Wednesday, December 15, 2010

She Better Not Cry, Better Not Pout.

It was a proud day for us when we took A to her first visit to Santa.  I know, it's kind of a petty proud moment, but I don't have much else going on in my life right now, so let me have my proud momma moment. 

It could have all gone very wrong and we could of had a very different photo.  I'm glad we got out of there with this Chillin' With S. Claus photo, instead of the crying and screaming ones that end up on the Ellen Degeneres show and we giggle about them. I'm lucky and grateful that A (for the most part) enjoys this sort of thing, just like I did when I was her age. 

Granted, I only tested this theory out with one child so far,  but I think if you don't make a big deal out of things (bad or good), and you are just calm in your approach, your child will be too. We were very casual with the whole Santa thing. We prepped her good by mentioning his name, singing songs about him, showing pictures and videos, but you never know. We didn't squeal and hype it up. We didn't say "don't worry, it'll be okay" or anything like that. We just let her figure it all out herself and sure enough, she walked right up there and sat on that old man's lap and just stayed chill. 

I guess the other advice I'd give is make sure your kid has been well slept and not fed a bunch of Little Debbie bars before the visit. 

Monday, September 27, 2010


Blame it on the baby, blame in on the media. We've gotten a lot better about what we eat and drink in our house over the last few years. I don't need to explain why do I? If I do, just watch Food Inc., read Fast Food Nation or take a walk around the grounds at Navy Pier. America, we have a problem.

We're not perfect, I'll put that out there right away. We've made changes in healthy eating that are good for us and don't put us into debt. It's a shame that in order to eat all the stuff that's good for us, you have to pay out the nose for it.

After Abby moved away from purreed fruits and veggies, we had to come up with something to feed the child besides hot dogs. I made a promise to feed her good, healthy foods while I can, before she finds out that Twinkies exist.

Here's what she's eating these days...and loving it.
  • Hummus on wheat toast
  • Shelled edamame
  • Extra firm Tofu
  • Hearts of Palm and Artichokes
  • Guacamole
  • Cucumbers
  • Apples and Peanut Butter
  • Plain chicken breasts, broccoli
  • Peas and pasta with parmesan cheese
  • Polenta with tomato sauce
  • string cheese, chopped up
  • strawberries, apples, blueberries
  • Yogurt mixed with oatmeal
  • Craisins
I meet a lot of new moms who can't figure out how to get their kids to eat anything or they can't figure out what to make, so their kids have a diet of juice and chicken fingers. But there are a few tips you can use to plan out meals that are healthy and yummy. I'll share some down the line. But in the meantime, here are a few tips to take or leave. 

1. Start each meal with the least appealing item and end with your baby's most favorite. No sense in giving them the good stuff up front- otherwise, they won't eat the rest. 
2. Frozen vegetables and fruits are great- store and make them in 5 minutes or less
3. Make pasta (or anything!) in advance- put it in a container in the fridge and serve it multiple times a week. 
4. That whole rule about try and try again? You should try it! It works. One week Abby loves --- the next week, not so much. The next week, she loves it. Keep it up and try your best not to raise them on fries and hot dogs. Trust me, it's possible (so far anyway!).

Best Baby Crap Worth Buying Part II

Now that Abby has gotten older, I have a few more things to add to the list of great baby crap.

Summer Video Monitor- This should have been on Part I's list, but it was forgotten. Sometimes the most important things are right in front of you and forget to mention them, right? The Summer Video Monitor was hands down the best gift I ever got. It's a monitor with video capabilities. You can hear AND see your child in the crib, so it saves you the time and worry of checking in on them when they are hellin' and hollerin' for you...or if you miss them at 10PM and just want to check in on the little bugger.  For example, you hear your baby crying...HARD. Like their leg is stuck in between crib panels. You reach for the video monitor to check and ....Nope. Just crying hard. It'll pass in 2 minutes.

Just hang the camera in the baby's room and carry the monitor with you. Seriously genius. The only downside is - if your camera is turned off, but your monitor is on, you can see other baby's under the same frequency. Freak. Kee.

Kiddopotamus Tiny Diner- It's a silicone piece that suctions down on the table for your child to eat off of. It washes off easily and is free of all the things parents freak out about these days.

More will be added as I think of them...or have time to write them, whichever comes first. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Muffin Woman

We stopped at the Farmer's Market this morning to get some vegetables for the week. Abby is a true blueberry fan and signaled for a carton. We already had some at home, but it's hard to resist a little girl repeating "blue? blue? blue?".

With a surplus of blueberries and a heat wave outside, I decided to make some muffins inside. I love making blueberry muffins with some brown sugar struesal on top. Makes the house smell pretty awesome.

Whoever said that yogurt in replacement for oil makes a yummy muffin, was probably the same person that likes fat free butter. I tried it and they turned out kind of rubbery. Edible, but rubbery. I guess they are suppose to be healthier, but let's just say we'll save this batch for us and wouldn't make a batch for public consumption. Ever.

Texas Sized BlueBerry Muffins (Makes 6)
If you bake the muffins in a Texas Style muffin pan, they turn out large, just like the kind you'd find at a Corner Bakery. 

3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil (or use 1/4 c. vanilla yogurt for rubbery variety)
1 large egg
2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking power
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh blueberries (frozen work just as good, don't kid yourself)

Oven Temp. 400 degrees
Grease a 6 muffin Texas Style Muffin pan. 

Make a streusal topping using 1/4 c. flour, 2 tbsp. hard butter and 1/4 brown sugar...chop ingredients with a fork so you get little "Butter rocks" coated with flour and brown sugar. 

Beat milk oil and egg in a brown. Stir in flour, sugar baking powder and salt. Fold in the blueberries. Add batter to the muffin pan, Sprinkle the streusel topping across. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 

And there you go. Throw them in a basket, put some fresh blueberries on the side (to prove it wasn't made from a box) and you're looking like a little pro-homemaker. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Urp Cloths

Inspired by all those wonderfully creative Esty folk and lonely, housebound Saturday nights, I pulled out the sewing machine and decided to start making stuff. I'm a very, very novice sewer right now, but I get excited when I can stick two pieces of fabric together and it turns into something functional.

These easy Urp Cloths® make great baby gifts for showers, or baby welcome gifts. My friends were impressed with my new domestic talent, but hey, it was a cinch to do.

Making Urp Cloths
1. Buy Gerber cloth diapers
2. Buy Fabric
3. Sew fabric down the middle of the diaper. 

What I like about making my own Urp Cloths, instead of buying them is you can pick out your own fabric and it doesn't have to be all babylike. Be bold! Be Whimsy!  You'll find the Urp Cloths made with cloth diapers are so much more durable than premade store bought ones.

Easy, creative, personal, fashionable and functional all in one.

Exactly how I like life to be.

The Heat Was Hot

It's been humidly muggy and hot for over a week now. Makes me lazy, sticky, tired and feeling fat. These are the days a pool would come in handy.

Too lazy, sticky and tired to write anymore than that.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rain Barrelin' Down

Early this Spring, we bought a rain barrel because we wanted to save some money and resources.

Composting IN.
Rain Barrels OUT.

It's 50 gallons and hooks up to one of our downspouts. I geek out when I make purchases like this and I was extra happy that we were re-using rainwater and saving some cash. It's a proud day when Me AND Mother Nature win.

The first rainfall of the year, it filled up. I thought it would take MONTHS to collect water, but just in one steady rainstorm, we had 50 gallons of water from one barrel.

With all the apocalypic rain storms we've had,  I've barely had to use it. We've had so much rain so far this summer, we had to attach a hose to redirect the overflow! Instead of using it to water plants, I mostly use it now to wash my hands and feet after digging, pulling and planting.

If you are thinking of getting a rain barrel, there are a few things you should know.

If you want a decorative one that looks all pretty in your yard, it's going to cost you. It's insane how a modified plastic garbage can command $75 and up. They are kind of cool looking, but I don't care to spend that much money on something that's going to hide on the side of my house.

Ask your village/town if they sell rain barrels. Most sell them for around $35, maybe less. Some towns might give them away? The one we got was from a local woman who takes industrial size marinara containers, puts on the spigget and the hose attachment with some screens on the top to keep the skeeters out for $45. The bright blue plastic can be painted with oil based paints suitable for plastics. If you're feeling ambitious,  paint butterflies or other pictures on it.

You can always make your own as well. It seems pretty easy to do and can also save you money. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

That Little Love of Mine

It's kind of ridiculous how much I love my girl. Even more ridiculous that she'll be 15 months tomorrow. And even MORE ridiculous that in a weekend, her brain started to emerge more than before. I'm pretty sure when she woke up on Sunday, her head even grew a little because that brain got smarter.

She started to walk about 2 steps and by Monday, she was walking 4 steps- back and forth to Grandma and Grandpa. Ask her to get you the "bear" or the "dog" and she trots over, picks it up and hands it up. Points to pictures and says "Nonna" (grandma) or "Da!" (dad) and even "Ba!" (Bella, the dog)

I've heard "more", "mama", "shoe" and "row row row", when we read and sing Row Row Row Your Boat.

Even at this age, she's starting to accessorize with drapes of necklaces (with supervision!), hats and sunglasses. Would keep them on all day and night if she could. I wonder what's that all about because I am not really a fashionista.

And the mimicking never gets old. Definitely makes me think twice about what I do and say. I've moved off using the "F" word to saying "Foop". Foop is the new "F*&K" in my house.

Yep, so I'm pretty proud of this little one. Growing fast, but growing smart. And I'm pretty sure all mom's say that about their babies, but I can't help but beam over it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Genie-ous Tip

We have one of those diaper genies to help mask the butt stink that comes out of our little child. If you have one, you know how fast you can go through a roll of those plastic chargers and they aren't exactly cheap. And well, I'm kind of a cheapskate, so I only use the genie to store poop diapers. The pee dipes go in another garbage can in a plastic shopping bag. So separate your #1 from your #2's and you'll be able to conserve those a little longer.

That's my tip for the day. Of course you could drop all your diapers in the regular garbage can and save yourself the sorting altogether :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010


I am a big fan of aesthetics. Which is why I'm always on the hunt for things that don't scream BABY LIVES HERE AND HAS TAKEN OVER THE HOUSE.  

Things in my world must be practical, but also fun and beautiful for both Mom and Baby. And I love companies that get that concept and have finally started to make things for the home that fit both needs. 

I got REALLY tired of the white, plasticy bottle drying rack that was sitting in our kitchen.  It LOOKED like a bottle drying rack and totally throws off any style I try to keep in the room. 

My favorite baby product company, Boon Inc. came out with a drying rack that fills my need to function and style. It's a grass drying rack. How cute, right? Sure, it was about $20, but it was worth the money and now I can look at my kitchen counter without cringing at the white plastic, double-decker drying rack. Come to think of it, my old drying rack was about $15, so paying $5 more to satisfy my need for some style is definitely worth it.

Quiche Off Into the Air

Normally, Kenny makes the weekend breakfasts. It's the same pretty much every Saturday and Sunday; eggs scrambled, toast and bacon. Gets a wee old after a while, so I agreed to take over breakfast duty. And I agreed to make quiche...for the first time.

I have no clue how to make a quiche- they seem like they are tough to make, especially since I usually only see them at Sunday brunches and baby showers. I figured they are best saved for Sunday brunches and baby showers. Years ago, my mom* gave me a fancy quiche pan and it's been collecting dust in the basement, so it's finally get a little attention.

I not really good at following rules, especially when it comes to cooking. I skimmed a few Quiche recipes and my eyes glazed over as soon as I saw that I had to weight my pie crust with beans first, followed by more complicated steps.

I'm not Southern, folks, I have no patience for willy-nilly cooking steps.

And I have two hours before Abby wakes from her nap.

I figure I can just do a smorgasbord of everything and as long as I'm not too far out of the ball park with measurements and ingredients, my food will keep us out of the emergency room.

I mixed up five eggs, a couple cups of half & half, some bacon and leftover prosciutto, a blend of cheeses, sauteed onions, spinach and garlic. Oh, and a pie crust I found leftover from the holidays.

In about an hour (I guess that's how long they take to cook), I'll let you know how it all plays out. Maybe I'll even put up a photo to show you too. Maybe I'll learn WHY it's important to follow a recipe for Quiche and why they are reserved for Sunday brunches and baby showers.

*My mom also bought me a Vidalia Chop Wizard a few years ago and I grinned when she gave it to me, but it's pretty awesome. No longer crying over chopping onions. That, and ever since I nearly sliced off my finger slicing limes when I was a bartender, I am a little "chop" shy.
Highly recommend if you need to do lots of chopping, but don't have time, patience or courage.

POST QUICHE WRAP UP: Quiche may sound fancy, but it's totally easy to make. It came out of the oven looking awesome and I got a four-fork approval from Kenny. So there you have it!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Best Songs of 2009

I'm surprised I'm even doing this. Previous years have been spent seeking out and compiling my favorite music of the year and this year, I thought FOR SURE, it wouldn't happen as I barely have time to change my clothes these days.

Before we get on with the list- know that I make very very limited copies of my Best of CD this year, but will continue to make copies on request for friends. As you can understand, I have to look over my shoulder every 10 seconds to make sure Abby isn't getting her head stuck in the kitty door-- finding time to burn a bunch of mixes ain't happening this year. Besides, most people are iPod people and could care less about a CD. If I had the skills (maybe next year), I'll post my Best of MP3s or something on an FTP site or something. Again, baby steps!

Oh, and this is just a list with maybe a few short quips- my writing skills and any musical descriptive writing got left in the delivery room back in March and I have yet to find it. Definitely a resolution for next year.

"Heartbreak Warfare"- John Mayer
Yes. I love John Mayer's music. I hate how his record label promotes him to be this frat boy/ girly firly kind of putz. He's talented and funny as hell. This song should have been the single. 

"The Great Defector"- Bell XI 
They play them on WXRT and they kind of sound like an Irish Talking Heads. The rest of the album is worth listening to as well.

"Lord Lord Help Me Just to Rock Rock On"- Mike Doughty
A song that just grooves and moves along and is mighty catchy. Beware when driving on highways if this song every comes on as it tends to give the need for speed.

"Bastards of Midnight"- The Damnwells
This is one of the best, most underrated bands on the planet as far as Kenny and I are concerned. Solid rock songs with clever favorite lyric in this song is "Trouble keeps the bar lights on...for a while". Anyway, PLEASE get and buy this record and catch up with The Damnwells if you haven't already. They thee best! You can do some good when you purchase a copy of their latest CD on their website- some of it goes to a good cause.

"Dance Anthem of the 80's"- Regina Spektor
I left Tori Amos a few years ago and picked up Regina. Figured I needed another girl on piano, but with lyrics I can actually interpret.

Seems this is a favorite for a lot of people this year- especially advertising companies. It really is a great album for sure. It's got a little 80's touch to it with the synth pop.

2009 introduced the "Traveling Wilburys" of the decade with Monsters of Folk, not to be confused with the Monsters of Cereal (Boo Berry and FrankenBerry would get upset by this). I'm trying NOT to call them a Supergroup, but that's pretty much what they are, right? The Monsters includes Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes, M. Ward and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. And I'm not a huge Oberst fan, but this group kind of drowns out his shaky, nervous vocals that give me the willies.

I don't know much about Hockey, other than it appeared in our iTunes one day. Is "Rock-Disco" a genre? That's what I think when I hear this song.  

Who is Jack Penate and why is he touring with US Indie bands? While I like his dance-pop sounds, it doesn't seem this Brit belongs in an indie category. That's not a complaint, more of a fact.

Something happened to Paolo Nutini. His voice on his latest album, Sunny Side Up, sounds totally different than his 2006 release "These Streets". Both are great albums, but Sunny Side Up- he has a much folky, diverse sound. His vocals sound more like 52 than 22. I also really like the song "Candy", but "High Hopes" hit me with it's mild reaggae/sunshine influence.

I feel kind of proud to have followed Gomez's musical career since 1998. They've been consistently going strong with new albums and oddly, a jam-band following. I've never understood that. "Little Pieces" is their latest on their album, "A New Tide.

This band falls into that Rogue Wave, The Shins, Band of Horses category for me. Another great Sub-Pop band that's been around for a while, but I never bothered to listen to until now. Kicking myself for that. 

This song is actually two songs in one. Starts off kind of like a folk song and builds into another swinging song. Has that less distorted Gomez feel to it.

Beautiful sounds and harmonies...I'm not good at placing music into the proper category, but this song throws back a little to Crosby, Stills and Nash....if they were taking some stronger drugs...maybe?

Chicago's very own! File under The Shins, as usual. Just a beautiful CD, full of talent and light. Any song with whisteling and handclaps makes me happy.

I haven't been really into a Pearl Jam since, oh, say 1995? But this album, they made my list with this song. It's Eddie Vedder's version of "You're a Friend of Mine", "That's What Friends Are For"...but without Phillip Bailey or Elton John. And I may add in here, Eddie Vedder gets better and more classic with age.

"The Climb"- Miley Cyrus:
Me and my 8th grade Self just love this song. Don't really care if it sounds corny- this song has got everything- a little inspiration, ballady----I just love a good "Life Anthem". I just love it. It's greatlittle girls to listen and sing and still has a valuable message for us "grown ups" to boot.

"Sex on Fire"- Kings of Leon
For the first half of the year, I thought they were singing "Your STUFF is on Fire" and actually liked that better. This whole album is one great soundtrack to a one night stand. Not that I know what those are anymore.