Thursday, September 30, 2010

The King's Christmas List by Eldon Johnson

I recently joined BookSneeze by Thomas Nelson and will be reviewing their books from time to time.  The first book I chose to review is The King's Christmas List by Eldon Johnson.

The King's Christmas List
Emma and her dog Shu-Shu are going to visit the king, bearing gifts.  Along the way they meet people in need and end up giving away the King's gifts.  When they finally arrive, the King is thrilled and a discussion ensues about giving to others.  At the back of the book is a website where you can go and find opportunities to give things to people in need (water, chickens for food and farming, etc).

I love the concept of this book and plan to explore it more with Lucy and Julia as we approach Christmas.  The website still says "coming soon", so we haven't been able to visit yet.  The book reminded me somewhat of a Dora episode with a moral at the end.  Not a bad thing, but I think some of the elements of the story could have been further developed.  At the end of the book the people Emma helped turn out to be angels, which might confuse my girls.  I think this book will lead to some great discussions in our family and look forward to reading it more as the holiday season approaches.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moboleez Breastfeeding Hat - Giveaway!

Esther is at the stage where she kicks and fights a nursing cover.  Its kind of like trying to put a blanket over a monkey.  Arms, boobs, and milk go flying everywhere.  Often its more discreet to just nurse her without a cover.  I've recently discovered MoBoleez breastfeeding hats though and have been enjoying mine.

Instead of a nursing cover, the baby wears the hat while nursing.  I found the hat to be plenty big enough and it covers Esther and I well.  If she sits up or turns her head at all I am uncovered, but I just quickly pull my shirt down.  I really like not being under a big nursing tent and enjoy the privacy it adds while nursing.

MoBoleez Breastfeeding Hats come in all sorts of fun colors.  Esther and I got to review the Tropical Tiles hat.  This one is reversible to a plain brown side.  The hat (not the brim) is stretchy, so it stays on Esther's head nicely and doesn't slip off.  Its a bit too floppy for her to really wear it as a hat though, it kept falling down in her face.  I just keep it in the diaper bag and slip it on her when its time to nurse.  I do still love my nursing cover for the early days, but this is a fun alternative.

Would you like to win one?  MoBoleez is giving one winner a hat of your choice!  They just ask that the winner post a little review on their Facebook page saying what you think of the hat/ design/ idea/ etc.

To enter the giveaway check out the MoBoleez site and let me know which hat you would choose.  If you are a confirmed email subscriber of my blog (or become one), leave an extra comment for a second entry.  Be sure to include an email address or have it enabled in your profile.  I'll close the giveaway on October 1 at midnight.  Good luck!

Giveaway now closed. picked comment #1 :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Mom Gumbo

This is one of the easiest recipes I've ever made.  I got this from Becky, a sweet mom of five who goes to our church.  She is always cooking meals for people and loves taking gifts from the church to new moms in our congregation.  She sent me this recipe the other day, and I tried it out last weekend when we were all sick.  I'm definitely adding it to my recipe book.

Place in crock-pot:
3 chicken breasts, cut in 1/2 (can be frozen or thawed)
small onion, chopped
1 tsp salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1 cup dry beans (northern or pinto) - rinse and pick out any bad beans first
4 cups water

Cook on high 3 hours.

Check beans to see if they are tender.  Use a wooden spoon and chop the chicken into pieces.  The beans should look like they are swimming in water, you may need to add more water at this point.  Cook for a couple more hours.

3 hours before you want to eat, add:
1 cup brown rice
2 cups broth
2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
paprika, chili powder, salt - season to your liking

The rice will split when it is tender and ready to eat.  We enjoyed it with shredded cheese and cornbread.  Feel free to play with the recipe and change it to your family's liking.  I love that you just put everything in the crock-pot without having to cook the beans, chicken, or rice first.  Perfect for a busy new mom to make, or better yet, for someone to make and deliver to her!  Thanks, Becky!

Find more healthy recipes here: Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Parade

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sweet Pea Heirloom Tomatoes

I'm not exactly a good gardener.  My main problem is that I don't water the plants.  Sweet Pea Tomatoes don't seem to mind though.  They've done great all summer long.

We found these last year at the farmer's market and loved them so much we bought a plant again this year.

The tomatoes are literally the size of a pea and grow in bunches.  It seems like any time we went outside there were tiny ripe tomatoes ready to be eaten.  Lucy loves to go pick and eat whatever ripe ones she can find.  They are sweet and taste delicious on a salad (although they rarely make it inside for that).

If you can find one, I highly recommend getting a Sweet Pea Tomato plant. the spring.  I know, its totally the wrong season to be telling you about my tomato plant.  I told you I wasn't a gardener.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Math Games

I found some of the coolest math games at CSN Stores.  (You know, the big store that sells everything from modern bedding to, well... math games.)  We got the chance to review both the Busy Bug Collector Magnetic Game and the Math Discovery Early Learning Kit.  These are both made by Lauri Toys.  We have used some of their other products in the past along with our homeschool curriculum and always enjoy them.  Lauri Toys are well made and offer plenty of educational value.

Shown here is the Busy Bug Collector Magnetic Game.  Players take turns rolling a die and moving their marker around the board to the finish line.  Depending on what square you land on, either add or subtract bugs from your jar.

As you can see, the pieces are quite thick.  The bugs are actually magnets that stick to the jars, adding a fun element.  Even the board itself is very sturdy.  This game is perfect for Lucy (age 5).  Counting the number on the die, moving the correct number of spaces, and either adding or subtracting bugs were appropriate challenges for her.  I like that there is even a bug guide included so that you can name all the creepy crawlies as you catch them.  Julia (age 3) also played the game but lost interest before the end.  At only $12.99, I definitely recommend this one!

The Math Discovery Early Learning Kit isn't necessarily a game, more of, well... a learning kit.  (I'm great with words today, aren't I?)  It comes with picture tiles, numbers, counters, and activity cards that you can use in a variety of ways.   

Here Lucy is working on reading the number words and matching them to the correct squares.  You could also place a number in the square.  In the photo I have the two drawers pulled out, but everything stores neatly away in them.

The included activity guide shows many different ways to use the pieces.  Patterns, number recognition, addition, and subtraction are some of the things covered.

We are just beginning addition and subtraction with Lucy.  I think having these hands on pieces will go a long way towards helping her learn.  This entire set is $22.99, which I think is a good price as well.  The pieces are sturdy and will provide us with lots of fun learning time.

Do you have a favorite learning game or hands on item?  I love hearing what works for others!

Thanks to CSN Stores for the review items.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's my birthday!  (I'm 30!)  I got 50 Swagbucks for my birthday.  :)

Have you signed up for Swagbucks yet?  I regularly use Swagbucks for my search engine and about once a month I have enough bucks for a $5 Amazon gift card.  Just do a couple of quick searches a day and you'll see the points add up.  I've been doing this for about a year now and recommend it.  Follow the link below to sign up and I'll get some extra Swagbucks too.  I'm off to enjoy my day with my three sweet little ones and wonderful husband!

Search & Win

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nursing Dress Pattern

I figured out how to sew my own nursing dress!  It was very simple to do and turned out wonderfully.  I used some pre-smocked material from Field's Fabrics for the top part.  The bottom is just a regular printed fabric that I picked up to match.

I think I used 1 yard of the black and 1.5 yards of the print.  You'll just have to hold the fabric up around you and take a guess how much you'll need.  If you are planning to make straps out of the same fabric, allow some extra material.  You could also use a thick ribbon for the straps instead.

The printed material is actually like a skirt that comes all the way up to about 2 inches below the top of the black.  Below is a picture of the dress inside out so you can see how it works.  It is not attached across the front.  It is sewn in about 5 places across the back.  There is a little 1/2 inch seam up and down on either side of my hand and in three other places.  (I didn't want to sew straight across the back because I needed to allow the elastic to stretch.)

Are you confused yet?  To nurse, you just lift the smocked part up and pull the skirt part down.

After washing and drying the material, I made one seam down the black smocked fabric.  This makes it into a tube top.

Hem the bottom of your skirt material and make one seam up  the back.  Around the top, make a casing for elastic.  I used a lightweight cotton elastic that was pretty stretchy.  Try this on and adjust the elastic so that its tight, but has room to stretch.  Remember that you will be tacking this to the smocked part to make it stay up, so it doesn't have to be too tight.

Make some straps and have someone help you pin them to the smocked top in the right places.  You will want to wear your favorite bra to be sure that straps cover it nicely.  Sew on the straps and tack the skirt to the top across the back (be sure to line up the seams).  You're done!  If you have any questions please ask and I'll be happy to help.

While you're at it, make your little cutie a skirt!

Note: I found the smocked fabric at Field's Fabrics.  It came in several different colors, but is probably a seasonal item.  They also had printed sundress material that you could do the same thing with.  You would just have to cut it right below the smocked part and hem it before you begin following these directions.

I'd love see pictures if this inspires you to make one.  Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to check back soon for more breastfeeding related reviews and giveaways.  :)

linked to Made By You Monday, Fabric Tuesday, Lucky Linky Tuesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Trendy Treehouse Creative Share, Its So Very Cheri, We Did It Wednesday, Making It With Allie

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bravado Designs Nursing Tank

Another great breastfeeding item to have in your closet is a nursing tank!  Bravado Designs makes these in some really cute colors.  I'm totally a pink girl and this shade of pink is perfect.  Julia keeps complimenting me on this whenever I wear it, I think she's a pink girl too.  

Nursing tanks are quite versatile.  In the summer I wear mine as a shirt or to bed as pajamas.  In cooler weather I wear it under another top or with a zipper type jacket over it.  The flat clip on this one makes it less obvious that its a nursing top.  The straps and edging have a shiny finish, which is a fun detail.  

I haven't quite mastered closing it with one hand and having to use both hands can be a bit tricky when holding a squirmy Esther baby.  I also would love if these were available with a foam cup or something in them.  I'm so small I need that extra help, lol.  The bra inside is nice though and goes all the way around.  I like the nice length of the tank also.

Have you checked out the Bravado Designs website lately?  They've completely redone it with lots of breastfeeding information and blogs / stories of nursing moms you can follow.  (This one is hilarious.)  While you're there, check out the Body Silk Seamless nursing bra's new bright pink color!  Is it silly that I want that for my birthday?

Disclosure: I received this nursing tank for review from Bravado Designs.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are honest and my own.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Majamas Nursing Top on Sale

I just got this cute Majamas nursing top on sale from  Its on sale for $41.99 - 27% off!  If you've never ordered from before you can use the code ONEWORD to get 15% off your entire order, which would make this an even better deal.

I'll post a review once I've worn and used the top several times, but I wanted to let you know about this while it is still on sale.  I'm not sure how long the sale will last.  I will say that it runs small, I normally buy a size small but I ordered a medium and it fits well.  You can see their size chart here (click on the image to make it bigger).  The fabric is stretchy and it feels great on.  Just pull aside the front to nurse.

This top comes in other colors and other Majamas products are on sale as well.  Check it out and don't forget your code ONEWORD for 15% off.  :)

If you order with my code I will receive a referral credit.  Thanks!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Boob Nursing Tops

...are the best!  I absolutely love the openings and how easy it is to nurse in these tops.  I recently got to try out two of them, a tank top and a long sleeve shirt.

Both are comfortable and have gotten lots of use.  I love not having to fumble with layers of clothing and search for a hidden opening.  To nurse, simply lift up the overlap.  The first time I was introduced to Boob Nursing Wear was through a friend.  I was literally amazed that a nursing top could be so simple and so functional.  Here is a photo of the opening:

When I am wearing a Boob Nursing shirt, I feel like I am wearing a normal top.  Other types of shirts that contain several layers can be baggy because you have to be able to lift the top layer all the way up.  Sorry, no head in that photo, I'm sick right now and didn't want my face in the photo!  The color brown isn't quite as washed out as this picture makes it appear either.

There is a cute little "Boob" tag on the side of the shirts.  The tank top also says "Boob" on the back right at the neckline, which is a little more obvious.  I did decide not to wear this top to a church get together because of that.  I have another tank from them that doesn't have the logo on the back, so not all of their shirts are like this.  I do love the shirt, and have worn it a ton this summer.  Note: My contact at Boob Design let me know that upcoming productions do not have the screen print logo on the back.

The hoodie is nice and lightweight.  It actually has a fleece lining just over the chest area.  I'm excited for cooler weather so that I can wear this top more often!  The color is the perfect shade of pink and I feel great wearing this.  (Not to mention that it perfectly matches one of my Mommy Necklaces...)

I was sent these two tops for review.  No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own.

About Me

This weekend I am...


The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding - I own the previous edition but am really enjoying this new one as well.  I got to hear Diane Wiessinger speak at our state LLL conference this spring and found her refreshing.

Food Inc Participant Guide - just got this from the library but haven't read it yet.  I loved Food Inc.

Deceptively Delicious - I found this at Kohl's for $5 and picked it up.  Julia is a severe picky eater, so I'm resorting to trying some of these veggie purees.  So far I have added sweet potato and carrot to spaghetti sauce (cant even taste it), cauliflower to scrambled eggs (yuck), carrot to smoothies (yum), and carrot to macaroni (didnt even notice).


homemade granola bars

chicken soup

a new crock-pot beans and rice dish from a friend (I'll share the recipe if it turns out!)


The Children's Place - I bought some cotton pjs on sale for Lucy and Julia.

Mommy Necklaces - After hours of browsing their new site and designs I finally picked out what I wanted, this one and this one.

How about you?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

EcoStore USA

EcoStore USA is a great eco friendly brand.  I've reviewed their dishwasher powder in the past, and it is still our product of choice and works well.  They are now exclusively making their products in Michigan and selling 17 of those products in Meijer stores.  Just yesterday their Vice President Lyne Downing appeared on WOOD TV, check it out:

I'm all for buying green products, and their being local makes it even better!  Do you shop at Meijer?  Have you tried EcoStore USA products?  What did you think?  I've only tried the dishwasher powder and rinse aid so far but I'm interested to see what else Meijer has.

In the interest of full disclosure, as a thank you for posting this I will receive a free product from EcoStore USA.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Medela Sleep Bra Review

Esther is 8 months old already!  She is still nursing frequently and eating some solid foods here and there.  She is not a big fan of baby food, so we just give her small pieces of our food or big things to suck on (like a carrot or apple slice).  I am still the main source of her nutrition though.  Coming up, I'm going to be focusing on some breastfeeding related reviews.

A while back Medela sent me one of their sleep nursing bras for review.  A sleep bra is a a nursing mom's necessity.  I wear either this or a nursing tank top to sleep every night.  I still need to wear nursing pads, so the sleep bra is a good way to keep those in place without being too tight.  A bra that is too tight or that is worn for too long can put pressure on the milk ducts and cause plugged ducts or even mastitis.  Switching to a comfortable bra in the evening is a must!

I am normally around a size 34 B and the small fits.  Its a bit small in the straps and rides up in the back a bit, I'd say these run a bit small.  It is super easy to pull aside the cup to nurse. I've worn and washed this many times now and the bra is holding its shape well.  Its available in nude, white, and limited edition blue.

Do you wear a sleep bra at night?  Are there other breastfeeding must-haves that you can think of?  I'll be chatting about some of my favorites this week, so stay tuned!

Thanks Medela for sending me the sleep bra to review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Safe Baby Toys

I talk a lot about creating a safe home, safe kitchen items, safe baby toys, and more.  Sometimes it just helps to see things in person.  Esther thought that showing you her baby toys might be fun.

I keep everything in a basket.  Well, except the ones that get carted along in the diaper bag, and the ones that end up on the bedroom floor, and the ones... you know how it is.  Every once in a while they all make their way back to the basket.

These are the noisy keep-baby-entertained-in-the-car toys.  Leap and Lilly both have plastic rings on them that I removed due to them being plastic and all.  The cloth book is fun and interactive.  I like that it doesn't have foam inside the pages, although an organic cloth baby book would be even better.

Here is our collection of wooden toys.  Some of these are Haba, some are Sassy's Earth Brights line (sadly these are discontinued).  We love all of these.  I am a bit leery of the mouse though.  The arms are connected and if you pull it all the way to one side, its long enough that it gags Esther when she tries to put it in her mouth.  The bird is her favorite and goes everywhere with us.

These are our cloth toys.  I made the clutch ball from a friend's pattern.  (Thanks, Amity!)  The taggie blanket was Julia's but she never really fell in love with it.  The bear with the ring, the cream colored puppy, and the pink doll are all organic.  The pooh rattle and the caterpillar were gifts when Lucy was born.  Oh, and we do have Gretabean who Esther really likes.

We've collected the toys as gifts for birthdays and holidays over time.  Ideally they would all be organic, fair trade, stuffed with wool, etc, but I do consider these to be pretty good choices.  Do you have a favorite baby toy?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Boca Beth Spanish Learning (Giveaway!)

Foreign language studies is an important part of our homeschool curriculum.  Lucy and Julia are learning Spanish and Sign Language right now.  Introducing a second language early on and giving continued exposure is key to helping them learn.  Eventually we will use a structured program like Rosetta Stone but for now we are enjoying a variety of fun learning tools.

Boca Beth recently sent us some of their products to try out.  We received a DVD, maracas, music CD, and coloring books.  Lucy and Julia have enjoyed these and have requested to watch the DVD over again several times this week.  This is not necessarily a complete Spanish program, just some fun Spanish exposure for young children.

The I Like Animals DVD has plenty of songs to dance along to.  The Spanish is clear and understandable, with words printed on the screen at times to help.  Although the content is well intended, there are some distracting visual effects throughout that make the movie look a bit dated.  The girls didn't mind though and enjoyed it.

We had fun dancing with our maracas and listening to the Sing Praise for Children music CD.  The CD contains seven songs, just long enough for a quick dance party.  Beth has a great voice and the songs are catchy with a fast beat.  Music is an easy way to quickly add to your Spanish vocabulary.

Lucy and Julia love to color, so of course were thrilled with their Boca Beth coloring books.  Here is a page that they each did:

If you are looking for some fun ways to gain extra Spanish exposure for your little ones, be sure to check out the Boca Beth website.  You can also enter to win a beginner set right here on the blog!

One winner will receive the Boca Beth Beginner Set including a DVD, music CD, coloring book, and Boca puppet!  To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post.  If you are a follower of this blog, leave an extra comment for a second entry.  I'll close the giveaway on Friday the 17th at midnight.  Good luck!

Giveaway now closed.  Congrats to comment #21!  Thanks for your interest.