parenting

Homemade Orange Gummy Bears

Orange Gummy Bears

Okay, it has definitely been way too long since I have done any blog posts! It is so difficult to keep up with everything but I’m doing my very best! I’ve really been focusing on my new Etsy shop lately, however, I really enjoy the blog so I want to keep it up to date as best I can!

As I have mentioned previously, I am probably going to be going crazy with making all different kinds of homemade gummy bears and fruit snacks since it was such a hit with my son! Such a perfect snack and a much healthier alternative to store bought.

These orange gummy bears are exactly as it sounds, full of orange goodness! I thought they tasted great and so did my son!

How to make:

Orange Gummy Bears

Homemade Orange Gummy Bears

Use:

– 1/2 Cup orange puree (use 1 large orange to get approximately this amount)

– 1/2 Cup Orange juice

– 3 Tbsp powdered gelatin

– 1 Tbsp honey

Peel and slice the orange and blend well in the blender. No need to add any liquid since there is already enough liquid in it to puree it well. Measure out 1/2 cup of the puree and set aside. Heat juice along with gelatin in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes while stirring. Do not bring to a boil. Add juice mixture to the puree slowly while stirring. Add 1 Tbsp honey and stir it in well. You could add any other add ins you would like as well such as chia seeds for example! Poor into a pan wide enough so that the gelatin mixture is fairly thin. An 8×8 pan works well. Let mixture set in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Cut into gummy bear shapes or any other small cookie cutter shapes you want!

That’s it! Quick and easy. Best of all, this recipe just uses honey for a sweetener to make it that much more healthier for those little tummies! Remember not to give honey to babies under one year old.

Enjoy!!

Whippersnappers

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Monthly Dinner Menus

Monthly Dinner Menu

This is something that I have been wanting to post for awhile since it has been so helpful to me. I (like many people I’m sure….I hope…) get so busy getting other things done and thinking of a million and a half things that by the time supper rolls around, I don’t have anything planned. So many nights have consisted of whipping up something quick simply because I don’t feel like making something or it’s too last minute to thaw out chicken or anything else for that matter! This means many nights of “Lets just do spaghetti…” or “Lets go out to eat instead.” Which means it either starts to get boring making the same ol’ thing or costly by going out to eat more often.

So I finally discovered a routine that really helps me with this problem so I want to share it! I’m sure I am not the only person who does this but I wanted to get it out there anyway! I must admit, this does take a little bit of organization but it really will save you in the end!

I started making these monthly dinner menus a few months ago and my husband and I LOVE it! I think some people may think this is crazy and that’s okay! But for me and my family, it really works!  I type up and entire month of meals planned out for each day. Including everything: main dish, sides and vegetables. I do this at the end of each month so then just a few days before the new menu begins I do one big grocery trip. It DOES feel like an expensive trip but I find myself not having to go to the grocery store every other day for certain meal items. I do still make quick trips now and then for fresh fruit, milk…things that just don’t really last a whole month.

Positives to monthly dinner menus:

-You have something planned for each day

-Groceries can all be bought ahead of time

-Be more organized so things don’t go bad (I hate wasting food just because I forgot about it!)

-Having everything written out gives you a visual of what you’re eating so you can be motivated to eat healthier

-Planning meals out ahead of time makes it easier to take the time to try new recipes

 

When I plan out a menu I take an evening to sit down and pull up all of those amazing looking Pinterest recipes that I have been wanting to try! Whereas, if I am just trying to make dinner plans last minute, chances are I am not going to try something new or even have all of the stuff for it. I also get super frustrated when I have to go to the grocery store a million times because I forgot something for a recipe (okay this still happens, who am I kidding! 😛 ) so planning ahead of time, looking at recipes and making a grocery list for everything really cuts down on this a lot.

Tips for making a monthly dinner menu:

– Leave Saturdays (or whatever day you have open and like to splurge) open for pizza, going out to eat or anything else fun your family likes to do.

– Take leftovers into account. If your family likes leftovers leave days after larger meals open for leftovers. I don’t usually plan for leftover days since it works out really well for my husband to take leftovers to work for lunch.

– Don’t plan huge meals that make lots of leftovers multiple days in a row, spread it out.

– Still plan for quick n’ easy nights like simple pasta or grilling burgers. For example, when I make lasagna I make the sauce homemade and have lots leftovers. So we will freeze serving sizes in ziplock bags to take out and quickly make up spaghetti or a pasta bake another night.

– Add new recipes you’ve been wanting to try to your menu.

– Add a vegetable to your menu for each day. I feel like by having a particular vegetable actually planned makes it way easier for me to have vegetables each night. Otherwise I find myself saying, naaa we don’t really need it! This is extra helpful for me since I want to be setting a good example for our 1 year old!

– Switch things around! There are times when my husband has to work late so we will just switch what we had planned with something simpler from another night. Make sure to still stick with it though or it is easy to fall out of taking the time to make the menu and follow it.

 

Hopefully this helps some of you the way that it helps me!

Dr. Seuss – Cat in the Hat – 1st Birthday Party!

First Birthday Party

Oh what fun, Sawyer is one!! This is a bit overdue since he turned one on the 10th but I figure, better late than never!

We had a blast throwing Sawyer his very first birthday party! It was so much fun since both sides of grandparents could both come! With living so far away from everyone, that sure doesn’t happen very often! You could really tell that Sawyer was loving all of the attention, almost like he knew that the day was all about him. I knew that I wanted to do a Dr. Seuess – Cat in the Hat theme because he has so many of the books and loves the “Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That” TV show. He grins and dances every time it comes on!

 

First Birthday Party

First Birthday Party

I was so excited to make all kinds of food and especially his very first cake! I decided to make him his own smash cake and then make cupcakes for everyone else! I even made “Green Eggs & Ham” by making the filling inside of deviled eggs green and making ham wrapped pickle rolls to go along with. My husband and I came up with some cute “Seusical” names for name tags for the food. We had things like:

Punchalafizzer (Punch)

Green Eggs & Ham

Oodles of Noodles (Pasta Salad)

Trufulla Trees (Veggies)

Barbaloot Fruits

And a few others too. It was fun and really brought out the kids in us! Well…that doesn’t really take a lot 😛

First Birthday Party

First Birthday Party

First Birthday Party

 

For the cupcakes I made Thing 1 & Thing 2 inspired cupcakes. The use of cotton candy for blue hair wasn’t really my own idea…I had seen this on Pinterest a few times! I made red velvet cake and a vanilla buttercream icing toped with blue cotton candy. Then glued on little circles to the paper but instead of saying Thing 1 & Thing 2 it said “Sawyer is 1.” Little tip, if you ever want to make cupcakes with cotton candy on top, make sure to put the cotton candy on shortly before serving. Luckily I did this so it worked out okay but after sitting for awhile the cotton candy kind of just dissolves into blue crystals on the cupcakes. This oddly enough worked out and gave it a nice texture anyway! I think it just depends on what the humidity is at and the fact that it is sitting in icing.

First Birthday Party

First Birthday Party

For Sawyer’s smash cake I made a white cake (Okay, I’ll admit it, I used boxed cake! But hey, I didn’t have a lot of time and to be honest, I think boxed cake tastes delicious!) iced with vanilla buttercream. For the buttercream I just used 1 C butter, powdered sugar, 2 tsp vanilla and milk. For the powdered sugar and milk I didn’t really measure. I just added until it all mixed together with a good taste and consistency. I made the Thing 1 & Thing 2 characters by melting white chocolate and adding color to it. The chocolate tends to harden back up a bit when you add food coloring so I added just a tiny bit of coconut oil and it melts it right back up really smooth. I had printed the characters out on paper and layed wax paper over top so that I could see the characters through it. Then I just piped the melted chocolate on the wax paper tracing the characters. I wasn’t sure if it would turn out or not but they ended up looking great!

First Birthday Party

The funniest part about the whole party was Sawyer eating his cake! We literally just sat and watched him for so long! We sang him Happy Birthday, blew out his candle and then gave him his cake. I kind of expected him to be a bit iffy about it because he doesn’t like getting gooey things all over his hands. But I mean c’mon, it’s CAKE! So I thought he’d be diving in at least a little! Nope, after nearly poking it he already has a completely disgusted look on his face! My husband goes and grabs a baby fork and to my amazement he actually uses it! He sits there and eats his cake with a fork! I love that little stinker so much!

First Birthday Party

First Birthday Party

First Birthday Party

First Birthday Party

 

Whippersnappers

 

Sawyer’s First Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Today is Sawyer’s first birthday! What?! I absolutely can’t believe it has already been a year since he was born! Where in the world did the time go? However, I feel so excited because he has learned so much and is always such a happy boy! It’s crazy how even the simplest things are so exciting when it is your own child. Something like pointing to an object may not seem like that big of a deal to most people but when you are the one to raise them and see them go through a phase of only eating, pooping and burping and all of a sudden they’re communicating! It’s HUGE!

Happy Birthday!

It’s very funny actually, I have recently noticed that there are many conversations like this in our house; Sawyer: “baadaaaaaaay.” Me to my husband: “oh my gosh…oh my gosh! Did you hear that? He said BATH TIME!!” My husband: “I think that’s a reach, hun.”

Happy Birthday!

At one year he is now walking, saying a few words, laughs all the time, points at things and is showing so much personality now! In fact, he is even getting a bit sassy. Giving dirty looks or yanking MY phone away from me when I try to take it back from him. He can be quite a stinker but he is SO much fun! I love spending my days with him.

1 Year Old! Happy First Birthday to my amazing little guy! ❤

 

Whippersnappers

Turkey-Orange Bell Pepper Baby Food Puree

Turkey-Orange Bell Pepper

Turkey is a very healthy meat option, especially for babies. I knew it wouldn’t have a very great taste on its own though so I decided to pair it with orange bell peppers. Green or yellow bell pepper would probably be just as good. My son was not a huge fan of pureed chicken. I have gotten him to eat only a total of a couple bites out of the multiple times I have given it to him. He is now having a more “I can do this myself mom” attitude apparently because he is starting to not really want a whole lot to do with purees all together. So I have now been starting to wean him off and give him more and more table foods and he is doing great! This turkey and bell pepper recipe he did like a bit better though and would be great if your baby is still a bit younger or isn’t eating actual table foods yet.

My son’s pediatrician recommended starting meats at around 9 months but you could talk to your own pediatrician to get their recommendation.

Turkey-Orange Bell Pepper

 

Turkey-Orange Bell Pepper

Turkey-Orange Bell Pepper

 

How I made it:

-1lb ground turkey

-1 orange bell pepper

-water or breastmilk

 

Start browning the meat in a large skillet. While browning the meat, wash the bell pepper off and cut into small pieces. Make sure to get the ends cut off and the middle cut out along with the seeds. Steam the bell pepper for about 10 minutes. Finish browning the meat and then drain. Let everything cool a bit and add to your blender. Since you’re using meat this one will take quite a bit of liquid. Add your water/breastmilk a small amount at a time while blending in between until you have reached desired consistency.

…and that’s it!

This puree actually smelled and tasted really good!! I would eat this myself if it wasn’t pureed of course 😛

This made 5 – 4oz jars for me.

 

 

Whippersnappers

Asparagus-Yellow Squash Baby Food Puree

Asparagus-Yellow Squash

I just made this one the other day and my son loves it!

I’ve especially been switching things up when thinking of new veggies to cook for my son. Thankfully he is normally a wonderful eater but on the occasions where he does act a bit picky, it is usually with veggies. Most of the time I think that it is because of the texture since many of the veggies end up a bit grainy. So I’ve been trying new ones out to find what he likes best so that he still gets plenty of veggies. I am also a big fan of sneaking healthy veggies in. Many veggies or even some fruits that I prepare I like to add spinach or kale since it doesn’t have a lot of flavor but adds a lot of nutrients.

Asparagus-Yellow Squash

What I used:

-2 yellow squash

-1 whole bunch of asparagus

-water

 

Rinse both veggies well. Cut the ends off of the asparagus spears (not the heads but the other end) and cut into smaller chunks. Cut ends off of the squash as well and cut into smaller chunks. Steam both veggies for 15 minutes. If you decide not to steam, I suggest cooking the asparagus in a skillet with olive oil or coconut oil. The squash could also be prepared that way or by boiling. Steaming preserves the nutrients best.

Add everything to the blender and blend well. Add some water (you may have to do this a couple of times until you get the consistency you want) and blend again until smooth!

Asparagus-Yellow Squash

See?! So simple! Making homemade baby food does NOT have to be difficult. Plus you get to know exactly what is in the food that you are feeding your baby. Not to mention saving money!

 

 

Whippersnappers

Mango-Avocado-Kale Puree

mango-avocado-kale

Another fruit puree perfect for adding to baby cereal or giving to your baby for lunch. This one, like most purees I have made, was very simple to make. I chose to use a lot of mangoes for this one so that I could have plenty extra to freeze. I use fruit on most days to add to my son’s cereal for breakfast so I go through it pretty quickly.

mango-avocado-kale

 

mango-avocado-kale

Here’s how I made this one:

Keep in mind I wanted to make a lot so you could cut this down if you wanted to make less. If you wanted to make a single serving I would suggest using half of each fruit and then 1 or 2 kale leaves.

 

Use:

-5 mangoes

-1 avocado

-1 whole bunch of kale leaves

-water or breastmilk

 

The only thing that I cooked for this baby food is the kale leaves. Everything else can simply be cut up and tossed into the blender. Since the fruits are not cooked, I would suggest that this puree not be used for one of baby’s first solids. Make sure to rinse the mangoes, avocado and kale leaves. Peel and pit the mangoes, slice into small pieces and put into the blender. Peel and pit the avocado, slice into chunks and put it into the blender. Cut the stems off of the kale leaves and steam the leaves for about 10-15 minutes. Rinse leaves when you are done and let cool for a bit or run cold water over them. Add the kale to the blender and blend well. You won’t need much liquid for this one. Add small amounts of water or breastmilk as needed. This made 8 – 4oz jars and a whole ice cube tray for me.

mango-avocado-kale

As you can see, this is what I do when I run out of jars while making baby food…improvise by using an ice cube tray! Ice cube trays work great, you could also use them if you don’t have any jars or some other sort of baby food storage. I let the tray freeze and then pop all of the cubes out and put them into a ziplock bag and back into the freezer. This way you can just grab however many cubes you want as you need them.

My son loves this one by itself or mixed with cereal!

 

 

Whippersnappers

Chicken – Cheddar Broccoli Baby Food Puree

Chicken - Cheddar/Broccoli

It’s official…we are starting meats now!

My son had his 9 month appointment a couple of weeks ago and his pediatritian suggested to start him on meats now. I had been previously giving him little pieces here and there from my own plate at dinner but now he can have his own for a whole meal! This opens up a whole new world of possibilities with his homemade baby food so I was very excited! However, little road block…he doesn’t really like it pureed :/ I can tell it is definitely a texture thing. I will put it in his mouth and he immediately sticks out his tongue and lets it fall out. But it’s okay, we are working on it and hopefully he starts to like meats a bit more.

For his first meat meal I decided that chicken would be easiest and I wanted to add a veggie. Plus, it will be better flavors by adding a veggie or something else instead of trying to give them just the meat plain. I decided on Chicken – cheddar/broccoli. Since I usually like to make his food in bulk and then freeze it, I wasn’t sure how good the cheese would be so I decided to just make the cheddar broccoli and then add some of the cheese when heating up his meal after thawing it. But if you are going to make it and give it to your baby fresh then you could just add the cheese at the same time.

Chicken - Cheddar/Broccoli

Chicken - Cheddar/Broccoli

How I made it:

-1 lb chicken

-1 small bushel of broccoli

-1 Tbsp cheddar cheese

-Breastmilk or water

 

Cut chicken in bite-sized pieces. You could also leave them not cut up to cook them but I cut them into pieces to ensure that they would be fully cooked and also figured it would be much easier to puree that way. Steam the chicken for 20-30 minutes. The chicken could also be cooked on the stovetop or baked in the oven. Remove the chicken and add to your blender and set aside. Steam broccoli for about 15 minutes. Towards the end add the cheese to melt it in. Like I previously said, if you are going to be making a whole batch and freezing it, you could simply melt the cheese in later when heating up a single meal. Add the cheese and broccoli to the blender as well and let it all cool a bit. Add a small amount of breastmilk or water. You may need to add more once you start blending if it is to dry or needs to smooth out. Blend well, and that’s it!

I actually thought that this smelled really good! I would eat it myself if, well you know…it wasn’t pureed!

This made about 5 – 4oz jars for me but varies depending on how much meat and broccoli you use.

 

 

Whippersnappers

Christmas Sensory Play for Babies

Baby Sensory Play

My son is now 9 months old and constantly on the move! He is sometimes really good at entertaining himself for short periods of time but most of the time he needs constant attention and engagement or else he quickly gets bored. I am always trying to think of new ideas and activities for him to keep him busy. It is tricky with a 9 month old since he is pretty limited in what he can do yet but there are still so many possibilities and I am trying to switch things up on most days.

 

I use Pinterest a lot to get ideas from other great minds on activities for babies and fun things to do together. Sometimes I want an activity that will keep my baby busy on his own so that I can get something done and other times I like to think of new things that we can do to spend time together. Then there are times like this one where I do something with the intention of keeping him busy but ends up having so much fun and is being so cute that I just end up watching him and laughing at him the whole time! Lately I have really been into sensory play and giving him things with different textures, colors and shapes to let him explore and learn. There are many quick and easy sensory play recipe ideas that use common items that you have in your kitchen! Check out my Pinterest “Activities, Arts & Crafts” page to see a compilation of different activity ideas.

Baby Sensory Play

I decided it would be a good day for some sensory play and what better to do than a Christmas theme?! These are just three super simple ideas that I was able to throw together very quickly. I usually do things like this during nap time so that he doesn’t get impatient while I am trying to do it. This way fun times are awaiting him right when he wakes up!

 

I used 3 different ideas of completely different textures. The first bag I used was crumpled up tissue paper (red & green for Christmas! Come up with your own theme ideas or it doesn’t have to be a theme at all!). The second bag was…”goop,” for lack of a better term. It was just flour and water mixed up. No need to measure really, I just scooped some flour into a bowl and added water until it was a good consistency. The last bag is dyed spaghetti. I knew you could dye spaghetti with food coloring but I had never actually tried it. I was so excited with how it turned out so vibrant! It is actually a bit ridiculous at how excited I was about this spaghetti! I’m totally doing this again in the future…but for eating, not playing! 😛 All I did was cook the spaghetti (or any pasta) as usual and added food coloring while in the boiling water.

Baby Sensory Play

To my surprise, this actually kept him busy for a good while! I mean…he is 9 months, it’s not like it was hours or anything, but hey, he had a great time and that’s all that matters! The pictures really show that he was loving it! The tissue paper was his favorite of course because he just looooooves crinkly things! He also liked the spaghetti and was really trying to figure it out. The goop on the other hand, he didn’t play with it much. I kept showing it to him and he would feel it and act all disgusted with a wrinkled up nose face! By the way, check out all that drool! He is getting his top teeth in and the drool is sure flowing!

Baby Sensory Play

Making homemade play recipes doesn’t have to be hard…keep things simple, but switch it up! Enjoy the holidays!

 

 

Whippersnappers

Blueberry-Raspberry Baby Puree

Blueberry-Raspberry Baby Food

Here’s how to make this super simple fresh berry fruit puree for your baby!

 

What you’ll need:

-1 container of fresh blueberries

-1 container of fresh raspberries

 

Make sure to rinse both berries well first. Cook all berries together in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water and add them to the blender. The berries have enough of their own juice that you shouldn’t need to add any extra liquid. If it is too thick just add a bit of water. This made about 5 servings of fruit for me. Of course, that’s by using the itty bitty yet super duper expensive containers from the grocery store. If you got them in larger bulk while they are in season somewhere like the farmer’s market, then you could probably make a lot more for cheaper!

Blueberry-Raspberry Baby Food

That’s it! See what I mean? Very simple! My 9 month old absolutely loved this combination mixed in with his cereal in the mornings. Hope your baby enjoys this as well!

 

Whippersnappers