Thursday, May 30, 2013

Healthy(ier) Poptarts - The Pintester Movement

Cora needs a snack before bed each night.  Because this is after she has had her bath, I'd really like to keep it as non-messy as possible.  Scott introduced her to PopTarts a few months ago; and she hasn't looked back.  I'm not a fan of this arrangement, but seeing as I haven't come up with anything better yet, it remains.

A few months ago I pinned a recipe or two for "healthy" poptarts.  That's as far as I got.  Pastry dough and I don't get along well.  Pastry dough with a toddler helper is just a disaster.  

Along comes the Pintester Movement.  

"The idea is that a bunch of bloggers and crafters from around the interwebs all got together and decided to take on a craft or project we’ve been putting off because we’ve been too scared to do it. This is our excuse and our motivation to get it done!"

Fine, you've got me.  I'll do it.  I mean, we're out of PopTarts and I have all of the ingredients on hand.

The recipe I chose is here.  I don't know if I'd call 2 sticks of butter healthy, but I'm just going to roll with it.  

I got my fancy freshly ground whole wheat flour (purchased here) out of the freezer. 

Threw some into the bowl of my stand mixer with some salt.

Added some butter.  This is when I really started to question the healthiness of the recipe.   

 Added some yogurt.

And mixed it up until it became doughy.  

At this point I had to feed the girls, so the dough rested for about an hour in the bowl.  The recipe suggests letting it rest overnight to "break down the phytic acid and make the grains more digestible."  So yeah, that's what I was doing.  That's the ticket!  Random Jon Lovitz reference, anyone?

Then I rolled it out on the counter.  You can tell how well this was going.   

I cut it into general PopTart sized rectangles. 

Then I matched up tops and bottoms that were close in shape and size.  

I found these for fillings.
FYI - Justin is a liar.  There are almonds in that hazelnut butter too.  Almonds that want to rip out my digestive system.  

My helper called dibs on the rolling pin. 

I filled them.  

Crimped them closed with a fork.

And baked them.  I think the recipe was supposed to make 15-20.  Mine made 10.  They weren't so much a flaky pastry dough, more of a smooshed jelly sandwich.  

The jelly filling was molten lava hot.  That's fun.  

Cora enjoyed one filled with hazelnut butter once they cooled. 

If I were to make these again, I might replace half or all of the butter with coconut oil.  It calls for a cup though, so the coconut flavor might overpower the fillings. 

I'd like to thank Sonja at Pintester for coming up with such a fun challenge! 

What are some other bedtime snack ideas for a 3 year old that don't require a second bath?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Road Trippin' - Southwest Ohio Edition

We began Memorial Day weekend a bit out of sorts.  I had forgotten it was a holiday weekend and got a bit worked up that we weren't actually doing anything special.  No cookout planned.  No parade to watch.  Nothing.  I even joked that I wish I knew someone graduating from high school so we'd have a graduation party to go to. I halfheartedly looked at the Discover Ohio website, but nothing really looked appealing. 

We decided on Saturday night that we'd leave early Sunday morning and go to Young's Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  We got there at about 11 am and had lunch at their sit down restaurant, The Golden Jersey Inn.  Unless I was in a hurry, I'd eat there over the counter service restaurant they have.  It was a much more relaxed atmosphere and Cora able to eat undistracted.

Because I ordered off of the dinner menu instead of the breakfast menu, the waitress brought out a cheese sampler plate.  There was a really good sharp cheddar, Italian cheese curds, and a swiss.  Cora enjoyed the grapes and zucchini bread that were on the cheese plate. 

After lunch, we walked over to the activity section of the complex.  Most of the activities were geared for older kids, but there was an area called Cowvin's Kiddie Corral for kids 48" and under.  There were slides, a bounce house, straw bales to climb, and a tub of corn to play in.  There were also pedal tractors, but she wasn't interested.

She also rode on the Moovers and Shakers ride, which is essentially a golf cart pulling 50 gallon drum "cars."  She loved it.  I think she would have ridden it all day.  

She wasn't really interested in the petting zoo part of the place.  There were some dairy goats, calves, and hogs in the cleanest barn I've ever seen.

We finally convinced her to leave with the promise of ice cream.

At this point, we decided to stay the night.  I nearly booked a night online at the Cincinnati Marriott North in the parking lot of the hotel for $199, but I didn't feel like typing all of that stuff into my phone.  I'm glad I didn't - the room was only $129 for a room with a king bed and a pull-out couch.  Cora and I even had time for a swim in the indoor pool before bed that night.  

Snack time in the hotel room
 The next morning we were up before 6.  That's what happens when you go to bed at 9 pm.  We weren't sure if we were going to go to Jungle Jim's or Ikea, but since it was so early we managed to go to both.  

Our Jungle Jim's haul almost always consists of random pastries from the bakery and cookies and sweets from the international food aisles.  

I planned on buying some small stuff at Ikea, but somehow we ended up buying a new kitchen table and chairs.  Having a minivan makes these impulse buys possible.  

There are a few other places we considered going to if time would have allowed such as the Cincinnati Zoo and the Children's Museum at the Cincinnati Museum Center.  I didn't want to push it, so we came home in time for naps on Monday.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Everybody Wants to be a Cat

Today was Cora's birthday party.  The theme was loosely Aristocats/French-ish stuff.  Here's my Pinterest board where I organized my ideas. 

Obviously I didn't take any pictures of any of my cute decorations or a family picture.  I think the only family picture we have ever was taken in front of Cinderella's castle in Walt Disney World by a cast member.  We're wearing matching tie dye.  We should really remedy this situation. 

I mostly used paper decorations.  There were black and white damask-ish paper lanterns and puffy pink tissue balls hanging above the table and in the picture window.  Flowers were light pink mini carnations and baby's breath in jelly jars.

H&M carries Aristocats clothing for little girls.  Cora had a black and white polka dot Marie dress and Lily had a teal Marie onesie. 

Cora's cake was Marie from The Aristocats.  It was adorable and delicious.

After a brunch of  ham and egg bake and French toast casserole (both delicious) and berries, she opened presents. 

There were lots of outdoorsy/artsy gifts.  I anticipate spending the next week on the deck. 

We came in to sing Happy Birthday and to eat cake.  She very meticulously blew out each candle during the song.  She then yanked the candles out of the cake.   We don't mess around about cake. 

The afternoon was spent in the backyard.  She alternated between digging in the sandbox, painting with sidewalk paint, and supervising the building of her new swing set.  

I didn't even try to get her to nap this afternoon, so she passed out at about 6:45. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Toddler Vocab


"Mama, I have a sprinkle on my leg." 


"I build with my blocks and mangos."   

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May Birchbox

I signed up for a Birchbox about 3 months ago.  I'm a fan.  After falling out of love with my Graze box, I was happy to fill that mailbox shaped void. 

Because I'm kind of cheap, I split it with a friend.  We take turns with a Birchbox subscription and a PopSugar subscription.  This month was my turn for the Birchbox. 

I'm not sure if everyone receives the same Birchbox, so I'll put a SPOILER ALERT and a jump here just in case. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

3 for my 3

Today, Cora is 3. 

She came into the world 10 weeks too early weighing only 2 lbs. 7 oz. 

The NICU doctor once said she thought she was too big for her britches.  I think that still fits. 

To celebrate her 3rd birthday, here are 3 things about her.

1.  She's a helper.  She often tries to comfort Lily with an "It's ok sweetie pie."  She wants to help cook and fold laundry. 

2.  She's a thinker.  Many times a day, I hear "Ooh, I have an idea." 

3.  She's creative.  Piano, dancing, coloring, play-doh.  She loves them all.

Happy Birthday to the force of nature that made me a mom.

Gender roles, schmender roles. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Complaining about poor customer service via social media

We're getting new carpet in Cora's room.  The carpet in there currently can best be described as...early 90's blue, maybe?  We looked at options at Lowe's, Home Depot, and a local carpet store.  The carpet that we liked best was from Lowe's.

The guy came and measured the room on Monday.  By Tuesday, they called and left a message saying they had our estimate and to please call them back.  Thus began four days of playing call tree roulette.  Will I get through to the right department?  Will no one answer and I'll get booted back to the beginning automated greeting?  We just don't know! 

Today was day four of getting absolutely nowhere.  In my aggrevation, I turned to Twitter and tweeted the following:

Do you see how good Lowe's social media folks are?  I mean they're using text speak for goodness sake!  They also responded within the hour of my vented frustration. 

After I got the girls down for a nap, I tried calling Lowe's one more time and finally got through.  I mean, yeah they managed to hang up on me while trying to transfer me to the service desk to pay, but I can't win them all.

As to not leave the Lowe's Twitter folks hanging, I sent the following email to say it was all taken care of. 

I've worked in customer service before, so I think they'll enjoy the illustration I included. 

My point, and I do have one:  If you're a business, and you have a social media account.  USE IT!  Use it for good.  Also if you're a business and you don't have an updated website, you're dead to me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Minivan, Mega Fun!

So, the accident.

My car was totaled.  I had assumed as much.

I drove exactly one car and decided that was the car for me.  Did I say car?  I meant minivan.  It was bound to happen eventually.  The accident just accelerated our timeline. 

My face illustrates my general feelings about owning a van.

Honestly, I love it.  My only complaint so far is that the bluetooth connection using the UConnect system in my Chrysler Town and Country isn't as great as the bluetooth connection using OnStar that my Chevy Equinox used.  NERD ALERT!!  I'm also unsure if I can load movies I've bought on iTunes into the van's hardrive (my van has a fucking hard drive!).  Signs point to no, but I'm still hopeful. 

As I drove today, I was getting acquainted with all of the buttons on my steering wheel.  One of the options is to show the speed of the vehicle on the screen on the dash.  Somehow I got it into kilometers.

The momentary panic I felt as I read that I was going 88 reminded me of the following story:

After my freshman year of college, I decided to take a few classes over the summer.  I decided to take these classes at Oklahoma State University.  At the time, I was living in Ohio. 

Luckily, I already had a place to stay out there with Laura, a friend of mine.  Her twin sister Linda and I would drive out together and attend classes and live with Laura.  In the mobile home she lived in.  Don't be so jealous.

We quickly became part of Laura's social group.  This was quite generous on her part as I wasn't 21 yet and seriously limited the selection of bars that I was legally allowed in to. 

One night, we had spent the evening at the Tumbleweed and were headed home in a friend's truck.  I had a few drinks that night and was at that stage of inebriation where woozy borders on slurry.  We were driving through the main street in town in the wee hours of the morning when I happened to look at the speedometer.

It said we were going nearly 60.  I guessed that the speed limit was 25, maybe 35 max.  Internally, I freaked the hell out.  Why were we going so fast?  This is a bad idea.  Why didn't I just stay home? 

Then I remembered that we were riding in a Canadian's truck.  That shows the speed in kilometers. 

Not entirely related, but Linda married that man. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Ants go Marching One by One - Not in my house they don't.

I know Spring has officially arrived when the ants storm the gates and get into the house.  Little ants.  Over the years, I've perfected my method of getting rid of them.

The first noticeable signs of an ant infestation are just a few ants, looking like they aren't going anywhere in particular.  I'm assuming these are the scouts.  They've found a way into the house and they're just looking around for food.  God forbid you leave a crumb (or in our case, a chunk of apple) on the floor.  Within a matter of hours, there might be hundreds.

First things first: Get rid of any food that they could find.  Scrub the table and countertops.  For this I use distilled vinegar as a final rinse.  I don't think ants like vinegar.  Make sure all food is sealed in plastic or glass.  I go as far as putting my dry goods in the pantry in glass containers because of a fear of pantry moths.

Sweep the floor.  This will probably involve sweeping ants up too.  IMMEDIATELY take the vacuum bag or dust pan contents outside of your house.  We have a detached garage, so I just bag up the dirt/ants and take them out there.

Mop the floor.  I have one of these beauties.  I can add any solution I want and the pads can be thrown into the washer and reused.  To combat ants, I use a glug of distilled vinegar, hot water, and a few shakes of Peppermint Essential Oil.  There's a lot of discussion about quality of oils, but for cleaning, I don't know if it really matters.  I've read a few places that ants don't like mint, so it's worth a shot.

Put down some sort of trap for the ants.  You want the ants to eat the bait and die, but also take the bait back to the colony.  I tend to use these traps and they've worked well.   The active ingredient is Borax (from the laundry aisle), but I like the design of this trap to keep kids and pets out.  If you don't have these concerns, there are lots of instructions out there to mix up your own bait. 

Here's the important part that I've found:  When the ants die, DON'T CLEAN THEM UP.  It's going to gross you out, it's going to make you gag, but don't clean them up.  Ants seem to have a "no man left behind rule.  They'll carry their fallen comrades back to the nest.  By doing so, they're bringing more of the bait back to the nest too.  Want proof?  The trap below had at least 50 ants inside and scattered around outside.  Now, there are like 6.  My theory is that these were the asshole ants that no one wanted to carry. 

This process will take 2 days, 3 tops.  You'll possibly have reinfestations throughout the summer, but I usually only have to do this once each Spring.  If you want to add one more layer of protection, we sometimes spray Home Defense around the perimeter of the house.  With a very active toddler, I'm in the market for something a little less chemically so we haven't done it yet this year.

Feel free to add your tricks and tips in the comments!