Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Few Target Trip Steals

As part of my family's 2013 budget, I have tried my hardest to keep Target trips at a minimum this year. After some digging into our receipts it is easy to see (and easy to spend) unnecessary items bought at Target.

While I can get some super awesome deals, it doesn't mean our family actually needs what I am buying. However, I did some careful planning, list making and coupon organizing before today's trip and I tried to stay calm around tempting items we don't need.

I was half successful.

On the up side, if you get the Sunday paper, you will have noticed a buy 2 Digiorno pizzas - get 1 free coupon. Target's circular advertised the pizzas 2 for $9 or $4.50 each. With the manufacture coupon, I could get 3 Digiorno pizzas for $3.33 each! That is a great deal. In addition to the coupon, Target had a buy 2 Digiorno pizzas get a free 2 Liter pop:
3 Digiorno pizzas and 2 Liter Diet Coke $9

The pizza deal was my biggest reason for going to Target, but we also needed:
Whole milk $2.98
Creamer $2.80 for 2 (I had the Coffeemate coupon for $1.10 off 2)
Pop $2.50 for Pepsi 12 packs

I did all my grocery shopping for the week on Sunday. This included everything the boys and I eat during the week and 5 family dinners I cook. The boys go through milk like crazy and I think if I start buying it 2 gallons at a time, I should cut out the extra trip to the grocery store.

It is really annoying to have to go to the store to get one important item, like milk. In the Summer, it is a way lesser deal. It took the kids and I 14 minutes to get out of the house the other morning. I know this because I started my car at 10:12, and it was 10:26 when I started loading babies into their car seats. Ooofffffttaaa.

14 minutes.

That time doesn't even count the getting ready part! Granted, I would spend the extra 14 minutes just to get out of the house most days, but that is a lot of work for a silly gallon of milk. Ok, I am getting side tracked.

In addition to a few cheap grocery finds, including some unnecessary purchases like the sports shaped Market Pantry Mac' n Cheese. David was too cute pulling them off the shelf and asking me "Remember that?" when I bought them for him a few months ago and we had fun picking out all the shapes. I had to spend the near nothing $.74 on them. Plus, that is a $.74 cent lunch for 3 people.

I got some good deals on Gerber toddler foods. I hardly buy the brand anymore since James is eating everything but peanut butter. However, I still get the Gerber coupons in the mail. With Target's baby sale going on now:
Gerber Yogurt Melts $1.48 each after coupons for $1.25 off 2. I ended up buying 4 packages.

After all this savvy saving, I made the big mistake of heading to baby clothes, shoes and women's clearance. Whooops... this is where I hoarded 70% off clearance. I hadn't been to Target in so long it was like I couldn't get the crap in my cart fast enough. It felt so good, I tell you.

With a little bit of going through what I picked out after the frenzy, and putting a few really-un-necessaries back on the shelves, I made a sizable but budget friendly load. Well, we'll see what Pete says, I guess!

Converse Toddler Shoes $5.98
Liz Lange Maternity Dress $8.98
Liz Lange Maternity Pencil Skirt $7.48
Mossimo Long Sleeve Tee $3.60
Circo Long Sleeve Tees $1.80
Cherokee Boys Sweater $3.80
Boys Fleece Sweater $1.50

If you see the items at, you will see the baby items aren't even discounted yet!

According to the "total savings this trip" at the bottom of my Target receipt, in relationship to what I spent at Target total, I saved 32% on my Target trip today. This makes me a very happy shopper. I also feel a little fulfillment and hopefully, I can go another 2 or 3 weeks before I need another Target fix. Hopefully...

Monday, January 28, 2013

How I Cloth Diaper My 15-Month Old

Since my blog as been dominated by food and home updates, I thought I would shake things up a bit and talk about cloth diapering my 15-month old son, James.

James wearing GroVia Hybrid Shell Diaper

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love cloth diapering. The process fulfills me in a weird way. I feel I am taking better care of James, the environment, and my wallet!

While my husband is not as excited about cloth diapering as me, he has been such a champ with the whole process. I remember bringing up cloth diapering to him when I was still pregnant. I think he thought I was just trying to curb my "nesting instinct" with baby number 2.

Well, with a little trial and error, $400 spent and thousands of dollars saved, I am a cloth diapering mama. I get asked about the process a lot, so I will share with you what an average week of cloth diapering is like for me.

There is no one way to cloth diaper. There are hundreds of brands, types of detergents, types of products, and many different kinds of washers. I can only share with you what I do! As my mom says, "Once you have your kids figured out, something changes." I feel it is the same with cloth diapering. Once I have the prefect routine, James out grows a diaper or something.

However, I can confidently say I have had no major issues with cloth diapering. Issues being: leaks, smells, costs, cleaning, storing, organizing, transporting, traveling with, or general use and convenience of cloth diapering.

There are plenty of times I have taken weekend trips to Rochester and used disposables. I am not a absolutely-have-to-use-my-cloth-diapers, cloth diapering nut. We have used one disposable per day since James was 5 months old - at night.

That's right, I don't double stuff my diapers or make James wear wool pants or any other drastic measures to be sure James is only wearing cloth. He leaks at night and disposables work! Plus, it gives me an extra break to have daddy do pajamas sometimes and I feel it is a treat for him to get to use a disposable diaper.

Here is a typical cloth diapered day in the life of my 15 month old:

James is roughly 25 lbs. He has a bubble butt and is big legged. A lot of diaper systems are called "one sized" systems. They have rows of snaps to help accommodate different sized babies. Most brands have a minimum of 7 lbs and a maximum of 35 lbs. Where you snap your diaper determines the size and fit for your baby.
Photo Credit // Flip Diapers

The snaps on the front of cloth diapers, I think, are a big reason a lot of people are afraid of them. Cloth diapers seem like such an inconvenience because of all the snapping. When really, it is just two snaps. They also come in hook and loop (or Velcro - the term hook and loop confused me in the beginning) to make changing even easier.

Yes mom, I know you are reading. It is just two snaps!

Different diaper systems (brands) have different methods for how you change your baby's diaper. One system is a diaper cover with an insert. The insert is changed when wet but the cover is only changed 2-3 times a day.

Photo Credit // Flip Diapers

Another system is sometimes called an "all-in-one", where the diaper can be pre-stuffed with a insert after washing. Then you exchange the entire diaper at changing time.

Of course, this is only the beginning of cloth diaper options. Check out, the site is one of my favorites for cloth diapers.

I have found diaper covers with an individually placed, tri-folded, cotton prefold (insert) is the best system for us. I go through 2-4 diaper covers a day and 5-7 prefolds. My favorite brand is Flip. They never, ever leak for us. But, I also use Grovia, Thirsties and Kawaii covers. I very rarely use all-in-one diapers, but I do own some.

Flip Daypack: 2 diaper covers and 6 inserts $59.95

To change James' diaper cover and prefold:

  • Lay baby down.
  • Remove dirty diaper.
  • Slide cover only under baby, positioning it correctly.
  • Lift baby and place trifolded prefold on top of the cover.
  • Fold prefold over baby.
  • Fold diaper cover over prefold.
  • Snap closed.

I do not change James' diaper cover until he has had 2-3 wet prefolds or 1 poopy prefold. Usually, James gets changed into a cover and prefold in the morning when he wakes up, and then a prefold change after breakfast. If he has had only wet diapers all morning, I change him into a new prefold before his afternoon nap at 1 o'clock.

Photo Credit // Diaper Junction

After nap, James gets a new diaper cover and we go through another 2-3 prefolds before getting changed into his disposable diaper at 8 o'clock. James is often very wet after his nap, so I like to change the diaper cover. Some days, he might be drier so I only change the prefold. When at any time, James poops in his diaper, the cover and prefold must get changed. He usually likes to save that for right after I put a clean diaper cover on him! Thanks, James.

Cloth diapers get ruined by many rash creams because the cream gets on the diaper and acts as a repellent. The diapers absorb all the wetness and leaks don't get on your baby's clothes. I think CJ's BUTTer cream is the best butt cream there is and it is cloth diaper friendly. It also smells awesome! My favorite CJ's scents are Monkey Fart and Honeyed Patchouli.

You might be thinking where I put all these soiled, stinky diapers after I take them off James, right?

My house has 2 bedrooms upstairs, the master and the nursery, and a full bathroom. I keep a large wet bag (a waterproof bag made out of a polyurethane laminate or PUL) next to the toilet in the bathroom for the dirty diapers.You can make your own bag, as I did! If James goes through 6 diapers a day, we have a pretty full bag after 3 days. I never go more than 3 days between washing diapers.

If James has only wet his diaper, it goes right into the wet bag with no rinsing. If James has pooped his diaper, the diaper needs to be rinsed in the toilet first and then placed in the wet bag. I use a diaper sprayer like this one costing you about $35. Totally worth it.

I find my washer does a great job of cleaning 15-18 diapers at a time. I have a top loader and we have soft water in our home. To clean cloth diapers I:

  • Empty contents of wet bag into washer.
  • Do a warm rinse cycle with no detergent.
  • Follow with a hot-cold wash with 2 Tbs Rockin' Green Laundry Detergent.
  • Follow with a cold rinse.
  • Dry in the dryer on low with no dryer sheet (they coat the diapers and make them repel instead of absorb wetness).

The washing system is a little lengthy I have to admit, but I have it down to such a timed science after washing diapers for over a year. Also, a lot of people don't dry their diapers in the dryer because you can damage the PUL with the heat. I have ruined a few "cheap" diapers from drying in the dryer, so I hang dried my diaper covers for a while. Once I switched to using Flip covers, almost exclusively, I found they handle my dryer just fine.

A lot of people think cloth diapering is more stinky than disposable diapers. In my mind, a diaper is a diaper. Take a big whiff of a freshly peed on disposable diaper and I guarantee you will think they stink, too. The wet bag holds in smells very well. I use a pail freshener, too. My diapers have never stunk coming out clean from the washer and dryer.
Rockin' Green Shake it Up! Pail Freshener
If I am out and about, I commonly bring one extra diaper cover and 3 prefolds in my diaper bag. I also bring an old Target bag or something to put my dirty diapers in till I get home. If I have a longer trip, I will carry a smaller wet bag with me to keep wetness and smells in.

Overall, cloth diapering is a more complicated process than using disposables, but I love it. I am blessed to be able to stay home with my kids, and cloth diapering is much easier when I can take full responsibility and care for them. Like I said earlier, my husband is quite the trooper when it comes to my cloth diapering expectations, but he has never had use them if he doesn't want to.

I am dying to hear what you think! I would also love to hear about your own cloth diapering experiences if you have them. Some of my favorite friends also cloth diaper and I feel like we could just talk about them all day, sometimes.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Grandma's Ham Salad

Ham salad on wheat crackers.
Last Sunday, my Grandma made a ham to accommodate the large crew who assembles at her house after church. When it is time for me to pack up and head home with the boys, I am tired and frazzled from all the commotion! We have the best time and somehow, on my way out the door like the wind, I was handed a big zip-lock of extra ham. Score!

I decided to make some post-nap ham salad for the kids and I to dip our wheat crackers in. It is such an easy recipe, and if you have a food processor, putting ham salad together is even easier. I use the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor which is sold on Amazon right now in 17 different colors! I am kind of obsessed with the turquoise one:

Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor

Ham Salad Recipe
Leftover Cooked Ham
Sweet Onion
Ground Black Pepper

Chop ham in food processor until ham is coarsely ground. My leftover ham yielded about 2-3 cups.

Place ham into a serving container. Chop pickle and onion separately in food processor and combine with ham.

Add about 1 Tbs. mayo (Greek yogurt would be a great substitute as well!) per cup of ham or however creamy you like it. I like to add a little black pepper because I love pepper!

The kids and I scooped up our ham salad with wheat crackers, but it is also delicious in a sandwich. Spread ham salad on warm toast with a slice of cheddar cheese and food doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lemon Dill Pan Fried Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Lemon dill pan fried chicken with quinoa salad.

Ingredients for Pan Fried Chicken:
2 lb  Boneless Chicken Breast
2 T butter
Kosher salt
Ground Black Pepper
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
1 Lemon

Ingredients for Quinoa Salad:
Green Onion
Salt and Pepper

Directions for pan fried chicken:
  • Thaw (if frozen), rinse, and trim off fat on chicken.
  • Slice chicken with the grain for long strips of chicken (if desired).
  • Season chicken with kosher salt and ground black pepper on both sides.
  • Heat large, non-stick frying pan over high heat and add 2 Tbs. butter.
  • Immediately add chicken to melting butter.
  • While you are cooking chicken you can chop veggies for your quinoa salad!
  • Let chicken fry in butter for 10 minutes (or until chicken has a nice brown sear), stirring occasionally.
  • Turn over chicken and continue to fry for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add juice of one lemon over chicken and shake dill over both sides of chicken. Stir.
  • Continue to cook chick for an additional 10 minutes, turning chicken occasionally, until internal temperature reads 160 degrees or higher.
  • Turn off heat, remove chicken from pan with tongs and place chicken in a covered serving container. 
Delicious lemon dill chicken.

Directions for quinoa salad:
  • In a medium size sauce pan, add 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water and bring to a boil.
  • Once quinoa is boiling, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove quinoa from hot pan and place in large serving container in the fridge (you want the quinoa to be cold by the time you eat).
  • Chop cucumber, tomato, and green onion in equal sized pieces and add to quinoa. I used 1/3 cucumber, 2 roma tomatoes, and 3 green onions.
  • Stir in juice of 1 lemon and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place salad in refrigerator until serving.
Making quinoa salad in my "new" vintage Pyrex handed down to me from my friend, Monica.

I served my pan fried chicken and quinoa salad with a dollop of sour cream and wheat crackers. The sour cream stuck everything together on the fork and the wheat crackers were the perfect low calorie carb to scoop all the extras up with!

Dinner is served.
D & J enjoying supper.

I really enjoy pan fried chicken. The kids and I just can't wait till Pete gets home to grill sometimes! The chicken was nice and crispy on the outside and juicy in the middle. Sometimes when I bake chicken, it comes out like a big blob of meat!

The kids always eat chicken without a fight, so it is a go-to protein in our house. The quinoa was a little out there for David, but James cleaned his plate! It was also an easy meal to make for the kids and I to eat at 5:30 and not take a lot of effort to put back together when Pete is home to eat around 7.

The lemon and dill go so well together. What seasonings and flavors do you like to pair with your chicken?

Cleaning Grout on Small Bathroom Tile Floor

Before and after.

The wind chill in Minnesota today is about -30 degrees. I would say the boys and I are staying in the house today. With the anticipation (more like dread) of the freezing temperatures, I started a little list of in-home projects I could get done!

I updated my cabinets in my upstairs bathroom last week. Spending the few hours in my bathroom forced me to keep spying on the dirty grout on my bathroom floor. I thought today would be a good day to give it a quick scrub. James was safely playing in his Cosco Funsport Playard and David was happily watching Thomas the Train on TV. I saw my window for some bleach cleaning!

The results weren't as bright as I hoped but the floor sure is a lot whiter, cleaner, dust and hair free! Next time, I will let the product sit longer before scrubbing and use a more concentrated solution.

Oxiclean Versatile Stain Remover
One Gallon Bucket
Warm Water
Old Rags
Old Towels
Rubber Gloves
Sponge, Scrubber and/or Toothbrush

  • Sweep tile floor.
  • Mix 3-4 scoops Oxiclean with a 3/4 full gallon bucket with warm water.
  • Place old towel on the floor at the door, so you don't get Oxiclean on your carpet.
  • If needed, remove socks, roll up pants and wear rubber gloves.
  • Slowly dump solution onto tile in a sideways motion onto to floor.

  • Use an old rag to move the solution to all pieces of tile and grout.
  • Use towel at the bathroom door to dry feet.
  • Let solution sit for 30 minutes (I let mine sit for 10 which was not long enough).
  • After 30 minutes, take empty gallon bucket and scrub tools. Scrub floor, using a toothbrush in tougher areas. Use rag to wash away any missed grime or dust.
  • Let scrubbed floor sit with solution an addition 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, use rag to soak up excess solution spots. Wring rag in gallon bucket and rinse in sink when necessary.
  • Use old towel to wipe floor dry.

Updated cabinets and a sparkling clean floor.

You wouldn't walk into my bathroom as a first-timer and say, "Holy crap your floor is amazing!" but I can walk into my bathroom and think that.

My bathroom mats are 100% Cotton Chenille High File Shaggy. They are available in 12 different colors in shower mat size on Amazon for $16.75. The larger bathmat is similar size and color to the Eileen West Bath Loop 24 Inch by 40 Inch Chenille Rug. I might get the mats in silver or cream if I decide to change my bathrooms colors to tan, gray and white. Either way, I would ultimately like both mats to be the same color.

Hope my fellow Minnesotans who are home today have found ways to be productive, or if you are forced to be out braving the cold weather, you are doing so safely!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

D and J: Letters and Brothers

D & J testing out their play mat.
Today was one of those days where I just sat, staring at my kids, asking myself when they got so big. I am such a wuss when it comes to this 5 degree Minnesota weather. I have been taking the Christmas toys out, one-by-one to occupy our long days at home.

This morning, David and I pieced together a foam letter play mat he received from Christmas last year. James enjoyed taking all the pieces and running into their bedroom. David is surprisingly patient when it comes to his little brother messing with his toys. Sometimes, almost too patient. James has learned he can take David's things and then run from him. James loves the chase.

Some days, David might retaliate with a bop on James' head or a little shove. Generally, David is a helping and caring brother and he looks out for James more than he finds ways to be separate from him. I don't think this is a characteristic in David that was completely learned. I think David's maternal attitude towards James is part of his human nature. I honestly think he was born with it. It definitely helps I try to be a patient mom. I think David can remain calm, because I can remain calm.

I think David will always look out for his little brother, James. I also have a sneaking suspicion James will always get joy out of finding little ways to drive his older brother crazy. I like that about James. I appreciate his restlessness and the way he seems to plot out little tortures for the rest of us living in this house.

The boys are definitely different. It is so amazing just how different they are.

David and James are playing with a foam letter play mat similar to the Edushape Edu-Tiles 36 Piece 6x6ft Play Mat, Letters & Numbers Set on Amazon. The set can also be put together as blocks. David has loved letters his whole life. He could recognize and say every letter by its name by 18 months. He knew the phonics of every letter by 22 months. He could write every letter at 2.5 years and soon after learned the entire alphabet in sign language. Letters are his thing!

I highly recommend toddlers get some sort of play letters by one year old. We loved the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Magnetic Letters & Numbers in a Box Bundle. David played with this set for hours on the fridge, metal pans, and by dumping the letters in and out of his garbage trucks.

M & D Letters and Numbers Box Bundle

Do your kids have a "thing" they have really gotten into like David's letters? Do you find your oldest has a maternal attitude towards their younger siblings?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Updated Hardware for Old Bathroom Cabinets

Before and After.

I can take my kids anywhere. Seriously. I am so blessed to be able to drag them (ok, we really have fun!) to home improvement stores while I am searching for the perfect pair of knobs.

Yes, I  had a mild, 48 hour obsession with cabinet hardware. I am kind of sad it is over.

While currently planning the all-weekend master bedroom re-do, I needed to fill a few hours this week to scratch another home improvement item off my list for 2013.

So, new knobs it was! If you are extra curious, you can peek at my "Upstairs Bathroom" Pinterest board. I am sure I have annoyed a few followers with 25 different "brushed nickel" knobs popping up on their Pinterest homepage. Oh, well.

Here is how my scratched, outdated cabinetry looked before the update:

For starters, I had to re-stain the cabinetry. David and I used warm, soapy microfiber rags to lightly wash all the dust, toothpaste, and film off the cabinets. I then removed all the outdated hardware from the cabinets. I left the hinges. Someday, I might want to put in brushed nickel ones but it wasn't a priority for me on this update. David liked throwing all the cabinet pieces into the hardware bucket with a loud "Clang!".

After the cabinets dried, David went downstairs to have popcorn with his dad, and I suited up in a mask or Paint Odor Valved Respirator. Yes, I was extremely good looking. I also laid out a canvas drop cloth to control splatters on my tile.

I then, slowly and evenly applied a 1-step stain and polyurethane wood stain to my cabinets with a 2" flat chip brush. I wanted a duo stain, because I am impatient and didn't want to subject the entire family to extra paint vapors. I brushed the stain on, keeping with the grain of the wood and dabbed a bit more stain where there was extra wear on the cabinets.

I let the cabinets dry overnight and attached my hardware the following day. I picked out pulls for the drawers and knobs for the cabinets:

I was originally going to use pulls on the cabinet doors, as well as the drawers but I changed my mind last minute and got knobs instead. I am happy with my decision.

Here is my stained cabinet, hardware updated, upstairs bathroom! I think it looks so much better.

Shopping list:
Conquest Collection Knob 6 at $1.69 or $10.14 
Total: $25.10
Other items I have in store for my bathroom?
Brushed nickle switch plate and wall register.
New vanity light.
New faucet (maybe).
Spray paint wicker basket.
New frame or wall shelving above toilet.
New towels.
New rubs (maybe).
Updated bathroom accessories.
Have you completed any minor or major home improvements since the new year?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Play Food for Kids

My almost 3 year-old is loving his play kitchen and toy food right now. It seems like his imagination has really come about in the last few weeks. I love watching him create stories and situations with his mind!

After a week of David stealing my "grabbers" (tongs) from the kitchen to play cook with, Pete and I decided to get him a small toy kitchen and toy food set for Christmas this year. He just freaked over it. We spent at least an hour the first night cooking together. His little face was so intent on watching us eat, and enjoy, all the food he was making us.

Here is the play kitchen from American Plastics we bought David from Wayfair for Christmas:

I got the kitchen on sale, with free shipping, and used some Wayfair rewards credits, so I think I paid about $8 for it!

In addition to the kitchen, we also got the kids the Little Tike's Barbecue Set and a Smoothie Set with a "real" blender. David likes to "grill like Daddy" and James loves to put play fruit in the blender and push the button to make it spin.

There are so many other ways to use play food without buying a $15 plastic set at the store. After we set up the play kitchen for the kids, my Mom and Grandma started saving their empty food containers from home and gave them to the kids to play with. Like: macaroni and cheese boxes, butter boxes, plastic cream cheese containers, and more.

In addition to the empty containers from home, I found a blog post about inspiring felt food patterns via The Mombot:

Photo Credit // pink.lemonade on flickr 

For a huge list of felt food tutorials, visit Apartment Therapy's Free Felt Food Tutorials post, which includes tutorial links for: doughnuts, eggs, ravioli, sandwiches and chips, Popsicles, and so much more!

Don't you just want to eat this felt eggs and bacon breakfast from Days Gone By Design Blog? I do!

Photo Credit // Days Gone By Design Blog

Even though we just added a 100 piece food set to our living room toy area, and a plastic kitchen to boot, I could watch David and James play, interact and use their imaginations with their play food all day!

Did you hit a home run with your kids on any of their Christmas gifts this year? Do your kids like to play with toy food, too?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

After Nap Banana Smoothies with No Peanut Butter

One of my favorite times of the day is the time spent with my boys after their afternoon nap. I hear them rustling in their room, waking each other up and I get excited to see them after a few hours apart. Trust me, the few hours apart are welcomed but I just love their little pink faced, refreshed faces!

I thought I would do something special for their after nap snack today. I thought peanut butter and banana smoothies would be nice, but our pediatrician recommends James not eat peanut butter until he is two. I know a lot of pediatricians say to wait till one year. I think we waited till David was 22 months old before I caved and gave him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

I got bananas during a Trader Joe's trip this morning ($.19 ea!) but with no peanut butter to use, I had to find and alter a recipe that was 14 month-old friendly!

Banana Orange Juice Fruit Smoothie

Photo Credit // Fitness Magazine
Serving size: 2 young children with a few sips left for Mom!

1 Banana
2 Tbs Honey
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Ice

I use a food processor to blend our smoothies until the ice is fine enough to fit through a straw. To make your smoothies even more creative I suggest adding: vanilla yogurt (I imagine the smoothie would taste like a dreamsicle), strawberries, almonds, or pineapple.

James enjoying his banana smoothie!
James actually cried when I took his empty cup away! I was really happy with the way the smoothies turned out and am looking forward to doing more smoothies with the boys this week.

Do you have a go to smoothie for your kids or yourself?

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Running Gear

With my running shoes on super sale at Zulily the other day, I was inspired to do a run-down (pun intended) on what running gear I use.

Trust me, I am not a fancy pants or brand loyal or a running gear nerd. I usually run in what fits good and is wallet friendly! I did get my stride assessed by the staff at Right Fit Running and was suited up with the right pair of shoes to accommodate the running I was doing. They are my prized possession, but what runner's shoes aren't?

I wear ASICS - GT-2170 running shoes (on sale at for $79.95). I was considering also getting the trail version of this shoe for running on snow and ice. However, I have opted for the treadmill for the next few months until the sidewalks thaw. Falling from a run is not an option for me.

Before the first big snow, my cold weather gear consisted of:

Pete and I after running the Halloween Hustle 5k in Missouri.
Leggings: like New Balance Go 2 Tight
Shorts: Addidas Modern Classics
Sports bra: C9 by Champion Reversible Racer Back
Tank: like C9 by Champion Stripe Rib Tank
Long sleeve: Hind 1/4 Zip Compression Top
Fleece or hoodie: I just got a sweet The North Face hoodie from my in-laws for Christmas!
Headband: C9 by Champion Headband
Gloves: I was wearing Pete's but my sister-in-law got me my own pair by Reebok for Christmas!
Reflective vest: like Runner's World Reflective Run Vest

Ugh! Just typing all those layers exhausted me. It is so much easier to run in the other seasons. It takes me 30 minutes just to find all my stuff in the Winter!

In addition to what I wear, there are tunes and apps I can't live without on my runs!
Runkeeper App for Android
Description via Goggle play store:

Screen shot of RunKeeper
Track, measure, and improve your fitness.
- See detailed stats around your pace, distance, time, and calories burned.
- Get stats, progress, and coaching through your headphones with built-in audio cues
- Update your weight to keep calories burned accurate.
Measure your performance over time
- View a detailed history of your activities (runs, walks, bikes, etc.) to see how you are doing.
- Get notified when you hit new personal bests and milestones.
- Measure your progress against your goals and targets.
- Follow detailed plans to help you achieve specific fitness objectives, like run for weight loss or run a 5K.
- Turn any activity into a route to do again later.
Share with friends
- Post your activity stats (map, distance, calories, and time), fitness achievements and training plans to Facebook, Twitter and your friends on RunKeeper.
- Let supporters watch LIVE maps of your workouts and races as you go (must subscribe to RunKeeper Elite).
- View detailed reports of your tracked activity level, calories burned, weight loss, and many more stats over time.

iHeart Radio App for Android
Description via Goggle play store:

Screenshot of iHeart Radio

iHeartRadio offers free music in an all-in-one, digital Internet radio service that lets you find more than 1,500 live radio stations.
With the free music app for Android, create commercial-free, all-music Custom Stations featuring songs from the artist you select and similar music.
- The Best of Live Radio Internet Radio
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My favorite stations?
Cults, Coldplay, Young the Giant, Goldfrapp, Florence and the Machine, and Muse.

There are a few items I don't have but could use, like some new earbuds. Mine fall out from time to time and one is missing the rim around the speaker, so it has cut my ear! Pete wears the earbuds that squish into your ear and also have a clip for attaching the wires to your shirt. I am always trying to find creative ways to tuck my wires through my arm holes to keep them from flapping in my face!

I recently got David and James their first pair of "running shoes" on clearance at Target. When I gave David his pair the next morning, he put them on before breakfast and didn't take them off till lunch! He is always coming up to me saying he is "going for a run and will be back soon." He likes to put on Pete and I's shoes in the foyer and tell us, "I am really tired." or "I am really sweaty." It is neat to think Pete and I are sort of training our kids to know physical activity is a daily part of our lives, important and what we choose to do for fun!

Is there any gear you can't exercise without?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Upcycled Muffin Tin Crayons

David and his Dad had a blast outside on this sunny and not-so-freezing temperature Minnesota day! James and I spent the hour or two cleaning the kitchen and going through the crayon box.

It seemed like a waste to put all the little broken pieces of crayon in the garbage, but more often than not I was picking the pieces of crayon out of James' mouth!

I decided to search on Pinterest some ideas for upcycling my crayons. I decided to pop them into the oven in a mini muffin pan to reuse the bits!

James helped me put the crayons into the muffin spots. He only dumped the tin out 2 or three times in the process. We were having so much fun, the fact the project took three times as long with him helping, was no bother to me at all!

Upcycled Muffin Tin Crayons 
Mini Muffin Pan
Crayon Bits (Paper Removed)
Oven Pre-Heated to 275 Degrees
Hot Pads

Place assortment of crayon bits to top of muffin spots. Bake for 13 minutes. Carefully remove hot tin from oven and let cool for 25 minutes on hot pads (and away from children's reach!). Place tin in fridge for additional 15 minutes to cool.

Remove crayons on a dish towel to "break their fall". We also let the crayons come back down to room temperature before coloring with them!


Other upcycled crayon ideas and tips:

Photo Credit // Good Knits
Good Knits used a silicon heart shape pan. After completion, she tagged the heart crayons with the phrase "You Color My World" and handed them out at a Valentines day party!

Photo Credit // Juggling with Kids
Juggling with kids sprayed her muffin tin with vegetable oil for easy removal and clean-up. I did not do this step and am not looking forward to cleaning my pan!

Photo Credit // Simply Sprout
Simply Sprout used only blue and green colored crayons and packaged them as earths for Earth Day! She instructed kids to count 7 blues and 3 greens into each muffin tin to create the earths. She also has a free printable on her post for making the bags!

The possibilities seem endless for this super easy upcycled crayon craft! Did you do something crafty with your kids today?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What My One-Year Old Can Do

James 14 Months Old

It is crazy to me James is in his second year of life. It feels like just yesterday we brought him home. Now that he is a thriving, into everything toddler, I can see all of the milestones he has reached and achievements he has made.

He is so different from his big brother David and I enjoy seeing their similarities and differences.

James can:
Walk since 11 months.
Pull up, bend over, stand from sitting.
Eat everything except hard foods, peanut butter and nuts.
No longer nurse/take a bottle.
Nap every day.
Sleep 12+ hours every night.
Wave hello and say "Buh-bye".
Blow a kiss.
Do "Wheels on the bus, wipers on the bus, money on the bus, mommy on the bus".
Hold out hands for mittens/feet for boots.
Mimic "Hat on".
Do "Amen".
Do "So big".
Throw a ball.
Put a cap on and take cap off.
Put toys in a bucket.
Dump a bucket.
Bring a book to ___.
Bring a item/toy to ___.
Lay down.
Sit down.
Lay on the pillow.
Open/close the door.
Turn light off/on.
Show me "chewing".
Recognize songs.
Spit out food/ickys.
Give "love".
Stick out his tongue.
Do "ouch".
Show where parts of his body are.
Show where mom's eyes, nose and teeth are.

James cannot (is not allowed to):
Touch the tree.
Pull hair.
Stand on the bed/chair/couch.
Touch the toilet.
Go in the fridge.
Play with the phone.
Touch the shades.
Eat "ickys".
Play with markers.
Put crayons in his mouth.
Rip paper.
Play with David's garbage toys.
Walk in the store (except Barnes & Noble).
Go up/down steps without supervision.

James can say:
Dada (first word).
Ah-Da (David).
Buh-pa (Grandpa).
All done.

James loves:
Cuddling with mom.
Wrestling with dad.
Pulling David's hair (unfortunately).
When Super Why starts at 9 am on Sprout.
When David chases him.
Baths (finally!).
Putting items/toys in buckets and baskets.
Having 20 minutes "James time" in the pack n' play.
Going up and down steps.
Play lands.
Walks/stroller/wagon rides.
Playing with David.
Bringing books to mom and reading together.
When Daddy comes home.

James does not like:
Getting his face washed after meals.
Getting his hair combed.
Diaper changes.
Putting his coat on.
Waiting to eat.
Being tired.
The Doctor.
Being put in his car seat.
Toys that drive or dolls that talk on their own.
When David takes things from him.

I love this age so much. Especially, because James is starting to become more aware of his surroundings and can do more physically. I feel like I can sit and watch him instead of help him (and help him not hurt himself). The next few months are such a fun age, if I remember right from David.

I am sure I missed about a million things, but I hope "What My One Year-Old Can Do" can bring some memories back for you or give you peek into what is to come!

Here are a few articles about what to expect from toddlers:
Baby Center: Milestones 13-18 Months
The Bump: Toddler Basics
What to Expect: Toddler Topics

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