Archive | March, 2013

Birthday Breakdown

26 Mar

Invitation-5x7-Penguin-LexiMarie1 2

I think along the road during the first year of your child’s life there are so many decisions to be made for your little one.  From the very hard (work vs. stay at home) to the easy (what she should wear today).  Everyday I am making decisions for my daughter and one of the decisions that we made for her is to have a big celebration(s) for her first birthday.  Now that the celebrations are over I can see the upside to have a small gathering with cake and some pizza and maybe inviting the grandparents for their birthday (nice, low key and easy).  I think our mentality all along this first year is the more the merrier.   We have invited so many people to watch our child grow through weekend visits, Facebook, monthly emails, vacations, etc that it didn’t seem to fit our family to not include all of friends and family to celebrate her first birthday.  After we made the decision to have a bigger party we quickly realized that in order for us to accomplish this we needed to split up the parties for our family (one party for my family and one for the hub’s family).  This will not be the case for all parties, but for her first birthday and the size of the parties we felt this fit was good for us.  (If we could have made one party work I think this is the route to go because two parties just adds double the planning, double the budget and double the stress).  When I was looking at first birthday parties I found a ton of pictures, but not a ton of information to go along with pictures of what to do/not to do for a first birthday.  I learned so much and the next time we have a birthday bash come our way we will be better prepared!  This post is a longgggg post so if you don’t care about the details of a first birthday party feel free to gaze at the birthday snapshots instead.  If you love the details then keep on reading!

The initial steps we took for the celebrations were: Pick a theme (penguins!), create the guest list, ask families if we could host at the grandparents house, and make a to-do list.  Two of my pre-planning errors were (1) I obsessed over Pinterest too much to try to find inspiration for the details of the party (2) because I scoured Pinterest I found myself getting stuck and not purchasing items early enough in fear I would find something bigger and better

Breakdown: Decorations

   as she customized all the decorations in the colors I was looking for and did a fantastic job on the invite above.  She was so easy to work with and really quick to respond any time I was having issues opening up a file.  She helped create the theme and make everything look so cohesive!  The decorations were a big hit and that had a ton to do with her printables! Other decorations were from Iparty, Target, and Michaels to help create the festive party theme! Things I was glad I bought for decorations: Balloons, printables, streamers, festive buckets for forks/knives/other food items, banners.  Items I could have done without: cake topper (one ended up coming with cake–but a great 1 year birthday keepsake!), tissue paper lanterns, festive paper plates (could have done with just plain paper plates), and 1st birthday cut outs for walls and table.

Breakdown: Kid Friendly Items (non food)

We didn’t have a ton of kids for the first party and we had more kids for the second party, but hearing from others it is nice to have something for the kids.  For the first party we had printable sheets that were penguin themed (thanks Sara for the idea!) and I didn’t think it would really be a hit–but it was!! It wasn’t anything too intricate, but kept the couple of kids occupied while the adults were chatting in the living room and it wasn’t messy.  Even Lexi enjoyed coloring the penguins! For the second party it was at a house that a kid lived in and so there were tons of crafts to do (on top of the printables) and a kitchen set area and other items that the kids could play with.  I think the blog Young House Love talked about having items out to play with that a large group could play with rather than just a select few and I agree! The kids first found the bouncey ball thing (no clue what it was called) and there was only two and instantly became the thing everyone wanted, but didn’t have enough of.  I will be keeping this in mind for future parties.  I also made a lot of thought into the party favors and an expense that really added up very quickly.  I made the penguin bags to go with the theme, which was really fun!  I made bowties for the boys and pink glitter bows for the girls.  Inside the big ticket item was penguin cake pops  , rockstar glasses, and tattoos.  I also had skeleton note pad, penguin marker, animal stamps, tiara for the girls, bracelets for girls, and a couple of other items.  This area of the party can add up quickly so next time I will be a little more strategic with my favors. Items I could have done without: penguin cake pops, smaller bags to have less to fill up.    if I kept cake pops for future parties I would use the penguin cake pops as part of the desserts rather than in favor bags as they would have been cute to display and adds another option for dessert.

Breakdown: Kid Friendly Items (food)

As far as kid friendly food we got mini cups to put snacks for the kids to eat (goldfish, cookies, pretzels, fun fruits) and so this was more manageable for kids (and their parents) then just shoving their hands into big bowls of potato chips.  We also did fruit on a stick (bananas and strawberries) and they were a huge hit at the first party (second party they were placed off to the side so people didn’t know they were there).  I might do a different fruit other than bananas as they turned quicker than I wanted, but overall a huge success having kid friendly items.  We also did pizza and subway sandwiches that were easier for kids and gave a healthy/non healthy option for the parents to choose from.   Items I could have done without: cupcakes, salad at one party, smash birthday cake, and chex mix.  Cupcakes I thought would be more kid friendly and everyone wanted the cake! My mom said that no one really would eat the salad at her party and I said no we needed it and she was right as no one ate it (moms are always right!).  Smash birthday cake was a disaster at my mom’s as she was just overwhelmed by an entire cake and cried and cried and cried.  Giving her a big slice of cake at the other parties went off so much better (and better for our pockets!). We also did a strawberry shortcake dessert on her actual birthday and that went over SO WELL and was a little healthier option than cake. Another miss was we tried to put out a different type of snack besides potato chips and pretzels and we went with Chex Mix and no one really touched it at both parties.

Details

Breakdown: Slideshow/Pictures

I love taking pictures all year long of Lexi and so I knew that I wanted to have some memories surrounding her birthday.  I procrastinated this a bit and so in the end didn’t do as much as I wanted with pictures–but enough to make it sappy/memorable. I put up the monthly photos that she took with Mr. Giraffe (stuff animal giraffe)  on ribbon that people could look at through the months how she had grown.  I sent these in an email and so most people at the party had seen the pictures, but it was fun to see them all in a row! The big hit was the slideshow that I started with my monthly pregnant pictures and then birth and through the months.  It was 20 minutes long that I made through IMovie and I worried people wouldn’t want to sit through a slideshow that was that long–but people indulged this momma and watched the video!  This video took foreverrrr for me to make and so I could have cut down this time if I made a folder of pictures I wanted to use for the slideshow in advance. We timed it for after cake and when people were eating dessert and it worked out really great and didn’t drag as I think 20 minutes was a good amount.  It is a keepsake that I will love forever and will give a copy to Lexi one day and it was one of the major things I wanted to do for her birthday.  I wanted to make a book to show at the birthday party, but I really wanted her 12 month photos to be in the book and that couldn’t happen with print and shipping time.  I am glad that I waited and could put a little more time into the book.  Items I could have done without: nothing for this category.  Just enough.

Breakdown: Desserts

For one of the parties I had adult favors of gourmet popcorn, which was a huge hit–but I think it would have been great to be out with the potato chips and such so people could try it out at the party. (we did S’mores and Chi town flavors)  It could even have been put out with the dessert in case people weren’t really into cakes.   It was unique to the party! Like I said previously we had cupcakes there, which we didn’t need as the cake was enough for both the adults and the kids.  I think this one though I totally miscalculated based on who was coming.  My family isn’t huge on desserts and so the cake was mostly wasted and individuals enjoyed more of the lunch items and the opposite is true for the hub’s family.  Same size cake and we almost ran out of cake at the second party AND we had ice cream! I think desserts depending on the crowd needs to be adjusted for the people who are coming.  Do most people take cake at your family parties? Most say no? Most want to nibble on cookies or other desserts? I did the food/desserts all the same for both parties for ease, but I think if I could do it again I would have customized it a little bit more for the crowds we were feeding. More variety in desserts I think.  Lesson learned, but all were fed and happy.  Items I could have done without: cupcakes, cupcake fondant toppers, and gourmet popcorn (nice bonus but certainly not needed).

moredetails

Breakdown: Her Outfits

One of the bigger stresses about the party was what she was going to wear.  Do I do the big birthday party dress or a tutu with a shirt that goes along with the theme? I thought a long time about this and if I should have a different outfit for each party, etc.  Big life decisions, right? So in the end I went with doing a tutu, with a shirt that had a penguin in her theme colors with the pink bow in the hair like the invite. Actually an old high school friend has a business called LuLu Bella Children’s Boutique so I contacted her and she did an awesome job! Since I couldn’t decide I had about 3 weeks prior to her first party to get this custom made and she did it all in that time frame and it arrived early! Well made tutu and shirts! Loved it all!  I decided on the same tutu for both outfits, but different shirt (one in pink and one in white) because I was afraid she would get the shirt stained with cake and not be able to wear it the following weekend.  IT WAS A GREAT CHOICE!! I loved her outfits and how she looked with a tutu! She looked so festive and really went with the theme! I bought black fancy shoes for the birthday parties, but they arrived and didn’t fit so we went with her puma sneakers.  Blessing in disguise as she was running around and it was nice she wasn’t breaking in new shoes on the day of her parties.  I also bought a crochet hair band to go along with her outfits.  She didn’t wear it all the time, but when she did it looked fabulous!  For a bonus I knew that by the end of the party she might want to change or if he outfit was a mess from the cake and so at Carters I got her a penguin outfit that went along with the theme as well seen here! She ended up needing the outfit for one of the parties and people loved she continued to be dressed in the theme.  oh the little things in life…

The parties overall were a huge success since they were the first ones that I had ever planned from start to finish and she had a big smile on her face (for the most part!).   The weather cooperated through all of the New England storms that we had and everyone was able to enjoy themselves and celebrate Lexi. Did we go overboard? Yes, surely we did.  Did she love it though? YES! YES! YES! Did I love planning all the cute little details? OF COURSE!!! I would certainly do the parties all over again for her, but I am much looking forward to a laid back (and one party) approach for her 2nd birthday!   Two of my day of party errors were (1) getting to the houses late the night before therefore waiting until the morning to put up decoration and prep the houses (2) not having someone write down what she got as a couple of gifts got mixed up in the flurry of opening with a toddler.

To all you moms out there who put on these parties effortlessly hats off to you because I broke a sweat a couple times planning these parties!!! HAHAHA! (I earned a nice tall glass of wine at the end of each party that is for sure!) Happy Planning!

Is sharing a right?

26 Mar

Article: Should you Teach Your Children to Share?

I always find the most interesting parenting articles that people post on FB or Twitter.  It normally gets me thinking about Lexi and how we want to raise her.  I normally talk with the hubs about the article and get his take and perspective (as we do have different parenting styles). We normally take some valuable lessons away from the articles and this one is no different.  It intrigued me enough to share as we are about to embark on the whole sharing aspect of toddlerhood and this article really spoke to the other side of sharing.  I always say (even before kids) that sharing is caring (normally when I am trying to dive into my husband’s bowl of ice cream).  I am that parent that cringes when I see my daughter take a toy from another child (which I quickly return to that child if I see it happening) or when my daughter doesn’t share all on her own.  I understand she doesn’t have any concept of sharing or manners–but I still cringe every single time it happens.

At the moment the only time I have spoken to Lexi (she just turned 1) about sharing is when she has two of very similiar items in her hands and one of her daycare friends wants to play with one of them (i.e. balls, water bottles, books).  Having two in her hand she really can’t play with both items and so we talk about sharing one with a friend. Sometimes she hands over one of the items with a little coaxing and sometimes I take one and give to her daycare friend.  Normally she hears about sharing when my sister in law is talking to Lexi’s 5 year old cousin and trying to get her cousin to share her toys when we come to visit. I know this concept will only increase as time goes on so it was great to start thinking about our approach before it really became part of our daily lives.

These are some of the questions this article stirred inside of me: What are your thoughts about sharing? When do you think kids should start sharing? Do you think kids should have to share–and if so at what age? Is it the parent’s right to step in when teaching kids to share? Even if it isn’t their own kid?

Celebration Month!

25 Mar

celebration

In our neck of the woods it has been one big month of celebration! January the theme was being sick, February the theme was snow and recovering from being so sick, and March took a turn for the better and was all about celebration (and more snow too)!  The biggest celebration we had this month was our sweet Lexi turning 1! We are parents of a toddler! I kid you not we started to get presents in the mail at the end of February and she opened up a present every single day until March 11th and then had a small break and went back to opening up more presents this weekend.  I am still writing thank you notes and wishing I could just hug everyone who made my daughter feel so special and loved all month long.   This month of celebration was bigger than the Christmas holiday (and that is saying alot).  So we kicked off the month with my daughter turning one and she had 2 very large parties, a birthday party at her daycare (so precious), a mini family party on her actual birthday, and then ending the parties this weekend with one more family party on my dad’s side.  IT WAS CRAZY.  FIVE CELEBRATIONS!!! As I am typing this I am passing out in my chair from exhaustion from all the celebrating.  The next big celebration we had this month was the day after my daughter turn 1 my mom turned a big number as well (I will keep the number out of the interwebs for her sake haha).  We had something really small with just immediate family the day after my daughter’s birthday party because we were all wiped out and we had some chinese takeout.   I was in such party mode for a little kid it was at times so hard to be thinking of a big kid (or adult) party–but my sister, step dad and myself pulled off a birthday celebration this weekend for my mom (my mom thought chinese takeout was how we were celebrating her birthday–she is so sweet and is always thinking of Lexi before herself). Just to make the planning a tad bit harder–it was a suprise party! Yet we pulled off the surprise and my mom had the bestest of times this weekend! And just because we wanted to squeeze in a little more fun we also had St. Patrick’s Day this month and someone who is proud of her Irish heritage we celebrated it in full force (Lexi won most spirited for St. Patrick’s Day at her daycare!).  And because having my daughter’s first birthday (and all the parties that followed), my mom’s surprise party, St. Patrick’s Day…we still have EASTER SUNDAY for a celebration this month! April is going to feel very lonely without all of these celebrations going on in its month–that is for sure! We are so family/friend oriented (people matter the most) that we always spend the holidays with family and/or friends.  It isn’t in our nature to just sit at home and do things by ourselves as we do love to be surrounded by family, but as we were driving down for this weekend’s festivities we realized we needed a break.  We needed a break from all the traveling, all the packing and unpacking, all the running around, all the hoopla that happens when we come to town. So this year after all the celebrating we have been doing each weekend this month we are going to take it a little easier and stay home and celebrate Easter as a family of three.  We are going to paint eggs, do an Easter egg hunt, do a brunch date, take naps, eat ham, and truly enjoy family time.  It has been one amazing month that I will never forget and I am so glad that we did all the celebrating–but for our final weekend of March we are going to take it a little easier and celebrate with each other.

What was your theme for the month of March? Anyone have any celebrations this month too?

Drugstore Makeup Hits!

22 Mar

About 3 months ago I decided that I needed to change up my beauty routine because I wasn’t loving any of the products I was using and it was starting to feel like “same old same old.” I also had to change up my beauty routine during the week because my baby was turning into a toddler and so I just couldn’t place her on the floor while I got ready and have her just hang out with me. The hope was to find a quick and easy routine that lasted all day long. I spent about 3 weeks checking out beauty blogs and YouTubers who had beauty channels (shout out to Lipstick and Stockings, Tanya Burr , Eleventh Gorgeous, Makeup by Alli) to look at some reviews of products and then make a list of all the “needs” and then a list of all the “wants” so that I had an idea of what I was looking for when I went into the drugstores and Sephora. I found that this really helped me get products that were great for my skin type (very dry) and help improve my quick routine with the right products. I am proud to say that I bought more hits than misses with doing the research and checking out what others were using (pat myself on my back!).  I did hit upon some misses and some products that I am still on the fence about (post on that soon)–but it is Friday and so I am going to end the week on a positive note and talk about the hits first! I am also glad to say that all my hits have were from the drugstore and very reasonably priced in case you are looking to spruce up your beauty routine!

 

MakeupHits

 

 

1. Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation ($13.00): Hard to find this product in the actual drugstore, but worth the effort! A bit of a dewy effect on the skin, goes on beautifully, light to medium coverage depending on how much you use, stayed on all day and never flaked on my skin (which I sometimes have happen with foundations since my skin is so dry).   It is a pump system which helps control how much I need to use. Really love this new foundation and it blends so well! When I wear this I normally do not feel like I have foundation on! LOVE IT!  I think was my best find from the drugstore!

2. Revlon Colorstay Whipped Foundation ($12.00): Easy to find in the drugstore and it goes on really smooth as well.  It isn’t as dewy (more matte) on my skin.  This gives me more medium coverage and stays on my face all day long.  It says 24 hours although I have never tried it for 24 hours I feel it looks best for about 12-14 hours which I still think is awesome.  It goes on very easily although fingers do get dirty as there isn’t a pump for this foundation.  One reviewer made note that if you don’t like mouse type foundations that you don’t need to steer clear of this foundation and I would agree.  I have tried mouse foundations before and this feels and looks nothing like that type of foundation.  I would say it is in between a liquid and mouse foundation.  I have used this one more in the winter for a little bit more coverage, but I know that once spring really sets in my go to foundation will be the Rimmel Wake Me up Foundation.  This foundation also blends very easily and I never have streaks.

3. Jordana Easyliner Retractable Eyeliner Pencil ($2-$4): This is also a bit of a hard find in the drugstore, but Walgreens sells this eyeliner and there is a small beauty section of Jordana products.  This eyeliner is SO CHEAP price wise, but feels so good on! It is creamy and applies really well and stays on the lid all day long.  I don’t have any smudging or falling to underneath my eyes and I only have good things to say about this product.  For the price it is amazing! They also have a liquid eyeliner that I have bought, but not have used yet.  Reviews on Youtube are great for the liquid eyeliner as well! For the price–why not try it?!

4. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer-Brightener ($7.00): This one took a little for me to warm up to and I think it was mostly because I didn’t know how to use the product! I would dab a little on under my eyes and then pat and I would really see no difference.  They I watched someone put it on during a blog review and realized I wasn’t going far enough down or using nearly as much as I should.  Once I started to add more on I noticed a difference on days that I felt I had dark circles.  It is in my hits because I have seen a ton of improvement of not feeling like I look tired all the time and helps with dark circles, but for the amount I use I wonder if there is a better solution.  It doesn’t crease after I wear it all day and it seems to stay on for a good portion of the day (I would say 5-6 hours).

5. Wet and Wild Eyeshadow Palette in “Silent Treatment” ($3.00): I always thought that Wet and Wild products were for teenagers and that I have moved past the Wet and Wild stage, but I found a ton of individuals raving about the Wet and Wild palettes and I have to say for the price you really can’t beat it! For the newbie in the beauty product world it was easy to apply and the eyeshadows stayed on my lids all day long (with an eyelid primer I got even more wear time out of the eyeshadow).  I found that they didn’t flake and were really easy to blend.  I have used high end eyeshadows and I can see the difference with the pigments and “powdery” feel, but not enough difference to not add a couple go to eye color palettes into my makeup bag.  When I have to get out of the door really fast and can’t really think of what eyeshadows I want to blend together I always reach for this palette and feel put together!

6. CoverGirl Clump Crusher Mascara by Lashblast ($7.00) : I had been using the original Lashblast (in the orange tube) for the longest time and then when I needed to pick up a new Mascara the clump crusher was on sale and I had seen some hits and some misses for the product.  I figured that I would try it out for myself and it landed in the hits pile for me (although I can see where people can see that it would be a miss as well).  For me it really separated my lashes unlike the original Lashblast and I found that they were a bit longer than when using the Lashblast mascara.  I would put on two coats and felt that my eyelashes were good for the entire day and it does ring true that there are no clumps when putting on the mascara.  I will say though that they didn’t get my lashes as much volume and thickness when it came to the Clump Crusher.  I have a good amount of lashes so I don’t necessarily need the thickness and volume, but I had grown so use to it that it took a little while for me to adjust to the new mascara.  I think I really enjoy the separation of lashes and length over the volume.  I would repurchase this mascara (which is why it went into the hits pile), but I don’t know if I would say I am an exclusive Clump Crusher girl.  When I bought it the sale was close to $5.00 dollars at Target and for that price I say give it a try!

What are your favorite drugstore beauty products? Anyone else tried these products and love/hate?

Thoughts of the day!!

21 Mar

snowday

I did a post like this almost a year ago (last May 2012) and thought it would be fun to revive it today! So funny looking back on what was running through my mind almost a year ago–some of the same things and some very different! I got the original idea from the EmphasisAdded blog a long time ago! Love her blog!

Here is my March 2013 edition:

Obsessing Over: What I am going to wear and my family is going to wear on a photoshoot for this April down in NC. I kinda sorta know what I want for the shoot, but with the weather being unpredictable for April I have to have some backups. Kinda tough when I don’t even have the first outfit picked out! My strategy has been scouring the internet and then closing out of the shopping cart at the last minute.  What I really need to do is to find the time to hit up the mall and try on some looks (in all those spare hours I have these days).  #2 obsession is whether to dye my hair/highlight my hair/spend the money on a salon or continue to do myself. Everytime I go to do my hair in the morning I obsess over this.  I need to just make a decision and be done with it and move on!  #firstworldproblems #iknow

Working On: Meal planning, fitting in exercise, getting organized, and first birthday thank yous to all the awesome people who helped celebrate my sweet Lexi!

Thinking About: Where we will be in the summer.  We are trying to get a new place to live, but that also requires me to leave my present job to do this (don’t worry boss knows so I feel okay to post).  I am such a loyal person and have made some great connections at my job, but personally it is time to look for new opportunities for myself and my family.  It is a constant on my mind and for a girl who loves to have a set plan–not knowing where we will be in 3 months is at times overwhelming to think about.  YIKES!

Anticipating: The changes that will happen with our life if when we move. So much anticipation at this moment of a possible new job, a new place to live, and a possible new daycare for my daughter (sad part of the possible move) just to name a few! Scary and exciting all at the same time and feels so different when you have a little person who is counting on you to make the right decision.

Listening To: The new Pink song “Just Give Me a Reason”  First time I heard it on the radio I was sucked into the song and then I thought, is this Pink??!!! It is a beautiful song–but totally different than the usual music we hear from her.  I have always been a fan of her music–but this one has been on repeat for me all week long! Check it out here

Drinking: I normally have a Starbucks in my hand by this time in the morning (grande non-fat sugar free carmel latte), but this morning has been a whirlwind and I haven’t walked across the street yet (Bonus of current job: Starbucks across the street AND my job pays for it.).

Wishing: It was nicer out! Especially with the reminder this week that last year I was playing with my daughter and going on family strolls already by now! I am not even asking for the 80 degree weather we had last year–just warm enough so I don’t have to wear a winter coat! This winter has been long and I am starting to realize that having a baby in the winter can feel like you are…trapped.  Although she is loving all the snow we are having because that means she can put her face in it, eat it, make snowballs, and dive into the snow.   Her first words have been (in this order): Da-Da, Ma-Ma, dog (loves my mom’s dog), SNOW. Yup this girl is a New Englander at heart.  Even though she loves snow I just can’t wait for the moment she can run around outside without a jacket weighing her down and have a picnic and go on the swings.  She is going to be so fun this spring/summer! I AM PUMPED! Now it just needs to get here…FAST!

New on Blog: Review Series!

19 Mar

I am always a sucker for a good review. I want to say most products that I own or have tried have come from either blog reviews, YouTube reviews, or family/friend review they told me in person. I very rarely buy something because I saw a commercial for it (although I have been known to get cravings for food by watching a commercial now and again). Even if I don’t “know” the person in real life I find that hearing about reviews from someone who is actually human and actually tried the product. Gotta love the commercials that say that your eyelashes will be 10 times more luminous and then the celebrity has fake lashes on in the commercial! GAH! Drives me insane! There are some pretty great review blogs out there, but two of my favorite review blogs are actually friends of mine!  For book reviews The Well Read Redhead is your gal–all types of genres and great reviews without giving away the book! For really everything else under the sun you can hit up my girl over at Life Reviews–she is honest and hilarious and I truly wished we lived closer so we could share a bottle of one of her wines (that she reviewed on her blog!) and gossip of course.

So I thought it would be fun to do a weekly review series on the blog! My reviews will be a smorgasbord of items as I have a pretty random list of items that I want to review!   Disclaimer: These are not sponsored posts and the company did not send me item for review.   All the reviews I do on the blog are my honest to goodness opinion. Pinky swear.  Girl scouts honor (yea I took the oath way back when).  So without further ado, here is my first review of the series–a recipe review! Hope you enjoy!

FoodieReviews

I do quite a bit of pinning on Pinterest over the past year and I can honestly say that I haven’t made a darn thing on that site (like I said in the toddler post).  I mean there are a ton of things that look great to make–but when I think about trying something new for dinner I just never think to go to my Pinterest boards and check out a recipe.  The toddler post made me realize I wasn’t tapping into a great resource that I have at my fingertips and I needed to utilize it more!  I am a little bit skeptical of Pinterest because I feel that there are so many pins out there that I feel just stretch the truth in either their pictures or their instructions.  I really can’t say too much since I have never actually made anything–but I read enough blogs out there to know that it isn’t just PRESTO! Beautiful cookie monster cupcakes in minutes!

So yesterday I finally decided to try to make something pretty simple that I had been wanting to make for a quite some time on Pinterest: Carrot Chips.  I am always looking for healthy alternatives to foods we love and I thought this might be a great recipe to replace the french fry.  I love french fries and my daughter loves eating items that come in stick form and so I thought this might be a great alternative for our family.  I also hate the taste of cooked carrots and so I thought it might help me in the flavor department and also get more carrots in my diet.  Here is what I pinned for instructions to make carrot chips (original link came from this site) .

carrot chips

I have mixed feelings about this particular recipe for Carrot Chips.  I didn’t hate them, but I (nor my daughter) didn’t really love them either.  Plus my husband didn’t want to try them (although he doesn’t like vegetables in general so we can’t count on his review). Let me be a little more specific though so you can make up your mind if these might be worth making for your household.  I loved the ease of making the carrot chips as it took me less than 5 minutes to make about 12 carrot chips.  I was confused at first because it says to peel carrot into thick slices and either I have the wrong peeler or I was doing something wrong (totally possible), but I couldn’t get the peeler to make thick enough slices that would really make a carrot chip.  Instead I took a knife to make the thick slices needed for the carrot chips.  A pretty simple fix.   I will also say the flavor was pretty tasty and for someone who doesn’t enjoy cooked carrots I found them really edible.  Now one of the major flaws of these carrot chips is that they never came out as chips for us (even with adding an extra 5 minutes to cook!).  They remained soft and kinda chewy rather than crispy like a chip even after a good amount of cooling.  That made the texture of the carrots kinda “eh” and not as fun as I was expecting with these carrot chips.  Now this could have been my fault as I may have put too much olive oil on the carrots before baking or perhaps since I didn’t use a peeler they were a little too thick to make into a chip.  I think I would try this recipe again if this was the only flaw and try to tweak the recipe with adding less olive oil and perhaps increase the oven temperature to get them more chip-like.  Unfortunately the biggest flaw of the recipe had to do with the reaction my daughter had to the chips.  She first loved the chips and ate the first one rather quickly and so I had high hopes and then it just went downhill.  She barely at 3 of the carrot chips last night even though they were in stick form which she loves and tonight I gave her the left over carrot chips and she didn’t even touch one of them.  She loves food and eats almost everything and so it didn’t pass the toddler test, my hubs didn’t want to try one, and although I found them flavorful the olive oil left my hands greasy.  Overall, they were quick and easy to make and had good flavor, but unfortunately they never turned into chips for us, olive oil made them feel greasy, and they didn’t pass the toddler or husband test.

If anyone does try this recipe and gets them to be more “chippy” could you shoot me a comment below to tell me what your magic trick is? Any flavorful carrot recipes out there to covert me to a lover of cooked carrots?

Toodler Food

15 Mar

My daughter loves to eat.  She will eat most anything–even if it comes off the floor!  It has been great seeing her try new foods and really start to develop some taste buds.  When she truly is enjoying her food she will smack her lips together and says MMMMMMM (her version of YUMMMMM at the moment!).  It was such a hard transition for our family to be on this routine of every 3 hours we feed her a bottle easy breezy don’t have to think about it food to OMG SHE IS EATING PEOPLE FOOD AND THIS IS WHERE HER NUTRIENTS ARE COMING FROM freak out??!! I wrote a blog post on making baby food, which we did until about 8 months.  Once we hit 8 months she was starting to not want to eat just from a spoon and she wanted to try for herself and pick up food on her plate and eat more chunkier foods.  We started to leave food in more its original state (like peas, beans, and cutting up bananas, avocados, etc) for her to test out the waters.  That went extremely well as I have heard small kids having aversions to textures in their mouth.  We were lucky and she loved being able to pick up (or try to pick up) her food and eat it herself.  By 10 months I was really looking to not only have her try foods in a chunkier state–but to start making well-balanced meals for her.  She was going to be 1 soon and I knew that the majority of her nutrients would be from food rather than formula at that point so it gave us a couple of months to work out the kinks to making her food.  Over the past 3 months we have found a groove that works for us and some staples in the household that really make having Lexi eat well-balanced meals at every meal possible.  I know I am not alone with worrying about what our kids are eating and it has been great leaning on the advice from other moms.  I know I would have loved a post to read about this when I was going through my mild freak outs when it came to food and so I thought I would share with anyone looking for options for their kids!  With our fast pace life I try not to adhere to too many rules when it comes to food, but my main rule is that Lexi has to get at least 5 servings of fruits/veggies during the day. (this can be harder than it looks!)  I also follow this as a guideline for other items just to check myself every once in a while.

Now at the beginning (probably months 4-9 months) Lexi didn’t really eat anything that we were eating for dinner.  We didn’t have a great routine and most nights we were eating crap we would never serve Lexi.  We kept saying we need to get better for our dinners because soon Lexi will be eating what we will be eating (as I am not cooking two separate meals every night for my family).  This kinda scared us as we couldn’t really fathom eating what Lexi was eating (I could barely get string beans on the table for us!).  So early on everything Lexi was eating I had to make and freeze separately for her.  Then around 9 months we started to think about Lexi when we were making dinner and what she could have/couldn’t have or what we wanted her to have.  Slowly we started to eat a little better and make some better choices for ourselves (and for Lexi).  It was slow at first with only 1-2 meals that Lexi could eat with us and now I would say that 90% of our meals for dinner coincide with what Lexi is eating (HUGE PROGRESS!)  I have to say that Fresh20 has a ton to do with that 90% number.  For instance–we have spaghetti as a family for dinner through Fresh20. Normally I would say that spaghetti is just one big carbo-loaded dinner, but one of the recipes from Fresh20 has a turkey meat to go into the spaghetti and within that turkey meat is veggies! We didn’t love the turkey recipe in the spaghetti (Lexi did!), but we loved the turkey in the chili I made with half of it and Lexi could eat that too! Two healthy dinner meals we could all eat and have leftovers! Not all days run this smoothly though and so for these days we have backups!

Daycare Disclaimer: Our daughter is in daycare so we don’t have total control over her food intake. Our daycare provide snacks and lunch for no extra cost (cost is in our monthly bill).  We really love the lunches that they provide as all meals have a great balance of protein, carbs, and fruit.  They have been great with substituting and allowing for us to manage her food even though they are making her lunches.  As far as the snacks go though they are quick and not very nutritious.  Since most of the daycare snacks we find are “fillers”  we bring her 2 snacks (1 being her breakfast) in everyday.  As Lexi has gotten older she is starting to realize that her snacks are different than her friend’s snack sitting next to her.  She has even stolen snacks off the other kid’s plate! (OMG! I DIE!) She continues to eat her fruits and healthy alternative snacks, but I also realize that kids will be kids and that she wants what the other kids have! So we have made a compromise that after she eats her home snack if others are having “seconds” and Lexi would like what they are having she can have a small portion of their daycare snack.  This compromise has helped out a great deal as now my child isn’t stealing or eating the crumbs off the floor after snack (OMG! I DIED AGAIN!). 

At 12 months Lexi eats Breakfast (snacktime at daycare), Lunch, Snack, and Dinner.  Most dinners are what we eat as a family–but normally Lexi has a different breakfast, lunch and snack than us.  The hubs and I for breakfast normally have a quick breakfast bar, lunches are sandwiches and salads which she can’t really eat well at the moment and then we normally don’t have snack when she has snack.  For those meals and any dinners we need to substitute we turn to these options below.  We are always adding to this list, but over the past 3 months this is what we have collected as options for Lexi.

Short-cuts that have helped us along the way: (we have these on hand in the fridge so that if we need something quick and easy since our daughter gets “hangry” from time to time)

  • Buying a whole rotisserie chicken/turkey from the supermarket and cutting up bite size portions for Lexi and storing them for the week
  • Buying string cheese and cutting them up
  • Avocado is an easy side to cut up–but doesn’t pack well for daycare snacks and it goes quickly.  We use some of the avocado to make guacamole for Lexi that we put on Quesadillas and her chicken.
  • Greek yogurt cups (Lexi loves the ones with the fruit at the bottom although it adds more sugar to the snack)
  • Buying easy to cut (that our soft fruits) to package up for snacks and for a side during lunches and dinner (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • For the harder fruits (apples, pears, etc) we buy fruit cups and then rinse off the juices from the fruit cup to give her less sugar in the fruit
  • Putting yogurt instead of syrup on her pancakes and french toast.  Makes it a little less dry for her without being unhealthy.
  • Steam veggies in the steam bags and cut up for sides
  • Beans! They are great to grasp with her little hands and great for protein. Quick and healthy!

Not short-cuts but make in large batches and freeze for quick meals: (usually I will make 1-2 of these items on the weekend and it will last in our rotation for about 2 weeks.  This really helps especially on weekends where we travel out-of-state and don’t get home until late Sunday)

  • Quesadilla–can put veggies, cheese and beans into them.  Well balanced meal all wrapped up in a quesadilla! With or without a quesadilla maker pretty quick.
  • Large batches of pancakes and adding fruit into the pancakes makes it healthy! (our recipe at bottom)
  • Sweet Potatoe & Apple Casserole-Lexi loves this and this makes for us about 6-8 sides for her lunch/dinner.  Freezes well.
  • Mac and Cheese Chicken Bites-Lexi loves these too.  We used some as mini muffins (for a snack alternative) and some in larger muffin trays (for lunch/dinner meal).  The mini ones felt dry and she didn’t love them as much as the larger muffin tray option as they were more moist and could taste cheese better.  Freezes well.
  • Banana Bread (recipe below)-Lexi loves bananas, but sometimes we can’t get through the bananas fast enough and so my mom made banana bread once and Lexi could have eaten the whole loaf in one sitting! The recipe was so easy! I’ve made it since then and it has been a great hit! Gives us about 10 slices a loaf for about 6-8 snacks. You do have to add sugar so we do this occasionally as a snack–it’s a nice treat for her.
  • All Things G&D blog really has some great toddler approved recipes!  We used the “cookies/bars” a ton when Lexi was first trying out foods as they broke apart really well for her as she was learning to grasp, made a ton at once, and super great to freeze.  Her favorites were harvest spice breakfast cookies, and oatmeal banana drops. (I really want to try these individual fruit cups  and veggie muffins next!)
  • We tried these early on, but I think they were hard for Lexi to grasp in the early stages as they were a bit mushier but I bet she would love them now! Apple Plum Bars

Our resources for recipes:

-Family recipes

Fresh20

Weelicious

All Things G&D (you have to do a little hunting for the recipes–go under category “I am not a chef” to find them)

Pinterest (I have some recipes pinned on my pinterest under my board “Kid Foodie”.  I haven’t actually tried any recipes yet, but I really want to try healthy fruit snacks and carrot chips!)

Here are the recipes I talked about earlier in the post:

Family Recipe Buttermilk pancakes

Serves: Approx 6 (depending on how large pancakes are)

Ingredients:

2 Cups Flour (calls to be sifted but we have done un-sifted as well)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons Sugar

2 Eggs

2 cups of buttermilk

2 Tablespoons Oil (Vegetable or Coconut) OR Butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

(Add any fruit ingredients you want)

Make:

1. Mix together dry ingredients

2. Beat eggs and milk with Buttermilk and oil or butter and Vanilla

3. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until smooth

4. Combine any fruit ingredients you want to add at this point

5. Cook on griddle or skillet

6. Serve!

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Family Recipe Banana Bread

(although similar to most banana bread recipes out there)

Serves: Approx 10 Slices

Ingredients

2-3 bananas (ripened)

1/3 cup of butter (we have our butter melted for ease)

3/4 cup -1 cup sugar (less sugar you need to use the better)

1 egg, beaten (we don’t beat it but the recipe calls for it)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt (I don’t use the salt but it recipe calls for it)

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour (I have used wheat flour as well with this recipe

Make:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F

2. Mash bananas in large mixing bowl (add melted butter to this.  If not melted then mash butter with bananas)

3. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture

4. Mix all ingredients.

5. Add the flour last, and mix.

6. Pour mixture into a buttered (or spray pan) 4×8 inch loaf pan.

7. Bake for 1 hour.

8. Cool and serve

Anyone have any go to recipes for their toddler? Quick solutions for meals? Any favorite cookbooks, blogs, resources they use? I am always looking for new things for Lexi so please share! 🙂