Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent Conspiracy Christmas...

To start off I have decided I am NOT a blogger... I have tried and failed at writing a blog post at least once a week so now it will just be a when-I-have-time-to-type-something-up-Blog!

Now that that's out of the way on to the actual blog post:

Advent Conspiracy is an awesome thing my church participates in and it basically revolves around spending less and giving more... more of your time, more of yourself, more money to charities, etc.

Find out more here:

Keeping in this theme I decided not to  buy a bunch of decorations for Christmas not only to save money, but also because we won't be in our actual home for Christmas. We might have a box of decorations in my Father-in-law's garage, but he is in Cali and we are in Boston and I still wanted a little decorations put up.

(Also, these pictures are not the best quality and taken on my phone... but, like I said, I am NOT a blogger haha)

Below is how we are displaying our cards this year. I love it because it is a dollar store garland, clothespins from the dollar store, and of course Christmas cards from our friends and family... 
Total Cost: Less than $2

This is our Christmas Tree... made from our traced hands and lights and ornaments simply taped. This was a fun spur-of-the-moment project that we made on Thanksgiving day. Traced hands were going to be turkeys... all well I like this better.
Total Cost: $0 had the paper and for some reason one strand of lights

The stockings were free from my Kmart Decorate it Forward challenge. The ornament I had made from and I think I paid around $3.
Total Cost: $3

This is a banner I made from some printed letters cut up and laminated.
Total Cost: $0

Lillian and I had fun... ok, I had fun... making these snowflakes last week and Lillian helped me tape them to the window.
Total Cost: $0

This is a snowflake I made using clothespins and a hot glue gun. SOOO easy and I saw people selling these for $5... I will make one for you for $1! 
Total Cost: Less than $1

Finally, on our table is this: a glass vase filled with sparkly ornaments. (Picture not taken on our table because it is awesomely messy.)
Total Cost: $2 

...and finally this is a picture of Lillian and the husband helping me put the final touches on our Christmas presents we gave to some friends. I made organic coconut butter, put them in cute little mason jars, added a tag, chocolate square, and topped it all off with a bow. I wanted to make something healthy, yummy, not too expensive, and put it all in something reusable.
Total Cost: Around $25 for 10! 

I think we did pretty good and I am already thinking of what to do for next year :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankful Thursday (on a Saturday)

I posted on FB, but was too lazy I mean tired to write up a post on the blog... so now it will be posted!

This is a picture of my two daughters and myself at Together in Motion, an indoor play place. One of the workers offered to take a picture of us and I almost said "No thanks" and then decided that one day I might want some pictures with me in them :)

So, back to what I am thankful for...

I am SO thankful for the ability to take my daughter to this indoor play place. This space is not amazing (actually kinda smells like feet), but it is great because living in a place that is only fit for polar bears in the winter we are forced to play inside. 

Oh, and thanks to my amazing Husband for going to work daily so we can do these fun things!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CSA Say What??

If you asked me what a CSA was 1 year ago I would have come up with some weird answer like "country sales advertising" or something similarly incorrect. Now I officially subscribe to not 1, but TWO CSAs. The first one is just a two month commitment that I was a little overwhelmed by and so asked a friend to split with me and am glad I did, because this is just my half:

Some of these things I had no idea what to do with and am SOOO thankful for the internet and veggie lovers everywhere who post recipes!

The first night I took everything home and stood back and decided what I wanted to tackle first. Turns out brussel sprouts were my husbands favorite veggie as a kid (who knew??) and I kinda wanted to get rid of the big stalk they were attached to (another who knew moment). 

I made some roasted brussel sprouts by tossing them in organic olive oil with garlic powder and a little salt and baking at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes.

I had some shredded chicken in the fridge and decided to make a little chicken salad to go with the brussel sprouts so I mixed the chicken with some walnuts, homemade mayo, and a "cranberry sauce." 

I made the cranberry sauce by throwing some of the fresh organic cranberries in a small pot with a little water and raw organic honey and let it cook for a few minutes and it came out quite yummy!

(picture of my daughter's plate)

Sunday rolls around and I took a little break and let my husband take a crack at making something. He made kohlrabi fries. What's kohlrabi? A simple answer is a German turnip... thanks again internet!
Kohlrabi Fries:
Peel the kohlrabi and then cut into strips to look like fries. Next dip into flour (can add seasonings to flour) and fry in a pan with grape seed oil. 

Bok Choy:
To go along with the fries I made a simple bok choy stir fry with chicken and bok choy and low sodium soy sauce. 

This was our dinner. Not the best picture as we had already eaten most of our food and I ate the pretty fries first :)

Cranberry Juice:
I still had about 4 3/4 pounds of organic cranberries so I made some cranberry juice.
Place 2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries in a pot with about 6 cups water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Once berries have "popped" remove from heat and strain through a strainer lined with a paper towel. Do not squish the berries, but simply let them soak through on their own. 
Take the juice and place it bag in the pot with 1/2 cup sugar (I used coconut sugar since it is all I had, but it made the taste a little off from traditional cranberry juice) and simmer another 5 minutes. 

Monday Soup Day. 
Monday was a gorgeous day in Boston and after going out to brunch, playing in the park, dealing with some house issues, and eating lunch my baby girl decided to take a 3 hour nap. While she was sleeping my amazing husband took our toddler to the park again to take advantage of the weather and I made some soup.

Squash and Sun Dried Tomato Soup:
First, I carmalized 2 onions in about 3 tablespoons of butter. Next, I took 2 butternut squash and cooked them in the oven (cut in half and faced down on a pan with water for about an hour with the oven at 350). Blended a cup of organic sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (bought from Tropical Traditions) in my food processor and stirred it into my onion/butter mix. I then added 4 cups of chicken broth and let simmer for 30 minutes. Once thoroughly cooked I blended it and let cool to put into freezer bags for later consumption. 
Recipe adapted from The Healthy Home Economist

My toddler tried it and said, "It's Amazing!"

Coconut Curry Squash Soup:
The soup on the left is made with cooked blended acorn squash, a can of organic coconut milk, 3 tablesppons of curry powder, and 4 cups of chicken stock... yummy and simple. When we eat this I will add shredded chicken. 

Today, I have in my crock pot a
Carrot Parsnip Soup:
I cooked a chopped onion and a stick of butter together and threw it into the crock and then added: 
2 cups chicken stock
6 small parsnips peeled and cut
7 medium sized carrots cut
3 chopped garlic cloves 

I put my crock pot on high and it is still cooking 3 hours later. I think it will take about 6 hours all together and then I will blend the soup and freeze.

Not bad huh? In my fridge I still have: turnips, potatoes, purple cabbage, sweet potatoes, kale, 2 small onions, garlic, 
apples, leeks, and one or two other things that I am too tired to get up and go look at right now... 

What should I make next??

Friday, November 9, 2012

CVS Shopping and Saving

I have another blog that I used to keep track of all my amazing couponing trips and deals, but decided to just post on this blog now as only maybe 20% of the food we eat is processed or packaged.

What do I do when I am running a little low on toilet paper?
 (and by low I mean 6 rolls left... I have never run out before)

I start by looking up this week and next week's ad for CVS and see what I can get for cheap. I had $10 ECB (extra care bucks) from two weeks ago that I received from purchasing 4 packs of pampers for baby girl and was very happy with this purchase:

1- Cottonelle 18 big rolls $8.99 
1- John Frieda travel size conditioner $1.49
1- John Frieda shampoo $1.49
3- Hallmark Cards $2.00/each

25% off my total (non-sale items) purchase coupon -$2.25
Used $10 ECB

OOP: $6.08
SAVED: $16.55

PLUS I walked out with $2 ECB for purchasing Cottonelle, $3 ECB for purchasing 3 Hallmark Cards, AND $5 ECB for purchasing 2 John Frieda products!

Not bad :)


How can you score a great deal without using coupons? 

Buy 2 travel size John Frieda products (prices vary) $1.49/each
Buy 3 Hallmark cards $2/each

Pay $8.98 before tax
Get back $8 Extra Care Bucks to use on a future purchase! 

John Frieda deal may not work everywhere and the Hallmark deal could be even better if your store includes the $0.99 cards in the deal!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Sooo many things to be thankful for, but this week is dedicated to my best friend...

My husband!

After almost 8 years of marriage I am still so happy I made the decision to spend the rest of my life with this man.

He is...
An amazing father
Able to talk to anyone
A problem solver
Able to deal with me (haha)
A great listener
A friend
A confidant
Amazingly Smart

And on and on and on!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kmart Decorate it Forward

Thanks to Smiley360 I was once again able to participate in an awesome mission.

This time I was given a FREE $15 Kmart gift card and Holiday decorating shopping list and told to go shopping.Wait, let me think about that one for a second... Second over! Yes, Please!

Even better I went last Sunday with my 10% off coupon and was ready to shop!

The downside to the coupon is that it did not include sale items and of course ALL the Christmas items were on sale. Still got a good deal and glad I will be able to add a little Christmas cheer to my little apartment before we travel back to Los Angeles for Christmas.

It was nice to walk into Kmart and see a huge section dedicated just to all things Christmas including lights, garlands, trees, stockings, etc.

Another aspect of the mission was to sign up for ShopYourWay Rewards if I wasn't already a member. I found out I was already a member since this reward program includes Sears, Land's End, AND Kmart. Not bad to get rewards for shopping at 3 different stores.

Not sure what ShopYourWay is? Read this simple explanation found on

Earning Points is Easy
  • At checkout, flash your Member Number - Voila! Points earned for every purchase.
  • If you forgot your Member Number, simply give the associate your phone number or email address.
Redeeming Points is Even Easier.
And More Fun!
  • At checkout, have the associate tell you your Points balance. No number handy? Use your phone number or email address.
  • Enter your Member PIN in the register keypad when prompted.
  • Let the associate know how many points you want to use for your purchase. Remember, every 1,000 Points = $1.

Thanks Again to Smiley360 for giving me a FREE $15 gift card to start my Christmas Decorating!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Universal Baby Bottle and Sippy Cup Organizer Review

I was recently given the opportunity to review PRK Products Inc Universal Baby Bottle and Sippy Cup Organizer thanks to Tried and Truth. Interested in joining Tried and Truth? They are seeking moms and dads who like to give their feedback on products so just go HERE to see if you qualify.

Check out my review I posted at Tried and True:

Universal Baby Bottle and Sippy Cup Organizer 

My review includes a short video which goes into more detail about the product and how it works for our family!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricanes and Homemade Food

(Little girls watching the storm)

It's raining outside. And really windy. Yup, I am writing this in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy reaching us sometime tonight. We are as prepared as we can be in an apartment and are very thankful we still have power as a lot of people in MA are going without right now. 

Yesterday, I decided to try and make some food for the week (totally praying and hoping that our power wouldn't go out so all the food I prepared and froze would keep). 

I made ketchup, mayo, chicken nuggets, an asparagus quinoa dish, an organic chicken slow cooked in my crock pot, and finally chicken stock from the organic chicken "parts". 

~Lacto-Fermented Ketchup from the Healthy Home Economist

~REAL Mayo from the Healthy Home Economist (although next time I make it I will not be using olive oil as the flavor was too strong)

~Grain-Free Chicken Nuggets from HolisticKid (these turned out amazing and I was able to use my homemade almond flour!)

~Asparagus Quinoa Dish (I just made up from a recipe I saw and now don't remember where I saw it): Asparagus, quinoa, sesame seeds, chicken, and soy sauce

Also, today I decided to bake in case our power went out I wanted to ensure my expensive free-range eggs were put to good use so I made:

~ Grain Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (minus the poppy seeds since I didn't have any and they still came out really good) from the Healthy Home Economist

About ready to go to bed in the same room as my little girls (for my peace-of-mind not for them haha) and see what tomorrow brings!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Favorite Quote Friday

My little girl has the most amazing imagination and personality and I have started trying to keep track of all the things that come out of her mouth.

I am teaching her the sounds of the letters and today we had a conversation that went like this:

"D sounds like 'duh' 'duh' 'duh'...?" I waited to see what she would say.

"Daddy!" -Lillian

"You are right! Good Job! How about A? Ah ah  ...?"-Me

"Apple!"- Lillian

"Woohoo! Right again little girl! What about C?   Cuh cuh"...?"-Me


"....hmmm well, you are right the 'cuh' sound is made by the K as well as the C, but kangaroo starts with a K not a C."-Me

I am one proud Momma and looking forward to many more exciting and challenging converstaions I will have with my little one.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I have decided to try and do a weekly post where I proclaim what I am thankful for.

Why make a weekly list? For starters I love making lists. Yup, I do, but I don't always follow through with said lists so this is a great way for me to start becoming accountable to myself and the internet(s?).

Found a great article that further explains why I will be doing this:

"Doctors say giving thanks, taking the time to notice positive things in your life is not only good for your psyche but it's good for your body. University of California at Davis researchers found that practicing gratitude can lower your blood pressure and make you feel less hostile. Grateful people are less angry, less negative and usually look for the cup half full. Studies by Cornell University researchers have shown that those who are thankful appear to have lower risks of developing phobias, alcoholism, even depression. They even have stronger immune systems."
- from The Importance of Being Thankful

AND NOW.... MY list this week:

(Lillian just hanging out in a Trader Joe's reusable grocery bag.)

I am soooo thankful for Lillian! She is such an amazing little girl with a huge heart!

(Mikayla loving life!)

Speaking of little girls that I am thankful for: Miss Mikayla! I really really really wanted a boy after having Lillian. Well, God knew what I needed more than I did :) She is such a great addition to our family.

(Water flavored with lemon and blueberries.)

The decision to cut out almost all processed foods and sugar. It hasn't been the easiest decision and I may make a post on all the reasons I am doing this for our family, but for now I am just plain thankful I have the time and money to feed my family the way I feel is best. 

(Inside the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site Museum in Brookline, MA.)

I am thankful for the opportunity to live in a historic city and be able to learn about history almost everywhere we look. After having brunch with some awesome friends we took a walk and one of our friends asked if we wanted to see the birthplace of JFK... hmmm OK! 

(Lillian finding a patch of dirt at the playground to play with her shovel and bucket.)

I am so thankful for Fall. Those of you who know me might be wondering if I am telling the truth since I have actually said I don't like Fall since it means it is going to be cold soon. That is true, I don't like it, BUT I am thankful for it. Why? Well, because Fall is a reminder that time is continuing and seasons are changing. I am thankful to be alive!

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” Proverbs 17:22 (KJV)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nap Time Creation

I LOVE my little girls... but I also love my alone time that I get when they nap. Should I be napping with them? Possibly, since my almost 3 month old still gets up 2-3 times a night, but I cherish the moments I get to myself in a quiet apartment. 

Love reading to both girls before nap time:

Today, I made this:

It is simply a bunch of colors that sorta match the colors on my older little girl's curtains and bedspread. I am not into pink and purple everywhere so the room is decorated in a color theme which I am growing to love and excited to keep expanding. I had an extra canvas and used the BIC Mark-It markers to make a pattern. Not sure if I will add some white or black initials over the top of it or just leave it as is... 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Banana Almond Cacao Muffins

I have recently started making my own almond milk (way easier than I had ever imagined) and love the fact that I know exactly what is going in my family's body as well as the fact that when I make fresh almond milk I get milk AND almond flour... good stuff huh?

With a few bananas browning on my counter and some freshly made almond flour I was ready to try out some recipes. I adapted a recipe from the one I saw Mamma and Baby Love's site.

1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas (if bigger bananas only 3)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups almond flour
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup cacao nibs
Next time I will add coconut!

Mix everything together well and make into cupcakes or loafs. Oven at 325 for about 30 min for cupcakes and about an hour for loafs.

A perfect snack for little girl when she woke up from her nap! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

BIC Mark-It Permanent Markers Review

Thanks to Smiley360 I was able to try out this 36 count pack of BIC Mark-It™ Permanent Markers:

I was generously given this big pack of markers along with some fun crafty things to decorate a witch hat (we ended up making it a regular hat by pulling the pointy part down). 

My little one playing with the spiders that were sent along with the cool hat. She ended up trying to glue them to her paper with no success, but enjoyed singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" over and over. 

I tried for fun writing with the markers on the hat and you can barely make out some letters... it was worth a shot.

This is the sushi costume we made a few years ago for our oldest daughter and now our younger little girl will be wearing it this year. I added some new "fish lines" to the salmon with the markers and it came out nicely. 

I really wanted to use the markers to make some baby food jars into cute little pumpkins, but out of the whole 36 pack there was no orange color :(    UPDATE: I am a silly lady and found a color that is orange, but had to actually write with it to see that it was indeed orange... shouldn't it be easy to see that it is orange?
So, just for fun I tried making them red for Christmas and this is after the first coat:

Overall, I really enjoyed using the markers because the smell wasn't very strong (which is a big issue for me) and they were able to be used on multiple surfaces. Too bad some basic colors like ORANGE were left out.

I received a 36-Pack of BIC Mark-It Permanent Markers for FREE from Smiley360.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fisher Price House Party

House Party is a a site that gets products directly into the homes of consumers. All you have to do is apply to host a party and if you are selected you host the party and then share your experience.

I apply to host a House Party every so often depending on if I think I will really be excited about the product. Recently I had the opportunity to host a Fisher Price House Party and it was a blast! 
I have a 2 year old and almost 2 month old and love getting together with some mom friends from church and their little ones so Fisher Price was right up my alley.

When we first received the packaged I was a bit overwhelmed by the size! Over $300 worth of stuff was delivered to our apartment's office and I had to have my husband use a dolly to bring it up. I made the mistake of opening it up in front of my daughter and she was SOOO excited, but I explained we may not keep all the toys because we would be sharing with friends. 

This is my husband (and our 2 month old behind him) amazingly putting together the almost 2 feet tall Wheelies Loops 'n Swoops Amusement Park which retails for $45!

I displayed all the boxes to show our guests all the features of the products.

The awesome swag bags that were provided for everyone that included DVDs, CDs, Wheelies and savings!

Coloring books and snacks that included carrots, thin pretzels, homemade hummus, and popcorn.

The Servin' Surprises Barbecue Set which retails for $15. 

 Ice Cream Party Set that retails for $15.

Playing with the awesome toys.

Little People Princess Songs Palace that retails for $50.
It also came with two sets of "princesses" that retail for $7 each.

Servin' Surprises Kitchen & Table that retails for $80! 

The girls enjoyed the boxes almost as much as the toys!

As the host I was able to keep ALL the toys, but I chose to give most of them away to our friends and bless them.