Monday, September 30, 2013

Treasure Hunting and our Deal of the Day!

My family loves to go treasure-hunting.  I learned the love of a bargain and the thrill of the hunt from my parents and am passing this hobby on to my children. :)  We go to antique stores, antique malls, thrift stores, flea markets and sometimes garage sales.  

My kids are learning to "look with your eyes, not your hands" and to appreciate history and a good deal.  I love showing them random objects that are no longer used like rotary phones and wooden chair commodes.  Or even better, things that I had in my house growing up like Tupperware, Pyrex and care bears. 

We of course search for vintage Fisher Price toys but also Jadeite Fire King, Fiesta Ware, Little Golden Books and a few other odds and ends.  My husband is the best at spotting our favorites but my 5 year old is showing signs of great spotting potential too!

Believe it or not we can spend hours looking at treasures as a family as long as I have a stroller and plenty of snacks.

This last weekend we found many good deals in two Mesa Antique Malls including a box of children's records and this lovely mixing bowl.  The bowl had two price tags:

The store (antique mall) $18 price tag.

And on the other side the goodwill price tag for $1.99.  Can you believe it?  Lazy lazy that they didn't take it off.  I can't pay $18 when I know they paid $2!  My husband talked to the mall workers about it and would you believe that we got it for the $1.99 price?

We visited:

Main Street Antique Mall
7260 E Main Street
Mesa, AZ 85207

Superstition Grand Antique Mall
7536 E Main St 
Mesa, AZ 85207‎

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Today is National Coffee Day!

Did you know that today is National Coffee Day?  I'm not sure why it's on a Sunday, I really think a monday would be more fitting but nevertheless it's Coffee Day!

I'll be celebrating at home with my Keurig but there are a few freebies out there.

Dunkin Donuts - Free small hot or iced coffee (need their App to redeem)
Krispy Kreme - Free 12 ounce coffee, just show up to a participating store to redeem.
Starbucks - Free "taste" of a new Ethiopian Coffee.

Whether your coffee is a cup of Joe at home or a fancy Starbucks latte enjoy National Coffee Day!

For at home coffee recipes check out:
Cold Brewed Iced Coffee
The Best Easy Iced Coffee
Frappuccino Copy-Cat Recipe

and don't forget to Maintain Your Keurig (descaling)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Play Family Zoo

It's starting to cool down here in Arizona (only 93 yesterday) so I'm starting to think about taking the kids back to the zoo.  Around here it's a fall/winter/early spring destination, not for the summer!  When we can't go to the zoo the kids can still see the animals with our Play Family Zoo #916.  One of the last classic Fisher Price Little People sets it was made from 1984-1987.  It's a big set with many pieces (29).

The zoo came with 11 loose animals and 2 attached animals.  The animals include an elephant, hippo, ape, mountain lion, vulture, baby lion, seal, two parrots and two monkeys.  The attached animals are a lion and a hippo.  There are some color variations to the animals, the hippo can be either blue or brown and the goat blue or brown.  However they must be alternating colors.  Some collectors and children have complained about the animals in the 916 Zoo since they are molded plastic with no moving parts unlike other Fisher Price animals that came before (Circus Train, Farm).

The set has 4 animal food trays, one in each shape which fit into spaces on the zoo base.  The feeding trays can be any of the colors show as well as orange, but there should be only one of each color.  In addition there would never be an orange or red together (according to This Old Toy).

The zoo tram includes three cars; a truck, passenger car and a feed car.  The tram has a path to drive under the zoo, up the back, and back down the front.

The picnic table and benches are usually green, but can also be blue however that color is pretty rare.  There are no lithographs on this picnic table.

According to the Fisher Price Catalogues and box cover photos there were may variations to the people included in the Zoo set.  Pictured are most of the potential little people.  I forgot one, a orange boy with yellow cap facing forward (seen in the 1985 photo below).  However, even though the catalogues showed these specific pieces it doesn't mean that there were not other variations or combinations.  Ah, the mystery of fisher price! ;)

The blue dad with heat stamped hair, green zoo keeper with brown hat and the orange boy with yellow hat are all exclusives to the Zoo.

1984 & 1987




Here are three Zookeeper options, there may have been more!  The dark red zookeeper was also found in the Western Town #934.  The light green zookeeper is a pilot found in helicopter sets.

The back of the zoo has the ape habitat, tram tunnel, hippo habitat and the ramp up to the top.

The hippo is attached and has a colorful lithograph of water, lily pads and the hippos open mouth (it opens when the tram goes by)!  There is a square space for his food tray to fit in. 

Underneath is the ape habitat.  There is a lithograph of a ape playing near his tire swing.  In the floor is an oval space for the ape's fruit tray to fit.  

The ramp up to the top of the zoo has teeth to keep the tram from falling back.  There is also space on the back for the mountain lion to climb if he wants to.

Across from the ape habitat is a lithograph of a snack bar compete with cotton candy, popcorn and a soda.  Also a black and white dog looking eagerly at the cotton candy.

The tram tunnel is directly underneath the aviary/birdhouse/gazebo.  The birdhouse can be either orange or brown and is removable.  The tree inside is also removable and has places for the parrots to hold on.  The gazebo has many places for the monkeys to hang from.

The removable tree has three branches for the parrots to hold onto.  Also a nest on the top for the vulture to sit on top of.  In the base you can see a little bunny molded into the plastic trunk.

The front of the zoo has a space for the seal to sit on.  He moves around in a circle on the post when an orange knob is pushed around (see the first photo).

Behind the seal are stairs perfect for either the people to climb or for the mountain lion to stand on.  There is a lithograph of signs telling the Little People where everything is.

The front of the Zoo has the lion and elephant habitats.  The lion is permanent and you can pull him in and out of his cave.  He has a circle feeding tray with a big steak inside.  His baby lion cub can sit in front of him.  The elephant stands next to him (removable) and has a triangle feeding tray with hay inside.

Whew, that's a lot of photos!  I hope you enjoyed today's trip to the zoo!

For more animal fun check out:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Kindergarten Lock Out Drills

Yesterday afternoon on the way home from dance class my sweet little 5 year old kindergartner told me about drills they've had in school this week.  Fire drills, bus drills and lock out drills.  She explained each one and when she got to lock out drills I about lost it on the freeway.

She simply and innocently explained that a Lock Out Drill is in case an "angry bad dog gets on campus and the school needs to keep kids safe until he's off".  

An angry strange dog.  

She went on to explain that the teacher closes and locks the doors, turns off the lights, closes the blinds and they all stay very quiet and still so that the dog doesn't find them.

Oh my heart.

I was thankfully driving and facing away from her so she didn't see my tears as my mind replaced "angry strange dog" with the reality that I have seen oh-too-clearly on the news.

I am thankful that the school and teachers have found a safe way to prepare for such a horrific event without frightening my child.  She is innocently imagining a stray dog instead of a stray soul walking about with a machine gun and intent to harm.

She added that the teacher told her that it could also be a robber, but that it was much less likely since robbers don't usually go to schools.  My daughter then added "what would they want to steal from a school anyway".

Exactly my dear.  Exactly.

I made her promise that if there is a lock out at her school she will stay absolutely quiet and do exactly what her teacher says.  No questions (my child always has a million questions).  She promised.

This parenting stuff is hard, trusting my baby girl to others and letting her go and become independent, small steps at a time.  Thankfully I have hope that God will protect her even if that means she'll be joining him earlier than I would prefer.

Have your little ones had lock out drills?  How do you prepare them for the worst?

Can I just add that things were much simpler when I was a child.  We only had fire drills and earthquake drills.  There were no "angry dogs".  Which makes me think of my mom's time, they had fire drills and bomb drills.  I wonder what kinds of drills my grandchildren will have?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lots of Vitamix Love Around Here

This pretty little lady joined our family this week.  It's the Vitamix 5200S and I picked her up at Costco.  It's more than a blender this is a little smoothie hurricane maker!  To say I'm in love is an understatement.

Day 1 - I made 2 smoothies and a soup.  It cooks hot soup in the blender, people!

Day 2 - 2 more smoothies.

I'll be sharing my favorite Vitamix recipes with you, have to share the love after all!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Drugging your Kids and other Ways to Survive a Red-Eye Flight

Earlier this year we took a 6 hour flight with our kids ages then 22mo and 5 years old.  That flight involved angry passengers, leaking diapers and a child locked in the bathroom but at least it was me and my husband working together to keep them entertained.  On the way back from our destination it was just me and the kids on a red-eye/overnight flight.  Ah the challenge!

The flight over involved lots of toddler activity kits, snacks and working hard to keep the kids content.  Night flights bring different challenges, mostly how to convince your kids to sleep!  Here is what I learned.

1. Bring a stroller to the airport and gate-check it.  

This is imperative for night flights with toddlers or even pre-schoolers.  If they might nap while you're waiting for your flight a stroller is a great place.  Once you arrive at your destination you can transfer a sleeping child to the stroller again.  In my case I had a connecting flight at 2 am (our time) and ended up putting my 5 year old (grumpy, groggy child) in the stroller and wore my 22 month old in a baby carrier (Beco).

2. Consider giving your kids medication.

This is a controversial idea and may not be right for your family.  I will say that I am neither a doctor nor a health professional, just a mom who was VERY concerned about flying with her oh-so-active toddler on an overnight flight.  After our somewhat horrible flight to our destination I was understandably apprehensive about getting back home.  So I researched options to help my sweet little one want to sleep. ;)  I ended up going with children's Benadryl, since hey, she'd been a little allergic lately anyway, ha!  I gave her a small dose (between 3/4 tsp - 1 tsp) and said a little prayer.  I'd read that some kids have paradoxical (opposite) reactions to Benadryl and instead of sleeping they become agitated and completely out of control.  Fortunately for me my toddler fell asleep and although it wasn't long lasting (had worn off by our 2nd flight) she did sleep when I needed her to!

3. Bring on a pillow or extra blanket.

We had two seats, one for me and my then lap-child and one for my 5 year old.  After drugging my toddler she fell asleep on me which was great, until I realized how uncomfortable I now was.  Airplane seats are bad enough and sharing space with a toddler didn't help, especially since I was afraid of moving for fear of waking her!  Extra pillows or blankets would have been helpful to pad my seat area and give me something to lean up against.  I used what I had but was about 1 pillow short.  

4. Select seats near the bathroom.

This is especially useful if you are traveling with more than one child.  If you are near the bathroom it is easier to see that your child gets in and out if you can't physically help them to it.  This is also great for you b/c hey, we have to go sometimes too and unless you can all fit in the tiny bathroom you'll have to leave one or more behind.

Which brings me to #5.

5. Ring for the flight attendants to assist older kids.

I hate to bother the busy flight attendants but sometimes a momma needs help!  On my overnight flight once my baby fell asleep I was pretty much stuck in my seat.  I couldn't move for fear of waking her and causing the paradoxical affect to the benadryl that I'd read about.  So when my 5 year old asked to use the bathroom I couldn't take her so I buzzed the flight attendant and she walked her to and from the bathroom. This gave me peace of mind since the cabin lights were dim and I couldn't turn to see the bathroom (even though it was nearby).  Then later on our second flight I had to take the baby to change her so I asked the flight attendant to watch my older daughter while I was in the restroom.

Remember to Pack:
a. Easy comfortable clothes for little ones. Two pieces so that you can trade out a top or a bottom if something gets soiled/wet without having to change the entire outfit.  Also a sweater or a sweatshirt for baby (and you too) since night flights can get very cold.
b. Their sleeping items (blanket, bear, binky, etc).
c. Snacks and activities just in case sleep isn't in the cards for you.
d. Diapers and wipes.  Make sure they are easy to get to, you don't want to be fumbling with the overhead compartment in a dark airplane in the middle of a flight!
e. Baby Carrier - Such as a Beco or wrap carrier just in case you need to walk the aisles to get baby/toddler to sleep.
f. Toothbrush - For your bigger kids/preschoolers because we "always brush our teeth before bed". :)

One last note, at the time I was still extended breastfeeding my daughter.  Let me tell you that being able to give her milk during the flight when she semi-woke up here and there was a lifesaver.  I was so thankful to have the option!  So if you're considering weaning around the time of your travels I suggest you wait until after the trip!

Good luck and safe travels!  

For more Travel Tips check out:
Toddler Airplane Activity Kids
Road Trips with Kids - Tips and Tricks

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fisher Price Friday - Tub Tug and Barge

We're headed back to the bathtub today on Fisher Price Friday.  I don't know about your kids but mine LOVE taking baths, especially if there are toys to play with. :)  I've told you about the Marina, Cruise Boat and a few other fun vintage FP tub toys and I've got another great one to show you!  It's the Tub Tug and Barge #120.  Made from 1979-1990 this toy has jumbo little people figures instead of the smaller classic/original little people.  It is a fun toy both in the water and on land.

It's designed for kids ages 18mo - 4 years but my almost 6 year old still likes it too!  It comes with a boat, barge, sailor, 3 stacking cubes and a square bottom duck.  The boat, barge and sailor are pretty easy to find for sale but the stacking cubes and duck are quite the challenge!  The sailor is a jumbo person with a blue body and a white sailor hat.  He has a solid base unlike the regular jumbo people so that water doesn't get stuck inside.

The three stacking/nesting cubes can each come in either orange, blue or green.  However, a set can only have one of each color.  The largest and smallest have holes in the bottom for water play.  The yellow duck is marvelous, he has a square bottom which allows him to stack nicely in the bottom of the smallest cube.  My sweet little duck was a gift from a wonderful Fisher Price benefactor, thanks again! :)

The barge connects to the boat with a plastic chain which stays on the boat.  The barge is yellow with a red, yellow or white knob at the front for the chain to link onto.  The boat has either a red top/white base or a white top/red base.

Ship ahoy! 

For more Vintage Bath Toys check out:
Floating Family #411
Splash & Stack Bluebird #167
LP Cruise Boat #2524                        

For more Jumbo Little People check out: 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Easy Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables but unfortunately my family doesn't agree with me.  I am always trying to find new ways to make it attractive but it's still a struggle.  I prefer it steamed or pureed so that it looks just like mashed potatoes but I thought I'd mix it up and try something new and easy.  I roasted a head of cauliflower before but this time I added a couple simple ingredients and hey, you can't go wrong with garlic right?

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic
1 head of cauliflower
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut up the cauliflower into bite sized pieces and place on a cookie sheet or baking pan.  Drizzle the olive oil on top and toss with a spoon or spatula to coat.  Go easy on the olive oil as too much can make the cauliflower soggy.  Sprinkle the top with the garlic and onion.

Cook until crispy or the texture you prefer.  20 minutes will make them cooked but not crispy, 30+ for toasty/crispy.  The smaller the bite size the easier they are to crisp up.  Keep checking so that you don't burn them!

Other Roasted Vegetable Ideas
Roasted Garlic with Broccoli and Pine Nuts
Roasted Nopales (prickly pear cactus pads)
Roasted Okra
Roasted Turnip Chips
Roasted Zucchini, Mushrooms and Onions (my favorite!!)
Roasted Green Bean "Fries"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Surprising "baby" items that we still use

It's true, I no longer have babies at my house.  Some days that makes me say boo-hoo but mostly I say woot-woot! :)  There are a few "baby" items that have lingered around my house and are still being used.  Some for their intended use and others in perhaps surprising ways.  I thought I'd share them with you!

First up the Bumbo.  This bumbo is from my first daughter and I bought it second-hand, so it's at least 6 years old. As a result there are no "safety" straps that came after the recall (silly IMO, just don't put your kid up high!).  The bumbo is designed for kids age 3-14 months, up to 22lbs.  Well let me tell you, my first daughter LOVED the bumbo and we used it all the time.  I'd use it in bathtubs when we traveled, as a seat to feed her, a way to keep her busy while we ate (she'd sit in the middle of the table like a super-cute decoration) and of course as a floor seat.  My second daughter on the other hand had no interest in the bumbo as a baby.  She'd cry and fuss and basically demand that I hold her instead.  So we did baby wearing.  However, when she was mobile (walking) she would find the seat and use it has a toddler lounging chair.  She still uses it as a chair while watching movies or with her toys.  She's 2 people!  I should also point out that my almost 6 year old can still fit in it (what can I say, I make tiny kids) although we prefer her not to at this point!

Next up the Sophie teether.  This ultra-popular and very trendy teething toy is a hit with the baby set.  It's been around for 50+ years (in France/Europe) but has only recently become the must-have toy here in the US. We received one for my second daughter as a baby shower gift and I proudly carried it in my diaper bag for all to see that we were oh-so-hip. ;)  Once her teeth were all in (she was early so only 12 months) the toy lost some of it's excitement.  However around that time we discovered that this toy is VERY attractive to our little dogs.  They can't get enough of Sophie.  Let's just say this is the most popular dog toy in our house.  I ended up finding 2 more Sophies so that each dog could have their own to play with.  As I write this I am literally sitting next to a Sophie that one of the dogs brought over.

Now I won't recommend that you go purchase a Sophie just as a dog toy, unless you either *really* love your dog or have lots of extra $$$ laying about. can re-purpose your child's no-longer-used Sophie for your dog!  Perhaps not a big dog, but if you have small dogs (Italian Greyhounds) they'd be perfect!  Non toxic, cute squeak sound, long neck....perfect!  You can also look for Sophie 2nd hand, that's where I found our extra 2.

Baby Food Pouches
This next is a little bit embarrassing, you see my 2 year old is still eating baby food out of pouches.  Yes, that's right baby food pouches.  Sigh.  She started off so well, insisted on real foods and we even followed Baby Lead Weaning.  Somewhere along the way that switched and now she'll eat any cracker, cheese or yogurt but will only eat fruits and vegetables if they are freeze dried or pureed.  My pediatrician promises me that she won't be eating baby food by kindergarten but I'm not convinced, ha!

The upside to her eating baby food purees is that they are easy and simple!  I've found the best deals (paying less than $1 a pouch) through Amazon.  Specifically using their monthly subscription option.

Baby Bottles
We had baby bottles for both of our girls even though I breastfed them.  However, I rarely used them for what they were intended.  By the time both girls were drinking water or juice they were able to use a sippie cup or straw.  So instead we use our baby bottles in the bath!

Even though our bathtub is full of lots of fun and mostly vintage bath toys the baby bottles are the most requested item!  They use them for water-play and I use them to help me rinse out the shampoo from their heads.

So don't toss your baby bottles, repurpose them!

Last but not least we still use our Boppy.  A boppy is a nursing pillow designed to help support tiny babies while you are breastfeeding.  I used it quite a bit with both my girls after they were first born.  However, we've used it more long term as a pillow!

First as a pillow for babies just learning to sit up. (my eldest is the baby in this photo)

Then later as a floor cushion.  We all use it for this purpose, even my husband!  It's a nice firm pillow when laying on the floor to play with the kids or read them books. 

Even the dog uses it as a dog-bed-cushion.

So think twice before tossing those baby items.  There may be a way you can re-purpose them too!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My Niece got Married today!

This sweet little girl is my niece, she was a jr bridesmaid at my wedding almost a decade ago.

She's all grown up now and getting married today and now my girls are her flower girls.  I can't believe it!

Seems like yesterday she was a sweet little jr bridesmaid.

My two nieces were my flower girls and they were so excited to wear those "fancy" dresses.  I remember their mom mailing me a photo of them trying them on when they first arrived in the mail (this was before digital photos and FB ha!).  

Now my own two little girls are wearing "fancy" dresses for her wedding today.

Sigh.  They grow so fast.

Love you Nicole, happy wedding!!!