Monthly Archives: May 2012

All Elmo, All the Time

Olivia can’t get enough Elmo. When she was home sick one day, I let her watch part of an episode of Sesame Street, and that was all she wrote. She now climbs onto the couch with the Apple TV remote (she knows I pulled Sesame Street up on Netflix—she’s a smart little cookie!) and says “Elmo?” I don’t get the attraction, but apparently this is a pretty common obsession for the preschool set, and I suppose there are worse things for her to fixate on. So I’ve rounded up some of our favorite Elmo things to share. Enjoy!

Bonus: Zulily is running a sale right now (through Friday) on Elmo apparel for boys and girls. There’s some seriously cute stuff on there!

Elmo Alphabet Lunch Box, $13.29

Elmo Girls Tee, Old Navy, $12.94

 

Crest Elmo and Friends Toothbrush, $3.68

Elmo Take Along Buddy, Sesame Street $15

Elmo Fresh Food Feeder, Toys R Us $5.59

Elmo's ABC Book, Walmart $2.91

Elmo Rashguard, Old Navy $12


Cutoffs That Won’t Make You Feel Like a Hooker

I love cutoff jean shorts for a casual, beachy summertime look, but my oh my are they hard to pull off without looking hoochie-fied (or 16 years old). I’m only 5’2″, so shorts tend to run long on me, making my legs look stubby. The alternative, however, is usually booty shorts that are only appropriate if you haven’t hit puberty or are dancing in a rap video.

So I was thrilled to find Paige Denim’s Silverlake cutoff shorts. They’re sexy in an “I just woke up and threw these on because I don’t try too hard” kind of way, but they’re not so short that I feel inappropriate. They are currently on sale for $83.40 (regularly $139). That’s a lot of money for a very little bit of fabric. So it’s a good thing I scored mine at Marshall’s for $39.99! And even that was pricey for shorts in my book. But with a fit like this. . . so worth it!


First Trip to the Dentist

Let me clarify that title—it’s the first trip to the dentist for my daughter. We made an appointment for her with a recommended pediatric dentist for next week. I’m not going to lie—I have some serious anxiety about the whole thing. I know how difficult she can be just brushing her teeth; I can only imagine the chaos that will ensue in a dentist’s office.

Since I was just at my own dentist this week for my six-month cleaning, I took the opportunity to ask them for any advice for making the trip as painless as possible for Olivia (and for me!). Everyone asked the same thing: have you been reading to her about the dentist? Ummmm, no. Ooops.

So I set out to find some good, age-appropriate books about going to the dentist to help ease her into the whole idea. Here are some of the best ones I’ve found. If you know of any other good dentist books or have any tips for how to get through our first dentist appointment, let’s hear them!

 


Semi-Homemade Lemon Blueberry Cake

I was in the mood for lemon cake this weekend, so I decided to bake one. I had some yellow cake mix in the pantry, along with cream cheese frosting, so I decided to “enhance” them for some lemony deliciousness. If you have a favorite yellow cake or cream cheese frosting recipe, by all means use them. But I had the box stuff and a lot to do, so here we go!

Semi-Homemade Lemon Blueberry Cake

1 box of yellow cake mix

3 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 can of cream cheese frosting

2 lemons

1 jar lemon curd

Fresh blueberries

 

Preheat oven to 350° (325° if you’re using dark, nonstick pans). Grease two 8-inch cake pans.

Zest both lemons and squeeze the juice; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs, oil, and buttermilk. Beat using an electric mixer until the batter is smooth. Add half of the lemon zest and half of the lemon juice and mix another 30 seconds or so. Split the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and allow them to cool on wire racks.

Mix the remaining lemon juice and zest into the cream cheese frosting and chill in the refrigerator while the cakes cool. When the cakes are completely cooled, use a large bread knife to shave off the top of one of the cakes to create a flat surface. Spread the lemon curd on the flat cake surface and cover with fresh blueberries. Top the filling with the other cake and frost with the lemon cream cheese frosting.

 


How to Get Rid of Corner Protectors (No Drywall Required!)

When we bought our house four years ago, every single corner on the first floor had a faux wood corner protector. This is the only picture I could find that shows them. It’s not great, but you get the gist.

We didn’t think it would be an issue to take them off—until we discovered that there was nothing but metal underneath. What we thought would be a simple touch-up paint job turned into a somewhat pricey drywall project. We took care of half of the corners when we knocked out one of the walls, but we still had two entryways that had them. We painted them to match the wall color, which helped, but we still couldn’t wait to get rid of them.

Fast forward to this spring, and we finally got around to doing something about the ugly corner protectors. We didn’t feel like dealing with everything that a drywall project entails, so my oh-so-smart husband got creative. Using three 1×6 planks of finished-grade wood and some decorative molding, he built a new entryway that completely covered the nasty metal corners that were left after we yanked off the corner protectors.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and relatively cheap way to get rid of corner protectors, or you just want to dress up your entryway, this little DIY project can be done in a weekend. Simply measure and cut the planks so that they essentially box in the existing entryway. Cover the facade with the molding (if you’ve never hung molding before, you’ll need a mitre saw to get the angles right). Use wood filler and caulking to fill in any nail holes and gaps, and then paint with a couple coats of gloss paint. Voilà! A brand new entryway with all the character of original architecture!

 


Sausage, Veggie, and Egg “Muffins”

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a try this past weekend, with a few tweaks to the original recipe. They were really good! We froze the rest on a cookie sheet and then stored them in a freezer bag. Each morning, we just pop one in the microwave for 45 seconds and then slap it on an English muffin. Breakfast is served! These are especially great if anyone in your family is trying to eat low carb. They are delicious on their own and equally yummy on a biscuit or English muffin. I used onion, broccoli and mushrooms in mine, but I think these would be good with any veggies you have on hand.

Sausage, Veggie, and Egg “Muffins”
Adapted from Six in the Suburbs
Yields 12 muffins

1 lb maple breakfast sausage

1 cup frozen chopped broccoli, cooked

1 small can of sliced mushrooms (use fresh if you have them, I just didn’t)

1/2 cup diced onion

8 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 tsp baking powder

Salt & Pepper, to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375°. Brown the sausage in a saucepan over medium heat. When it is almost done, add the onion and cook another three minutes. Remove the sausage from heat and add the broccoli and mushrooms.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Spray each muffin cup with cooking spray, and then fill each cup evenly with the sausage and veggie mixture. Ladle the egg mixture over the sausage and bake for 15-20 minutes.

 


Chocolate Cake in a Mug

I go through phases where I absolutely crave chocolate. I cannot get enough, and it doesn’t matter in what form it comes as long as it ends up in my tummy. These phases generally last three to five days every month, so I’m sure you ladies can relate. :) I was smack dab in the middle of one of these “phases” the other day and, having polished off the rest of the rocky road ice cream two days prior, I was experiencing chocolate withdrawal.

As I was puttering around on Pinterest, I came across a pin about coffee cake in a mug. Someone commented on the pin, “First chocolate cake in a mug and now this- what are you doing to me?!” I immediately started Googling chocolate cake in a mug to see if I had the necessary ingredients, and within five minutes, I was at my kitchen counter preparing two mugs of cake (no, they weren’t both for me—the hubby wanted to try it too!).

This cake isn’t going to win any culinary awards or rock your socks off, but in a pinch (or a PMS-induced craving), it works just fine! Next time, I think I’ll add chocolate chips to the batter or top the cake with ice cream or Cool Whip, since it was a bit dry. Also, the cake is pretty dense, so one mug of cake would have been plenty for Ryan and I to split.

 

Instant Chocolate Cake
Recipe ©2011 Food Network Magazine, LLC  

Whisk 1/4 cup flour, 5 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons vegetable oiland a dash of vanilla extract and salt in a large mug until smooth. Microwave until puffed, about 2 minutes.


Preparing for Delivery Day: Quick Tips and Helpful Hints

May is Pregnancy Awareness Month, so today’s post from guest blogger, Katie Moore, is in honor of all mamas-to-be. Katie’s blog,  Moore From Katie, covers all things mama and baby, so be sure to check it out!

Bringing a new life into the world takes a lot more planning than simply prepping the nursery.  Healthcare, both pre- and post-delivery, should be the main focus of every pregnancy. There are several standard steps you can follow to help make sure you are ready for delivery day.

Find the right doctor

It may be necessary for you to interview several doctors before finding one that has a similar birthing philosophy.  Some doctors offer scheduled cesarean procedures while others opt for natural childbirth whenever possible.  Be sure to research patient opinions and board certifications on any doctor up for consideration.

Decide where to have the baby

Unless you live in a rural area, there are probably several different options for birthing facilities near you.  There may be a birthing center that serves your local area, a hospital with a maternity ward, or even a midwife who specializes in home births.  It’s important to plan ahead with your doctor or midwife to determine the location for your delivery.  Not every doctor/midwife has privileges at every hospital.  Keep discussions open about the options in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises when the day comes.

Write up a birth plan

Before ever stepping foot into a birthing center or hospital, it’s a great idea for you to have a birth plan drawn up that details your preferences for labor and delivery.  Generally less is more, so the plan should not be too complex but should provide a general outline for how you want your labor and delivery to be handled.

Pack a bag

Putting together an overnight bag for the hospital stay is another must.  Make sure to pack a at least one change of clothes for yourself, clothing for your baby, a toothbrush, breastfeeding paraphernalia (if you plan to nurse), slippers and entertainment in the form of a book, music or movie.  For a more comprehensive packing checklist, click here.

After the birth

There are some other considerations to take into account immediately after the baby is born.  For example, is the baby going to be vaccinated?  Will the baby be fed with breast milk or formula?  Will you be collecting the baby’s cord blood for cord blood banking?  Knowing the answers to these questions in advance can save you a lot of stress.  Vaccinations are universally performed in the hospital, often within hours of birth.  If the hospital is not notified in advance that a baby should not be vaccinated, it is likely the infant will be vaccinated almost immediately.  Of course, no mother can know in advance whether breast-feeding will be successful, but you can decide whether or not you are going to try.  If you decide to bank your baby’s cord blood for future medical treatments, it should be collected soon after delivery, so the hospital will need to be aware of your plans in advance. Forward thinking and early planning can help make delivery a breeze and allow you to spend the first few hours after birth blissfully cuddling your new baby rather than making stressful but important decisions.

Katie Moore is a blogger who discusses maternity, motherhood, prenatal health, childbirth and other topics within this niche.  Visit her blog,Moore From Katie, or follow her on Twitter @moorekm26.


Kellan’s Dr. Seuss Birthday Party!

A Dr. Seuss theme is great for birthday parties and baby showers because it’s gender neutral, colorful, and provides tons of inspiration and creativity for food, drinks, and decor! Kellan celebrated his first birthday in true Seuss fashion, right down to his birthday outfit. All photos are courtesy of Kellan’s proud mama and party planner, Sarah.

The plates, napkins, hats, etc. were ordered from Birthday Express. . .

 . . .as was the personalized banner!

For snacks, Sarah got creative, making Cat Hats (strawberry and marshmallow skewers), Green Eggs and Ham, Seussville Sticks (besprinkled chocolate dipped pretzels), Yertle’s Turtle Shells (chocolate dipped Pringles), One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (Goldfish crackers), and Horton’s Spirals. The water bottle labels were ordered from Etsy.

The birthday boy sported a Dr. Seuss onesie from Etsy shop Antsy Pants and enjoyed a Cat in the Hat smash cake made by mom.

Sarah used blue cotton candy atop her Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes, and a friend made the adorable birthday cake.

Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing Kellan’s adorable birthday party!


New All-Natural Food Line + Giveaway = Happy Thursday!

I am always on the lookout for healthy, kid-friendly and affordable food for my family. So when the folks at Wholesome Goodness asked if I’d like to try out their new line of all-natural foods at Walmart, I figured I’d give it a try. I liked their belief that “nutritious foods are beneficial only if they are accessible and affordable.”

I was expecting a few small samples of this, a taste of that, so I was rather shocked to have a large box delivered to my office. These people mean business. No sample sizes here; these were full sized products. I immediately tore into the box and started sampling (and sharing with anyone who stopped by my desk and wanted a snack); unfortunately, this means that, by the time I got around to taking a picture, I’d already polished off several of the items in the box (oops!). Still, it’s an impressive spread, right?

The samples came with a list of 126 banned ingredients, including anything artificial, and none of their foods contain trans fats, high fructose corn syrup or other processed ingredients. The real question was, what does all that naturalness really taste like?

Honestly, everything was pretty darn delicious! The Omega Apple Cinnamon Granola Bars were a clear favorite—packed with yummy apple-ness and the perfect toddler snack size. I did a quick comparison to Quaker Chewy Granola Bars and found that the Wholesome Goodness bars have a lot more fiber and protein than the Quaker bars and a whole lot less stuff I can’t pronounce.

The best part was that it lived up to the affordability hype. I compared the prices at Safeway, and most of the Wholesome Goodness items were at or below the cost of their comparable Safeway generic item. Not bad.

I enjoyed the food so much, that I asked Wholesome Goodness if they would be willing to throw in another box of food for one of my lucky readers, and they were all too happy to oblige. Enter below to win $40 worth of free, all-natural food from Wholesome Goodness! One lucky person will win everything I received in my sample box, including granola bars, salsa, chips, cereal, oatmeal, trail mix, and more!

The Wholesome Goodness line is currently available in 226 Walmart stores throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and parts of West Virginia. For those in the DC area, you can find Wholesome Goodness at the following Walmart stores:

6303 Richmond Hwy., Alexandria, VA 22306
3549 Russett Grn., Laurel, MD 20724
13059 Fair Lakes Parkway., Fairfax, VA 22033
45415 Dulles Crossing Plz., Sterling, VA 20166
17041 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Dumfries, VA 22026
9401 Liberia Ave., Manassas, VA 20110
8386 Sudley Rd., Manassas, VA 20109

 Good luck!

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