Mommy This-N-That

Making Homemade Baby Food!

By December 7, 2015 Parenthood & Children, Recipes
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Baby food is super easy to make and probably a lot less processed than most everything you can get in the store.  I couldn’t believe how simple is was to prep, cook, and store my own baby food.  I think I find satisfaction in making my own things but I also do enjoy cutting down on my costs.  My parents always have a huge garden and rarely know what to do with all their produce.  I fortunately had a perfect idea of how to use a good amount of it!

I created baby food out of sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, apples, and pears.  There are a ton of other fruits and vegetables you can use but this is just what I started with because it was available to me.  I designated a couple hours each day to work on these mostly because you can only freeze so much at a time unless you have unlimited ice cube trays and freezer space.  I used the Wholesome Baby Food site to start my baby food making experience.

Items you will need before you start: Fruit and/or vegetables, large pot or pan or crock pot, slotted spoon, non slotted spoon or ladle, table spoon, magic bullet or machine to puree, ice cube trays (I used both smaller and larger trays to accommodate different portion sizes needed as they grow), and gallon sized plastic bags.  Then utilize the processes below depending on the fruit or vegetable you are starting with.

Sweet Potatoes and Carrots: Clean and peel vegetable and then slice into a large pot.  Fill the pot with just enough water to cover the vegetable, then boil until tender.  Allow contents to cool enough to avoid scolding the skin.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop the potatoes or carrots into the blender (I used my magic bullet but you can use any machine that will puree).  Puree the vegetable adding the cooking water, clean warm water, or breast milk if its too thick (I have heard that its best to avoid using the cooking water from carrots).  After pureeing, spoon into ice cube trays.

Butternut squash: Slice squash in half to scoop the seeds out of the middle.  Then place the halves face down in a pan of water about a half inch deep.  Cook at 350 degrees until the skin turns a light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can safely place the halves in your hand (for quicker cooling flip the halves face up with a hot pad and/or utensil).  I did not have to puree the butternut squash and was able to mush it will a fork a little before adding it to the ice cube trays.

Apples and Pears:  Peel, core, and slice apples or pears placing them in a crock pot.  Once the crock pot has been filled to the brim add the lid and cook on high for a couple of hours.  You will not have to add water because when they cook down moisture seeps out of the fruit.  I mixed each batch a couple of times to ensure they cooked evenly.  Once the fruit is tender turn off the crock pot and allow to cool.  Use a spoon to again place the fruit into the magic bullet to puree (I did not use all the liquid in the pot but use as much as you need for a smooth consistency without making it too runny).  Again spoon into ice cube trays.

Once you have gotten either your vegetable or fruit puree into ice trays cover them with tin foil or saran wrap and place in the freezer.  Once frozen pop each of them out and place into gallon sized bags to store in the deep freeze for later use.  Make sure to mark each bag with the date and type of food. Happy cooking!

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Enjoying the Beauty of Winter

By December 4, 2015 Food for Thought
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This past week we had another snow storm.  Although I might complain about being cold at times there is no doubt that there is a simple beauty about it.  No picture can ever really capture it perfectly but I felt like sharing a few from around my home.  I hope to be a better photographer some day but I’m hoping practice helps that! :)

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I find it to be a fitting time of year to really look at the little things and appreciate what we have.  I have been fortunate to be blessed with a family that is so loving and full of kindness.  I have also been blessed to have enough resources to grow my own little family with my husband.  We also found a home in a great location that needs some work but works perfect for us.  Finding the simple joys in life is important always but even more so during the Christmas season.  On this particular day I found great joy in being able to see the sun rise out the front door and make the snow glitter in its light.  I may not be a morning person but this view is a reason to get up earlier in the morning.

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I hope that the hectic Christmas season does not get to me and I hope that I can remember each day the little things that matter the most.  I hope that I can help my children see life as a glass half full rather than a glass half empty.  I also hope that they will help others and not get distracted by the various temptations lurking around every corner.  There might be some hiccups along the way but if we can pick ourselves up and keep moving forward we can make good things happen.  When I am feeling down I am always inspired by those people who have very little and still find time and resources to help others.  I am truly thankful for those people.

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Bloglovin

By December 3, 2015 Crafts

I am learning new things all the time and have recently discovered a site called Bloglovin where you can follow all your favorite blogs in one spot.  Pretty cool don’t you think?  I am happy to announce that I am a new member :) and you can follow me by using the web address found below. See you soon!

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/14582937/?claim=7kv4mezwe9c”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

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God Bless the USA

By December 3, 2015 Crafts
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This summer my husband happened to being doing various projects that required wood and had a number of scraps left over.  He always likes to clean it all up and burn the scraps but after a little begging he agreed to let me use the scraps for my own projects.  I have a hard time throwing things away when there are such good uses for them yet and of course I’m always thinking of ways to make something new while not spending a whole lot of money.

With the scrap pieces of wood I decided to make a summer festive piece that sported our Country.  Gotta love the red, white, and blue!  I painted each board a different color.  I used spray paint for this project and did apply two coats to ensure I had a solid finish.  I didn’t paint the back side but you can if you decide to attach them to a steak.

While I waited for the base paint to dry I gathered my other materials.  I gathered  two sets of hook and eyes (in the future I would use 4, because I had problems with the wind twisting my boards around), thick wire, fence post staples, and a burlap bow.  Make sure to get hook and eyes that will stay together when placed vertically and are easy to screw in or tack onto boards.

I let the boards dry for a day before adding the letters because I used stencils and masking take to create the letters (sorry I do not have pictures of this).  Once I placed the stencils and covered any areas I didn’t want painted with masking tape I carefully spray painted the letters.  Make sure to avoid over spraying to prevent the paint from dripping or smudging under the stencil.  I wanted to mix things up on the USA so I sprayed diagonals of blue and white.  I didn’t use anything to make straight lines on the diagonals because I wanted the paint to blend a little for looks.  I also removed the stencils and tape from the boards immediately because I didn’t want the stencils to stick to the boards (be extra careful while removing tape and stencils over wet paint).

Once the letters had dried I hand painted “the” in the appropriate place and began adding the hook and eyes to their designated spots.  I didn’t accurately measure placement of the hook and eye because I wanted it to tilt a little.  To attach the wire at the top I hammered in two fence post staples and wrapped the wire around.  After it was all assembled and dry I added a burlap bow that I had for a little extra touch.  Finally I hung it next to our side door for all to enjoy on their way past our home.

 

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Welcome Signage

By December 2, 2015 Crafts
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Its been a challenge to find my so called niche in beginning my blogging experience. I have a ton of interests and lots of things I would like to write about but needed a direction.  When I thought about what I’d like to be doing the most, I came to the conclusion that its working on crafts.  Creating things has always been a hobby, even as a kid I would stay in for recess to finish my arts and crafts.  I feel very excited to begin sharing the various crafts I have and will be making. :)

At times I would call crafting my side obsession and perhaps that is why I am interested in starting a blog as well (creating).  It helps that my family members also like to do crafty projects and before my grandmother past she would constantly bring over projects for us to make.  There is something very rewarding about looking at a bunch of objects, coming up with a neat idea, creating it, and then displaying it.

I found it to be fitting to share the welcome sign that I put together as my first feature project.  I used scrap lattice and wood pieces as well as wooden letters.  This summer we added some lattice to open areas on our patio and I wouldn’t let me husband burn the scraps.  I had in my mind that I was going to create something out of it but didn’t quite know what.  I finally decided to create a wooden frame out of scrap boards and then add in wooden letters that I bought from Walmart.

First I cut the scrap boards with a table saw to create a frame and then used an electric hand saw to cut the lattic.  The boards I had were from a project my husband was working on but I have gotten scrap boards from the scrap pile at Menards in the past for a small price.  Before I did any assembling I stained both boards and the lattice with a beautiful cherry stain (left over from another project).  I did not varnish them because I did want them age and also didn’t want it to be shiny.

While I was waiting for the stain to dry, I painted the front surface of the letters white and its sides black (to make it pop more).  Any color would work but I wanted to keep mine neutral in order to leave it up all year long while adding seasonal decorations and avoiding a clash of colors.

Finally once everything was dry I began with the assembly.  I kept the frame fairly simple by leaving both sides longer then insetting the top and bottom boards.  I laid the boards face down on my work table how I wanted them and then laid the piece of lattice over them, making sure no lattice stuck out past the frame.  I then used an air staple gun to tack everything in place.  It important to make sure your staples are the right length or they will pop through the other side.

When adding the letters to the project I placed the frame face up and arranged the letters to my liking.  I then used masking tape to hold them in place while I carefully placed the whole project face down again.  I then used the staple gun to tack the letters in place.  Wallah the completed project!  I decided to hang mine on the outside of my house with hooks.  Eventually I would like to have a seasonal decoration that I change out in which I plan to hang above this sign.

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10 Things to be Thankful for

By November 24, 2015 Food for Thought
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  1. First I am thankful for the gift of life.  No matter the circumstances of how I was entered into this world I am thankful to be living.
  2. I am thankful to live in a country who believes in Freedom.  Despite the many challenges and disagreements we as a people have with one another I am thankful to be able to have those open discussions and be  able to create a movement or change for the betterment of all people.
  3. I am thankful for those in the military and in law enforcement.  I am grateful for all those good men and women who risk their lives every day protecting our country and the various freedoms we do have.
  4. I am thankful for Firefighters and other emergency responders who have to react quickly to save lives.  It is their bravery and quick-thinking that saves the various people affected by natural disasters and other tragedies.
  5. I am thankful for the many teachers in the education system who dedicate their lives to positively mold the minds of our future.
  6. I am thankful for religious leaders who support the various needs of their communities.  No matter the religion I am grateful for the investment they put in for little to no pay to education and love others.
  7. I am thankful for doctors and other medical staff who help those who are ill and maintain good health in others.  I appreciate their dedication to always be in search of ways to assist those with health concerns.
  8. I am thankful for farmers and ranchers who produce the food that sustains us.  It is their close attention to detail that maintains a large food supply.
  9. I am thankful for families no matter if they are traditional or non tradition.  I am thankful for parents who put their children first and who make sacrifices to raise their children to the best of their ability.  I am thankful for children who love unconditionally and are the most innocent of all human beings.
  10. Finally I am thankful for all people working at home or in the workforce because without each and everyone’s cooperation and part in society we would not be able to function.  No matter what job your doing your role matters and you should know you’re appreciated.

There is a lot to be thankful for and very important to remember these things around the most important holiday of the year.  Before consuming yourself with Black Friday ads remember to reflect on all the things that you are thankful for.

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Yum Yum- Chocolate Zucchinni Loaf Cake

By November 20, 2015 Recipes
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Ever since I was a young girl I have loved helping in the kitchen and have admired all those who were expert canners, bakers, and cooks.  By no means is my cooking fabulous but I still enjoy trying new things and making use of all the food items in my refrigerator.  During this past year I have become a part of the Bountiful Basket program (http://bountifulbaskets.org/) in our community and have also had a lot of produce from our family garden.  Since I hate wasting anything, I am always in search of tasty ways to use the items in my refrigerator.

I came across Chocolate-Zucchini Loaf Cake recipe in the Dec. 2014 issue of Cooking Light.  I found the recipe to be similar to a cake that my mom used to make when I was a kid so I thought I would try it out.  I altered it slightly only because currently I am unable to include dairy in my diet.  The two things that I altered were the butter and chocolate chips.  For the butter I found a great dairy and soy free version and in regards to the chocolate chips I chose not to omit them.

I have included the original recipe with a few notations of the changes that I made.

Chocolate –Zucchini Loaf Cake

Hands-on: 25 min.

Total: 1 hr. 50 min.

2 cups shredded zucchini (about ½ pound)

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup unsalted butter; softened (dairy and soy free butter)

¼ cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Baking spray

 

Topping (optional):

1 tablespoon cocoa

½ cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon 2% reduced-fat milk (dark chocolate almond milk)

Dash of salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Place zucchini on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 10 minutes, pressing down occasionally. [if you leave it too wet it will take longer to bake and often the bottom gets hard before the entire thing is cooked]
  3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 6 tablespoons cocoa, and next 3 ingredients (through ¼ teaspoon salt) in medium bowl, stirring with a whisk
  4. Place sugar, brown sugar butter, canola oil and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until lemon-colored (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed 1 minute or just until combined. Add zucchini and chocolate chips; beat at low speed 1 minute or just until combined.  Spoon batter into a 9×5-inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray.  Bake at 350 for 38 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Loosen edges from sides using a narrow spatula.  Remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.
  5. Combine powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon cocoa, milk, and a dash of salt in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over loaf.

Ta-Da there you have it, used up the zucchini or summer squash in the refrigerator and had a tasty desert that you can argue has some nutritional value. I am hoping to see if I can substitute the squash for apples and the cocoa for PB (dry) in the future.  I’m not sure how well it will work but it sounds kind of tasty.

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Cheers to a new day!

By November 12, 2015 Food for Thought
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Hello readers I just wanted to begin my first blog with a little bit about myself and my motivations. I am beginning a blog, first, because I have always dreamed that I would become a writer or would someday write a book.  For me this is a first step in trying out my endeavors with writing for an audience other than a professor.

Another reason I have decided to try this new adventure is because of the overwhelming amount of posts I have read that have indicated that blogging can be a good side income. I cannot tell you how challenging it has been financially to begin my career and family all in one short period of time.  I am in search of a way to make some extra money to first get out of debt and second to be able to allow my children to participate in various activities in and around our school and community.  I also hope that someday we can afford to update our home as well.    

The third reason I am exploring the blogging realm is because of my belief that writing is an extremely calming and anxiety reducing exercise. After writing, either planned or unplanned, I feel more organized physically and mentally and often feel more productive.  Expressing myself in writing has always been an interest of mine, however I have been procrastinating about getting started on it. 

I have spent many nights telling myself I am going to start a blog but didn’t ever know where to start.  One day I stumbled upon the 30 day blog challenge online and decided it was a sign to get the ball rolling.  The extra support from this challenge as well as the the many informative videos is just what I need.  I can’t express how excited I am to begin sharing my thoughts on various topics with the world. I am slightly nervous about the critics but view it as a growth experience.  I  feel optimistic that I can achieve various positive aspects from writing on a regular basis. 

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