Apr 18

Review: Softer Than Brittle

Who likes nut brittle? I got to try these samples of Softer Than Brittle from Mount Franklin Foods and they are delicious!

This brittle is softer and flakey, so it doesn’t get stuck in your teeth, but still has the same yummy flavor of brittle. I thought that the almond flavor was going to be my favorite when I tried them, but I really liked the buttery flavor of the pecan best! After passing them around the family for taste testing, peanut was the boys’ favorite, but in a surprise twist, pecan was also my Mom’s favorite and she doesn’t even really like pecans!

They are also gluten and dairy free, and vegan approved. :) I’m currently keeping them all to myself and have them sitting on my nightstand for middle of the night snacks while I’m up feeding the babe and starving. Any other nursing Mom’s have their nightstands stocked with snacks cause they are always hungry from feeding a baby?!

#nursingmomproblems #donttouchmysnacks

Mar 17

Review: The First Years Dinnerware

If you have a toddler you know how much they like to dip food into sauces and dips. Every time any of us puts ketchup or honey or anything on our plate Harbor grunts at us until we give him some too. Sometimes food never even makes it in his dip, just his little fingers, straight from the dip to his mouth. So he was pretty excited when I put The First Years Inside Scoop Dip Plate down in front of him for dinner the other day. And the big boys were a little jealous, exclaiming, “oh he has a bowl for dip on his plate?! Do I get one too?”.

The great thing about a plate with a little bowl built in, is it eliminates the problem of the dip spreading out thin, like what happens when you place the dip directly on a plate, making it hard for little fingers to effectively get their food “sauced up”. Another benefit of this plate is that it has a higher rim on one side helping keep food from being pushed off the plate as they learn the tricky task of getting food onto their forks or spoons.  The rim is also removable for when kids get older, though I feel like all the boys could still benefit from it. Somehow Kingston is the messiest of the bunch, how that’s possible since he’s the oldest, I don’t know. We may have to give this plate to him instead. LOL. One potential problem I see and will have to watch is sometimes cups and such with multiple pieces get icky if every piece isn’t taken apart and dried completely before putting back together so I will have to remember to always take it apart. Another negative to me, is that it isn’t dishwasher safe. I know some of my friends don’t use the dishwasher (something I can’t wrap my head around), so that feature doesn’t make or break it for some.

On the subject of cleaning though, the Stackable Sippy Cups are dishwasher safe and there are no extra little pieces in the lid that keep it spill proof, it is all contained in one piece. Yea! That is always where our cups have ended up gross before and we’ve ended up tossing them because we’ve forgotten to take something apart. Sooo, not having those pieces is exciting to me! Also, they are stackable (hence the name, haha) which is another great feature. Harbor uses mostly straw cups these days, but he literally pulled these out of the box and immediately wanted to use them because of the dinosaurs on them. And I have to agree they are a really cute design.

The last thing in the box actually turned out to be my personal favorite. The Take & Toss Double Duty Plates come four to a pack with one fork (seems like it should come with two forks), are dishwasher safe, and can double as lids. The plates themselves wouldn’t hold enough food for a bigger kid, but are perfect size for a toddler. It has two sections with a small spot in the middle to hold a fork and they all seal so you don’t have to worry about something dripping into the other section. At first glance I didn’t think that the plate doubling as a lid was a big deal, but THEN…the first time we tried them Harbor didn’t finish his food and instead of having to cover his plate in clingwrap or put it in a storage container I simply took another plate, snapped it on top and put it in the fridge. SO EASY. And easy makes this Mama happy! And so I’m sold on these little Double Duty Plates.

* I was provided with these products in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Aug 16

Review: The First Years Mickey Mouse Feeding & Activity Seat

If you and your babe are a Disney lover, then this seat is a great pick. The First Years Mickey Mouse Helping Hands Feeding and Activity Seat, available at Walmart, is a cute, compact feeding seat.

When it arrived in the mail, Zekie couldn’t wait to get it out of the box, even though he doesn’t need it (though it has a weight limit of 50 lbs, so he definitely still fits in the limits). You are not supposed to use this chair on the floor, but I had a hard time keeping Zekie and Harbor off of it while I unpacked it and put it together. It took maybe five minutes to snap the back on and attach the straps, and then we attached it to a chair to give it a try.

The seat has two straps, one that attaches around the back of a chair and one that attaches under the chair seat, and then you pull them to tighten them around the chair. We have wider kitchen chairs and we still had plenty of room to make it bigger so I think this seat will fit on a large variety of chairs.

There is a tray that you can attach at different levels depending on the size of your kiddo or you can leave it completely off and scoot the chair all the way up to your table. I think the trays are easier to clean off the caked on food then my kitchen table so we used the tray. The tray comes with its own accessories as well. A Mickey hand cup holder and a rollerball can be snapped on or off the tray and 2 suction cup toys are also included. We’ve never had great luck with suction cup dinnerware or toys and this wasn’t any different. Harbor easily plucked the two toys off the tray after playing with them for a minute and promptly threw them on the floor.

They may have a better chance with a younger child, but they definitely won’t last long on a tray for anyone older than a year. This isn’t a make or break for me, since the toys aren’t why I would be buying the seat anyway and Harbor did still play with the toys even when they weren’t attached.

The back of the seat has a small storage slot for you to store a bib or the toys. I think this could be even better if it could be made big enough to hold the tray when not in use too.

I think this would be perfect for anyone that has a small kitchen and doesn’t want a large highchair. It’s easy to clean and quick to set up. Also, I think this will be great for us to have around when we have friends with little ones visiting and we need an extra seat for them.

* I was provided this product in exchange for an unbiased review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Nov 14

The Grain-Free Family Table

The Grain-Free Family Table

When I came across Carrie Vitt’s website, Deliciously Organic, the first week we were on our Whole 30 diet it was a life saver. We literally would have been eating baked chicken and steamed veggies every night if it wasn’t for her Paleo meal plan option. Worth every penny of that monthly fee of $6.

Today her second cookbook released, The Grain-Free Family Tableand I am thrilled to be sharing it with you here.

First and foremost, my favorite part is the beginning of the book. If you are unfamiliar with Carrie Vitt, a visit to the dentist in 2008 turned her world upside down and left her with a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease. Unwilling to accept the doctors conclusion that she would be on medication for the rest of her life, she set out to heal herself using a grain-free diet, whole food supplements and cleanses. In the cookbook she goes into specifics about her dental visit, how she felt afterwards, her symptoms that left her house bound for months on end with no hope in site, her final diagnosis and her path to healing. As we work our way towards a total healing for Kingston, it has been such an encouragement to read her story and know we are on the right path to accomplish that. God created our bodies to heal and every story that I read like this lets me know that although it takes a lot of work and time, opting out of surgery is the right choice for us.

Living grain-free is a big jump for most of us and when we first started this journey at the end of September I was overwhelmed and not sure what was left to cook with or how to convert a traditional recipe into a grain-free dish. I am so glad I have this cookbook now, all-in-one place I can find all the grains to avoid and sneaky places they add it. At a glance I can see the types of flours that are healthy to cook with and why fats aren’t all bad. I learned that lard is actually a good thing. Yes you read that right, lard has gotten a lot of unjustified bad press all these years. Lookout, it’s staging a comeback folks.

Other things you’ll find are helpful tips on kitchen equipment, how to get your kiddos to embrace grain-free, and a super helpful conversion chart for converting your old favorite recipes.

As I flipped through the book, I couldn’t believe how delicious everything looked. I mean I know it’s a cookbook so everything is staged to look perfect, but those grain-free biscuits from the Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie were calling this biscuit-loving girl’s name. Hmm. Let me tell you, they were not exactly like a “regular” biscuit (most likely the cook and not the recipe :) ), but this dish did not disappoint.

In every recipe there are the regular grain-free directions and ingredients, then at the bottom there are directions on what to substitute if you are Paleo or dairy-free. Which is great since we are also dairy-free at the moment. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any cashew milk ready (there is a recipe at the back of the cookbook) so I subbed in coconut cream for the main chicken part. This did give the overall dish a little coconut flavor, but everyone of us still enjoyed it. Yep, even the kids, K asked for seconds. We’ll definitely be making this, and the grain-free biscuits on their own, again.

Another recipe we tried is the Cauliflower and Bacon Hash. It’s in the breakfast section, but we like breakfast for dinner once a week and this was our go to this week. A simple twist on eggs and hashbrowns, this dish calls for 4 ingredients and is pretty quick to whip up. We used turkey bacon instead of regular bacon since I’m not a bacon eater and everyone scarfed this up too. The leftovers heated up well a few days later too.

Along the same lines is her Cauliflower “Fried Rice” recipe. This is in the cookbook, but we actually made it a few weeks ago when it was on one of our meal plans. In place of rice you use cauliflower cut to the size of rice pieces (in a food processor or we used our Vitamixand we used Coconut Aminos (her recipe calls for tamari sauce). This recipe was such a hit with the kids they each asked for seconds and then thirds. My kids aren’t picky eaters, but they don’t often ask for seconds let alone thirds.

There are so many recipes I can’t wait to try! I would highly recommend this cookbook or her meal plans if you are new to a grain-free lifestyle or even looking for a change to your regular diet. Click here to pick up your own copy of  The Grain-Free Family Tableand check out her meal plans here.

As a treat for my readers Carrie is GIVING AWAY a cookbook on Kennedy Baby Co.!

If you would like to be entered please leave a comment below. A winner will be randomly selected on Monday, November 24th. Good luck!


Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary cookbook to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.

Sep 14

Financial Peace Junior

As a birthday gift when Kingston turned three, he received Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior kit. Though he is on the low end of the age range for this kit (3 – 12 year olds), he loves using it.

Together we picked out chores he could earn 25 cents for if he completed them and added them to his chore chart. Each day if he completes a task, he gets a mark on his chart for that day, then at the end of the week we tally up all his marks and he gets his “paycheck”. We then divide all that week’s earning into three piles, one for savings, one for spending, and one for giving.  The giving pile goes into his Give envelope and he takes that to church. The other two piles go into Save and Spend piggy banks. The Save eventually gets transferred to his bank savings account, and every now and then the Spend gets put in his wallet and taken to the store to buy a fun treat. I think the directions say something like 10%, 10%, 80%, but that’s a little over his head and it’s just easier if we make three even piles at this age. And even that isn’t something we strictly enforce, sometimes he wants to put more in the Save piggy, and sometimes he wants to put more in the Give envelope, and I let him. We’re not caught up in the numbers part right now, so much as just introducing him to the idea of working to earn money and being generous.

In addition to the kit, there is also a book set or audio books with stories that teach lessons about money in an engaging way. The audio books are in our car and we listen to them often as we drive. We also have the books (which are the same stories as the audio books) that we read through at home too.

Overall we have loved using this set and it has been an easy and fun way for us to teach Kingston about how to earn and spend money wisely. If you need a birthday gift for a kid in the age range of 3 – 12 I would recommend this!

Aug 14


If you are looking to make some easy extra cash try Swagbucks.

Now you aren’t going to make millions this way, but a little $ for no effort is good for me. I’ve been using Swagbucks as my search engine for about a year and a half and have been able to cash in enough points for a couple hundred dollars worth of Target and Amazon gift cards.

I downloaded their toolbar and whenever I go online instead of searching with Google or Bing, I use Swagbucks (it gives you the same results). It randomly awards bucks as you search and when I’ve accumulated enough bucks I cash them in for gift cards. They have a large variety of gift cards to choose from and they are emailed to you once they have processed. It’s really that easy and I’ve had no problems receiving or using the gift cards (though it seems on average to take 10 days for them to show up in your account which seems kind of a long time for something electronic, but what do I know about the behind the scenes).

You can also earn points through shopping from certain stores, for example if I want to buy something at Target, I would type Target into my toolbar and when the search results came up it would show “Shop at Target, 2 Swagbucks per Dollar”. Meaning as long as I click on that link I will earn 2 bucks for every dollar I spent ($10 = 20 Swagbucks). Through out the year, typically around holidays the amount of bucks awarded for shopping purchases increases. Target was 4 bucks for every dollar this Christmas, I earned some extra Christmas cash while Christmas shopping.

Bucks can also be earned by playing games, doing surveys, contests, or other special deals. I could earn more bucks faster if I did this, but this part is not of interest to me.

And finally you can also earn extra points for referrals, so go ahead and use this link to sign up if you are interested :)

Happy Earning!

Jul 14

Samaritan Ministries

Mid-July we took the plunge and signed up for Samaritan Ministries. We sent off our application and money and waited for that approval phone call to come. July 23rd our phone rang. As soon as we hung up with SM, we were back on the phone calling to cancel our health insurance.

If you have never heard of SM it is not health insurance. It’s a “biblical, non-insurance approach to health care needs”. Here’s what that means. Instead of sending our money off every month to a large company that most likely spends it on over employing incompetent employees and finding ways to weasel out of covering bills they are supposed to pay, we are now sending our money directly to different people each month to cover their medical bills. Say what?

Here’s the break down:

For our family of 4 (or your family of 3, 6, 9, 12, I didn’t see anywhere a limit on how many kids you could have, but don’t hold me to this) our monthly payment is $405 (and that number won’t increase until all members, 33k+, vote to approve an increase.). Every month SM sends out a bill with where we will send our money that month. One month we might send $405 to Sally Jo in TX for her shoulder surgery. The next month we may send our $405 to Ramon in MN for his broken foot. Each month we send our money to another member in need to help them cover their medical costs. We know exactly where our money is going and exactly how it is helping other people. We can include letters of encouragement and pray for people all over the country that we’ve never even met. Can your insurance do that?

Dr. bills under $300 are your responsibility, but for everything over $300, members across the country send their monthly share to cover those bills leaving you with a zero balance.

Another pro of this model of health care sharing is that when you have doctor appointment you are considered self pay. If you’ve never been self pay at a doctor appointment before, it’s pretty amazing. Not only do you know exactly how much your appointment is going to cost before your appointment, (how many times have you been told that they don’t know exactly how much your appointment will cost until it goes through insurance, but it will be roughly anywhere between $200 and $10,000?) but you get a self pay discount.

Example: I was making an appointment to have an ultrasound at a hospital (a few years ago, settle down I’m not making any announcements here) and I asked for a price quote. I was told it would be anywhere from $800 – $1,100. I choked and then said, “for self-pay?”, “oh no, you receive a 75% discount for self pay”. You know how much I actually paid when I went in, $125. Seems hospitals like not having to go through insurance either. Hello less staff, less paperwork, less headaches.

Now granted hospitals are typically much higher in the discount giving department. Most doctor offices are in the 10-25% range. But with this model, we get to shop around and pick who we want to use. We don’t have to settle for a doctor we might not like as much only because he accepts our insurance and the other doctor doesn’t.

We have a couple friends who have been using SM and rave about how the process is easy and they can’t imagine ever having to use traditional insurance again. They are who introduced us to this company and why we are now members.

Speaking of friends referring friends, they also have a pretty awesome referral bonus. If you sign up and list us as who referred you, we will get a large credit on our account after you are a member for 3 months. So make sure to tell them we sent you. 😉

These are just the highlights, there’s more benefits to health sharing and a few different price points. Everyone has the same “plan”, and what is covered is clear (no dental or vision).  We’re excited to be using them now! Check them out and see what you think.

Update 10/8/14: This month our “share” (bill) was reduced by 10% because more money was sent in then needs published last month. Now that for sure never happens with insurance!

Apr 14

Our Grocery List

For years our grocery list was a notepad on the fridge with a pen attached. Handy and accessible when discovering you are using the last bit of an item in the kitchen, but not the easiest to cross off items in the store, and not with you if you make an unplanned stop on your way home.

About four years ago, we transitioned to using the notes feature on Jeremy’s iPhone. This was an improvement since the phone was usually close by and we were able to add items to the list in the order we shop our stores and it was easy to delete items as we went. But Jeremy wasn’t always around when I would come across something we needed and because I didn’t have a smartphone, he couldn’t share the list with me and I’d have to switch phones with him when I went shopping. Yet it was still an improvement from the old way.

Last fall, I finally (like seriously overdue) got an iPhone and Jeremy searched for a grocery list app and discovered the AnyList app. I’m sure there is more we can do with it and if we upgraded from the free version there are more options, but here is how we use it and why I love it. We each have our own accounts on our phones, but we can “share” lists with each other. For example, we have a Target list that we share. Wherever I am I can add carrots, for example, to the Target list and it immediately shows up on Jeremy’s list, making it easy for either of us to stop at Target at any time and not forget something. Meaning I can even add items at home while he is at Target.

The list can also be customized. You can put items in different categories based on where they are located at your store, add items that are favorites (things you get each time), and even put your list in order of how you shop your store. Meaning if you like to go Produce, Bakery, Deli the items on your list with show up in that order. That last option is a huge plus for us, since Jeremy and I each have our preferred ways of shopping a store. His list is his way on his phone, and mine is my way. Perfect!

As you put items in your cart you touch the item on the screen and it crosses the item off. You can set it so the crossed off items remains or I like to have the item disappear as I cross them off. Preferences.

And finally, you don’t have to share all your lists nor do they all have to be grocery lists. We both have “personal” and “shared” lists.

This is by far the most used app we have and has made keeping track of our grocery list such a breeze. Do you have a favorite way you make your shopping lists?

Mar 14

Undercover Mama Tanks {Review}

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time getting excited about the selection of nursing tops at the store. Meaning instead of buying something I don’t love and won’t need forever, I’m usually trying to make one of my “regular” tops do the trick by layering a tank underneath. I was excited when I recently discovered this new twist on a nursing tank by Undercover Mama.

Instead of having the built in bra that nursing tanks so often have (and don’t provide near the amount of support a nursing mama needs) this nursing top has two clasps options that can attach to your favorite nursing bra. You can even attach it to a regular bra when you are done nursing and still want a layered look. The tank is a nice, soft, quality material and is very simple to use. If you’re looking for a way to stretch your regular wardrobe with easy nursing access, give these comfy tanks a try.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary top to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.

Jul 13

Milk Bands {Review & Giveaway}

In my pre-baby years I had a reliable memory. I could tell you what I wore last week, when a specific event happen (i.e. – the date I got stitches in 8th Grade), and my list of activities for the week without using a calendar. Fast forward 4 years and 2 babes, and I’m lucky if I can remember if I put deodorant on that morning. The last time I washed my hair, forget about it. The exact birth stats of my children, I’ll have to check the blog.

Zeke came along and I added breastfeeding back to the mix and became a hopeless case in remembering anything feeding related. Between sleepless nights and a busy toddler I could not keep track of feedings to save my life. I tried to keep a little journal of the last time he ate and which side, but it never seemed to be in the same room as I was, or I’d forget it at home when we were out. Leaving my journal with large unaccounted gaps of time and ultimately highly unreliable.

Next, I tried using a hair tie on the wrist of the last side I nursed on. And maybe this would have worked if I didn’t keep forgetting and using it instead to hold my hair back. I even tried wearing two ties, one for my hair and one for tracking, but I still was able to screw it up. I’m talented that way.

This led me to start searching online for another way to help my foggy brain. I read about safety pins on bra straps which I passed right over. (Have you met me? Hello constant poking with a sharp object. No thanks.) I saw a specialty watch, which was nice, but more than I had to spend. And then in the midst of my search I came across Milk Bands, a simple bracelet design for exactly my needs and could easily fit into anyone’s budget. Bingo!

I couldn’t wait for my band to arrive in the mail and when it did I eagerly torn open the mailer. At first glance I was a little dismayed that the band came packaged in what appeared to be one of those sealed plastic clamshells with sharp edges that slice your fingers when you try to pry them open. Upon a second look though I saw that all I needed to do was gently pull apart one of the corners and voila my Milk Band was free and my fingers were spared!

I slipped in on my wrist and that is where it has stayed for months now. I only take it off when we go to the beach or pool, other than that I wear it 24/7, even in the shower and to bed. My skin is sensitive and I was a little worried at first that it might irritate it, but I’m pleased to report I’ve had absolutely no problems.

It’s been perfect for everyday use and has survived my two kiddos occasional tugs and this hot, sticky Florida summer. I like that it comes in a wide assortment of colors and with its low cost, you could buy multiplies to always have the perfect color to match your outfit of the day. I have a white one and I have been pleasantly surprised that it hasn’t gotten any weird marks/scuffs and hasn’t become dingy looking.

What is the great about the Milk Bands is that you only need one free hand to track feedings (because what Mom has two free hands, I’d say one is even a miracle some days). One side of the band has a raised “right”, then flip it over and the other side has a indented “left” to make it easy for you to feel what side you are on even in the dark. I love that I only have to flip the bracelet instead of moving it from wrist to wrist.

It also comes with two sets of sliders, one set you’ll use and the other pair is a spare I’m assuming. Along the band on each side is a set of numbers 1-12 across from 0-60 (in 5 minute increments). You move the sliders up and down to keep track of anything from the beginning time of the last feeding, to how many feedings in a day, to really anything you can imagine (how many glasses of water you’ve drank, how many wet diapers, or it doesn’t even have to be nursing related – how many miles did you run today?) To be honest I’m not using that part of the band much anymore, Zeke is pretty consistent on what time he eats now, but it was really helpful for me as I was figuring out that pattern. I also experimented with using it to track how many feedings in a day (7), how many total minutes he was eating in a 24 hour period (1 hour 40 minutes). I did find that the sliders sometimes would stick or not slide as smoothly as I would have liked and I had a hard time using them in the dark.

I love that my Milk Band frees up some brain space and helps me feel a little bit more control of my unpredictable days! As a special treat to my readers, Milk Bands has generously provided a lavender Milk Band for one lucky winner. To be entered in the contest please comment below with if you plan to use it for yourself or to gift it to a friend. A winner will be chosen using on Friday, July 26th and will be notified by email. You will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected. Good Luck!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary Milk Band to facilitate my review. All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.

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