Posts made in August, 2014

5 Simple Fall Activities the Entire Family Will Enjoy

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Foodie Fun & Recipes, General | Comments Off on 5 Simple Fall Activities the Entire Family Will Enjoy


If there’s something we all remember doing as a kid, it’s celebrating the change of seasons – especially fall. Halloween parties, haunted houses, caramel apples, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches are just a few of the many things you can do with your kids to make the transition into winter more fun. Autumn is a beautiful time of year, and although Mother Nature is slowing down, it doesn’t mean your family has to! It’s a great time of year to get outside, embrace the cool weather, beautiful colors, and abundance of apples and squash. Read on for 5 of our favorite activities that everyone in your home will enjoy – then, pick a couple to enjoy this Labor Day weekend!

  1. Make quick and easy apple cider!
    Since the days get shorter and the air gets cooler, autumn is the perfect time for a yummy, warm beverage! Apple cider is a great alternative to candy when your family’s sweet tooth calls, and adding a cinnamon stick to stir with makes the beverage even more fun!
  2. Visit your local farmer’s market and search for the great pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
    Make a game out of finding the biggest pumpkin, the silliest looking pumpkin, or the skinniest pumpkin, and give prizes to each of your little ones – since of course, they are all winners! And if pumpkins aren’t available yet, check out the fun varieties of silly looking squashes!
  3. Make a scarecrow from the leaves in the yard!
    Scarecrows aren’t just for Halloween – they are the perfect front porch accessory for the entire autumn season. There are plenty of leaves to go around once autumn is in full swing, and what better way to recycle some old clothes and have a blast cleaning the yard but with making your own scarecrow? While you are creating your scarecrow, be sure to jump in a pile of leaves or two – it will be hard for everyone to not participate in the fun!
  4. Create a fall-themed scavenger hunt!
    Start by taking a nature walk with your children and gathering found fall items to use in the scavenger hunt. My favorite items include: pine-cones, leaves, rocks, twigs, and seeds. What a perfect way to get the little ones to solve riddles, puzzles, and learn their ABC’s while having a blast! It’s almost as fun to make the hunt as seeing their grins as they hunt!
  5. Go for a weekend hike!
    All over the country, fall shows in so many different ways. Explore your part of town, or even make a day trip to check out different fields, lakes, forests, meadows, and gardens. Who knows, you may even stop by a corn maze on the way, and enjoy a great detour!

Enjoy yourself and the smiles that fall brings with these great ideas. Here’s to hoping they inspire your own. Happy Fall!

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10 Parenting Tips to Make Life with your Little Ones Easier

Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in General, Toddler | Comments Off on 10 Parenting Tips to Make Life with your Little Ones Easier


All parents get to a point in their child’s upbringing where they think, “Why isn’t there a manual for this!” While there isn’t a manual you can find all kinds of tips and tricks on your favorite social networking sites. The idea of “Life Hacks” have come about, and are changing everyone’s life for the better. A life hack is a tip or trick that others have learned, either the easy  or hard way, and are now sharing with the world to help others with the intricacies of life. I love this idea of sharing tips that will make our lives easier! I put together a list of 10 of my favorite parenting “life hacks” that are bound to keep your stress levels a little lower. I hope they will inspire you to get creative when it comes to raising your little ones.

  1. Bathe the kiddos inside of a laundry basket instead of the bath tub. You will use less water and it’s easier for baby to reach toys that will float closely to them.
  2. Have a budding photographer on your hands? Give your child one of your old iPhones to use as a camera.
  3. If your child is struggling with handwriting, practice hanging from the monkey bars, it helps with hand eye and fine motor coordination.
  4. Looking for a fun rainy day activity? Make a fan fort  and read or make up silly stories while lounging inside with your children.
  5. If you always forget what size shoe your child wears – trace your kiddo’s feet, tuck the drawing inside your handbag, then pull it out when you are shopping without your child.
  6. Repurpose an old pool noodle and use it as a toddler door stopper, they are perfect for keeping little fingers safe from slamming doors!
  7. Keep a small bag of colored pencils, mini notepads, card games, and brain teasers in your handbag for long waits at the doctor’s office.
  8. Freeze a BPA free teether, then bring it out to soothe baby’s mouth during the teething stage.
  9. Use a shoe caddy on the back of the driver and passenger seat in the car to organize  games, books and snacks f0r long car rides.
  10. Bundle all of your weekly errands into one day.  This way you get all of your grocery shopping, bank deposits, doctor’s appointments and other errands taken care of in one trip, leaving you the rest of the week to spend with your family!

Thinking creativity when it comes to living a better life is essential – especially with little ones in tow! What are your favorite parenting tips or tricks?

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5 Tips for Eating During the First Trimester

Posted by on Aug 15, 2014 in Foodie Fun & Recipes, General, Toddler | Comments Off on 5 Tips for Eating During the First Trimester

fruits and veggies

Expectant moms get a lot of advice about what and how to eat during pregnancy, from the old “eating for two” saying to recommendations that you eat at least 9 servings of fruits and veggies a day, to people telling pregnant women to eat whatever they crave, whenever they want it, in however big a quantity they want. Most pregnant women experience a greater appetite during the blissful second and cumbersome third trimesters than the first, when the effect of raging hormones is at its most potent, so it is usually easier during the latter 2/3 of pregnancy to plan out meals and eat as healthy as possible. However, because a significant amount of pregnant women experience nausea during their first trimester, making it difficult to want to eat anything at all—let alone carefully planned meals and the fridge full of healthy groceries she’s purchased. Read on for a 5 tips on how and what to eat during your first trimester.

#1: Get Clear on Necessary Calories
As any doctor will tell you, pregnancy is not a time to diet. That said, the old “eating for two” saying, implying that pregnant women need and should consume twice the calories they did before pregnancy, just isn’t true. During the first trimester, it’s now recommended that you eat instead for 1.1, meaning that you should consume about 10% more calories than required to maintain your weight before pregnancy. This may come as welcome news to expectant moms who can’t keep meals down during their first trimester. If your appetite has been unaffected by pregnancy, shoot for filling that extra 10% with nutritious, whole foods like fruits, veggies, lean meats, or yogurt.

#2: Avoid Forbidden Foods
All pregnant women are advised to avoid a few foods, mostly because of the the potential for contracting food-borne illnesses, which can negatively impact mom and baby. Among these are unpasteurized foods, raw or undercooked meats, poultry, and eggs, alcohol, more than 200mg of caffeine per day, lunch meat, foods with nitrates (hot dogs and bacon), foods left out at room temperature for long periods (like buffet foods), and shellfish. Some doctors will add or remove foods from this list, but these are the generally recommended foods to avoid. Be sure to ask your doctor for a complete list and when in doubt, don’t eat it.

#3: When You’re Nauseous, Eat What You Crave
If you’re feeling so bad that all food turns you off and you literally can’t eat a meal without tossing it back up, start by following the advice to eat what you crave when you crave it. Many cases of morning sickness are worsened by blood sugar imbalances, which occur most drastically when mama isn’t eating. If there’s anything you’re able to get down—even a croissant or some saltines and ginger ale—start there. Little by little, you may be able to calm the nausea enough to eat something more nourishing or at least with a few more calories. The term “morning sickness” comes from the fact that most women experience their worst nausea of the day first thing in the morning, after spending 8-10 hours without eating (while asleep). If you’re getting hit with nausea first thing in the morning, fill a little container with almonds and keep it on your nightstand. When you wake up to pee (because you will!), eat a small handful of almonds and take a few sips of water. Doing so will help regulate your blood sugar and as a bonus will lower cortisol and help you sleep better.

#4: Shop for a Few Days at a Time
You’ve done your research, carefully planned the week’s meals, and filled your fridge with an expensive load of healthy, organic veggies, meats, and dairy products, only to find that the thought of eating any of them the next day completely repulses you. While it is generally recommended that pregnant women eat nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the truth is that many women are so turned off by food that they simply can’t. Instead of throwing out food and wasting money by buying lots of groceries you won’t end up eating, shop for a few days at a time. Better yet, if he’s willing, have your partner pick up a few groceries or hit a salad bar on the way home from work so that you don’t have to smell or look at your food before you eat it—many pregnant women feel fine preparing and cooking dinner but have been exposed to the sight and smell of it so much that by the time they sit down to eat they don’t want it any more!

#5: Give Yourself a Break
Even the best intentions to eat well can’t beat nasty, lingering, round the clock morning sickness. If you truly can’t eat at all, or are living off of energy bars, muffins, and Vitamin Water, know that you’re not alone! Talk with your nurse or doctor about possible medications to help you ease your nausea (never take medications during pregnancy without consulting a doctor). If all else fails, give yourself a break. Many women with crippling nausea who have been unable to eat a full calorie load during their first trimester have been able to make up for it during their second and third trimesters, put on the required weight, and deliver healthy babies. Just make sure that you check in with your health care provider if you’re truly unable to stomach anything.

What’s your favorite first trimester snack? What’s helped you make it through to the so-called free-and-easy second trimester?

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4 Tips for Homemade Baby Food Success

Posted by on Aug 8, 2014 in Foodie Fun & Recipes, General, Toddler | Comments Off on 4 Tips for Homemade Baby Food Success

Baby food

Making your own baby food offers so many benefits to both you and your baby. You’ll save money, nurture a love of home-cooked, healthy meals, and decide exactly what goes into your baby’s mouth. That said, the thought of embarking on the homemade baby food journey can be overwhelming for new moms with a million other things to do without having to set aside an afternoon to make purees. Read on for 4 tips to help ensure success.

#1 Invest in a Baby Food Blender
Buying a blender that is specifically made to process baby food (or purchasing a food processor to designate solely for this purpose) is important for a couple reasons. First, it’s recommended that you introduce new foods to baby every 4-7 days only to allow time for an allergic reaction to show up. If you’re using the same food blender for baby food as you are for smoothies, pestos, and refried beans, your baby could have an allergic reaction to a food whose leftover residue flew under the radar and made it into your baby’s puree. This is especially important for babies who have known food intolerance. Second, it’s no secret that making your own baby food can be time consuming. The beauty of baby food blenders is that most brands build in a steaming feature so that you can throw a cup of frozen veggies in, turn on the steam, and come back to puree them once they’re cooked. This eliminates the step of cooking veggies in the oven or on the stove-top and makes less dishes to wash. While you’re at it, buy a few sets of silicone baby food freezer molds or silicone ice cube trays for portioning and freezing.

#2 Buy Organic and Local
Babies who haven’t yet tried solids don’t yet have mental preferences for certain foods (though as you’ll learn their taste buds will still gravitate towards some foods and not others). The introductory, mashed-food phase is a great time to introduce healthy, organic, local vegetables to get your little one’s palate attuned to the healthy stuff. Additionally, babies’ little systems are so much more susceptible than adults’ to the endocrine-disrupters found in pesticides and GMO foods, making it essential to buy only the best ingredients for their food.

#3 Make Enough…But Not Too Much!
While it’s tempting to buy an extra freezer to fill with frozen purees just so you don’t have to spend more than a few weekends making homemade food, resist the urge to make enough at one time to feed a baby army. You don’t yet know what foods your baby will favor, which ones will cause an allergic reaction, and which just won’t turn out well. It’s best to make a medium-sized amount—say two to three baby food freezer trays worth—first to see how the foods you’ve chosen go over.

#4 Learn to Accept Rejection
So many new moms slave over elaborate purees, perfecting the texture, portion size, and food combinations only to be met with tears and tight lips when their creations are offered. Because babies don’t yet have ideas about what they “should” eat, they tend to follow their intuition—their gut response if you will!—when it comes to what they put in their mouth. This is a good thing and if nurtured will become a skill that will serve them in so many ways later in life. At least one of your homemade creations will be rejected; the best thing to do is try another recipe or food and move on. Now that you know this, you can relax and let the baby food fly!

Have you tried serving your baby homemade purees? What was her favorite? What’s your best baby food blooper?

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Get Moving! 3 Tips for Easier Mornings with Baby

Posted by on Aug 1, 2014 in Toddler | Comments Off on Get Moving! 3 Tips for Easier Mornings with Baby

Happy active family jumping

Mornings as a parent of a baby or toddler can be difficult to say the least – especially if you were up half the night with a poor sleeper. If you’re anything like me, you need a kick in the pants to shake off grouchiness and grogginess in the morning. On mornings where you find yourself succumbed to reading on the floor or playing quietly first thing, you might find yourself ending up irritable and exhausted all day. I have discovered that the best way to enjoy your mornings as parents (besides coffee!) is to get your blood pumping and bring some energy into the a.m. Here are my top 3 favorite ways to get moving in the morning with baby.

#1: Dance it Out!
This one is a favorite in our household. Turn up the baby jams playlist and dance around the kitchen and living room to dance music with great beats, top 40 hits, and a little Weird Al just to mix it up. Think exercise mix turned baby-friendly playlist—whatever music gets your blood pumping and puts a smile on your face will do the trick! Babies absolutely love being danced, and it’s a great way for you to bond with baby, have fun, and start the day off right.

#2: Take a Brisk Walk
Morning is such a wonderful time to be outdoors. Where we live, early mornings are the best time to hear the birds singing, see some bunnies (which every child loves), and take in the sights and scents of the flowers and gardens in our neighborhood. More enterprising parenting might find that early mornings, before the sun starts beating down, are a great time to take baby out of town a little bit for a short hike or hit up a nature trail nearby. A 15-30 minute, brisk walk around the neighborhood works well for me because it’s just enough time to get my heart rate up without tiring me out.  You will find that 15-30 minutes is usually about all the time your child wants to spend in the stroller first thing in the morning, too.

#3: Join a Class
Nothing gets mama moving like a lively music class or play gym session, especially if your little one still needs hands-on supervision or isn’t quite at a stage where she can follow physical directions well. If your child is very young, you might have to hold her during romps around the room during the horsey songs and free dance time, but that’s alright, it’s a great chance for you to get exercise and it will put you in a good mood trying out moves that will make your baby smile.

These are just a few of the many ways you can make mornings more enjoyable with your baby or toddler, especially after a rough night. What’s worked for your family? What would you like to try? Get creative! Your kid and your mood will thank you.

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