Sunday, June 24, 2012

Farmers' Market

I love fresh produce and fresh, local produce is even better! Yesterday, AJ and I went to the Dallas Farmers' Market with my mom and sister. We have been going for years. Before I was married we would go as a family early in the morning and it was so much fun!

Beautiful berries being sold.

One of the best things about the farmers' market is that the vendors let you try their produce. These samples are waaaay better than anything you'll find being passed out at those wholesale mega stores! ;) AJ was in heaven snacking on watermelon, peaches, cantaloupe, and strawberries. (Let's face it, I ate my fair share too.)

Verfied Local Farmer signs

 I haven't ever been to any other large farmers' markets but one of the great things about the Dallas market are these signs. Local farmers who have been able to show that they grow their own produce in the state are given these little signs to put at their booths. I love being able to support local growers and many of them even have organic produce. Another great thing about the farmers' market is the exposure to new foods! One local gentleman was selling round squash! They are called One Ball and Eight Ball Squash. They are said to be sweeter than your usual summer squash variety. I haven't tried them yet but I'm looking forward to trying them soon!

One Ball Squash
Eight Ball Squash

I was also excited to find local vendors with grass fed meats and organic eggs! I am going to be experiementing with my family menu and budget starting next month to try and cut out as much processed food as I possibly can and start buying some more organic foods and making more things from scratch. Now this won't be a complete overhaul because we do have a fairly tight budget but I am looking forward to seeing how it will work out. I will be posting more on this once I get into it and may even make it a regular weekly post. We'll see. In the meantime, get out there and find some yummy fresh local produce if you can!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Feeding A Toddler

I don't know about you but I have a hard time coming up with different ideas for feeding my toddler. Thankfully AJ is not a picky eater, for the most part, but I always find myself in a rut with his meals. I'm constantly looking for new ideas on things to feed him. Just in case you're like me and looking for some kid friendly foods to shake up your menu, I decided to share some of our favorites that we've found so far and some of the recipes that are on our list to try!

Let's start with breakfast!

I am all about things that can be made in large batches and frozen or refrigerated for later!

Photo credit : Cooking Light

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins from Cooking Light - These are fantastic! Our whole family loved these. I'm not sure how well they would freeze but I kept them in the refrigerator for several days with no problems.

Frozen Blueberry Muffins from Stockpiling Moms - I am planning on making these next week!
**Update! I just made these a few days ago and they turned out great! My batch made about 28 large muffins so if you made them smaller I'm sure you could get quite a few muffins! They thawed perfectly!**

Toddler French Toast Sticks from Once A Month Mom - These are on my "to make list" once freezer space opens up.

Frozen waffles are a quick and easy breakfast. (I don't give AJ any syrup for two reasons, I have no desire to de-stickify a wiggly 18 month old and he has more than enough energy without the aid of sugar!)

Toasted bagels are also another easy breakfast. AJ's favorites are blueberry and cinnamon raisin. (Again I usually give them to him plain. I have put a little cream cheese on them before but he didn't really seem to care.)

We also like to make pancakes. I cheat a little and use a pre-made mix. I usually make "silver dollar" sized pancakes and AJ loves them! If I'm feeling fancy I'll add blueberries or mashed banana and poor little AJ just goes nuts with excitement. (Sigh. Is that a sign that I'm a boring mom? Lol) Any leftovers just get put into a storage container in the fridge and served later.

Now onto lunch!

One of AJ's favorite lunches is probably one of the most simple, pita bread cut into smalls squares with a little bit of hummus on them, grapes or some other fruit, and cheese or cold pasta salad.  This is great for hot summer days since it's cold and light but still very filling. (Plus mom likes eating it too!)

Mini calzones - I used Pillsbury ready made pizza dough, cut it into rectangles (as big or small as you like), put pizza sauce and any toppings your child likes on one end of the dough then fold over the other half and seal by pinching sides together and then pressing with the tynes of a fork. Then I just sealed them up in Press and Seal wrap, labeled them and stuck 'em in the freezer. When you're ready to cook just preheat oven to 400 degrees, place on cookie sheet/pizza stone, and bake for 10-15 min. or until done.

Photo credit:

Grilled cheese -  You can switch up the cheeses or try adding tomato

Quesadillas - cheeses and veggies, you could also add some sliced/shredded chicken.

Peanut butter and banana in a whole wheat wrap - I tried this one with AJ once last week and the jury is still out. He ate some of it before deciding that it was faster and more fun to just pick out the peanut butter covered banana slices. :/ I'll keep trying. Ha!

Now for the finale, Dinner!

AJ almost always just eats what we eat for dinner now, either in whole or in part, depending on what we're having. If you're sweet one(s) aren't quite there yet here are a few more ideas!

Mac & Cheese -  You could add some broccoli or other veggies for a change up.

Photo credit:

One Pot Toddler Meals from Simple Bites

Pasta - (any kind) with a tiny bit of melted butter with a little Parmesan or some oregano or other seasonings. This is what I make for AJ when we have ravioli or tortellini with marinara. (Only rarely do I let the mess maker have marinara.)

Homemade pizza with your kiddo's favorite toppings!

Easy dinner recipes, two ways -  This has recipes for adults that can easily be modified to serve the kids at the same time! Great idea!

I know it can be hard to come up with new ideas for feeding our kids but that's why the internet is so fantastic!! All those incredibly talented people out there have already come up with endless mealtime possibilities and all we have to do is find them! :) I hope this helps some of you out there get out of your toddler friendly food rut!! If you have any recipes to share please do!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lemonade Party Cake

Myself, A and AJ all recently went to a dinner at my parents' home to visit with my mammaw (aka, grandmother) since she was in town from Mississippi. Being the selfless woman that I am (cough, choke, sputter), I volunteered to bring dessert. I like to bring dessert because that means that we get first dibs on bringing home leftovers! Hehe.

I have had the recipe for this lemonade party cake for quite a while and have never gotten the chance to make it. It sounded like a perfect summer dessert so I thought I'd give it a try. It's basically an old fashioned poke cake but instead of using jello you use lemonade. I've had the recipe for so long that I'm honestly not even sure where it came from but it was extremely easy to make and quite tasty too!

Lemonade Party Cake


1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist lemon cake mix
  • water
  • vegetable oil
  • eggs
1 can (6 oz) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed (regular or pink)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 container whipped fluffy white frosting
colored sugar, if desired

- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cake mix, using water, oil and eggs, as directed on package for a  13x9 pan. Cool 15 minutes.

- Mix lemonade concentrate (I could only find 12 oz cans so I just used half.) and powdered sugar. Using fork or skewer,  poke holes into top of warm cake every 1/2 inch, wiping fork/skewer occasionally to reduce sticking. Drizzle lemonade mixture evenly over top of cake.

- Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. Spread frosting over top of cake. Sprinkle with colored sugar is desired. Store loosely covered in fridge.

You can see how the lemonade mixture soaks into the holes poked into the cake.

This cake was really really good, however, it is extremely sweet. For me it was little too sweet with the frosting so I think I will make it again and instead of frosting I will dust it with powered sugar.  It might also be good topped with whipped cream instead of frosting!

If you try this recipe, please let me know how yours turns out!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cleaning Schedules

So in my last post, which was also my first post, I mentioned how I’ve had a harder time adjusting to staying home full time than I thought I would. I had all these grand and lofty ideas about all the things I would be able to accomplish with all the extra time I have now. One of these grand ideas of mine was how immaculate my house would be. I would have all this time extra time to spend keeping my house organized and clean so of course rather than setting out to clean my house I got on Pinterest. Ha!

I began pinning cleaning schedules and family planners like there was no tomorrow! I really loved the idea of the family planners I looked at so many of them and was so overwhelmed by them that I basically just decided that a planner just wouldn’t work for me, at least not right now.

I have found several cleaning schedules that I like and I finally settled on one of them.

Here are some of the schedules and I looked at.

Clean House Worksheet at Life On Paper

Daily Housekeeping Schedule at Time - Warp Wife  *This is the one I based mine off of.*

My problem with doing these kinds of things is that I look at them and want to make it work for me the way it already is. That just isn’t always possible and for some reason I have a hard time coming to terms with that but I was actually able to adapt one of these cleaning schedules to my own needs and for even more growth on my part, I have been able to be flexible with it!! It’s a miracle! (I’m only kind of kidding about that.)

My schedule goes something like this…

Monday: Clean Bathrooms
   Clean showers/tubs, toilets, sinks, counter tops, and mirrors, sweeping/mopping floors, and emptying trash cans

Tuesday: Clean Bedrooms
    Change bed linens, picking up any dirty clothes that missed the hampers, decluttering dresser tops and bedside tables, and picking up toys in AJ’s room

 Wednesday: Grocery Shopping/Errands
     I originally chose this day for shopping because it was the day that my husband went in to work late so he could watch AJ while I did the shopping. (Any of you that have ever tried to take a one year old grocery shopping know the potential hazards this holds!)

Thursday: Clean Kitchen
    Do dishes if needed, (“A” always leaves dirty dishes in the sink. The dishwasher is right next to the sink man!!),  disinfect counters, stove and appliance surfaces, clean sink, declutter kitchen table and disinfect, declutter kitchen window seat, empty trash can

 Friday: Clean Floors
     Mop, sweep, and vacuum all floors. Yes, even under the couches and rugs. (You could just use this day for mopping and do the floors in the other rooms as you clean them but I prefer to only have to schlep the vacuum out as few times as possible.)

Saturday: Clean Living Areas (Formal dining room gets lumped in here too)
    Declutter rooms, straighten couch pillows and throws, and dust if I feel so moved

Sunday: Church and Family time!! J

Dishes, basic kitchen tidying, and picking up toys in the family room are done daily and I just do laundry a few times a week whenever I have spare time( My fantastic hubby helps with the laundry too.).

This is just a basic daily cleaning schedule that I use to keep from getting overwhelmed and trying to do too much at once. I am fairly flexible with it so that if something comes up one day and I don’t clean one of the rooms I just add it on to another day that I’m able to squeeze it in or switch days around if I need to. I don’t include things like cleaning baseboards, or dusting blinds and light fixtures in this schedule. (I am still in the process of finding a monthly deep cleaning schedule that I like and will have those things on that schedule)  Of course you can make your schedule anyway you want, to include or exclude anything you like. One of my friends recently asked about my schedule and she was very much against the idea of having a Saturday chore. I saved the living areas for Saturday because they’re quick and easy! ;)

My only real advice is to look around for ideas out there and then make something work for you. I realize how ironic that statement is since I have such a hard time “making something work for me” but it’s true. Start with a schedule, try it a while and play around with until you find something that fits your needs. Keep it simple so that when you do need to be flexible on a crazy day it won’t throw the whole week off. Most importantly, if a schedule freaks you out, don’t use one!! The point is to make things easier on you and if it just stresses you out or overwhelms you then toss it out the window and do what you can when you can!