Monday, June 30, 2014

Dr. Carey's Baby Care Book review AND Giveaway!


I have been around the baby book aisle many times. Having had three kiddos myself, I have googled and read so much information about baby care.  I was asked to review Dr. Carey's Baby Care: First Year Baby Care Guide book & two Dr. Carey Swaddling Blankets.

While I am past this part of my life, I figured I had enough friends and readers to make this review useful!
The book is a VERY picture heavy book. I LOVE that about this book. I know I have read about rashes and other issues (diaper content related) before in books and it describes it, but like they say  "picture is worth a thousand words". 

Dr. Carey's book touches base on many things that you would run to Dr. Google for:  milestones, what is that white stuff on my newborns nose, is it normal for my newborns arm to look "veiny", and what is considered a fever based on where I take it?  

Pretty sure my FAVORITE quote was about traveling. 

“Just because you have a new baby, do not feel trapped at home. It is easier to go out with a newborn than it will be when your baby is six months old. Unless someone is coughing on your baby, you have little to be concerned about.  Bundle your baby appropriately and go out. Even airplane travel is safe and very simple with a newborn. If possible,offer a pacifier or feed your baby via bottle or breast during take-off and landing to reduce the possibility of ear discomfort when the pressure changes. Enjoy the world with your baby. You will be much happier not feeling trapped inside.” 

I know that lots of new moms are scared to travel with babies.  Scared to go out to the store with your kiddo.  Let me tell you something...traveling with babies is EASY PEASY compared to traveling with a baby 6 months of older.  Take that bit of advice up there to heart.

Along with the book, they sent two cute flannel swaddling blankets. 



If you have never swaddled a baby, don't worry, you will learn.  Swaddling, or burritoing as Eric and I called it, can help SO much. Granted, some babies hate to be swaddled, but my kiddos loved it.  

Swaddling blankets are great for many uses. I used them to swaddle with, of course.  I also used them for play time on the floor, nursing cover, if you have to change your baby on one of those changing stations when you are out they are great to put down first, impromptu burp cloth...  I could really keep going.   These are super soft and have a cute print that would be great for boys or girls!

So, now that I told you about this awesome stuff, would you like a chance to win them?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The House of Boys...& a Girl is not responsible for shipping the winner their prize.  Dr. Carey's will ship the prize to the winner.

Good luck!
Purchase the book on Amazon HERE
Find Dr. Care'y Website HERE

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Can I have S'More ice cream, please? Recipe included!

Ever since the kids realized I had an ice cream maker, they have been requesting new flavors. Nate got the Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ice Cream last week.  This week was Aidan's turn.  He kept requesting odd things, so,I decided for him. He was thrilled.

The recipe is just a basic vanilla,with stuff thrown in.You can vary the amount of vanilla you add. I used 2tsp. This equalled a very vanilla, vanilla.  The quality of the flavor is really based on the quality of the vanilla. The higher the grade vanilla, the better it will taste!


Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 25 Hershey kisses (what I had left in my bag)
  • 5 whole Graham Cracker sheets
  • 1 small container of Marshmallow cream
Directions:
  1. In a saucepan pour in milk, cream, and sugar. Heat of medium and stir until sugar dissolves. You don't have to heat it, you can just whisk away until it dissolves.  I go the quick route.
  2. Once dissolved, remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla.
  3. Pour mixture into a bowl, cover, and place in your fridge for at least an hour.
  4. While cooling, roughly chop the chocolate and graham crackers. Set aside.
  5. Once the mixture in the fridge is thoroughly chilled, start processing it in your ice cream maker per manufacturer directions.
  6. When it is almost done, add in the chopped kisses, graham crackers, and marshmallow cream. Add them SLOWLY.  I actually used a rubber spatula to help press it down into the machine so the add-ins wouldn't be stuck all on top.

         7. Remove from ice cream maker and place in your freezer for about an hour 
           IF NEEDED. As I said before, mine ends up like soft serve if I don't. I like the 
           ice cream to be scoopable.
Enjoy!




Monday, June 23, 2014

LumenX Bike Light Review! (Or, what I gave Eric for Father's Day)

Before kiddos, Eric and I had fun, lazy mornings. He would go to the park and play disc golf, or maybe ride his bike. I slept and drank coffee.  It was glorious.  Once kids came into the picture, mornings were not lazy times any more. Any meal time now equals insanity.

When we moved into our house a few years ago we noticed that across the road is a nature preserve that links up to a huge park. That preserve has a gravel road and has been calling to Eric for years.  Finally now, the kids are a bit more self reliant and not as daunting to deal with first thing in the morning. This means that Eric gets to start biking again!

I know what you are thinking.  "Sarah.  Why didn't you let him go before?"  To which I will reply, "Three kids that need help with everything+ non-morning person mom = no fun"  So there ya have it. I didn't let him go because I hate mornings.

 Now the kids sleep a tiny bit later and Eric can jump on his bike and go!  One thing I never was too thrilled with was him biking in the dark.First thing in the morning is a great time to ride, but on the trails it gets a bit dark. I want to know that Eric is safe and will make it back in one piece. I also wanted to make sure that cars see him! (He has to ride across the street to get to the trail.)  The solution: LumenX Bike Light

The very first thing I noticed when I opened the box was the back light. The red definitely stands out against all the black.
Turned it on and it was super bright. You push the center of the light to turn it on.  It has a few different settings that you can see below.



Another awesome thing about this light set, is that the main light can be taken out of the holder and it is a flashlight! It grips well into the clamp, but can easily slide out if necessary.  It even comes with a handy wrist strap!

The light was super easy for Eric to install on his bike.

The rear light has an elastic band that just looped around and hooked on itself.

Overall, I am super happy with this set.  Not only can Eric ride now and be safe, I also feel comfortable knowing that he can be seen.  It has LED lights that are shockproof, they can shine up to 500 feet to illuminate your path, the cases are made from a military grade alluminum, AND it has a flexible silicone water resistant body!

The ONLY thing that I wish it came with was batteries.  The small rear light does. The main light requires AAA batteries.

You can check them out at this following link:


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Backyard Gardening...do you do it?

I haven't talked much about my garden this year, just because I was scared it would fail.  Seriously.  Last year I had squash and it was going fantastically.  I saw a lot of odd looking ladybugs, they were kind of orange. Ladybugs suppose to be good for a garden though, right?  I heard they eat aphids.  Then these happened.

 They look like cute little Minions from Despicable Me, don't that?  They are bugs sent straight from hell.  They eat through your squash plants.  They destroy them.  It was going fan-freaking-tastic....then death. Within a matter of days, the squash was gone.  RIP 2013 Squash.

So I was hesitant about the garden again this year, but I still planted.  I wanted to get that bumper crop of squash and zucchini that other people get! I wanted fresh veggies!  It is finally happening. The garden is growing.  

The devil bugs came back again.  I have been inspecting every day and picking them off and killing them.  I finally went to the nursery and got some "powder" stuff.  That didn't work.  I got sick of them and we headed to Lowe's and got some Sevin Spray .

I know,I know....poison. BUT this one it is safe for gardens and DOESN'T penetrate the plant. I wash off all my crops anyway before eating.  One quick spray/water killed the evil bugs. This says it kills on the plant and in the ground.  So far, so good.
This year I planted corn, asparagus beans, peas, squash, zucchini, peppers, and carrots. I had a few more things, but my squash over took the garden and no sun equals no plants. My zucchini never grew.  I went to the nursery and grabbed some cucumber plants and shoved them in. They MIGHT get some sun.  The squash is giant.  We are actually going to build another garden bed next year to plant all the poofy plants in.


See, giant. It is covering a good quarter of my planting area. THe bottom right is where I put the cucumber.  I am pretty sure I have some random flower growing there.  lol

So now you get to look at my random plants and ooooh and ahhhhh.  First up...corn!

I tried corn before and it failed.  The area we originally planted a garden got covered with trees.  I planted them in the actual garden this time.  It is going AWESOME.


When I told a friend I was planing asparagus beans, she reply "huh?"  Think: crazy long green beans.  I was getting REALLY bummed because nothing was happening. Just vines. Then one day, I had a gorgeous purple flower.
The flower was dead by the afternoon.  I was bummed. Then I noticed it was slowly sliding off.  Coming out of the dead flower was....A BEAN!!!! Seriously, how cool is that?
We did potatoes in the garden last year and they worked great, BUT it wasn't able to get very deep. I wanted lots of potatoes, so I figured I would do potatoes in a bucket. I had a bunch of green tubs that I got on super clearance at Walmart. I had Eric drill drainage holes in the bottom.  You throw some dirt in and place a potato on top.  Then throw more dirt on it.  I bought some of those "guaranteed to grow" potatoes at Lowe's.  I have found that guaranteed to grow does NOT actually guarantee growth.  I have tried strawberries twice. NOTHING.  So I figured I would give these a shot.

Nothing was happening.

Until something did.  Three of the 5 are growing!! Once they get a bit more "stalky" you add more dirt and keep repeating. This suppose to yield a BUNCH of potatoes.  You can read more about it HERE.
 I have about a million small flower pots, so I decided to grow some odd things too. I have artichokes. Once they get bigger I need to plant them in the ground.  They suppose to grow GIANT. I have 4.  I love artichokes.  I hope my neighbors do too!
 On our railing I have strawberries in pots.  I bought the "guaranteed to grow".  They didn't.  So I bought a flat from Lowe's. They are doing great! The birds are well fed! I need to buy a deterrent. Maybe a fake owl? That sounds more fun than just netting.
 In this mornings harvest I actually picked the first squash and TWO strawberries!!  Got them first ya filthy birds!
 Those are peas in the pods! Look how cute when you open them. My fingernail sliced a few. 
Last, but definitely not least....my fig tree.  It is growing so huge. It is a Chicago Hardy Fig. I probably should have kept the base trimmed a bit more then I first got it.  It has only been in the ground for a few years.
 This year is going to have a bumper crop of figs!  Normally I get a few at a time. Look how many are growing! I have to research some recipes!
 So excited to watch it grow this year!  I also have a pot of mini cucumbers. They suppose to get about an inch big and look like Barbie sized watermelons. They just started growing!

Do you plant "traditional" plants, or throw in some odd balls like I do?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pimsleur Spanish One Review

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

When I was in high school I took Spanish for a semester.  Then I took French for two years.

In college, I took Latin for a year.  I transferred colleges and their Latin class was MUCH more advanced, so I dropped.  THEN I found out I couldn't just sign up for entry level French since I took it in high school. I knew I was no where close to where I needed to be for college level, so, I took German.

Needless to say I have been around the block when it comes to language taking.  Want to know what I can say in each language?

In French:  "I am a cheese omelet."  AND the ever useful "I eat hamsters." These phrases are actually known due to my Drama teacher in high school. She taught me those.  OH! I can also say "What is your name?" and "How are you?"  I only remember those because of a cheer my teacher taught me.

In Latin: nothing. I mean, it is a dead language.

German:  "That is my beer." "Can I have a beer?"  "I have a hangover."  What can I say?  It was college. 

As you can see, I am not one to shy away from languages, BUT I am also one who doesn't retain much info.

Spanish, on the other hand, I am learning thanks to the Pimsleur Spanish 1 CD set.

Pimsleur Spanish 1 is a course on CD. When I received it and opened the box I felt "special".  That sounds a bit lame doesn't it?  but I did.  It is REALLY nicely packaged.

 The box itself looks like a book.  This totally fits i\onto a bookshelf. When I took Italian, which I just remembered I took for a semester in college, the course came with TAPES. Yes, cassette tapes.  The tapes were in this hard plastic shell thing.  This is much nicer and sleeker.
 Each course comes with 16 cd's.   Each "class" is about 30 minutes long.
 The entire philosophy of this system is 100% audio based learning.  No reading, no writing, no memorization.   You listen to a conversation, they break it down for for, they say it, and you repeat it.  They encourage repeating the "lesson" until you can get most of the questions correct. I have to admit I had to do the first a few times.

I really enjoy how you learn actual usable information.  You can memorize tenses all day long, but I think I remember the phrases that I did because they were actual usable phrases.  Well, as useable as "I eat hamsters" is in French.   It has a real cool ring to it.

I also love the portability of it.  I MIGHT drive down the road learning Spanish and I MIGHT make my kids recite and learn as well while filming them.  (Phone set up BEFORE driving. I wasn't fiddling while driving down the road.)



 There actually is no "making" them do it. The boys get in the car "I want to learn Spanish!  Can you start the CD?"  They have some ESL kids in their class. I think this helps up the cool factor for them. 

Overall , I am super happy with the CD and will be using it to increase my Spanish speaking skills in the weeks to come!  I have a huge car trip in a few months.  Maybe I will be ready for more CD's at that point!

  I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ice Cream Recipe!!! (or how I gained 5 lbs over night)

Back on May the 4th, we went to a comic book store for Comic Book day.  We had time to kill before we were allowed in and went to check out the ice cream store that was next to them.  Nate got Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ice Cream and hasn't stopped talking about it since.

This week I figured I could be the coolest and try to recreate it.  I succeeded.  He told me it was BETTER than the ice cream shop.  Score one for mom! 

This ice cream is so good. You have the cinnamon of the ice cream and then the hunks of cookie. If you are an anti-raisin person, I still like you.  Just omit them from the recipe.  This recipe DOES call for planning. I baked my favorite oatmeal raisin cookies for this recipe.  You can do that as well, OR buy cookies. Either way, you need to have the cookies ready before the ice cream. The cookies are cut and frozen before being added to help keep them from falling apart in the churner.  I have a Cuisinart 2 quart Ice Cream maker and LOVE it.

My FAVORITE oatmeal cookie recipe is the Quaker Oats Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipe.  If you don't want extra cookies, I would half the recipe.  I don't even really understand what I just wrote.  Who wouldn't want extra cookies?  Go ahead and make the whole recipe and eat one, or four, while they cool.  They have oatmeal, raisins, and eggs.  You could probably eat them for breakfast they are so healthy.

I have mentioned it before, but if you don't use a cookie scoop, you should.  A scoop helps to yield in uniform size cookies.  This is awesome for baking purposes because they cook at the same rate.  Plus, my kids like to be the "floppers".  V is a pretty awesome flopper.


After the cookies are cool, I grabbed about 10 and cut them into pieces.  This is where uniformity comes in. I did each cookie across in 3 or 4 pieces, turned the knife, and sliced across again 3 or 4 times. That way you get nice little squares.


Grab the squares, put them in a freezer safe container, and pop them in the freezer until they are ready for the ice cream. You should probably sample a square here...you know...quality control.

Time to make the ice cream!  (ice cream recipe adapted from The Live-In Kitchen)

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup maple syrup)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon (to taste)
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Directions:
  1. Pre-fill the sink with cold water and ice.
  2. In a medium saucepan add the milk, sugar, and cinnamon.  Whisk them together and heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Remove from the heat and add the heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and salt.  Stir.
  4. Take the pan over to the sink and hold it in the water being careful not to get water in the milk mixture. SLOWLY and carefully stir the milk mixture until it cools down.
  5. Remove pan, dry off bottom, cover with plastic wrap, and stick the pan in the refrigerator for AT LEAST an hour, up to overnight  You need the base to be COLD.
  6. Pour the base into your ice cream maker and process it according to your makers instructions. Mine was about 15-20 minutes. 
  7. Add cookie pieces from the freezer and process it for a couple more minutes.
 At this stage I just turned off the machine and scooped the base into a big freezer safe bowl and stirred in the rest of the cookie chunks. My poor maker couldn't handle all the cookies in the bowl.

Ice cream makers are AWESOME, but it comes out like a soft serve typically. I like to be able to scoop it, so I threw the bowl (covered) into the freezer for another hour.

I ended up with perfection.

Enjoy!  S'mores ice cream coming later this week!

Treasure Trax game review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Summer is almost upon us and the kids are out of school.  This means heat. LOTS AND LOTS OF HEAT.  In our neighborhood, we have a pool, but it isn't the most fun for the kiddos.  V still being little can't swim.  That means, no fun for her.  

Having three kids stuck inside all day is a rather boring.  I really dislike lots of screen time, but trying to occupy three kids who can't go outside due to 90+ degree humid weather is tricky. I might have found a solution for some of the boredom.  Treasure Trax!


Treasure Trax is scavenger hunt game that you can do in your house!    Best thing about it...it is cleaned up when you are done playing! 
The game comes with 30 location cards (there are a few specifically for outside), 18 clue cards, and 12 animal cards.   The directions were a bit tricky sounding when you read them, but easily understood once you started.
Here's how it works. They tell you to pick out a specific amount of each type of card.  I didn't do that.  For us, it was easier to carry them along as I went.  You determine where you want to have the hunt start and find a corresponding card. For us, we picked the refrigerator. So we found a location card with a refrigerator on it and left it on the kitchen table.
 At the refrigerator we left a clue card.  The clue cards range from easily understood clues like colors, to letter clues. When V was the searcher, we used the color cards since she can't spell.  For Aidan, we left the letter cards to make it a bit trickier.

So on the fridge, Aidan and I placed an "orange"clue.  Nate helped V hunt.
INSIDE the fridge, under an orange, we placed an animal card (what you are trying to find) and the next location card.
Next location was the "coffee table" on the table was a "blue" clue. In the "blue" bag was the animal card...and the next location.

 Overall we did about 5 animals the first time.  We made them pretty easy for V.

 Can you guess where the animal card was with the red clue?

For Aidan we made it much trickier.  At one point he had to find a toy box (we have three).  Then his hint was "B"  For him, B equaled "bed". We hid the card under V's blanket.

I really love how this game can be played by all ages and the kids can play together.  Lots of times games V can play are too young for the boys and the boys games are too old for V.

The cards that come with the game are made of a thick cardboard and pretty darn sturdy AND it comes with a purple bag that holds all the cards!  SCORE!

Overall, this is a super fun game that gets the kids away from the screen and gets them playing together! The game says it's recommended age is 3-5, but I think that is a rather short estimate.  I would say older kids would like this, especially if they are playing with younger siblings.  Older kids make excellent hiders!

You can purchase your own game:HERE
You can follow their Facebook page : HERE
 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Toy Box Makeover

When I was little, I had a toy box. It was a fantastic red vinyl covered box that I use to store everything in. Including myself. I took naps in it. When I got older, I went through an "everything must be black" stage.  My mom "recovered" it in black vinyl. After a few years of abuse it got stored in the garage and remained there as a blanket holder for years.

When I was redoing V's room last year I remembered that I had that in the garage and knew I needed to redo it!  It was seriously sad looking.


Vinyl was tearing. It was all weird and poof.  
Also, the hinge that held the lid up was gone.  It is most definitely not airtight, but I still wanted a hinge for it.  YEARS ago we planned on redoing it and never did. I had a hinge laying around from then and luckily I found it: Hinge for Toybox

I grabbed the box and started taking out the staples.  What did I find under it? THE RED VINYL!!!!

Unfortunately, the top was missing the red vinyl so I couldn't stick with just the red. V and I ran to our local fabric super store and looked at all the vinyl.  She picked out a sparkly blue.  


I basically just placed the box in the center of the vinyl, wrapped, tugged,and stapled. I used the same foam padding for the sides, but added new padding to the top.


We added on the hinge and then I figured I would use upholstery tacks and make it like it use to be. I didn't even remember it having those tacks on it,but I did see the indentions on the red vinyl.   The tacks worked AMAZING on the front. I had to hammer them in. The top was a different matter.

 The way the top is made was: wood, piece of cardboard, foam, vinyl. The tack would not make it all the way through thecardboard into the wood. I didn't even think about the cardboard causing a challenge. I was totally out of vinyl at this point so I couldn't recover it. I also couldn't take them out because of the holes in the vinyl.  I had marked and poked the tacks into the top of the vinyl so I could line them up evenly.

So I did what any good crafter would do. I grabbed my trusty E-6000  and glued them down. 

 What do you think?  I love how it turned out! I really like how V is using something that I used 30 years ago!

Have you done any fun makeovers of your old childhood items for your kiddos?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day by Day: Vitamin C Serum

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

As you are aware, if you are an avid reader of my blog,  I have been sharing some skin care items with you lately that I got to review.  The latest is Day by Day: Vitamin C Serum


This serum is packaged in a pretty cobalt blue bottle (to limit exposure to light) and has a pump.The purpose of the pump is to limit exposure to air and to bacteria. The ONLY issue I had with this was that the serum was rather thin. If I just pumped it onto my finger it would run off.  To defeat this, I just would tilt my face and squirt directly onto my cheek.  Since I am not sure of the exact amount I am using due to this application process, I can't judge how much is actually being used.  I use about 2 squirts to cover my entire face.

The product sinks into the skin rather easily. I didn't notice a residue feeling on my face, it felt rather smooth, but on my hands I could feel it.  Not a huge issue since I wash my hands repeatedly when touching my face getting ready in the morning.

If you are sensitive to smells, I did not notice any aroma.  

The formula is plant based, and contains no parabens, alcohol,or fillers. I have rather sensitive skin and it worked great for me!  No reactions to speak of other than nice soft skin.

When you purchase through them, the company offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee for the life of the product.  No matter when or where it was purchased.   *Results or your money back*

With a guarantee like that, it would be silly not to give it a try! You can buy it here!  Also, check out their website HERE for more products!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.