bath/Utility Room Set

Not all of the Fisher Price sets had bases.  Many sets were just toys put together in a theme, like the Play Family House Bath/Utility Set #725.  This set was designed to accompany the Play Family House #952, but could also be played with alone.  It was made from 1972-1978 and there were variations in the colors of the pieces depending on the year.  There were other accessory sets as well including the Patio Set #726, Decorator Set #728 and the Kitchen Set #729.

The Bath/Utility set came with 12 pieces (including 4 people).  The pieces pictured are from the 1973 set (excluding the scale, which is from 1978).  Other years the pieces were different colors, but always the same combinations of turquoise, yellow and lime green.

The bath pieces include a toilet with contrasting flip-up lid, sink, bathtub and a scale.  The bathroom pieces are not original or exclusive to this set.  They are found in other sets such as the Play Family Camper #994 (toilet & sink), Play Family Rooms #909 (all pieces) and Play Family Nursery School #929 (toilet & sink).  The only difference is in the colors, the other sets had white bathroom pieces. 

The utility room pieces include a washer and dryer, sewing machine/table and chair.  These pieces were all exclusive to the set.
The sewing machine/table includes a lithograph of a piece of fabric.  The black lines seen in the lithograph are original to the piece, not added later (which I thought the first time I saw one!).  The sewing machine has different color combinations depending on the year.  They also have a turquoise table/yellow machine and a green table/turquoise machine combo.  The captains chair always matches the table color.

Last but not least the family included in the set.  In 1972 the family had a wood body/wood head. From 1973-1974 the sets had a wood body but the head could be either.  From 1975-1977 the family could have a wood or plastic body and a plastic head.  The last year the set was made in 1978 the pieces were all plastic.  The family remained the same (colors as pictured) until the last year when the little girl's hair changed to a brown bob.

If you'd like to accessorize your Play Family House check out my Etsy shop, right now I have these and some other bath/utility room pieces for sale.