Bring Home the Bacon … for Christmas!

12/13/2012

It’s time to tell you about my favorite Christmas present from last year, in case you still need an idea for that hard-to-shop-for someone on your list. It’s not the gift that got the most use (that would be our Keurig) but it’s the one that has saved us hundreds of greasy paper towels and time cleaning a grease splattered stove, oven or microwave…which is pretty awesome. Gifted to me by my beloved.

Meet Piggy Wiggy the bacon tray.

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Microwave bacon trays are not hard to come by but I was searching high and low for one that had a lid. Without a lid the grease still splatters all over the microwave (or requires lots of paper towels), so what is the point? Then I found Joie Piggy Wiggy. Not only does it have a lid, it has a pink vented lid with a pig-face handle. It’s perfect. The grid on the tray allows the grease to drain off the bacon and everything is contained. No more throwing away 5 greasy paper towels just to cook a few strips of bacon. The grease can easy be dumped into a jar and the two parts scrub clean pretty easily. Did I mention it’s less than $10 with free shipping on Amazon? What are you waiting for … git one!


It’s Tea Time!

10/10/2012

If you know me in “real life,” you know I’m a tea drinker. (Hot black tea—not herbal, not green—with a little sugar, to be exact. Republic of Tea Mango Ceylon is my all-time favorite and I’m currently out in case anyone is interested.) So naturally, I must teach my daughter all about tea. With a gift card from her adoption day, I decided to order this Green Toys Tea Set.

I was not familiar with Green Toys prior to this Amazon order but I’m very impressed. They’re made from recycled milk jugs, BPA, phthalates and lead-paint free—believe it or not they’re made right here in the USA. And they’re inexpensive. I think this set was a great value. For $19.99 we got a tea pot with lid, sugar bowl with lid (same as teapot’s), creamer, four saucers, four tea cups and four spoons. My favorite thing about it is probably the mix of colors: pink, purple, blue, green and yellow. It’s like Fiestware for toddlers!

I opened the package one evening after Ali had gone to bed and I was so excited that I set it all up…

and, ahem, had a tea party with Lucy…did I just admit that?

Thankfully, Ali redeemed my craziness the next day and indulged me in several tea parties. She seriously played with these toys for hours. She’s not totally getting the tea concept yet but she loves to bite the saucers and take the lids off the tea pot and sugar bowl.

The tea set was such a big hit with Ali that I sent her cousin Iris a set for her birthday. I hope she enjoys it too, and they’ll be ready to have a tea party next time they’re together.


DIY Play Kitchen

08/20/2012

I’ve seen some great DIY play kitchens the past view years. (Here’s a round up from Ohdeedoh a few years ago.) There are also great options for sale, like the above modern wooden kitchen from Melissa & Doug, and of course the many plastic variations. A few months ago while I was yard sale hopping with my mom, I spotted this wooden play stove/oven. The only thing better than a DIY kitchen is someone else’s DIY kitchen. This stove was built by the sellers’ grandfather and I talked them down to $7, knowing it would need a lot of work to get it to a condition suitable for Ali to play with.

Jason is super handy and we often do DIY projects together but I decided this was my baby. I washed it all down and painted it with some leftover wall paint I found in my parents’ garage. I was thinking of refreshing the original white until I found the mint green paint—why not make it mint green like a retro stove? I painted over the black burners, handles and knobs with a pewter metallic craft paint.

I did commission Jason’s expertise for one part. I wanted to add casters to the bottom since this is fairly heavy. I imagine it will spend some time in the playroom, some time in Ali’s room and some time in the kitchen at our new house.

At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it being a stove and not a full kitchen. Then I started thinking up all the accessories that could be used with the oven—muffin tin, loaf pans, cookie sheets, cookie cutters, oven mitts—and with the stove—frying pan, spatula, sauce pan, spoons, tea pot—and I realized the possibilities are still endless. I found the pans and spoons second hand for a few dollars a piece. I spray painted all the pans blue to give them a unified look.

For Ali’s first birthday, Aunt Jess and Uncle Jeff got her a set of soft play food from IKEA. It’s the Swedish style breakfast set that I hinted to my sister about. We’re a quarter Swedish but I consider myself more Swedish than anything else. I love their typical breakfast fare: bread, cheese, sausage, bacon, eggs, fruit topped waffles, cheese, bread, and maybe a cookie for good measure. This set also comes with a cutting board, knife and a few veggies.

We gave Ali the stove on her adoption day. I realize she’s still a bit too small for it but she’ll be big enough eventually. I tried to make some kind of sentimental connection about her importance in our family and a kitchen’s importance in the home. Or something like that. Really, I just found a DIY project I couldn’t pass up and I had an occasion that called for a gift.

Ali seems particularly fond of the knife and likes to crawl around with it in her mouth. What the?!


Homemade Baby Food

01/24/2012

It sounds really complicated but really Homemade Baby Food is just fancy words for softened (steamed, baked, mashed), blended food frozen into small portions. It’s easy and it’s inexpensive. For Christmas, Precious got this wonderful Baby Bjorn bib that my friend recommended. It’s made from a stiff silicon-ish material so the food catching lip doesn’t collapse. Also, the neck is adjustable so it will fit for a while. Perfect for Precious’ reintroduction to solid foods. (We started on rice cereal at 4 months old but neither of us was really ready yet. Now, at 6 months she’s ready. And I am, too.)

She also got some great Oxo Tot baby food freezing containers for Christmas. Oxo is my all-time favorite kitchen gadget brand. This Oxo Tot freezer tray pretty much just looks like any old ice cube tray but it has a lid—a pretty green lid—with a special function. It’s curved at the ends so you can dump just one ice cube out at a time. Smart, huh? It makes 1 oz. portions. Perfect for introducing new foods. Once the cubes are all frozen, I’ve been popping them into freezer bags so I can label and date them.

The Oxo Tot baby blocks six pack tray and 2 oz. containers are handy for taking larger portions on the go. I haven’t seen these in action yet but the first batch of pureed carrots is freezing right now. So far I have made avocado, carrots and bananas for Precious. Next on my list are sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli, apples and pears. I’m curious to hear from you: What were the first foods you fed your kids? What foods were their favorites? Did you make baby food at home, blend up whatever you were eating or buy baby food pre-made?


Beautiful Cereal Box

01/18/2012

I know it’s silly but for the past 36 hours, since I first saw it at Kroger, I’ve been in love with Mom’s Best Naturals cereal. Now I’m not typically a cereal lover. Lucky Charms was the only cereal I would eat growing up. My breakfast of choice in high school was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But I’m a graphic designer by trade and what-can-I-say, I was sold by the packaging. I walked 3 steps past the end cap in Kroger, pulled out my camera and went back to take a picture. As I walked away, posting it on Instagram, I decided I should buy a box and try it. Back at the display for the third time, I was pleasantly surprised that it was only $1.50 a box. I  found raisin bran to try. I’m happy to report that it tastes as good as any raisin bran I’ve ever had, though I’m admittedly not a cereal connoisseur.


Phone Photo Friday

01/12/2012

Ok, so it’s not Friday, I know. But I have today’s blog post (about our new home plans!) only half written and no time to finish it. Welcome to Phone Photo Friday on Thursday!


My New Favorite Snack

07/25/2011

I dug up a quick blog post idea since I didn’t have anything prepared for this morning. (Sorry.) This is my new favorite lunch or afternoon snack:

Wheat crackers
Cheese (I’ve used hot pepper cheese or havarti)
Sweet basil (fresh from our garden…LOVE!)
Tomatoes (also from our garden, mmm…)
Sprinkle of salt & pepper

It’s kind of a quick cross between bruschetta and caprese salad.