March 31, 2014

15 minute DIY Coconut Oil Stick + Tea Tree Oil

This is an easy way to apply coconut oil and have a convenient way to carry it around with you (plus it only takes 15 minutes)! People have been using coconut oil for thousands of years for many different reasons. It has antibacterial/antimicrobial properties, and also moisturizes so you can use it for lotion (great for Eczema), diaper rash cream, make up remover, you can cook with it etc. The list goes on! Give it a try! (Not sure which coconut oil to buy? Check out this article.)

I wanted to have some coconut oil for on the go, especially since we'll be traveling in a month or two. I use it with Christian's cloth diapers for diaper cream, and on his skin for his Eczema. It's quick, easy, natural, and you don't have to worry about getting it in anyone's eyes or mouth!

-travel size deodorant stick
-Coconut Oil
-Tea Tree Oil, optional
-little bowl
-glove, optional
1. Get started by removing all deodorant from the case and cleaning it out with warm water and soap. Mine came apart in 4 sections: lid, inside cover, case and deodorant lift.
2. Have the rolling deodorant lift all the way up to start with so you can spoon in your solid-like-butter coconut oil. Pack it down into the little holes, preferably with a gloved hand. Put it in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes to set up.
3. During this time, take a spoonful of coconut oil and mix it in a little bowl with a drop or two of Tea Tree oil. (It's a jack-of-all-trades oil that has many benefits: an antiseptic, antifungal, heals skin issues like acne and insect bites, treats lice and much more.)
3. Now that the bottom has set up and has made a solid base for the rest of the oil, start to roll the lift down all the way down, squishing the oil back into place as you go. Try to touch it as little as possible so it doesn't become runny! 
4. Then spoon in the oil mix! I left mine as a heap on top so that I could mold it with the inside cover that came with the stick. I can also get more "in" the stick that way too. (Keep your left overs in the fridge for next time!) Let it set back up in the fridge again for another 5 minutes.
5. I smoothed mine over with my finger and filled in any dents with more oil mix and refridgerated once more. Then I peeled off the labels, and it was ready to go!
The first time I used this stick, it glided on sooooo nice. No oily fingers, no chunks, no mess... I thought "where have you been all my life?" I'm definitely going to make a second one to keep at home (and the other in my diaper bag for diaper changes)!

Also, don't forget that this is OIL, so leaving it in a hot area, like a car, will most likely make it melt and drip. If you're cautious like me, carry this is a little bag during the warm months. :o)

March 26, 2014

Ebelskivers (fun filled pancake balls! + family recipe)

Ebelskiver (or Æbelskiver) is Danish for "apple slices" and has been a traditional food cooked on my husbands side of the family for years. They are fun filled spherical pancakes that ooze goodness! If you've never tried them before, this is something you definitely should have on your bucket list! You can fill these pancakes with just about anything, and they'll turn out amazing.
Ebelskiver Supplies
-Ebelskiver pan (Williams Sonoma sells one, Amazon has a cheaper one, or you might be able to find a nice cast iron one at your local Good Will or resale shop) 
-Ebelskiver turning tools (or you could try chop sticks!)
-Ebelskiver Mix (if you want something super quick and easy vs a recipe, see below)
-Ebelskiver cook book, optional (for TONS of recipes! From herbs and goat cheese, to chocolate!)
We experimented with some different combos for this round of ebelskivers. We chose to try (for the FIRST time) these:
  • white chocolate chips & strawberry jam (great for breakfast!)
  • Canadian bacon, cream cheese, Parmesan and cranberry honey mustard
  • cranberry chipotle cheddar cheese & Jessebelle (a spicy yet sweet jelly)
All you really need, are enough ingredients to fit inside an ebelskiver, about 1 tablespoon each. Mix and match flavors, try out different kinds. We also really like the traditional flavors too, like apples and cinnamon.

Ebelskiver (family) Recipe, makes ~40
Fillings of your choice!

plus, the batter: 

3 egg yolks (save whites, and fold in last)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
olive oil (or vegetable oil, PAM, shortening etc.)

1. Separate the eggs yolks and whites. Beat the egg whites until you have stiff peaks. Set aside.
2. Mix the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth.
3. Fold in the egg whites carefully. You want to keep the batter fluffy-ish!

Cooking Ebelskivers
1. Heat the ebelskiver pan on medium heat. Spray each ebelskiver cup with olive oil, vegetable oil, or PAM. (If you only have a liquid oil available, use 1/8 of a teaspoon in each cup).
2. Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into each cup, add the filling of your choice (1 T.) and top or cover with another tablespoon of batter. *This works beautifully with one person pouring the batter, and the other adding the filling and flipping!*
3. Use your turning tools with one on each side, and flip the ebelskiver over. Let it cook for a few minutes. Done! (This takes some practice! It is pretty easy to spill the batter and not get it over in time. A tip: let the ebelskiver cook so that the edges are a little dry, then flip.)

Serve with syrup, jam or powdered sugar!
Cheese and spicy jelly
Ham mixture, ready for their topping of batter
White chocolate and strawberry jelly!
Almost finished Ebelskivers!
Have you tried Ebelskivers before? What did you think? If you try this recipe, I'd love to hear what you think! Eat up!

March 18, 2014

Spicy Honey Salmon Glaze: My own {delicious} recipe

I'm not a very big salmon eater (minus a salmon loaf during the holidays), but after I came up with this little recipe, I'll eat any amount of salmon with this glaze!

Spicy Honey Salmon Glaze
-1 1/2 lb salmon fillet
-minced garlic, half a clove
-1 T. olive oil
-Cayenne powder to taste
-1/2 red onion, chopped
-1-2 T. honey (depending on size of fillet and thickness. Enough to cover but not smother!)
-1 T. (or a nice sprinkle) brown sugar (optional, this gives it a nice color)

1. Heat a large pan with 1/2 the olive oil and cook one side of the salmon for about 4-5 minutes (depending on thickness of fillet). Make sure it turns a nice light pink half way through the fillet.

2. Once you have flipped the fillet over to cook the other side, add 1/2 the garlic in the pan (next to the fillet) with a the other half of the olive oil, along with the onions to saute. Saute for about 5 minutes (watch the garlic to make sure it doesn't burn! Also, if you do not like raw garlic, then saute all of the garlic in this step).

3. Now that you have flipped the fillet to the second side to cook, drizzle the honey on top, letting in soak into any cracks. Then top the fillet with the rest of the minced garlic, sprinkle on the cayenne powder and brown sugar. Let the sugar melt and the fillet finish cooking on that side. *Make sure the honey has time to cook on top of the salmon! It doesn't taste the same if you put it on last minute.*

4. When the fillet is finished, top it with the onion and garlic mixture, then serve!

This recipe is so delicious that hubby requests it, and now we have salmon every week. :o) I'm so happy that I've found a way to cook salmon that I enjoy since my boys love it and it's known to be one of the healthiest foods!

Bonus: this helps me cross off #10 on my 30 while 30 goals, create a delicious recipe!


March 13, 2014

30 {goals} while 30 {years old!}

Have you seen or heard of others doing this challenge: 30 while 30? Well I have taken the plunge and set some goals (well many) for the year that I'm 30 years old! My 30th birthday was actually at the end of January, so I've been trying to complete these goals for a few months now.

The idea is to come up with 30 things that you'd like to accomplish during this year. It was hard to come up with 30 ideas, since some are time consuming, expensive etc. I have until the end of my 30th year (so next January) to accomplish them, but won't be heart broken if I don't. Plus, I don't have 30 complete ideas either.... some of them I'm still unsure about, hence the ? next to certain ideas.

Ready for the list? In no particular order:

30 {goals} while 30 {years old}!
1. Submit something for publication
2. Decorate pictures with digital handwriting!
3. See a Cardinals game in person!
4. Take a photography class
5. Travel some where new and explore
We took a trip to Mexico!
6. Be more aware of money spent
Not that we are big spenders, but we could be saving more money if we put together a simple budget or really watched what we spent.
7. Complete acts of service
8. Start a new tradition
9. Finish my quilt!
10. Create my own {delicious} recipe  
Did you see my Spicy Honey Salmon Glaze recipe?
11. Do something special for myself.  
I went to MommyCon
12. Hang/put up pictures throughout the house. Maybe try a gallery wall...
Everything was taken down a few years ago so we could paint the rest of the house, and things have been going back up slooowly.
13. Complete an out-of-this-world pin
In the making!
14. Learn to paper piece
15. Try a new food or drink.
16. Perfect our mead recipe
17. No bottled water (unless in dire need, as to cut back on waste)  
So far so good!
18. Find a new church and attend weekly  
We have found one that we really like so far, that's right down the road and it has a nursery and baby/toddler weekly group! Success!
19. Play the violin more
20. Take Christian to visit MO and go fishing (my home state, also where my dad lives)
21. Night away from Christian- ?
22. Complete a weekly photo blog challenge
23. Take a risk
24. Make myself a priority
25. Blog at least once a week 
I've been keeping up and it feels less stressful than blogging 3x a week for sure.
26. Make a simple cleaning schedule, and stick to it for at least a month
27. Enjoy a new interest  
A new obsession really. I'm sooooo into Doctor Who now. It occupies my mind (and pinterest board ツ) constantly. (Followed by Tris & Tobias from Divergent.)
28. Read more.
29. Continue to purge "stuff" from the house 
Hopefully this will mean more space & organization
30. ????


I need only 1 more idea (and maybe a few more for the few undecided goals)!! Anyone have any suggestions? I'm hoping that they also might present themselves as the year goes on.

I'm hoping this challenge will help make my 30th year a great one to remember! I'll be updating along the way (with some separate posts for certain goals), so allons-y! ツ I've got fun stuff to do!

March 12, 2014

MommyCon Chicago 2014!

MommyCon Chicago 2014 was so much fun! It was my first time every attending this event and I'm glad I did. I actually bought my ticket a few days before the event, which meant that I didn't get a goodie bag from the sponsors, but that was ok.
What actually is MommyCon? Their about section says it all:

MommyCon is a boutique style convention dedicated to bringing modern parents and mothers-to-be together. Our focus is on natural and organic parenting methods and timeless tidbits as we journey through parenthood together. Our seminars and workshops include; babywearing, birth, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, car seat safety, natural health and medicine, baby gear, childproofing and so much more! We end our day with amazing giveaways and each attendee gets a gift bag from our sponsors.
I was excited when I took the leap, bought a ticket, and went to the event BY MYSELF. I drove myself to and from Rosemont (which is very near Chicago and about 45 minutes from my house), in a snow storm, to attend the event. 

I decided to leave Christian at home with hubby. Even though he was 16 months and would have had fun with all the other little kids and toys there, I decided to take a day (yes day) to myself and Michael was the one helping push me out the door. :o) It was sort of freeing to be at an event where all I had to worry about was myself. I could choose when I wanted to eat, what I wanted to look at or do etc. I didn't have to run after C, change him, feed him, keep him entertained etc. It was the first time, since C was born, that I had a day to myself, and it was great.
The first thing I did after purchasing my ticket was look through the speakers, workshops and seminars that they were offering through out the day. I wrote down everything that I wanted to see and the times on my MommyCon schedule that they provided.

I also asked questions to those that had been before through the MommyCon Chicago Discussion Group on Facebook. This was a great way for me to easily prepare for the event since others could answer questions like: do they sell food? Is it still fun to attend by yourself? etc.   

There were some great speakers and seminars to attend!

Essential Oils
The Badass Breastfeeder
Cloth Diapering 101
Wrapping 101
Skin to Skin: the benefits
Normalizing Breastfeeding: The Leaky Boob
The Honest Toddler
Pediatrician Panel
Car Seat Safety
The Baby Guy NYC 
and more!
Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder
Jessica Martin-Weber, The Leaky Boob, actually nursing? What?! :o)
Baby wearing!

 And what's this?
They had a play area at the back of the main seminar room stocked with toys! 

When not attending the workshops and seminars they had a huge room full of awesome vendors who also share the love of forward thinking parenting.

Some that were included:
Bio Oil
4th Trimester Bodies  (check this out, just do it.)
The Bump
Cotton Babies
Milkin' Cookies
Nancy Mohrbacher Solutions and Family
Project: Breastfeeding
and more!

Nancy Mohrbacher, IBLC, FILCA
I actually have met Nancy and have attended one of her Baby and Me group meetings in Mundelein, IL, closer to home! I highly recommend for breastfeeding moms, her book (Breastfeeding Made Simple). Check out my Breastfeeding Favorites too where I further describe this!

At the end of the day at 5:00pm, they started the giveaways, and boy did they really give away awesome stuff!!! I'm talking about at least 15 Ergos, strollers, convertible car seats, infant car seats, highchairs, bottle sets, wraps, toys AND left over goodie bags..... :o) I ran, well walked quickly, to the counter they were handing them out and was the last one to receive one! (Thank goodness too! because there were some ladies cutting the line..... ahem.)

Some vendor give aways: coupons, stroller tags, honey stick, medicine dispenser, reusable snack bag from itzy ritzy (just for liking their facebook page!), lip balm and a neat wooden honey drizzler.

The Goodie Bag: a silky smooth Moby bag (with inside zipper pocket), Sage Spoonfuls snack cup, Mam bottle, Munchkins 2 pk swaddles, Weleda Nursing Tea (Spanish side showing, oops), Birds & Bees Calm Nights Tea, Blossom Organics lubricant (hahaha, just realized this), Diono travel wipes, Mam pacifier, Motherlove Nipple Cream (under paci, little hard to see), coupons (only G coupon showing), Weengreen glass snack container (soooo loving this!! it has such a satisfying snap and lock! ), Bio Oil (yesss), and Rocker Bye Baby Booger Basher. 

Overall, it was an amazing event. I did end up seeing a friend from my previous birthing class, but it wasn't bad going alone. I did feel a little left out because EVERYONE had their baby with them, but I'd still opt for going childless next time. It was definitely a day long event with workshops going from 9-5, and I was tired at the end, but waiting for the giveaways at the end was worth it!!
To see a little more, watch this neat What to Expect at MommyCon video!

Check out MommyCon to see if they are coming to a city near you!

*Pardon the phone camera photos! I wasn't originally planning on posting about this!*

March 3, 2014

Toddler Favorites: 12-15 months

These are our current Toddler Favorites! C is now 16 months old and we are still using many of these items, but I'm sure he'll be growing into some new things soon!
These are not the huge Mega bloks or the regular sized legos for older kids, but in between. Christian loves playing with all the different sets of these lego (firemen, gas station etc.) He is able to stack them and pull them apart. He first started playing with these by destructing them.
This little scooter was a gift for C's first birthday and it has worked out great! Our entire house is carpeted (except for the kitchen) and these larger thick wheels work amazingly in our little space. It is also the perfect size for C to sit on and have his feet still touch the floor.
3. Peter Rabbit Peekaboo!
We love reading the book because it has a nice, big flap on each page to open. A character hides behind each one and C loves to play peekaboo on each page.
4. NINO Egg Shaker and 5. Handled Caged Bell
Christian loves to play with these when we go to our Funsies with Onesies class at the local library. He loves anything musical and these are great for little hands to make noise!!
6. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes
Christian loves to dance and listen to music, so what better than a toy that he can manipulate himself? We do not own this specific toy, but one very much like it. Christian likes to be able to push the buttons himself to select the different tunes.
7. Baltic Amber Baby Teething Necklace
This necklace was great when C's molars started to come in. He was fussy when he was teething, since he'd have a few come in about the same time, and this little necklace was great for helping ease the pain. Babies DO NOT chew on these beads, they simply wear the necklace, that's it! The anti-inflammatory properties of the amber are absorbed in through the skin. I have been able to notice a positive difference in C's fussiness after using this necklace.
*Note: the lighter amber necklaces are said to work better than the darker, and also be careful of where you purchase your amber necklaces! Some people try to rip you off by selling you plastic beads, glass beads etc. Do a simple test to make sure the beads are authentic amber! 

8. Green Toys Dump Truck
We love the brand Green Toys because their toys are made with 100% recycled plastic! Not only does Christian love loading this guy up with other toys and pushing it around, but I love to support companies that are helping our planet recycle its waste.
9. Toddler Smoothie Cup
See my post about these awesome cups here!

10. Summer Infant Dr. Mom Health & Grooming Kit 
We have used this kit SO much during Christian's first year, and into his second! This kit has so many good things all in one package: hairbrush & comb, baby nail clipper and emery boards, thermometer etc.

11. Safety 1st Infant to Toddler Oral Care Kit
I love most things convertible (car seats, high chairs etc.) and even oral care kits. This little baby comes with an infant toothbrush that fits on your finger along with 2 toddler toothbrushes (plus a teether and stickers). We loved using the infant toothbrush when he was really little, only a few months old. It got him use the stimulation on his gums and little teeth buds. I also loved that we already had toddler toothbrushes ready and available to us in our home when we needed to transfer to them. C loves to try to brush his own teeth and it's not a battle but a fun activity since he's been brushing his teeth from the beginning.
12. Space Saver High Chair
Speaking of convertible items from infants to toddlers, I love this high chair. I talked about it in my Baby Favorites: 3-6 months, and it's back! We haven't needed to keep this chair reclined for awhile now since he sits by himself, but it's a great little chair that still fits him. He eats every day in it at our table, and its sturdy for a toddler!
13. Okkatots Baby Depot Travel Diaper Bag Backpack
This is still a new diaper bag for us, but we've been using it for about a month and love it! After our last diaper bag backpack gave out I decided to splurge a little and get something that would last a looooong time. I'll be doing a review on it very soon! If you want to see some details about it, check out the Okkatots site.
14. Robeez Classic Booties
These booties are great for the winter! Even though Christian is 16 months and has been walking for about 5 months now, I still don't like him to walk outside by himself (in the winter). These are great little soft sole leather booties that are perfect for toddlers that are just beginning to walk. The elastic in the boots makes them easily stretchable to fit around Christians chubby little feet and ankles. They are very high quality (which means they are a little pricy) but he wears these every day in the winter, and they haven't worn down at all! The fuzzy on the boots doesn't look brand new, but they have held up incredibly well! We also purchased a second pair at our local kids resale store, and those are still in great condition too!
15. Chicka Chicka ABC
Christian loves this book because we sing the rhyming alphabet song and he loves predicting when the "boom, boom" happens in the story (the letters fall out of the tree). It's much like the original Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book, but shorter, which is great for his attention span.

16. Pandora
We like to listen to the toddler station on Pandora and dance. You don't need an account, you can just type in what you'd like to listen to and it'll play other related songs/artists in that category. We also love to listen to KLove online, which is a Christian radio station.

*Another favorite item Christian loves for night time and naps, is his tie knot fleece blanket that I made!

What are you toddler's favorites? If you have something spectacular, share! I'd love to hear about new toddler items!

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