Thursday, December 26, 2013

Homemade Apple Butter

This year's Christmas craft is apple butter.  I was shocked at how many people didn't know what I was talking about when I told them I was making it.  I grew up on the stuff.  To clear things up if you don't know what it is...
1. No it is not apple flavored butter
2. It's like jam but apple and cinnamon flavored
3. You can use it on toast, for pb&j, on vanilla ice cream, in oatmeal.  The possibilities are endless.

  • 12 apples- peeled, cored, and sliced (an apple slicer makes this really easy)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
Step 1:  Throw everything in the crockpot on low and cook over night.  I let mine go until the apples were really soft and falling apart.  I left it on low all night and most of the next day.  
Step 2:  Crack the lid or remove it and turn crockpot up to high to cook off the water and thicken it up.
Step 3:  Put in blender and blend until smooth.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Candy

It's that time of year again.  I'm making holiday English Toffee for gifts.  This year I used walnuts instead of almonds because they came already chopped at Target so it saved me a step :)
My recipe is here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

DIY Mug Cozy

I have been seeing these mug cozies everywhere.  They are so wintery and cute for a cup of hot cocoa.  I was at Hobby Lobby the other day and came across a long garland of cable knit sweater material.  I wrapped it around a cheap plain mug and secured it with some holly berries on wire.  I would have done buttons but I didn't have any and I didn't want to have to sew anything.  If you can't find the sweater material at a craft store, you could always cut up an old sweater. 
Reduce, Recycle, Reuse ;)

My inspiration
My version.  Not too bad for a 5 minute craft :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Blake Olivia: 3 months

What's been happening this month:

  • Up until now I have not wanted to use any kind of schedule or plans.  I have done anything I could to make Blake feel calm and comfortable.  I feed on demand, I let her sleep when she's tired, etc etc.  I let her tell me what she needs, even if that means using me as a pacifier once and a while.   I knew going into this that I wouldn't put pressure on myself or Blake for the first three months until I figured things out.
  • We are developing more of a routine now but every day is somewhat different and I let Blake set her own schedule.  I don't believe in forcing an infant into a schedule to meet the parents needs.  I just let her do what is best for her and she has slowly created her own routine.  She usually naps about 10-10:30am and again in the afternoon with some small cat naps in between.  We go to bed at different times because of my work schedule but she always sleeps at least 8 hours.
  • I have transitioned her to at least one nap, usually the morning nap, in her crib to get her used to sleeping there.  It took a few days but she now sleeps great in there.  She also naps in the Ergo Baby pretty often.  I like having her close to me and she loves it.  It also gets her off of her back for some of the day which is good for her head.  I'm only slightly paranoid about her getting a flat spot.  
  • She still sleeps next to me in her bassinet at night and I would keep her there forever but she is getting close to growing out of it.
  • Tummy time is still really difficult.  She HATES it so much and I don't believe in tough love so I pick her up when she cries.  That means she only gets a few minutes of tummy time each time.  I have tried getting down there with her, toys, mirrors, music but she still hates it so much.  I feel guilty about her tummy time every day because I know how important it is.  Her doctor said to just keep trying so that's what we will do.  
  • I have finally stopped obsessing about her weight.  She is happy and healthy and continues to get good reviews from the pediatrician so it's time to stop worrying.  
  • She is so much more interactive with people now.  We can make her smile and almost laugh.  She smiles at strangers too.  She is overall, a pretty happy baby.  I know she has a hard time when I'm not there on some evenings but for the most part she is pretty content.  
  • She is following people and sounds with her eyes now, not just her whole head, and takes a lot of interest in her surroundings.  
  • She coos and talks a lot more now.
  • Drool, drool, drool.  She has a soaking wet shirt if I don't keep a bib on her all of the time.
  • She is still trying to figure out the whole thumb sucking thing.  She is successful about 25% of the time.  The rest of the time she is just sucking on her fist.  
  • She had her first vaccinations which were somewhat traumatic for me.  It's so sad to see her cry in pain.  It only lasts a few minutes but it's hard to see her hurt.
  • We had our first trip to the urgent care on the day after Thanksgiving.  She had a stomach bug but we all survived it and she stayed happy and smiling through the whole weekend ordeal.  All that really happened was a lot more diaper changes and a worried mom and dad.
  • Her fingernails continue to grow like crazy and I have to cut them once or twice a week.  Her toe nails, on the other hand, never grow and I have never cut them.  Sooo weird!
  • A final note about breastfeeding: I swear I am going to stop obsessing.  Blake is healthy and my supply is fine, although I know I will always worry about it (I can see a change in just one day of not staying on top of pumping).  I also have to give some major props to my mom for breastfeeding my sister and me.  I can't imagine doing it 35 years ago without all of the resources I have had available to me. 
  • I think I have figured out what my parenting philosophy is.  It turns out that parenting is a lot like politics.  There are two extremes and each side truly believes in their point of view.  I like to consider myself somewhat of a moderate but I do lean toward attachment parenting (I'm a baby wearer, I always respond to her cries, I nurse her to sleep, I exclusively breastfeed and plan to for at least a year, and I cloth diaper).  All of those things just came naturally to me but the more I learn about it, the more I realize what side I seem to be on.  I have to say though, it is terrible how much judgment there is on both sides when we are all just doing our best. 
And last...
  •  We visited Santa Claus.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Breastfeeding Must Haves and Update for Month 2

Must haves:

  • Boppy or My Brest Friend 


My Brest Friend

They both have positives and I was fortunate enough to have both that were loaned/handed down to me.  The Brest Friend was my favorite in the beginning.  It's very sturdy and comfy.  It's great when you and baby are learning to breast feed.  The Boppy is more compact and has really cute slipcovers.  I got one at Pottery Barn Kids that matches my nursery.  They are both useful but I like the Brest Friend in the beginning and the Boppy later.  Now I really don't even need a pillow when I feed her.

  • Lanolin

Let's face it, you can't always expect to have a perfect latch right from the beginning.  Lactation consultants will tell you that you should not have any pain if you are doing it right but learning to breast feed takes work and you can get sore the very first day of trying.  Using the lanolin can save your nipples from some serious irritation that can make a huge difference in sticking with breast feeding or giving up.  Also, I don't care how good your latch is, all that feeding and pumping is just not something your tender skin is used to in the beginning.  

Take in your hospital bag and use it the very first day :) It won't hurt the baby and is totally fine for them to get in their mouth.  I don't think the brand matters as long as it's pure lanolin.  

  • Nursing Pads

Again, I have both.  The washable are easier on sensitive skin and are obviously more economical because you use them over and over.  In the beginning when your milk supply is still getting regulated you may leak a lot.  The washable pads will probably leak through.  They work better later on when there's only minimal leakage.  Some people don't need these but I always use one or the other because I don't want to get caught in a situation with leaking milk spots on the front of my shirt ;) 

  • Snacks and water

In the beginning, breast feeding made me really hungry and thirsty.  Also, once I sat down for an hour long nursing session with my newborn, it was hard to get up to get something to eat or drink.  I kept a basket next to the place I choose to nurse with snack bars and a water bottle, along with lanolin, nursing pads, and anything else I would need.  

  • Fenugreek
Fenugreek is a supplement that helps increase milk supply.  I use the More Milk Plus which has some additional herbs in it to help with let down and other things.  It is crazy expensive but I was obsessed with my supply when I was having some trouble with breast feeding so I thought it was worth it.  Just plain fenugreek also works and is more reasonably priced.  

  • Breast Pump
    The Medela pump is awesome and insurance now has to cover it for you.  Thanks for the breast pump Obama.
    Pumping after feeding and in the middle of the night if baby sleeps through really helps increase supply but consider this a full time job for a while.  It sucks but can make a HUGE difference.

  • Bottle Brush
    A bottle brush can save time with all of the cleaning of bottles and pump accessories.

  • Dr. Brown's bottles
    They have the slowest nipples and really make the baby work for the milk, which is the most similar to feeding at the breast.

  • Another huge tip that I didn't learn until later on was if you are going to be pumping all day, just stick the whole bottle and parts in the fridge in between pumping and pull out and reuse each time.  Clean them all thoroughly at the end of the day but you don't necessarily have to clean everything each time.  This will keep you from going crazy.  Make sure to have clean hands when pumping or feeding baby.  Once you've experienced Mastitis you will know you can never be too cautious:)

Some other really helpful things that can make all the difference in breast feeding:
  • Supportive husband/partner and family
  • Taking classes while still pregnant- education is so important 
  • A good lactation consultant- or 2 if necessary
  • A good book on breastfeeding- again, the more you know the better
  • A positive and relaxed attitude- it's really easy to freak out in the beginning but you have to be confident, trust your instincts, know that what your doing is best for baby and that it will eventually work out in the end if you're patient.
Also, some say these are myths/old wives tales but steel cut oatmeal, beer, lactation cookies, a little alcohol (to relax you) can all help increase supply.  Stress is a major negative but really hard to control (especially for me) so a glass of wine once and a while can help.  I did all of these things and I really increased my supply so who knows which really did the trick. 

My update:
Blake had a couple of weeks where her weight gain really slowed.  She never lost any weight but she was barely gaining.  I think it was my supply (from Mastitis) but I started to get really frustrated and stressed.  My lactation consultant suggested we see our doctor at this point and she didn't have any more suggestions.  I felt I needed a different perspective.  A friend recommended Kay Gregg who just happened to be really close to my house.  She's a lactation consultant but with a different method.  It was great to get to see two different ways of doing things.  They were both valuable but Kay's way of doing things was really what we needed at that time.  She was calm and relaxed and got me back on track.  She has a grandmother-ish sweetness and calmed my anxieties.  I never had to see the doc or supplement with formula and Blake got an A+ at our 2 month well child doctor's appointment.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cloth Diapering

Cloth Diapering is easy.  People told me I was crazy to even try this and that it would be so hard but really it's not.  It's not disgusting either.  It's fun and the diapers are super cute!

Here are my tips from what I've learned so far: 
  • Wait until you are ready to start.  Newborns have skinny legs and they go through 10-12 diapers a day.  I started slow when she was about 3 weeks with only a few a day until I was eventually using all cloth.
  • Double up the inserts at night if your baby sleeps through the night.
  • Make sure everything is tucked inside and the leg holes are snug to avoid leaks.
  • Leaks and blowouts happen in all kinds of diapers but I've had less in cloth than disposables ("sposies" to the cloth diapering mommas).
  • Baby can feel when they are wet so change often. This will be helpful for potty training and I personally think it's fine since I would never let Blake just sit around in a dirty diaper.
  • It's ok to use disposables and cloth.  They call it a hybrid approach but you might find, like me, that sticking to one is just easier.
  • I keep some disposables around in case I am not able to get to the laundry in time but I rarely use them.
  • I started with 24 Sunbaby pocket diapers, size 2.  They are the cheapest by far and I just ordered 12 more.  So far I have spent about $200 for diapers which is not too bad.
  • We have never had diaper rash but I use Aquaphor on her every once and a while to prevent it.
  • I have noticed less redness with the cloth diapers, she has very sensitive skin.
  • I wash with All Free and Clear detergent in hot water and dry in dryer on low heat (to try to save the elastic).
  • I line dry in the sun if they are stained but it doesn't happen too often.  If you want them to last longer I'm sure line drying every time is better for them but who has time for that.  I'm always washing last minute because I'm about to run out :)
  • While baby is under 6 months and is exclusively breastfed, there is no need to dump out or spray off poop.  Just throw the whole thing into your diaper pail and when it's full you throw the whole thing, bag included, into the wash.  The inserts will come out in the wash and I re-stuff when they are dry before I put them away so they are ready to use at all times.   When they are on solids, the poop changes and you need to clean them out a little bit first.  I'm not sure about formula but I'm sure the poop is similar to breast milk.  It just disintegrates in the wash.  There is no smell and the washer is fine.  
  • Use cloth wipes.  It's just easier to throw it all in the same diaper pail and wash it all.  I use baby wash cloths and squirt a little baby wipe solution (that I make) on them.  The solution is the same as for my homemade baby wipes but I put it in a squirt bottle.  It's the one from the hospital and anyone who has given birth will know what bottle I'm talking about.  Yay for recycling :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lactation Cookies

 I know, I'm in need of new baking sheets :)

The recipe makes a lot of cookie dough so I bake half and wrap the other half in waxed paper and put in the freezer to bake later.


1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups oats
1 cup chocolate chips
2 -4 tablespoons brewer's yeast ( I use 3tbs.  It is a little bitter and can change the taste of the cookies so I don't do 4 but I want the benefits of the yeast so I can tolerate a little bitter taste)


1 Preheat oven to 350°.
2 Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.
3 Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar well.
4 Add eggs and mix well.
5 Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.
6 Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt.
7 Add dry ingredients to butter mix.
8 Stir in oats and chips.
9 Scoop onto baking sheet.
10 Bake for 12 minutes.
11 Let set for a couple minutes then remove from tray.
*recipe from

Variation:  Next time I might try a little cinnamon and raisins instead of chocolate chips to switch it up a little.  All that really matters is that you have the 3 important ingredients for lactation: the flax seed meal, oats, and brewer's yeast.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Blake Olivia: 2 Months

What's been happening this month:
  • Blakey is sleeping through the night!! Not every night but probably 5 out of 7 per week.  If she does get up it's only once and I really don't mind it.  
  • I, on the other hand, am not sleeping through the night.  We go to bed about 10-11pm on work nights and I get up at about 2:30 to pump and then Blake wakes up about 6am.  So everyone is well rested but me :) But it's totally worth it to keep my milk supply up and to pump enough to give her fresh milk for bottles while I'm at work.   My freezer supply is growing slowly also. 
  • I am back at work.   I went back at week 5.  It was hard and I was paranoid all night texting my mom 100 times but it's getting easier and I am learning to let go a little.  It's good for her to spend time with her Grandmas.  
  • Going back to work, caused me to get something called Mastitis.  I didn't pump at work that first night and that was a huge mistake.  I got a plugged duct and it got infected.  I was off work about 9:30pm and by about 11pm I had a fever of 103 and was shaking from pain and the chills in my bed.  Its comes on fast and hits you like a ton of bricks.   It was the sickest I think I have ever been and I had to take care of myself and Blake.  She needed to nurse more often and it hurt for her to eat.  Luckily I had leftover Rx Motrin from her birth so those saved me.  If I stayed ahead of the fever with the Motrin I was ok.  It lasted 3-4 days and needed a doctor's visit for antibiotics.  
  • Breastfeeding set back: the Mastitis caused my milk supply to decrease a huge amount.  I don't know if it was the stress or what but I had to work really hard to get my supply back up.  I will post later about how I made it all work but we are finally back on track and didn't need any formula.
  • Blake is a slow weight gainer but she is already in the 3 month clothes so we must be doing something right.  She's very long and lean :)  I was so sad to put away the newborn clothes that she's already grown out of. 
  • She has started smiling!!! This is by far the best thing to happen all month.  There's nothing like seeing your baby smile at you.  I can't wait for her to start laughing. 
  • I am exclusively cloth diapering now.  I don't make her other care givers (grandmas) do it but when she's with me we only use cloth.  It's a lot easier than I thought it would be and I will do a full post soon.
  • I have the worst mommy-brain.  This actually happened: 
  • She LOVES being in the Ergo Baby carrier strapped to my chest.  Some days we spend all our time walking around and doing housework with her in there to keep her happy. 
  • She loves bath time but hates getting out and dried off.
  • She hates having a wet or dirty diaper but loves getting changed.
  • She loves looking at contrast, especially black and white.
  • She is making a lot of eye contact and looking at faces more.
  • She is drooling and blowing bubbles.
  • I'm trying to get back into working out so I've been riding the stationary bike in our garage while Blake hangs in the Ergo Baby.  She falls right asleep.  
  • She's almost got her thumb in there.  Might be a thumb sucker like her mama.
  • She watched her first Laker game.
  • bestie just found out she's having a boy in March :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

DNA Test Results

 Cody discovers his true identity...

Well we have always thought that our baby boy Cody was a Wheaten Terrier mix.  To be absolutely sure, we did a Wisdom Panel DNA test on him and sent it in.  Boy, were we way off.  Although these dogs look alike, they aren't even in the same category.  He's not even a terrier, which is really surprising.

 What we thought he was:
Wheaten Terrier


What he actually is: 
Bouvier des Flandres and English Springer Spaniel mix

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Blake Olivia: 1 month

What's been happening this month:

  • I have been off work for a month and we have had tons of quality time which has been great.
  • Blake had her first bottle and she did great.  She took to it right away and had no nipple confusion.
  • She has been consistently gaining weight, which is good, but not as quickly as we would like.  I'm really working on fattening her up. (8lb. 11oz. on day 32)
  • She lost her umbilical cord scab at day 6.
  • She started to cry real tears at 2 weeks but luckily for me it's only when she is crying really hard, which isn't very often.
  • We have been working on getting her used to tummy time but she still really hates it.
  • We have started to create a bedtime ritual which includes bath time, story time, and a baby massage.
  • We started cloth diapering.  I don't do it exclusively yet but more to come on that in a future post on cloth diapering.  She has started blowing out the NB diapers so I think it's time to move up a size.
  • We have been out to dinner 3 times and been on multiple outings to grandma's, friend's houses, and the beach for walks.
  • Blake's puppy brother is adjusting better than I thought he would but he still has work to do.  He's terrible when we have visitors (so overprotective) and needs to work on being gentle.  
  • We have had quite a few sleepless nights but most nights we get one 4 hr stretch followed by two 2 hour stretches which is enough for me.
  • Blake is starting to like her swing ad she loves being in the Ergo Baby.

What I've learned so far:

  • Be patient.  It takes time to figure things out like diapering, dressing, bathing, soothing, burping, feeding, etc etc etc.
  • Wait to cut nails until about 2 weeks old because they will be firmer and it's easier.  File and use mittens until then. I did this and then still nicked her thumb once.  She cried for about 30 seconds and I cried for about 2 hours.  The good news is, she won't remember it but I was still traumatized.
  • About every 3 or 4 diaper changes put some Aquaphor on her bum (and other areas that could get irritated).  It helps prevent diaper rash.  She got a tiny bit red and doing this fixed it right away. 
  • Poop stains!!  The sun will magically take care of this if you dry the stained item in the sun.  It seriously works like magic.
  • The booger sucker (bulb syringe) is your best friend.  Along with saline drops.  Around 2 or 3 weeks old, Blake started getting huge boogers that blocked her nostrils and she sounded like a Pug trying to breathe. 
  • Breastfeeding is hard.  It's a huge commitment and takes a lot of learning, for both you and the baby.  Stick with it because it gets easier and is totally worth it.  Also, yes it literally takes all your time in the beginning and that's normal.  Don't let people tell you different or make you feel guilty because you're hogging the baby.
  • Let Down feels like "pins and needles" for me.  It doesn't hurt, it's just like my boobs fell asleep.  People kept telling me I would be able to feel it but it took awhile to recognize  
  • Infant gas drops really help with her fussiness and spitting up.  Also feeding her semi-upright and holding her upright for about 20 min after eating helps with spitting up and gas.
  • Take the 1st month and do nothing but bond with your baby and husband.  You will not regret taking advantage of this special time with your family. Especially if you're like me and have to go back to work now :( 
  • Enjoy this time because, as cliche as this sounds, it goes by so fast.

A friend of mine calls this the 4th trimester.  I LOVE that :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gift for a new Mommy-To-Be

I just found out that someone very special is joining the club!  I'm so excited to start celebrating her pregnancy. 

I made up a gift bag of hand-me-down and new items for her.  It is filled with things that worked for me (or didn't work for me) that she might want to try.  

What's Inside:
Fit Pregnancy Magazine- to stay fit and healthly for baby
Pregnancy Books- to start reading up on pregnancy
Tums- for possible heartburn
Water- to stay hydrated and not bloated
Cocoa Butter Lotion- to start fighting the battle against stretchmarks
Massage Gift Certificate- to relieve stress now or to relieve sore feet and back later
Belly Band- for her expanding waistline

Could also include:
Maternity store Gift Card
Hand-Me-Down maternity clothes
Items to relieve morning sickness
Anything you found helpful during pregnancy or have leftover that she might find helpful