Apr 16, 2015

Homemade Popsicle Heaven How-To #Homemade #DIY

Last summer, when my toddler, then two, started wanting to take popsicles down two at a time, I quickly realized I needed to take control of the situation.  Within three days of his new obsession, his poop was green and the sugar overload from the store bought popsicles were making him a crazy person.

Hello, RED FLAG!

After reading the ingredients and finding there was NOTHING healthy in the cheap-o popsicles, I went to the store to find "healthy" popsicles.

It turns out, they don't exist.

Every single popsicle had at least one or two fillers/preservatives that I had no interest pumping into my kid. 

Knowing that cutting out popsicles was going to be impossible, I turned to the Internet and Googled, "Homemade Popsicles." I was blown away by how many recipes for healthy homemade popsicles were available. From two ingredient popsicles, to boozy "pop-tails", to chocolate covered goodness.

It took less than five minutes to realize, not only was I going to start making my own popsicles, I was going to enjoy doing it!


For those of you just entering into the world of homemade popsicles, do I have good news for you, most all of the best kid-friendly popsicles are made with ingredients you already have in your kitchen! If you have yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit and juice you have AWESOME popsicles waiting to be made.

Probably one of my favorite things about making my own popsicles is being able to use the fruit that is about to go "bad" and needs to be used. In the past, I would throw it in the yard for the animals. Now, I throw it in the blender with juice or yogurt! 

NEVER throw away another banana or berry again!

Presenting The True King Of Our House, Professor, The Cat. #NutrishZeroGrain #RachaelRay




My long time readers know of Professor, my GIANT long-haired Main Coon. He is so so so so awesome. I got him as a rescue when he was estimated to be about a year old. He was an Alley cat, and had a huge abscess behind his right ear from a fight. Still, he was magnificent! Professor had the most muscular legs I've ever seen on a cat, and this crazy mane of hair around his ears that made him look like a cross between a raccoon and tiger. 



I've had Professor for eleven years now. He's stuck with me through my rowdy twenties, a few trips to grandma's house while I lived in Australia, and then, through a new baby.  I was so worried while I was pregnant about how Ollie and the Professor would take to each other. I didn't know if Professor would get jealous and claw the new baby's eyes out, or if the new baby would be deathly allergic.  Thankfully, neither were the case... though I am sure once Ollie started walking, Professor thought about clawing the kid a few times.



Between the move and the toddler, over the last year I have had a horrible time with Professor's diet. I'm not sure if the move, coupled with him being nearly twelve and the crazy toddler, are stressing him out, or what! 

To combat his grumpiness, I make it a point to play with him daily, brush him weekly, and of course, cuddle with him as much as he will let me. He is, after all, a cat. EVERYTHING is on his terms!

So, when I was given the opportunity to review Rachael Ray's Nutrish ZERO Grain Cat Food, I jumped on it. For two reasons:


1. I LOVE Rachael Ray! Like, love love love love love love LOVE! I watch her show daily, and am constantly showing off my cooking skills and hacks I learned on her show, finishing with,"Rachael Ray taught it to me."  So, just by proxy of loving the crap out of her, I said YES PLEASE!
2. 
Rachael Ray is HUGE animal advocate. She took the smart road and opted for four legged children. So, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if Rachael Ray was putting her name on this food, it was going to be made with the healthiest safest ingredients for animals. Rachael Ray does't play around, folks!


#LOVEHER
Sure enough, when the bag of cat food arrived (Complete with toy!), after reading through the ingredients I knew I made the right choice, the ingredients are INCREDIBLE!
ZERO Grain Whitefish And Potato
    • Real whitefish is the #1 ingredient: A tasty and highly digestible protein that helps to maintain strong muscles and helps minimize litter box odors.
    • wholesome potatoes, peas and carrots, plus the vitamins, minerals and taurine that your cat needs for a complete and balanced diet.
    • Zero grains, glutens or fillers
    • Zero meat or poultry by-product meal
 
    • Zero artificial preservatives, colors or flavors
    • First zero grain dry cat formula from Rachael Ray Nutrish
Over the course of 10 days, I SLOWLY switched Professor from his current food to Rachael Ray's Nutrish Zero Grain Whitefish and Sweet Potato. 





HE LOVES IT!  I've been so worried about him eating well! What a relief to know he's eating nutritious food that he actually likes. 

We are on our second bag already, and I got to buy it with a $3 off coupon!  Download your's here.

For more Information about Rachael Ray's Nutrish ZERO Grain Pet Food, check it out on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!
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The 5 Stages Of A Toddler Tantrum

With my now three year old toddler constantly fighting for his independence, I have become well versed in toddler meltdowns. Over time, I have begun to see a pattern in the different stages of tantrums emerge; Stages that I've recently realized are very similar to the five stages of grief.


1. Denial- Toddler tantrums most always start with denial of some form. For me, the denial is him ignoring me, or staring at me with a look of shock and disbelief that I won't let him have his way, or just the good ol' go-to "NO!" flying out of his mouth while running away from me, my kid has denial down like a pro.
2. Anger- Once the denial stage is over, which usually happens when I finally catch him, ANGER sets in. This is the stage where a verbal assault is paired with launching toys across the room. When necessary, a dead drop to the ground is followed by flailing arms and legs to convey just how pissed off he is. 
3. Bargaining- I can always tell things will get interesting when we get to the bargaining stage. He can get very creative at this stage. He thinks if he gives me options, then he can gain control of the situation. It usually plays out like this: Toddler: Fine! If I do XYZ, can I have a popsicle?" Me: No! This exchange will go on for a few minutes, until he realizes that I'm not giving in... though, sometimes I do give in to win a clean plate of veggies or a much overdue nap.
4. Depression- Depression is the most annoying of the stages. Depression ushers in the fake tears and moments of feeling like the worst parent. My son can pull off real tears and a super sad cry when he focuses his evil energy on it. Luckily, this stage usually ends when I finally give him my best, REALLY? Are you kidding me right now?, look.
5. Acceptance- This stage is the most vindictive. Once my toddler realizes that he's not going to get his way, he fakes acceptance just to throw me off his trail for his next evil genius plan...the one he was concocting when he knew he was going to lose the battle. 

 Does your toddler follow the The 5 Stages Of Toddler Toddler Tantrums too?
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This Is Brain Damage Free Baby Proofing At It's Finest Hour... #Rimiclip #babyproofing

I don't know what it was about the kitchen cabinets, but the second Ollie learned to crawl, he became obsessed with them. It never failed that I would set him down in the living room, and immediately he'd crawl to the kitchen. I swear I fed that boy! But, I'm pretty sure, food wasn't what he was after. He wanted the pots and pans, and anything else he could yank out of the cabinets. Needless to say, I went right out and got the baby proof cabinet clips.

When I got home with clips, I was pissed when I saw I had to screw them in! Childproofing only lasts a short time, so why do I have to drill holes in my cabinets? #dumb

So, when Erik Hansen, a designer and inventor from San Diego, reached out about his newest invention, a screw free kitchen cabinet baby proofing lock, I said, IT'S ABOUT TIME! Prove it.  

Sure enough, it turns out, Rimiclip installs instantly on your cabinets, requires absolutely NO TOOLS OR SCREWS, and causes no permanent damage to your cabinet doors or frames! All you do is put the clip on the door, slide the arm into the slots on the back of the clip, and close the door…That’s it! No drills, no screwdrivers, no screws! No frustration!





Check this out...




So easy!  So here's the thing, you can't get Rimiclips right this second...

After nearly 2 years of development, hundreds of prototypes, multiple test families, and countless hours of 3D printing, Erik is ready to bring the Rimiclip to market! So, Erik is crowdfunding the Rimiclip on GoFundMe


By contributing to the campaign today, you will get your hands on Rimiclips before they hit the stores! All the manufacturing is done in the USA. 



To reserve your set of Rimiclips today, click here!

                                                   


*I was compensated for this post. All Opinions are mine.
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Apr 14, 2015

What It Really Means To Have A Toddler...

Today, I thought I would enlighten those of you who do not have a toddler yet, to what it means to have a toddler...




Having a toddler means...

...Sticky fingers on every surface of the house, including all doorknobs and windows.

....Having pee pants laying in the middle of the hallway with a streaking toddler runny far and fast away from them.

...Stepping on at least one toy a day... or four.

...Hearing mommy four million and one times a day. Usually grouped in lots of 50.

...The backseat of your car has more unknown things growing in it than a University laboratory.

...Finding two socks that match is impossible, since the last time they were worn, one was removed in the backyard, the other in the kitchen. 

...Getting out of your house on-time with the toddler and everything you need is harder than winning the lottery, and takes about as much luck.

...You know the words to your toddler's favorite books by heart, which is a good thing since a couple of the pages are destroyed. 

...You know why your mother didn't let you have sugar or caffeinated beverages until you were away at college. 

...You are TERRIFIED of silence.

...You can set-up a train track or tea party like a BOSS.

...Not one crayon in your house has the tip or label on it.

...Your mind is blown daily by the audacity of a three foot human. (I've considered buying a wheel barrel for my toddler's balls.)

...You do more laundry and dishes in a week than you did in six months pre-child. 

...You've been roundhouse kicked out of your own bed by a "sleeping" toddler.

...NOTHING grosses you out anymore. Nothing.

...You know every character on every Sprout TV show, and have spent hours pondering if Nina really does the sand art on the Goodnight show.

...You've learned the hard way not to cut a toddler's food without explicit instructions first. 

...Everyday you have to face the fact that you gave birth to a little evil genius that always manages to stay a step ahead of you, both literally and figuratively.  


Do you have a toddler? What does it mean to you?
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10 Ways To Save BIG On Kid's Things For Spring #BudgetFriendly #DIY

Happy Tuesday! We are a family that lives by our budget, and when I can squeeze it a little more, I do. Being that I'm a first time parent, I feel like each season we start over with buying new clothes and season appropriate toys and snacks, all can be big budget busters. So, for today's top 10 Tuesday, I'm sharing a few of my favorite ways to save big on Kid's things for spring... and summer too!



1. Make a list: I learned very early that kids do not need half as much stuff as I think they do. Before my baby was born, he had enough clothes to go a month without wearing a new outfit. Most of which, he never wore because he grew too fast! I quickly learned that I need to make a reasonable list of what I actually needed for my son, taking into account mid season growth spurts! I cannot recommend this enough, make a list of the number of shorts, shirts and shoes that you actually need to start the season, also include seasonal toys and future big buys like bicycles, ride on toys or backyard trampoline if your brave enough. Having a list early will allow you to do online shopping for better deals as well as put feelers out with your family to look for things on sale.

2. Shred those winter clothes: When it comes to outside playtime, kids get get dirty, so the last thing you want them to do is get grimy in their nice new clothes. Go through those winter clothes that have holes in the knees or tears in the sleeves, and cut them off  to make shorts and t-shirts. Then, deem those play clothes, so you won't cry when you can't get the grass or ketchup stains out.



3. Borrow Budget Busters: For those one off family portraits or special occasions where you normally end up buying an incredibly expensive outfit, your child will most likely only wear once, check out Etsy, eBay and your friend's closets before paying full price for anything.

4. Secondhand Shops: Places like Once Upon A Child and other children's secondhand shops are full of clothes and everything else you need to cover an entire winter or summer wardrobe, for under $20. (Shoes too! Did you know Crocs are machine washable?)

5. Facebook Finds: Every city has at least one Facebook mommy group that has clothes exchanges and lists where big family sales are taking place. To find them, on your Facebook page ask your friends if they know of any great mommy groups on Facebook. I bet you'll get plenty of replies!

6. Garage Sale Heaven: Garage sales are great place to pick up those big toys that people want to get rid of because they take too much space, but you desperately need because it's time for your toddler to start riding a bike. On Fridays, go to Craigslist, or wherever your city list garage sales, and find ones close by. Look for multi-family sales then grab a friend and some coffee and start shopping!



7. Discount Dealers: I love Groupon, ZuLily, Plum District, Living Social, Overstock, and other sites that can offer great things at a huge discount. All will be fighting for attention this season, so capitalize on it!  Most are even offering free shipping on the smallest orders.

8. Daily Deals: Did you know there are hundreds of websites that crawl the Internet daily for the best online daily deals? They do, and then list them in an easy to search format so you can quickly search for items on your must have list. My favorite is DealNews.com.

9. DIY For Family Health: When it comes to spring time treats and healthy fruit snacks, the budget can bust very quickly. I make our Popsicles, grow our fruit and cut out juice and soda, we are water drinkers during the warm months. If you have a sunny spot in your yard, patio or balcony, you have a place to grow your own fruit! Did you know strawberries grow well in a pot? Go to your local nursery and ask for help finding the right fruits to grow for where you live (Grower's Zone).









For a total of $20 I have strawberry plants, blueberries and grapes thriving in pots and around my yard. The best part is that I can use that fruit to make Popsicles! (For my Posicle DIY post, Click here.)



10. Price Shop From Home.  There are way too many apps and websites available today that make price comparison shopping from home a breeze. Gone are the days of driving from store to store or waiting for the Sunday Paper deals. Pull out the list you made of spring must haves and start going through each item online and list where the best deal is, for that item. Once you've gone through your list,  check the entire list for stores that overlap to save you a bundle on shipping and time. Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, there is no reason to pay full price anymore.

If you have any great tips, please leave a comment below, or join my Facebook discussion, here. 



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Apr 13, 2015

If You Have A Kid Obsessed With A SmartPhone Or Tablet, READ THIS!

My friends, I have found an awesome learning app for the whole family to enjoy TOGETHER!

**I promise this is not a sponsored post. I'm stoked about a type of app FTD showed me, so I'm listing a couple free ones at the bottom to not play favorites. And this is relevant for worldwide readers**

Ok, back to the show...

While laying in my zero gravity chair (LOVE IT!) in the backyard, after a particularly busy Sunday, I looked over at FTD and asked if he knew what star was so bright over my head. He said it had to be a planet because it was so bright, then guessed it to be Jupiter

I was floored. How cool to lay in my backyard and look up at a planet! Then he says, download a star gazing app and see which one it is. 

Huh? Star gazing app?

He told me to download this free app that all I had to do was point my phone at the star and the app would tell me what planet it was.

So I did it.

HOLYMOLYCRAP!

Sure enough, he was right, it was Jupiter! The app is so cool All I had to do was move my phone over a star and the app would tell me about it.

First, I clicked on Jupiter, then I moved my phone over to a star next to it, and learned about the constellation cancer! (Below are screen shots from my phone)



Naturally, I got giddy with excitement and started moving my phone all over the sky. The app showed me stars I couldn't even see! When I would move my phone over a constellation, the app would connect the stars to draw out the constellation then give a little info. SO SO SO SO COOL!! (More screen shots below)



There is even a feature that's called 'Augmented Reality' that lets me point the phone at the ground and see what the people on the other side of the earth see. (Believe it or not, for me it's Perth Australia. So I can actually say my husband is from the opposite side if the world. FYI: I found that out with another app.)

By the time we were all stared-out, we had walked all around the house to see all the night sky had to offer.  I can honestly say, I learned more with that app in twenty minutes than I've learned with any other app.

I cannot wait to show Ollie one night before bed. I have this wonderful dream of him, FTD and I laying in the backyard pointing a tablet at the sky. Then, picking one constellation or planet to read and learn more about at bedtime. What a freaking awesome way to spend a family night!

I've done a little research to find the best star gazing apps, and found the one that FTD pointed me to is one of the best free apps in the iTunes store for stargazing; SkyView Free, Android users try, Night Sky Lite. For paid I found StarWalk and SkyGuide and SkySafari. I'm sure there are tons of apps like those out there, free and paid, but those where the best across a few different review articles I read. (I used SkyView Free.)

I can't recommend enough that you download a stargazing app if it sounds even remotely interesting. Kids will no doubt LOVE it. I know I sure do, you know, being a big kid and all. You can use the app during the day, no visible stars needed!

Remember when I wrote about how FTD and I go out on the porch at night after Ollie is asleep, just to talk and reconnect at the end of the day, and quite a few of you commented about how you wanted to do that with your spouse too?  Well, download the app and invite them outside for a little informed stargazing! Think: Backyard date night with a blanket, a bottle of wine and the beautiful night sky...

Do you have a stargazing app you love? Have you ever stargazed with your child(ren)?
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Apr 10, 2015

#DIY 6ft Privacy Fence For Under $300

Being that we bought a 100 year old fixer upper house almost a year ago, you can imagine that our to-do list was out of control! We actually had three lists.


  • NOW!-- Must do within 6 months
  • Soon-- Complete in a year or two
  • Later... -- 5 year plan.


The three lists allowed us to set reasonable expectations for how long it was actually going to take to finish ALL of the things we wanted to do. (a.k.a the rest of our lives.) Still, the 'NOW!' list was a must do in the first 6 months, so we stayed on top of it.

NOW!

  1. Cover the asbestos floors
  2. Pull up the dog-destroyed piss carpet 
  3. Build a privacy fence. 

We managed to take care of one and two before moving in. The fence proved to be an issue...


Being that we live on a corner lot, having a privacy fence was HUGE for me. Unfortunately, the $2500 price tag was most definitely NOT in our budget. Plus, we had an existing metal chain-link fence that we had to deal with/get rid of. So, we got creative...

Or should I say, FTD got creative...

He came up with the idea to do a Bamboo fence. (Since we have an existing metal fence, we had to work with that.) I was apprehensive to say the least.  I couldn't see how in the hell a reed fence would give me the privacy I needed to feel safe in my backyard.  Then, FTD laid out the harsh truth; If I wanted a privacy fence, this was going to be my best, and only, option.

So I said, DO IT! 

As much as it pains me to admit that I was wrong, and that FTD was right, I have no choice but to do it in this situation. The Bamboo fence is fabulous!  It looks great, our neighbors love it, and in a way, we are doing our part for the planet by going with bamboo over wood.

We also save a shitload of money!

Here's how we did it:





It's super easy for me to say it's super easy to put up the fence, because I didn't do it, but I did pump FTD full of Beer and encouragement! but it's really just four simple steps.


  1. Get fence
  2. Get husband drunk
  3. Offer a zip tie every few feet
  4. Sit and enjoy.

See, EASY!

For a complete breakdown, keep reading!


1. Get the goods: Go to the hardware store and dig through the rolls of bamboo to find the thickest heaviest rolls.  (This is KEY!  Go through every single roll and find the thickest heaviest rolls you can find.  Some are nothing but very thin sticks held together with wire, AVOID THOSE! Look for packs with the majority of reeds being fat.  You will easily be able to tell hen you pick up one roll that weighs 5 pounds, then the next that weighs 20!

I got our rolls at Home Depot.  I went to two different once to find the right rolls. We needed 14. (Hint: Home Depot will match prices, I got them for $17 each last summer!)



2. Attach the rolls to your existing fence using zip ties every few feet. We used zip ties at the top and bottom of the existing fence. (Do front and back for added privacy.)




3. Sit back and enjoy!


Just in case you are wondering, After a year, the fence is still standing, and looks great. Sure it's faded a little, but it's still offering me the privacy I need at a price I can afford! 


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Disclaimer

My husband and I are clueless first time parents. We are far from childhood development professionals. We cannot and will not be held responsible if you take us seriously, especially because we don't even take ourselves seriously.



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