Thursday, January 30, 2014

Emma Is Two!

This weekend Emma turned 2!  We had her birthday party on Saturday afternoon, which I kept referring to as a cookout with a birthday cake.  Since we just had Christmas and she still doesn't know any better, we kept everything low key and asked our friends not to bring gifts.  
Bryan smoked LOTS of pork and I made slaw and macaroni and cheese to go with it.  Emma is obsessed with Blues Clues so that's the kind of cake we had made for her.  

Emma didn't care for us singing Happy Birthday to her.  She just wanted to dig in to her cake!

We gave her the first slice of cake but she had to wait for a few minutes for her fork.  
She didn't try to use her hands.  She just went face first into it!

I love her "funny face".

I was able to get a hand me down Blue stuffed animal to give her as a little gift.  


There is a saying that 'the days are long but the years are short' and I believe that is so true when you're a stay at home mom to small children.  Some days have seemed to last forever yet I can hardly believe that two years have gone by.  Giving birth to Emma was such a wonderful experience for me and she continues to bring joy into our lives every day.  
She is still all about her sister and is having so much fun trying to keep up with her.  
There isn't a day that goes by that we don't watch an episode of "Blue" - thank goodness for DVR!  She has always been a good eater and especially loves fruit, yogurt and cheese.  She constantly climbs up in my lap when I'm eating and wants some of my food.  On the mornings I have oatmeal, I just make a big bowl for the 2 of us to share.    
Emma seems to be taking after Marlie in being very social.  She always waves at people and tells them hello.  
We have trained her well to be a true Bulldog and every time she sees any sport on TV she yells "Go Georgia!" 
She is a little mama and is always taking care of her babies - rocking, changing diapers and putting them to bed.  

We are so thankful for our sweet Emma and look forward to continuing to watch her grow and learn!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Stitch Fix #8

I received my last Stitch Fix of 2013 in November.  Unlike other subscription services out there, I love that Stitch Fix lets you schedule your shipments whenever you'd like to receive them.  I knew we'd be out of town for most of December so I chose not to receive a shipment that month.  I'll be posting my box for this month soon, but here is Fix #8 from November.  

First is this scarf by 41Hawthorn.  I loved the fabric, but I don't wear scarves that much and I like to knit my own anyway.  

Rebecca Plaid Knit Infinity Scarf by 41Hawthorn
Rebecca Plaid Knit Infinity Scarf by 41Hawthorn
I LOVED these Kut From the Kloth jeans, but they were a little more than I wanted to pay.  Luckily, my husband got them for me for Christmas!

Ina Boyfriend Jean by Kut From The Kloth
Polka dots are hard for me to resist, but I would have preferred this TCEC sweater to be a little bigger on me than it was.  It was cute though!
Stevenson Polka Dot Crew Neck Sweater by TCEC
I like that Stitch Fix sends me some items that I wouldn't normally pick out for myself, but this Kensie jacket just wasn't something I could see myself wearing especially considering it's price.  
Jason Asymmetrical Zip Up Jacket by Kensie
I kept seeing this THML tank throughout the spring and summer and although I didn't request it, I hoped I would receive it.  I finally did and somehow forgot to take a picture of it!  I wear it all the time with a gray cardigan as suggested on the style card.  I love that I can wear it year round!  

Stitch Fix was definitely my favorite discovery of 2013.  I can't wait to get my shipment each month!
If you would like a stylist to select some great items just for you, I would really appreciate it if you used my referral code to sign up:  

Would you like to see what items I've received in my previous Stitch Fix shipments?

Stitch Fix #1 tells in more detail about how everything works

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Nana's Recipe Box: Rocky Road Squares

One of my goals for this year is to make as many recipes as I can (hopefully all of them) from my Nana's recipe box.  I like peanuts by themselves, but not usually as an ingredient in desserts, etc.  I didn't mind them as much in these squares and our neighbors who tried them were asking for more.  I hope you enjoy these just as much as they did!

Rocky Road Squares

1 (12 oz) pkg semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 T margarine or butter
2 c dry roasted peanuts
1 (10 1/2 oz) pkg miniature marshmallows

In top of double boiler, over boiling water, melt morsels with sweetened condensed milk and margarine;  remove from heat.
In large bowl, combine mixture with nuts and marshmallows.  
Spread in wax paper lined 13x9 inch pan.  
Chill 2 hours or until firm.  
Remove from pan, peel off wax paper; cut into squares.  
Cover and store at room temperature. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cloth Diapers

Over the past few years, I've answered a lot of questions about cloth diapering.  I keep saying I need to write a blog post that I can refer people to, so I'm finally getting around to doing that.
I started using cloth diapers with Marlie when she was around 8 months old.  Contrary to what some people recommend, I wanted to start with a cloth diaper that most closely resembled a disposable and then branch out from there.  I am so glad I did it that way and believe it is the best way to begin cloth diapering without getting overwhelmed.

Marlie in a Goodmama
My all-time (ok, actually 6 years) favorite diapers are the bumGenius One-Size and Fuzzibunz.  They both have waterproof shells and are pocket diapers which means that they use cloth inserts.  I don't mind folding clothes and putting diapers together so it's never bothered me to have to put the inserts back inside the shells after washing.  By having 2 different parts of the diaper, you also have a faster drying time than if you were using a thicker all-in-one.
These one size diapers are also a great value because you can use them for a LONG time!  The bumGenius claims to fit from 7 to 35+ pounds so your child could theoretically wear the same diaper from birth to potty training.  

Emma in a bumGenius 
One advantage of using cloth diapers is that they will save you money compared to using disposables.  However, there is a considerable initial investment as you build your supply of cloth diapers.  The diapers I mentioned above are just under $20 a piece when purchased new and you can get a pack of 12 for just over $200.  It would be preferable to have more than 12 diapers, but that is definitely a number that you can make do with.  Some estimate that they cost of using disposable diapers could work out to be around $2000!  Even the most expensive cloth diapers are probably cheaper than the cheapest disposables!
There is also a great market for reselling cloth diapers.  You can buy them used and depending on their condition, resell them for a large percentage of what you paid for them.
Emma in a Little Boppers

Back when I started using cloth, the first recommendation I received was to wash them in regular Tide.  That is what I've continued to do for almost 6 years and it has worked very well for me.  Today there are many detergents specifically marketed towards cloth diaper users, but I've never had a need to use them.  Here is my regular wash routine:
Spray out any diapers that can't be "shaken" clean
First wash on cold with regular Tide
Extra Rinse
Second wash on hot with regular Tide
Extra Rinse
I love to line dry my diapers if it is sunny outside.  This helps keep the insides free from stains even if they sit dirty in our hanging bag for a few days.  Once my diapers are dry, I may also throw them in the dryer for a short time just to soften and fluff them up.  
Marlie in a Bagshot Row Bamboo (with pins)
We have never actually used cloth diapers at night.  Both of my girls have been heavy wetters and I never wanted to deal with trying to figure out what cloth combination would keep them dry at night.  If a disposable means one less reason for us to wake up during the night, then we are all for it.  Many people are able to find a cloth solution that works for them and I think that's awesome.
Emma in a Goodmama that was also Marlie's
The only extras I've ever really used are hanging bags and a diaper sprayer.  I have a large hanging bag that stays in the bathroom.  This bag zips closed and does a good job of keeping any odors contained.  Since I use mostly pocket style diapers, I always take the diaper apart before putting it in the bag.  That way, I can just empty the whole bag into the washer and throw it in there too.  I also have a small bag that I use if we are out and about and need to do a diaper change.  I just throw the wet diaper in it and take it out when we get home.
A diaper sprayer is not a neccessity but certainly nice to have.  For any poop that doesn't shake right off into the toilet, I spray the diaper to get it clean as I can.  After spraying a diaper, I just throw it into the bag like I do all the others.
You shouldn't use a regular diaper rash cream with cloth diapers, but you can buy disposable liners if you need to.  The liners will allow you to use a cream and then you can just thrown away the liner without damaging the diaper fabric.  Liners are also great to help with poop clean-up.
Emma in a Lil Joeys
I didn't start cloth diapering Marlie until she was 7 or 8 months old, but I did use cloth on Emma from the beginning.  She was 8lbs 14oz when she was born and although technically she would have fit into many "one size" diapers, they were still pretty bulky on her.  I would highly recommend getting specific newborn size diapers if you want to use cloth that early.  I was very pleased with each of the brands I used with Emma : Rumparooz Lil Joeys, GroVia, Muttaqin Baby and once again my beloved FuzziBunz.  In addition to fitting their tiny bodies better, most of these diapers also have the option to snap down at the waist for the umbilical cord stumps.
Emma in a Bagshot Row Bamboo
Now for the fun stuff.  You can certainly buy as simple and basic cloth diapers as you would like.  You can even make your own.  However, you can also buy some super cute designs and even order custom made diapers.  There are MANY work at home moms who make and sell diapers so that they can stay home with their own children.   Little Boppers and Bagshot Row Bamboo are some of my favorites.
Wool and fleece diaper covers and pants are also very popular with some families who use cloth.  Fitted  diapers do not have a waterproof layer and wool is amazing for helping keep the wetness off of a baby's skin.  It will absorb a ton of moisture yet feel dry to the touch.  The picture below shows Marlie wearing a pair of "longies" over her cloth diaper.  Those are wool pants that were hand knit from a yarn that I selected.

I can't emphasize this enough - cloth diapering does NOT have to be all or nothing.  As I already mentioned, we cloth diaper during the day and not at night.  You can use cloth at home, but not at daycare.  Even part time use of cloth diapers would be beneficial to your wallet and the environment.  

Cloth diapering has definitely worked great for our family.  I'm not saying that any of my recommendations above are the "best" or "right way" but it is what has worked for us over 6 years and two different children.  If you have any other questions I can help with, just post them in the comments and I will update this with answers.    

Here are a few more links that are useful for cloth diaperers:
DiaperSwappers : this site can be overwhelming at first but it has forums where you can learn everything you'd ever want to know about cloth diapering.  You can also buy and sell diapers in the forum.

HyenaCart : similar to Etsy, Hyenacart is a great marketplace for buying diapers, longies and much more!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Simple Chicken

When I need an easy way to prepare chicken, I either go with my Roast Sticky Chicken recipe or this one.  I found this recipe at Food For A Hungry Soul and really didn't expect it to be too good considering it only has 2 other ingredients.  I was wrong.  The brown sugar and dressing mix melt into a tasty sauce.  You can use the chicken of your choice, but we prefer to use thighs since they don't dry out as much as breasts tend to.  

Simple Chicken

3.5 pounds of chicken thighs
1 packed of dry Italian dressing mix (.7 oz)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking oil spray.  

Rinse chicken and pat dry.  

Mix the Italian dressing mix and brown sugar together in a small bowl.
Press each piece of chicken into the mixture to coat both sides.  Place the chicken in the baking dish and sprinkle any remaining mixture over the top.  

Bake for approximately 50 minutes, turning the chicken a few times to allow both sides to get nicely coated with the glaze.

Don't be afraid to spoon even more of the sauce over the chicken when you serve it!  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hello 2014!

I'm not huge on resolutions, but I do love the idea of a clean slate and fresh start.  I would hope that we all want to be and do better than the year before.  I've come up with some specific and some general goals for the year ahead.  I know I won't accomplish them all, but I'm a list making kind of girl and hopefully this post will help me to stay focused on some of the tasks.

My goals for 2014 are:

- To make a positive difference in the life of a child in foster care  

- To run 365 miles

- To be able to do at least 12 good push ups in a row

- To do more knitting and crocheting

- To get all my pictures organized

- To purge my life and home of unnecessary "stuff"

- To blog at least once per week

- To cook all the recipes in my Nana's recipe box

These are just some of the things I would like to achieve this year.  What are your goals for 2014?