Thursday, May 10, 2012

Homemade Baby Puffs

We all love giving our baby those Gerber Puffs cereal. They are GREAT! They melt in your mouth and are easy for baby to feed himself. But who wants to spend so much on 2 oz of treats for their baby? and have you seen the list of ingredients? crazy, eh?

Well, I recently decided I was going to try to make my own. (i was out of cheerios, and wasn't going to go to the store to buy a bottle of the silly puffs...) so, there was born this idea!

I found a great recipe for baby cookies using Baby Cereal and a few other ingredients. That is when the brilliant idea popped into my head. My daughter has a play dough toy (i believe it is the Confetti Maker) that cuts the dough into little tiny lucky charms type shapes... PERFECT for little PUFFS! i wouldn't have to roll little tiny balls like i saw another poster doing... brilliant? i think so.

So, i whipped up the dough, put it through the silly little play dough toy (after thoroughly washing it, of course.), and popped them in the oven. :)

I'll tell you what, the baby isn't quite old enough to tell me her thoughts, but my 3 and 2 year old girls LOVED THEM! i then made them a batch just for them with a little bit of Nutella mixed in for added flavor. and so they would leave the baby's treats alone. lol

So, here's the recipe:

2 Tablespoons Oil
2 Egg Yolks
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Cup Baby Cereal
1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Mix all ingredients. add enough water to make it come together. add more cereal if you added too much water. Load the dough into the Play Dough Confetti maker and crank away. you don't need to worry about separating them all completely, after they bake, they separate easily just by shaking the pan. Bake at 325 for about 7-10 minutes. let cool for 5 minutes or so before putting them in an air tight container. Store in the fridge.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Expendable, I mean "Red Shirting"

Red Shirting is a tactic that has been sweeping the nation. For those of you who don't know what Red Shirting is, it is basically holding your child back in Kindergarten for the purpose of making them the oldest kid in their class throughout their school years. This practice comes with some advantages and some disadvantages. Among the advantages, your child will develop more leadership skills and a greater skill/size advantage on sports teams. However, I happen to think the advantages are out weighed by some of the disadvantages.

A lot of moms are practicing Red Shirting in order to give their kid the "edge" in sports. When your child is the oldest in his class, he will be the biggest and most skilled kid on the team, and probably on the opposing teams as well. This gets him in line for scholarships based on performance and more attention to improve his skills. The more skill someone has on a team, the harder they are pushed by the coaches, therefore gaining more skill... it makes sense to me. However, you stole a year from the beginning of their sports career, and therefore are going to cut it short in the end. They will never be the "youngest kid on the varsity team" or the "Youngest professional" sports team member. and they will have to retire from their age before all of their peers. I suppose this is just one year, what's the big deal.

That brings me to another side of this practice called "Red Shirting". Kids who are the oldest in their class often display more leadership skills and become more social in their early years, carrying over to their adult life. I can see how this is a good thing as well. However, being the oldest kid in the class, might also make it more difficult to interact with older children. You are so used to being the oldest, strongest, most looked up to... what happens when you get in the situation where you have to be the youngest? Your parents have instilled in you that you are a "Leader", but sometimes you have to follow other people. How confusing... Besides that, I was always one of the oldest kids in my class, and I always felt stupid because the younger kids were smarter than I was. I know that sounds silly, but if everything in school... life... is a competition (and don't tell me that you never competed with your peers over every little stupid thing) then what happens when the kid who is 2 years younger than you gets better grades than you. You feel so stupid because you are supposed to be older, bigger, stronger than he is. And if your parents have pulled this "Red Shirting" tactic with you, then obviously they are going to instill in you that you are better than that, they are the ones who are trying to make you better than everyone else, or they wouldn't have tried to hold you back so you could be the "oldest in the class". Am I right? You don't hold someone back who is perfectly capable of succeeding at their age level just for no reason. You do it to make them better than all their classmates, that automatically makes that child compete with every single other child in their class, at your insistence. Which I think is a pretty poor example for you to be setting for your very impressionable kid...

In my day (not too long ago), it was a mark of your intelligence if you were the youngest kid in your class. Your parents would let you Skip a grade because you were out performing your peers and a more mature curriculum would push your brain to work harder for the betterment of yourself, not for the detriment of the rest of your class... I have really strong feelings against this "Red Shirting". I think it is not doing the best you can for your child, it is comparing your child to everyone else. It is not pushing your child to be the best that he or she can be, it is pushing them to be "better than everyone else". And that is NOT something that I want my children to become. I do NOT want them to feel like they have to be better than everyone else in order to have worth. What happens when they are Not the best? Are you teaching your child to take the disappointments along with the successes?

I want my child to step into the situation, asses it for what it is, and do their best to accomplish their goal, no matter what disadvantage they might have. And if that means that they are the smallest, youngest child in class, so be it!

On the flip side of this problem is the strange fact that MOST of the parents who are practicing "Red Shirting" are the wealthy, well off parents. These families are statistically the LEAST at risk for dropping out of school or failing. Statistically the rich kids stay in school, end up in college, get tutoring if they need it, are generally looked up to by their peers, and participate in extracurricular activities. The poor kids are more at risk to drop out for a variety of reasons including getting a job, poor influence at home... etc. They may not have the resources to accommodate tutoring needs and might not have the time or resources to allow for extracurriculars. Besides that, poor families often have two working parents and therefore their kids attend daycare, which is VERY costly. They want to send their kids to school as early as possible to forgo further daycare bills and allow for both parents to maintain their full time jobs. Rich families often have one parent who stays at home, or can afford daycare costs and do not NEED to send their kids to school right away, allowing them to "Red Shirt" and keep their kid back a year, therefore giving them the advantage over the poor kids. This furthers the gap in education between the Upper class and the Lower class.

On a completely different note (for all of my sci-fi fans out there)... Who would want to be known as a "Red Shirt" anyway? Am I Right?

This Blog post has been sponsored by Studypoint. All opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not associated with my sponsor in any way. Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fabric Sunflower Barrettes!

I just made these cute fabric flower barrettes for my girls to wear to my sister's wedding. they turned out great. well, the glue is still drying. but they look awesome! They could either be used as barrettes in their hair or as broaches for their dresses.

I got the idea from this really cool flower made out of book pages:

 And... here they are!

You will need:
          Thin Cardboard (cereal box)
          Yellow Fabric
          Fabric Glue
          Small Fluffy Feathers (i used feather bracelets because they were cheaper than buying a whole boa)
          Distressing ink (brown)

And, here is what i did:

Step 1. Cut out some cardboard from a cereal box into a circle the diameter i wanted the center of the flower. I then traced the circle onto some yellow fabric, cut out the fabric and glued it to the cardboard circle.

Step 2. Cut your yellow fabric into 1" squares. it took me 15 for one flower and 13 for the other.

Step 3. Roll the fabric squares around your finger. at this point they look like bugles (those fun chip things you used to stick on your finger and pretend they were really long nails) use fabric glue to seal the overlapping edge together.

Step 4. put a dab of glue on the back pointed edge and adhere it to the fabric covered that only the point is touching the circle. Continue rolling and gluing until you've completely gone around the circumference of the circle.

Step 5. Cut your feather band into two strips slightly shorter than the diameter of the circle. Fill the center of your flower with a somewhat heavy layer of glue and place your feather pieces onto the center.

Step 6. While the glue is still damp, slide the bottom side of the clip in between the cardboard and the fabric. when it dries it will be stuck pretty hard.

Step 7. Use distressing ink on a sponge to shade the edges of the petals. (you might want to wait until it's dry, i didn't and it was difficult to keep the petals from pulling away from the flower).

I might use glitter nail polish to finish the edges. or just let them fray.

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Corn Chowder Recipe

The corn chowder I made for dinner tonight was so good I thought I would share the recipe! It actually came out of looking for a veggie to serve with fish (the only meat I had left in my freezer). It turned out to be more of the main dish but it was so worth it!

-2 potatoes
-1 can of sweet corn
-1 medium onion (diced)
-1/2 T minced garlic
-2 T butter
-flower (seasoned from my fish with garlic salt and seasoning salt)
-4 Cups Milk
Seasonings to taste
- Dried Parsley
-Salt and Pepper
-Cayanne Pepper

Dice, Boil and Drain potatoes. Meanwhile, melt butter in pan and cook onion until translucent add minced garlic partway through. Next, add 2T flower, and a bit of milk if needed, and cook until bubbly. Add the rest of the milk, bring to a boil and let boil for a minute or so. I decided it wasn't quite thick enough so I added a bit more flower mixed with water until it was the desired consistency. (I probably added a good 4 T total instead of just the 2). Next, add the cooked potatoes and corn. add seasonings and let simmer for a few minutes. Serve hot.

Mine was fairly spicy, but I enjoy spicy food. the sweetness in the corn really makes this a sweet and spicy dish! Very tasty! You could also add celery when cooking the onion. The recipe I deviated from also called for cooked bacon. I just didn't feel like cooking bacon (which is odd for me, but I'm pregnant, so you never know what I am or am not in the mood for).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Homemade Protein Bars

 Here is a great recipe I am trying for the first time:

8 Scoops Protein Powder
3 Cups Oats (plus extra if blending)
1 Package Instant Pudding

2 Cups Milk

If you want to make it healthier, use Sugar Free/Fat Free Pudding and Skim Milk. I didn't want to make them cost extra and since this was my first time trying them I thought I'd just use what I had on hand. I only had to buy the Protein Powder.

I put the oats into a blender because I wanted a smoother tasting bar instead of using whole oats. I added the rest of the dry ingredients to the blender to make a consistent mixture. Then added the milk. I thought the batter looked a bit runny, so I blended up some more oat flour and added that. Spray a 9X9 baking dish and spread the batter into the pan. Refrigerate until solid.

I've read a bunch of other recipes and am eager to try more :) This one seamed the most simple but I will definitely post more when I make them. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent

So... one of my latest experiments is using homemade Laundry Detergent. I recently FB messaged my sister being a self-proclaimed-spokesperson for the stuff, but after writing her and realizing that i pretty much just wrote a whole blog post in the stupid message... I am almost going to copy and paste it onto here for my fellow readers!

My favorite resource for Laundry Soap recipes is this:

However, I do not use the recipes on here. I'll tell you my recipe when i get there... But first, Let me tell you about my experience using the stuff first.

I started using Homemade Laundry Detergent about a month ago... I have coin laundry here in our apartment, so I tend to over-pack my washing machines... which is probably not the best for getting clothes clean, but what can I say, I'm a cheap skate. Anyway, I have noticed that my clothes are JUST AS CLEAN and good smelling as using store bought laundry soap. The recipe I use is powdered, I have always been a bit leery about powdered because I've had bad experiences with store bought powdered dish washer soap... but I tried a batch anyway, and HELLO works JUST FINE! it all dissolves in the hot water (i wash everything on hot)

The first thing I DID notice is that sure enough, there is not too much scent left on your clothes at all. No stinky dirty clothes smell (I have toddlers, everything ends up smelling like pee before it gets washed) but no flowery, lovely "Freshly Cleaned" scent either. Because no scent was added to the detergent. Yes, the bar soap I use is pretty potent, but that smells goes away in the wash.

I Read a blogger who used homemade laundry soap and also uses cloth diapers (GO CLOTH!) and has had great success with it. I have also had great success with mine. I haven't had to strip the diapers (cloth diaper lingo) because there is no lingering soap scum that builds up on the fabrics. It is all natural, has no extra dies or fillers or crap... It's better for your skin than the "Free and Clear" detergents out there. I'd go so far as to say, just as good as, or better than, Dreft! So, good for babies, and for those allergic to other detergents. (pansies) jk.

So, here's where we get to MY recipe. (this is NOT an exact science, people, as you can see by the MANY recipes in that aforementioned website) Some recipes work better for some people because of their washers, or hard water, soft water, chlorine in their water... etc... find what works for you. I haven't done a whole lot of experimenting with mine, but I figured I'd start out easy and change it if necessary. (hasn't been necessary so far)

I use 1 bar of Fels Naptha Laundry Soap, 1 Cup each of Borax and Washing Soda. (All of those ingredients I found at Walmart in the laundry isle. I did NOT find them in Pick-n-save.) I am going to also try adding 1 cup of Baking Soda in my next batch. I got a $1 cheese grater for the bar soap. The blog I read said to use a food processor to further grind up the bar soap, but I don't want to put it in my food processor that I use for food, and I am to cheep to go out and buy one just for this. I have not had a problem with the flakes melting in the hot water. Maybe if you use a colder cycle you might... (but if you use cold water, you might want to try a liquid recipe instead). I like the powdered recipe because I don't want to have to "Cook" my detergent. It is more condensed in volume and uses less per wash in powdered form (because it's not watered down). I also don't want to have to carry a large container of liquid soap down 2 flights of stairs along with my loads of laundry. WHICH is why I only do them in single batches, instead of the larger batches in some of the recipes. I use 3 tbsp per load instead of 2. Mostly because I tend to over-load my washers because of using coin laundry. (yes, again, I'm cheep)

So, here's the break down. First off, I found on Amazon a bottle of Tide Free and Gentile HE for $10 (on sale from $15). This bottle of liquid detergent will do you about 32 loads. That ends up being about $.32 a load.

Borax $12 (9.5 cups)
Washing Soda $9 (7 cups)
Baking Soda $3 (8 cups)
Fels Naptha $.86 (1 bar)

If I were doing a big batch, I'd probably throw out my 1C:1C ratio and just do a box of each Borax and Washing Soda and 8 bars of soap. Lets make it easier on ourselves, lol. (but again, I do small batches because I don't want to carry a large batch down the stairs every time I do laundry. That, and I don't want to have to grate 8 bars of soap all at once... painful.)

So, the total cost for 1 large batch of laundry soap would equal about $30. And that would yield you about 36 cups of soap at 3 tbsp each load (you could use 2 tbsp, but again, I overload my washes). This works out to about 192 loads. That's about $.15 per load. that's about HALF the price of regular detergent!

The other thing I have done is added a little bit of Tea Tree oil to the soap for scent. But it takes quite a bit for the scent to linger after the wash. So, to save my oil, I think I'm going to put some drops onto a piece of fabric and throw that in as a "Dryer Sheet". That way the oil won't get washed out and will still leave its scent on the clothes. You could use any oil you already had, or go out and buy some. Lavender might be nice or something. I'm sure there are aromatherapy scent blends out here you could use. But this step is completely unnecessary. It is only for leaving your clothes with a SCENT. the clothes are clean either way.

I have also read about Scent Pouches like pot-pori for your clothes that you toss into the dryer as well. But I already have the oil and don't want to have to add another thing to my list.

So... There ya go!

Any questions, comments or concerns?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chocolate Fix in a mug!

So, i needed a chocolate fix.

I came across this recipe online for a brownie in a mug:

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
dash of salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1/3 teaspoon vanilla
small handful of chocolate chips (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in a mug (or soup bowl) and microwave on high for 1-1 1/2 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy right out of the mug.

Definitely a favorite of mine during this pregnancy. Who wants to wait 20 minutes for your oven to heat up, then wait 30 minutes for your brownies to bake. and then enjoy one or two pieces and have the rest sit on top of the stove waiting to be eaten...? NO ONE!

I win!