Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays from our family to yours!  We have been with family the last few days and will continue to be for a few more so we hope you are enjoying what time off you may have with people you love!

We also hope Santa was good to you this year.

He was to us!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Coupon code for Amber Teething Necklaces

Interested in buying an amber teething necklace? Now's the time to buy! For the next 4 days, this coupon code MC25 is valid for 25% off anything at Inspired by Finn's online store!  This offer expires 12/17.

Read about the benefits of amber and our experiences using it with Gabe here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guest post!

Today I have the pleasure of guest posting over at Modern Alternative Mama about hosting others in your home...not that I excel at it, as this is a big area of opportunity for me, but I'm definitely working on it!

How do you host others in your home if some of your "customs" are a bit different??  Join in on the conversation over at Modern Alternative Mama!

Want to see my other guest posts at Modern Alternative Mama? Click here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

6 simple, easy ways to save during the holidays

No matter how well you might plan from year to year, it always seems that there are surprise expenses one incurs around the holidays. Maybe it's the airline tickets you didn't know would be so expensive, or the cost of fuel, or perhaps those holiday gifts aren't just adding up to the right number like how you thought they would.  Hopefully, you take time to budget for these things, so you can feel more in control of your finances throughout the holiday season.  This month, Greg & I made a commitment to eat out less as a way to save money.  That, in turn means that we are eating in more! Funny how that works, huh?  Well, here are a few simple tips to help you curb the temptation to eat out during such a busy season.

1. Meal plan.  Meal planning is both my nemesis and my best friend. When we are at odds, it's because I lack inspiration and am tired of the same ol' same ol'. When we are best friends, it's because I feel I've found my stride, do not lack many ingredients, and perhaps I just read someone's yummy post, say over at Nourished & Nurtured.  However, when I sit down and take the time to do it, which often requires looking back at my calendar for meal plans of the past, opening up my recipe binder, and scanning my pantry & fridge, I'm usually able to come up with at least 3 meals.  Ideally 5-7 is best for me just to get me going.  Need inspiration? There are many meal plan websites out there, but I really appreciate Stephanie of Keeper of the Home's 4 week meal plan for whole food based ideas.

2. Make double batches of meals.  Let's say you can only come up with 3 meals, but you need food for 6 out of 7 nights of the week.  Double up on your 3 meals and you have food to feed you the other 3 nights!  I know that's not a totally brill idea, but it's really easy.  Just try to choose meals your family will really enjoy, so you don't get the stank eye when you place ratatouille on the table for the 2nd time in a week.  No one likes the stank eye.  (But a select few might like ratatouille.)  Making a quiche? Make 2. You can freeze the liquid quiche mixture if you need to, and then thaw it overnight for use the next day.  You can freeze the shredded cheese as well.

3.  Use your crockpot.  I tend to be more successful at getting dinner on the table if it's already been assembled for me, by me, earlier in the day. This means getting things into my crockpot at least 4-8 hours in advance (the earlier the better in most cases to let meats completely thaw and slow-roast).  There are tons of crockpot recipes out there as well as ebooks. I recently purchased Mama & Baby Love's ecookbook "From Your Freezer to Your Family" for $5 over Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend (it was only $5 and had SO many whole-foods based recipes)!  I've already made a few of the recipes and plan on making more.  The great thing is the recipes are already doubled, so you make it once for two meals (and freeze them both).  Or in my case, I was impatient, and made them right away.  There are many other ebooks like "Crock On" from Stacy Makes Cents.  Tons of other crockpot recipes exist on Pinterest.  Go Buck Wild.

4. Run errands during a non-mealtime timeslot.  I wanted to say "during a non-mealtime time," but I was afraid it'd look like I didn't know how to speak English.  Yo hablo ingles, ok??  It's very tempting, in my stage of life, to run errands during a mealtime (particularly lunch because of my kids' nap schedules), so that I can run through the drive-through at my favorite chicken place that also has amazing waffle fries and under-3 board books.  They might have the initials of C, F, and A.  You might know what I'm talking about.  And even though they send me really great coupons in the mail, I don't have to use them.  (This is a self-pep-talk here.  Megan, you don't have to use them.  You may repeat this to yourself and replace it with your name.)
Back to the story. By opting not to run errands during a mealtime, I'm less likely to get the starving, hankering feeling in my stomach that ImusteatnoworIshallperish!! and I'm more likely to avoid whining from my kids. Let's face it, kids get hungry too.  So, sometimes we eat lunches early, like, before 12o'clock (!!!). I might start pulling out the lunch food at 11:15 to get it going, so that when Gabe wakes up from his nap, his lunch is ready to be served, and Mia & I are already eating.  Then we can run errands without feeling the honing signal from you-name-it.  And save dolla bills, y'all.

5. Eat your leftovers.  The worst part of creating a meal plan, preparing your food and baking or cooking it, is when you have amazing leftovers that are not eaten because the food is deemed not as fresh, or you hear the infamous quote, "I ate that yesterday."  Well, you probably ate an apple, or cheese, or the same kind of breakfast yesterday but I don't see you throwing a fit about that repetition, so why do we get all up in arms when it comes down to leftovers for lunch or dinner? For a second, lay aside your foodie dreams and just eat the leftovers.  Prep 'em in a new way, or throw in a new side, or add some dressing, salsa or some chicken broth to liven up the old meat, yum, dinner's in YOUR TUM.  No more whining. Eat your leftovers.  (Pro tip: I like to reheat my food on the stove or in the oven. Nothing's worse than reheating leftovers in the microwave only to have it pipin' hot on one side and cold as ice on the other.  Plus, you'll retain more nutrients by old-school heating methods.  Truth.)

6. Play the "Clear-Out-The-Pantry-Game."  I have to confess, I'm not the best at this, but some situations call for dire measures, and sometimes you just gotta eat the random junk you still haven't touched in your pantry or freezer or fridge (provided it's not expired).  Crackers, cheese and grapes might not be enough to fill up the beefy men in your life, but you'd be surprised at how well it might quench the appetite of a young lady.  Just use your best judgment in choosing pantry items free of additives, MSG or other hidden toxins (hopefully they're not there in the first place)!

There are many more ideas, to be sure, but this is just a simple list to get you going.  I didn't even discuss soaking dry beans!

How do you save money during high-expense periods (like the holidays?)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sweet kids, sweet life

Same tree, new location

A year ago at this time, I was in funky haze of life with a newborn and a 2.5 year old.  I think there was a lot of Max & Ruby, several attempts at cute pictures of the two of the kids together, and many prayers for good naps (and good nights).  When I think back on that time, I somehow don't recall how exhausted I probably was, or the lack of patience I may have exuded.  I seem to only remember the warm, fuzzy times, and it makes me just a little bit more excited about this holiday season.

It just seems like this past year went by so fast!!
Gabe @ 5 weeks old

Mia is taller, more grown-up, tells us funny things, leaves the "t" out of the "th" sound (so "things" sounds like "hings"), and is much more verbally expressive and her comprehension of the world around her is increasingly widening.  She can hear you say something and repeat it back and it seems like it makes sense to her, even if she asks "why?" about it a million times (still)!

She also unintentionally makes us laugh.  The other night at dinner Greg was telling me about some things going on at work. I was processing what he said (sometimes that can take me a while), so after seconds of silence I said, "I hear you," to which Mia promptly responded: "I didn't say any'hing," very matter-of-factly. Greg & I burst out laughing.  Girl pays attention!

Our most recent family pictures -
Gabe gets clobbered by Mia.  No big deal.
Gabe is crawling, babbling, waving, buzzing his lips with his hands, chowing down on all sorts of foods, and breaking molars left and right.  His right molar just broke through and it appears the left one is working its way in, as well as a bottom tooth on the right!  I am so thankful for the amber teething necklace because it has seemingly helped us so much through this process!!

[Interested in a teething necklace? Use my coupon code MC25 at within the next 2 weeks and save 25%! These would make great gifts for anyone in your life suffering from teething or inflammation (can be used on adults too!)]

He walks great if you hold his hands. He moves his legs like he knows what he's doing, but if you let go, he does a mini-squat, and then plops down on his bottom and starts crawling like a mad man.  I guess in this case, both the flesh and the spirit are weak.  Mia did not walk until 15 months, so I am okay with this.

He makes sounds that sound like, "buh buh" (bye bye), "what's that," "mama," and "dada."  He does lots of other mumblings too, but I haven't decoded what they might stand for now.  If he is getting whiny or insistent about something, he might say, "digga digga digga" really fast and earnestly!
He is still really easy-going and plays independently really well. We can set him down in front of a bunch of toys and he'll just play, investigate and rummage through them all.

We had family pictures done the weekend before Thanksgiving and should be getting them anyday now. I can't wait to update our old family photos.  Gabe doesn't look quite the same as he does in the header on this blog!
These are my hoodlums
The rest of this month is enjoying holiday things in FL before we head out for a bit to visit our families. We can't wait to be with everyone for the holidays, but we're also enjoying our family time down here.  It's been a while since we traveled and have done an extensive road-trip so our fingers are crossed and prayers will be lifted that things are smooth-sailing.  Gabe just got an upgrade on his carseat so 2 fist pumps for the Britax deal at Target on Cyber Monday. Gotta love Target!

sleepy Gabe in church on Sunday
PS: We had a great Thanksgiving with both sides of our family!  We hosted it at our house and it went really smoothly. I was very thankful for a low-stress holiday, lots of good time, and family time!
Mia & Braden having a blast playing MarioKart (their first time)

1 set of grandkids & grandparents

and the other side (featuring new cousin McKaber!)

Hoodlums are waking up for their naps so it may be time soon for some wagon walking...

Mia; Amelia; Me & Gabe; Mo & Rory
Until next time, adios!