Cheap Summer Treats

2017-05-23 19.03.13Looking for a way to cool down this summer? Now that the weather is warming up… What better way to beat the heat than homemade lemon-aid pops. This anytime treat is so simple, tasty and affordable – it kinda feels like cheating!

Slice fruit such as strawberries, peaches, apples, kiwi and add to pop molds. You can also add blackberries, blueberries and raspberries too.

Next, fill with lemon-aid. Note: don’t fill completely to the top… leave just a little room for the stick to insert to avoid juice spill over.

My next attempt will be with sweet tea and sliced peaches – yum!

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Top 10 Baby Nursery Must Haves

I can’t believe my baby is almost a year old now. Wow does time fly! I was sitting in his room rocking him back to sleep at 3:30 am the other morning as I began reflecting on what were the most essential, favorite and used nursery items in his room. The things that I have found to be the most important and my most favorite over this past year. Thinking this information would be helpful to other soon-to-be-parents, I decided to write this article to help them decide on baby registries and nursery designs. I hope you find this list helpful – and be sure to post your comments below on your favorite nursery items and tell me why you like them so much.

  1. Extra Bedding. You will need extra sheets, mattress covers, and blankets. Babies are messy! You don’t want to find yourself needing to do laundry at 2 am after baby spits up or leaks through his diaper and you have a wet crib. I have found that having two mattress covers and four crib sheets have been just the right combination for us. We were given plenty of baby blankets at our shower – but when your little one finds a favorite… buy another so you can wash one and he can use the other without much fuss because he has a backup.
  2. Diaper Changing Station. Yes you will want to have a designated changing area with all the necessary supplies. We have a changing table so we don’t break our backs trying to change him in his crib. You also wont want to change them on your bed or the couch since little ones tend to potty at times before you can get that new clean diaper on them. Yes, we do have some funny baby boy pee stories (I will save those for another time). Oh… and make sure you decide what you are going to do with dirty diapers. We use cloth diapers and have a tub on the washer to put them in for quick washing.diaper change
  3. Wipe Warmer. Changing poopy diapers is no fun and to make matters worse is a cold wet wipe on baby’s bottom. Yikes! We decided that it would be much nicer to have warm, wet wipes – oh what a difference for baby. The one we choose was designed for both pop-up wipes and regular ones (you could even use wet wash cloths and put them in the tub for warming for an earth friendly choice).
  4. Rocking Chair. This is my all time favorite thing in baby’s room. I have spent hundreds of hours in my rocking chair and have many more hours to go. Be sure to get a comfortable chair that will work for you. Look for padded ones that have removable covers that you can toss in the washer – I did mention that babies are messy… Spend a little more money to get a nice one that will last for several years. As baby grows you will want to spend time reading stories and snuggling on those days they don’t feel so well.
  5. Window Coverings. You will appreciate having the option of keeping baby’s room darker for naps and those longer days of summer. Our baby definitely sleeps better and longer when I close blinds and curtains. It is also nice to be able to gently open them when it is time to wake baby up on those days that they can’t sleep in as long as they would like.
  6. Night & Table Lights. We use both types of lights. The night light is kept on during the night so it is easy to see in baby’s room when we need to get up for feeding, changing and checking in on baby. I do have to take it down in the mornings now and put an outlet plug in since he is crawling and loves to take it out of the outlet at first opportunity. We also have a separate lamp that we keep on his dresser for those midnight soiled diaper changes – you don’t want to be guessing you got everything at 2 am. Choose a low wattage bulb so it’s not so bright to keep everyone from totally waking up.
  7. Side Table. I have a little table besides my rocking chair for basic necessities like tissues, lip balm, water, burp cloths and nipple cream (for those nursing mommies). We now keep story books and his favorite stuffed toy on our table as our little guy is more interested in stories now.
  8. Dresser. You will need to have something such as a dresser, closet organizer or shelves to keep all those cute baby clothes. I have a simple 3 drawer dresser which was given to me and I refinished to match baby’s room. I keep jammies and socks in the top drawer, current sized clothes that he is wearing now in the middle, and the bottom drawer is for those clothes that he will be growing into soon.
  9. Book/Toy OrganizerI have decided to keep the bookshelf in the closet for now with cubbies for books and baskets for toys. It is too overwhelming for little ones to have access to all those books and toys. They just toss them on the floor and throw them around rather than spend focused time playing and exploring one or two things at a time. Remember we are about simplicity and organization – it helps us with focus, appreciation and more time for important things in life (this is true for our little ones too).
  10. Donation Bin. Last, but not least… Get yourself a donation box. Oh the stuff I have given away to friends with new babies and donated to local non-profit organizations. We have been blessed beyond measure in our life and we want to share those blessings with others. As baby grows out of clothes and other baby wares we place items in a storage tub and donate it when it is full. Only keep what you need and are currently using – share the joy of abundance with others less fortunate and other new parents-to-be. You will be so glad you did.

We have so many other great items in baby’s room such as a crib mobile, growth chart, fish aquarium (baby loves to watch the fish swim around as he nurses), and an essential oil diffuser. The moto we have in our house is ‘less is more’ – we can get carried away with so many things for baby that we end up with too much stuff – stuff that we may never even get out of the box. Really think about what you need – babies grow so fast and the most important thing they need, according to my husband, is… love and patience.

 

 

Hummingbird Feeders

Want to know the perfect sugar water ratio to attract hummingbirds and keep them coming back? I don’t know why I have struggled with this in the past – it seems straight forward enough – but I never seemed to have hummingbirds at my feeders.  They would fly by check it out and quickly leave. I just didn’t have the goods they were looking for. After a few attempts over the course of three years I just gave up and gave the feeder to someone else.

Fast forward about 10 years… my mother recently moved from her home of twenty years and gave me her feeder since she was not going to be needing it any longer (she is moving to Hawaii and didn’t want to take it with her). It looked brand new and I thought I would give it another try. I currently live in high desert terrain with not much for hummingbirds to eat. I’ve only seen a very few hummingbirds around my home. But just the other day one flew by my front door wondering if the finch bird house had any food – it must have been the barn red color that caught it’s eye.

Wanting to do it right this time, I called mom. She is an expert at feeding these little birds and would have so many of them that she had to fill the feeder every day to keep them in juice. I am embarrassed to even write how easy this is!!  But I followed her recipe exactly and oh yes! It only took a few hours and we had a little hummingbird stop by to have a drink.  It must have liked it – it was at the feeder for a while. Yea for Moms and little birds!

Ratio:  1 cup water to 1/4 cup sugar (mom said they like C&H best)

Bring water to boil in microwave – stir in sugar until dissolved – cool and fill feeder.

Yep folks it’s that easy…

Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup

This soup is so yummy! It is a copy-cat recipe of Olive Garden’s soup. I love to try and recreate restaurant style meals. You wont be disappointed in this one. It doesn’t really qualify for healthy but is does qualify for delicious.

Prep (about 15 minutes):

  • 2-3 cups of cooked chicken
  • Onion (chopped)
  • Carrot (1-2 chopped)
  • Celery (1-2 stalks chopped)
  • Garlic (chopped)
  • Spinach (2-3 cups remove stems & lightly chop)

Cook (about 5 minutes):

  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • Onion – Carrot – Celery – Garlic

Add & Simmer 20-30 minutes:

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • chicken
  • spinach

Cook Gnocchi for 3-4 minutes & slowly add 1/3 cup flour to soup and stir to dissolve.

Add 2-3 cups heavy whipping cream and gnocchi and cook until soup reaches just the point of boiling – (don’t boil or cream will chunk up and ruin soup).

You can now lower stove to lowest setting or put in crock pot on warm to eat later.

Top with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

 

No cheating on the cream or butter (it won’t be as tasty – I promise)

Going Green This Summer

Going Green This Summer

Are you ever excited when something breaks down and you have to buy a new one? A weird question I know but sometimes we are just waiting for something old to break to give us an excuse to buy a new and improved, updated model.  This happened to me this weekend when our old heavy, gas lawn mower had mowed it last lawn on Saturday. You know it’s getting bad when your husband has to show you how to use the pliers to get it started. Not to mention what a crazy fool I felt like pulling that stubborn starter string about 20 times before it finally gave in to my desperate need of cutting my grass. It was embarrassing how long our grass had gotten and not to mention how many dandelion weeds were popping up everywhere. Well, in my defense it was the first nice weekend we have had this spring.

Boy was I excited that it finally gave up and quit working! But now what to do? What kind of mower to buy? As usual, I hopped on the internet and started doing my homework. I put in my criteria for four or more stars for the user ratings and a maximum dollar amount of $400 (way more than what my husband wanted to spend but I wanted to see what my options were). And then… There it was! A battery operated mower. Wait – What??? Ok, I had to check that one out further.

The big day arrived on Wednesday – a huge box delivered by UPS. I couldn’t wait for baby to take his afternoon nap so I could open it up, charge the batteries, and put the mower together.  Then I couldn’t wait for hubby to get home so he could watch the baby so I could give it a try.  Oh the joys of no more starter strings to pull, no more gas and oil to add, and about 40 pounds lighter!!  I just pushed the button and began to mow to my heart’s content – we have over a third of an acre so I got lots of practice in that evening. It felt like cheating – it was so light, push button starter, and the mulching was beautiful. Oh happy day!

Going green never was so satisfying!  Now if I can just get rid of those darn dandelions…

*** Note: I mow and my husband does the weed-eating – a good trade-off for both of us. I have been known to get my legs with the darn thing a time or two so it’s best to keep weed whackers out of my hands.

*** Double Note: I am not endorsing or getting paid to promote this particular lawn mower. Please do your own homework and decide which mower is best for you and your family. 

Simple Summer Salad

This delicious salad not only tastes great but is impressive in presentation. Great for a quick weeknight dinner or a special occasion. And… it takes only 15 minutes to prepare! What could be better?

Ingredients:

  • Shrimp (raw and cleaned)
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Salt & Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Cilantro
  • Balsamic Salad Dressing

To Do:

  1. Over medium heat, cook shrimp in olive oil with garlic salt and mrs. dash until shrimp are thoroughly cooked about 5-8 minutes.
  2. While shrimp are cooking, slice tomatoes and avocados and arrange on plate(s).
  3. Top with shrimp and drizzle balsamic dressing over salad.
  4. Top with fresh cilantro.
  5. Enjoy!