Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Year in Rear View

2016 - It was another "Best Year of My Life".
Jerusha turned ONE in March and we hosted a simple party with just our  immediate families.
Eowyn Harper joined us on this side of the womb May 31st. I was only a week over due with her but sooo wanted a May baby and couldn't have been more thrilled to wake up super early May 31st with contractions that would turn into labor. She was a beautiful 8 pound 12 ounce baby who has grown into a too grown up-eight-month-old who is currently hovering all over the living room expertly steering her walker; oh do I always miss the infant stage, but that doesn't mean I'm not soaking up every joy to be found in this stage.
Wesley took a promotion in May which has changed our life quite a bit. He is a Regional Trainer now and some weeks that keeps him out on the road Monday through Friday but some weeks (like this one!!) he is close enough to the store he's training in to commute. Because he's not always home though, I've had to learn to be a little bit more self sufficient which is an area I needed stretched in. It is wonderful to have family so close for the days I need a break from being alone with two littles.
This year the transmission went out on our Lexus after only a year of owning it which was a bit of a trial but, after a few months relying only on Wesley's company car, we were able to buy a Ford Expedition which I love.
We enjoyed several trips in 2016; in March we joined my family on their vacation to Fort Morgan, in July, again with my family, we spent a weekend in Michigan visiting my grandparents. Mid August we took our annual trip to the Holden Beach/family reunion. Then on Labor Day Wesley and I took a group of siblings to the St. Louis City Museum which is nothing short of amazing. The last trip we've taken was a weekend adventure to Cincinnati, dreaming at IKEA, overwhelmed at Jungle Jim's, and experiencing the ARK encounter. We love being able to make time to travel, it creates so many memories, is worth the time, energy and money, and it CAN be done with youngsters.
Holiday's came and went, I was HUGE at 1 week "overdue" and hoping for labor on Memorial Day but still managed to enjoy fellowshipping with family and friends. Fourth of July we celebrated on the 2nd in order to partake in our small towns AMAZING firework show. Labor Day was spent in St. Louis, as I mentioned before. We spend Thanksgiving  with my side of the family, preparing food days in advance and feasting for days afterwards. And Wesley and I hosted Christmas for his side of the family, it was the first time we hosted a holiday gathering in our little home and I think it went pretty well. New Years Eve we joined my family, waiting up until midnight to "ring in" the New Year.
2016 was a good year for our family, filled with blessings and reasons to continually praise  God from whom all blessings flow. I pray 2017 wiill be another year filled with His provision, guidance, and growth for our lives as well as yours.
Happy New Year (very late because I'm a busy mom or lazy blogger... ;)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

REVIEW: Kiinde Foodii Starter Kit

The Kiinde Foodii Starter Kit

My little Wyn is getting to the age that she wants to try everything that mommy is eating but unfortunately she is struggling with being able to chew and swallow. I never had this issue with my oldest who from six months (maybe younger?) inhaled food whole, never choked on anything, and hasn't stopped since.  This being a new stage for me, I talked to my sister-in-law's about their experiences. One had success using reusable baby food pouches so I looked into them. I had a few boxes I had to check before ordering:
  • reusable
  • screw tops NOT "ziploc" (Jerusha is capable of opening zip tops)
  • clear, or mostly clear pouches so I could be sure I got them cleaned (there are very few areas that cleanliness and paranoia intersect for me but kids and mildew is one, ask me about tommee tippee sippy cups sometime..)
  • reasonable price
Technically the Foodii Snack System didn't check the "reusable" box but after reading a few amazon reviewers who said they wash and refill the pouch a few times I decided to proceed. 

They were one of the few options that had a screw top so again I continued.

I loved the fact the pouches are totally clear on one side with minimal solid white on the other, another box checked.

When I originally found this system on Amazon it was listed at $49.00 which would have been a definite no for me, however, the Amazon Prime price was only $14.99 and although I don't have Prime my mom does and is always willing to let me order through her account.

I just rechecked the price for you guys and it's actually being sold on the Kiinde site as a special right now for $19.99 and over at Amazon for $18.58 with Prime and $38.99 without Prime.

What I like:

I have reused some of the pouches up to three times already! I simply rinse what is left out, squeeze a dot of soap in, shake and then inserting a finger into the top I run it along all the seams just to be sure there's nothing left and then I rinse again. Easy!

The Foodii Filler. When I originally ordered I thought that it would be kind of unnecessary but it has proved useful. The baby food actually has to be quite thick in order to prevent my girls from slinging it all over the house and dripping it everywhere so the Foodii Filler comes in great handy. It is a squeezable container and as you squeeze the contents into the pouch there is a small vent on the cap to prevent too much vacuum. Eventually it does begin to create a vacuum but, really, its no big deal.

Minimal parts = minimal mess. Many of the systems I looked into come with "easy filling" squeeze stations similar to this and although they may work great for some people, I wasn't interested; I quite honestly don't enjoy doing dishes that much. I'm a minimalist. I'll stir batter with the Tablespoon measure I used if it means not washing another spoon.. As I mentioned before, I thought the fact the Foodii system came with a special filling device a little over the top but, since it is extremely easy to wash and is easier than spooning or funneling baby food into the pouches which also would create dishes it was a win. 
Several other systems also come with special blenders or miniature food processors to make the baby food in but, again, more dishes. I already own a blender which works great and serves well for my own smoothies, baby foods, as well as chopping every thing else. Minimal parts therefore minimal messes.

I have yet to try this feature out but all the reviewers I read loved this and in fact, I believe, the Kiinde brand originated to create easy breast pumping/milk storage/bottle feeding options. They sell converter top sizes that screw into the pouches, allowing you to use nearly any breast pump and pump directly into these pouches. You can then purchase their bottle converter, turning it into a bottle and feed your baby; you could also use the converters to choose your own nipple size/style. This all seems nifty to me, so far with my two I have not had the need to pump and bottle feed but if I ever do this looks like a good option, maybe some day I'll have a review for you on it!

What I'm Not Crazy About:

The spoon attachment. These make no sense to me. Until they make a spoon that squeezes the food out onto the tip of the spoon they're just a mess. In my girls cases they attempt to eat the food off the spoon but end up pushing it up the handle since its all in a pile on the far side of said spoon.

The Snack Spouts. They certainly aren't terrible, I just wish Kiinde could have used a design more similar to the store bought pouches; one where the spout is longer and skinnier, allowing a child to keep it further in their mouth, minimizing extra squeezing out accidentally. It's really not that big of an issue though and my almost two year old seems fairly capable but my nearly eight month old can't keep it in  her mouth. I may be expecting too much out of her though, and even if she could keep it in her own mouth I'd have to supervise the squeezing so it isn't that big of an issue. Just something I think could be improved.

The first food I made was from this (our favorite) yogurt, an apple, and sweet potato

I baked the sweet potato and allowed it to cool and steamed an apple then peeled and cored it

blended that all up with yogurt until it seemed to be a baby foodish texture and consistancy

put it into the Foodii Filler (picture feat. Jerusha's helpful hand)

once I had squeezed as much as I could directly into the pouches I unscrewed the cap from the Filler and used it as a funnel in order to use every last bit of the baby food

filled pouches, as you can see they are clear, making washing easier

Another flavor I  made was Bananas, Cocoa Powder, Peanut Butter and the same Yogurt blended. It ended up quite runny so Jerusha gets to eat those more often than Wyn.
Most recently I used organic Blueberry Juice, Yogurt, homemade Blueberry YL Lemon Oil Jelly, and Chia Seeds. All those ingredients have great health benefits and both the girls and I have enjoyed them; to be honest, all three of us have enjoyed each flavor, which is one of the main reasons I sought out DIY squeezy pouch options; I want to know what is in the food I feed my girls and I want to know it tastes yummy.

I hope you enjoy this review and maybe it will be helpful to you if you ever find yourself looking for reusable squeeze pouches.

Have a blessed day enjoying YOUR very own Beautiful Bubble

Monday, January 16, 2017

{Foodie Post No.8} Sweet & Spicy Green Tomato Pickles

I failed to take step by step pictures of the Pickles but still want to post about them.

I actually wasn't super impressed by this recipe. The recipe probably isn't at fault though, I'm just not a huge fan of slimy mushy "pickles" that taste like bread and butter pickles. If I had this to do again I would pick a dill-ish pickle recipe but I didn't have fresh dill :(

Spicy Green Tomatoes
  • 2 pounds green tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 or 2 hot peppers
Cut tomatoes into wedges. Slice onion. Sprinkle tomatoes and onions with pickling salt and allow to set for about two hours or over night.
Rinse tomatoes and onions.
In a heavy bottomed pan combine apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, turmeric, mustard seeds, and celery seeds. Bring mixture to a simmer over low heat.
Slice desired type and amount of peppers. (I used three Jalapenos)
Begin filling clean canning jars by layering slices of peppers and packing tomato wedges and onions on top.
Using a funnel, pour the hot vinegar and spice mixture into the jars. Check for air bubbles and try to release them by gently tapping the jars, or by using the end of a clean kitchen utensil. Wipe the rims clean and securely attach the lids. Process jars to a hot water bath for 15 minutes for pints or 20 minutes for quarts.