Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Feed Me, Mama!

Like I've mentioned before, Tot is a picky eater. And, I mean, that's saying it lightly because I'm her Mama. Half the things she tries she either crumples in her hand or spits out. She's also fiercely independent and determined to feed herself from her Munchkin snack box. Currently, she's obsessed with mac n'cheese and grilled cheese - but, I can't have her eating that for forever.

I don't know about you Mama's, but baking is such a therapeutic exercise for me. With work stress at an all time high, I needed an escape this past weekend so I baked! I have to say the results were quite successful. For Tot, I made banana oat pancakes, and gluten-free banana cookies. For the Adults, I made chocolate chip cookies on our salt block from Williams Sonoma! I was that Mama that desperately wanted to make homemade organic baby food for her, but let's get real - I just never found the time. Instead, I've taken ownership of making her little homemade snacks I can pack for her lunch bag at school so she can mix up her grilled cheese with something a little more scrumptiously healthy. Tot does attend a nut-free school and I've found most of these recipes work for that peanut-less environment with just a touch of tweaking.

What kind of homemade snacks do you make your little ones? Do you have any recipes you'd like to share? Comment below - we'd love to hear from you all.

Banana Oat Pancakes (makes approx. 10)

4 ripe bananas
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup of quick oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Mash bananas in a large bowl until smooth. Mix in eggs and vanilla until well combined, then mix in oats and cinnamon.
2. Heat a skillet to medium and add in a scoop* of the pancake batter. Smooth out to form an even layer. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until you start to see bubbles releasing from the top of the batter. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown, about to 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Garnish your pancakes with your favorite toppings (we did sliced bananas)
4. Serve with light maple syrup or let cool and pack away in a ziploc container for a snack at school
5. Enjoy!

*Note: use 1/2 cup for scooping the batter to yield thicker pancakes; use 1/3 cup to yield smaller pancakes.

Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbA8me8Z3Qo

Banana Bites

1 medium banana
1/3 cup of peanut butter (we use nut-free butter from Whole Foods)
1/3 cup of organic apple juice
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cup dry oats
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Mix first five (5) ingredients very well in a bowl
2. Add whole wheat flour, oats, and baking soda
3. Blend all of the remaining ingredients into the dry mixture
4. Spray cookie sheet with coconut oil
5. Drop by teaspoon full onto cookie sheet and flatten with the back of spoon
6. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes
7. Enjoy!

Link - http://www.superhealthykids.com/banana-cookies/

Strawberry Popsicles

I recently purchased (on Amazon) the Nuby Garden Fresh Fruitsicle Frozen Pop Tray from Amazon (link here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KFP6NHO/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1) that I use with this recipe.

Makes 6 large popsicles (I cut portions in half to utilize the Nuby Tray)

3 cups fresh (or frozen, but thawed) strawberries hulled and halved
1/2 cup agave syrup (can substitute honey)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Combine all ingredients into a food processor (we use our Vitamin) to mix the strawberries, honey, and lemon juice
2. Process and pulse until smooth
3. Pour puree into molds and put in freezer. Freeze until solid (at least 4 hours)
4. Enjoy! 

If you find a different fresh fruit, feel free to throw it in. We like to mix pineapple and watermelon to give Tot a variety of fruit to slurp by the pool. If you're interested in our adult snacks we made (salt block chocolate chip cookies) - let me know and I'll share that fun recipe too! 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Always you, Mama...

Thank you's mean a lot, especially when they come from your little ones when the only words they know are "up" and "Mama." This Sunday, all across America - Mama's are getting a little extra love for all that they do, the hugs get a little bigger to say thank you. 

Personally, this day is so incredibly special for me and has been far before I become a Mama myself. This Sunday, I'm going to be celebrating not just those wonderful Mom's I know and love (like my own Mom and MIL), but women all around the world on the quest to be Mama's too. This year has been been filled with great love & lost for those around me on their journey to pregnancy and on Sunday, it will be especially hard for them to cope with the hardships they've had to face. Surrounding Mama's, Mama-to-be's, and Mama's in waiting (as I like to call them) with courage, strength, and love is so incredibly important. So if you know someone struggling to get pregnant or someone that needs a little extra support - make sure you remember them this weekend too. Let's spread the love & hugs far and wide. 

And how do we show people we love them? With endless celebrations and thank you's! Being on a tight budget doesn't mean you can't show your Mama's you love them - there are plenty of ways to say thank you without having to drain your bank account. 

Personally, Tot & the Mr. are taking me out to my favorite restaurant to be spoiled and making me extra special cards for Mother's Day. Instead of a gift, I'm just thankful for time alone with my favorites giggling and eating delicious avocado toast (a favorite of Tot & me). 

Photo Credit: Mayfield's Bakery 

But, if you still want to pick up that extra special gift for your Mama, Mama to be, or Mama in waiting - take a look at this great list of gifts under $50 to show them you care:

Mom Glass Tray: Toss Designs

Dee Earrings: Kendra Scott

Monogrammed Heathered Pullover Tunic: Marleylilly

Southern Belle Beach Tote: Francesca's

Soul Cycle or Pure Barre Class

In the Company of Women: Paper Source

Friday + Saturday Shirt: Riffraff

Horizontal Blackboard Crates: Magnolia Market

Make a donation to a cause your Mama is unequivocally passionate about. Mine is Autism Speaks

At the end of the day, spending time with the ones you love means the most. Gifts warm the heart for a moment, but quality memories last a lifetime. Take this weekend to really surround your Mama's with all the love in the world and remember to say two simple words: thank you. 

"Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles." 
- Sharon Jaynes

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tot Turns One!

A year ago, my whole world turned right side up when our little one was born. And boy, has it been an adventure ever since. Their first birthday is a rollercoaster of emotions - one second you're so proud of the little person they've become and the next you're wishing time would just stand still so you can soak up every ounce of joy you feel in this very moment.

With those never-ending surges comes the added pressure of incapsulating all of this into one elaborate first birthday party. I've seen all the Facebook pictures, all the Instagram posts - you Mama's go above and beyond for these little ones and their birthdays. I truly don't know how you do it. But, when did a birthday celebration turn into a circus of events that overwhelm even the calmest Mama's I know? Where did we go wrong as parents allowing our little ones to think they deserve a petting zoo every year at their birthday? I mean, I love pony rides as much as the next person - I just needed a more realistic balance of what Tot can expect from her birthday parties over the next 18 or so years...she's on her own after that..maybe.

After much soul-searching and a few Pinterest searches (I know - I caved and used Pinterest. I swear this never happens), I realized that all Tot needed was an atmosphere of love, adoration, and just overall fun. Enter - the Pizza/Pool Party! What better way to celebrate a birthday on a budget then with a simple homemade pizza party by our pool. And you know what? Tot had the TIME of her life and so did we.

I had to get creative - I mean, I was inviting a group of people to smoosh into our 1200 square foot apartment. It's not like we could have some elaborate theme with balloon animals and a goat to pet. I needed simple decorations, a flow of traffic to the patio and pool, and lots of fun trinkets for Tot to enjoy.

Decorations were my first obstacle. I've been having a ton of success with the $1 bin at Target and decided to hit up a few local stores to check out the selection. Don't get me wrong, just because I wasn't planning an elaborate bouncy castle in the shape of a heart didn't mean I wasn't planning ahead. I've been scoping out the local sales bins at Target for a few months now, collecting things as I go along. From the garland to the straws - every thing decoration related was picked up from Target. Here are a few of my favorite things:

Finished Product


This part was an easy solution for us as we are the proud owners of a Pronto Pizza Oven. For those of you not familiar, it is a portable pizza oven that can be placed on your patio or porch and make delicious pizzas for you and your family without having to pick up a phone! Developed in the Bay Area, it's been such a great thing for us to have year-round. Since we purchased it over a year ago, it's been a journey of pizza making for our little family - testing new dough and topping recipes all the time. For parties? It's such a fun, group activity where we ask our guests to bring a few fun ingredients to add to the dough and cheese we provide. You should see some of the combinations our guests come up with - deliciously scrumptious. I make the dough a few hours before and let it rise in time for your guests to jump in and make their own pizza'licious treats. 

For more information on the Pronto - click here: https://www.pizzacraft.com/products/pizzeria-pronto-outdoor-pizza-oven

Birthday Cake

Through all my Instagram creeping, I found that the most important part was the cake - DUH! I wanted Tot to have her own little cake to smash, as well as one we could share with our guests. But, I wasn't willing to spend $100 on a cake my little one was going smoosh into her face and let's be real...her Mama's face. One of my best friends (and amazing Mama herself) introduced me to Nothing Bundt Cakes a few years ago and my life has been forever changed. If you've ever had a bit of their red velvet treats, you know what I mean. For organized freaks (like myself) you can order online far in advance and even add any extra treats like balloons, cards, etc. They also have a variety of sizes and flavors that will fit all your guests needs - even tiered cakes SERIOUSLY. Tot had a white chocolate raspberry bundlet to devour, while our guests enjoyed a larger red velvet cake with a princess hat and sparklers attached. For Tot's classroom party at school, I ordered a dozen bundtinis for all her classmates to share. As you can see, we're a tad obsessed with Nothing Bundt Cakes! 

To see if there is a location near you, check out: http://www.nothingbundtcakes.com

At the end of the day, Tot had the best day swimming and being the center of attention, and Mama spent less than $100. With all our friends capturing the party on their iPhones, we had plenty of pictures to share with our family and friends that couldn't join in on the fun without the added expense of a professional photographer. Parties don't need to be filled with extravagant or expensive things in order to be successful & fun. When you shower your little one with love and simple things they enjoy - that's truly all that matters. I hope Tot will learn over time that her birthday isn't about spending a lot of money on material things, but being surrounded by her favorite people doing some of her favorite things. 

From this new toddler Mama to each and every one of you - thank you for all the birthday love for our little one! 

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