Wednesday, January 29, 2014

So I Decided To Make Babyfood.

I am proud to say I am still breastfeeding but am excited to introduce my little guy to the world of food. Plus....I'm not gonna lie....Momma is excited to get a break from being the food machine!

Generally the consensus is to start feeding your baby solids at 6 months but no sooner then 4 months. There are various reasons for this which you can find some information here but I mainly waited because I wanted to keep my milk supply up. Around the time he turned 6 months it seemed Dean's attitude toward food had completely changed. He reached for food on the table, was hungry when he smelled our food, etc. So I decided it was time to try it and see how it goes.

I'm not against store bought baby food. Not in the least.  I really just wanted to try making baby food at least one time, comparing taste and cost. Plus we Rollstin girls will use any excuse to get together!

Stacy and I decided to make 4 different foods and to purchase them from our local farmers market. We have a fantastic local farmers market here in Victorville. Check out their Website here!

We ended up with squash, carrots, yams and asian pears. Funny side note - on one of the tables they had sweet potatoes and two variety of yams. I thought I was grabbing the sweet potatoes but when I got home and started peeling it was a light green on the inside! Not a sweet potato but a variety of yam! I'm glad we made the mistake though because the yams were super tasty.

Things You Will Need:

Vegetables or fruit
A steamer or steamer insert for your pots
Ice cube trays
Plastic freezer bags
Purified water
Blender (This is optional but a whole lot easier then hand mashing)

All these things you can find at the dollar store in your area. I suggest buying around 4 to 6 trays per food you make. We bought 12 and it wasn't enough for the amount we were made.

The first step is to cut all your vegetables up in 1 inch pieces. They steam faster and more evenly that way. Put your steamer insert into your pot then fill with water until it is just under the bottom of the steamer basket. Turn the heat on and bring to a boil.

Next put your cubed up veggies or fruit in the steamer basket, cover, then steam for about 20 minutes or until the veggies are fork tender.

 Once the food is done roughly mash it up to make it easier to blend.

The mash is too thick as it is, you will need to thin it out to get the right consistency for baby food. We added purified water until we thought it looked about right.

After a lot of mess making we figured out that the easiest way to get the food in the ice cube trays is to put it in a measuring cup with a pour spout.  Cover the tray with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. I recommend leaving them in overnight. 

The end result is little cubes of yummy goodness. I popped all the cubes out and put them in a doubled up freezer bag. I then marked the bag with the date so I would know when to throw them out.

We overlapped our vegetable and fruit making so that something was being cut/cooked/mashed/blended at the same time. We didn't end up steaming the fruit. they were super soft and runny so we just blended them and they came out just right.

As for those gorgeous yams:

 I just had to share the shot of the beautiful color they yams produced. They were our favorites and I think the babies too!

I have read that the optimal time to keep homemade baby food in the fridge is 1 month and no more then 3 months. It doesn't go bad after that time but the nutrients break down. I think it would be best to make a 1 months supply at a time. This way you are insuring the baby food is at its best nutritionally plus you can change the foods each month and offer variety.

The vegetables we purchased were about $16.00 all together. The yields were different for each type of food because of the texture and consistency of each. We managed to get a total of 240 cubes which works out to about 240 ounces. That works out to about .07 cents an ounce! Super cheap. I didn't calculate in the ice cube trays because they are really a one time cost.

As for taste they were delicious! Definitely a fresher taste then the store bought baby food.

We split the food between Stacy and I so it worked out wonderfully. At 6 cubes a day my little Dean will definitely eat this much in a month.

Would I do it again? Yes. It was fun spending the day together and making memories. It was even exciting to see how each food would turn out. I still buy baby food from the store for when we are out and about, it isn't really convenient to carry around ice cubes of baby food.

Have you made any of your own baby food? How did it go? Any cook hints or tips? Let us know!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Erroneous Adventures of a Paneled Wall

Kevin and I have been renovating (on the cheap) his grandfather's 1953 bungalow which we inherited a few years ago. Before that, we had been apartment dwellers. You know what that means...when we finally had a place of our own we wanted to paint, paint, paint! I didn't want white anywhere. I wanted color, and lots of it. At first, I really loved it, but it grew old...quickly. 

Our house is under 900 sq. ft. which means that all these dark colors made our already small home seem even smaller. 

Here we all are enjoying a festive meal. Look at that awesome view out the cool is that! One of the perks of living in the deserts of southern California.

The first thing I did when we moved in was paint the dated brown paneling that was on the south dining room wall. I painted it Mediterranean Sun by Valspar, the walls were Faint Maple by Valspar, and the ceiling (yes, I didn't even want a white ceiling) was a yellowy beige and I cannot recall what it was named. That is a lot of color for such a small space. 

After living with the reddish orange paneled wall, the bright color began to grow tiresome so I decided to add stripes using the wall color (the darker brown color) and the ceiling color (the lighter beige color). While I liked it, I didn't love it. It did nothing to improve the look of the room. We lived with it this way for a while before I decided to get really foolish brave and tear out the paneling to see what was behind it. 

AGARHGHHH! (This is the sound I made when I saw this.) There was literally three different kinds of leafy wallpaper on the wall with what I can only imagine was some kind of black glue to hold the paneling in place. We were not sure exactly what we should do with this wall. We didn't want to tear out the drywall and we didn't want to mess with finding a way to remove the thick, black glue. 

We decided to -gasp!- put paneling back up! Only we decided to lay it horizontally to hopefully widen the room. We bought this 8' wide paneling pieces from Home Depot. It was a yellowy pine color but I didn't want to paint it or anything until I had a chance to live with it for a bit to be sure what I wanted to do with it. (And my son Atticus thought that this blue bucket was perfect on his head!)

I decided to add some shelves after I saw this on Pinterest. I wasn't in love with it, but I thought it was something I would grow to love. Am I the only one that does that? Why don't I just trust myself to either love it or not and change it if not, right? 

So this past weekend, we finally got around to painting and texturing the walls in the living room which allowed me to paint the dinning room. I chose off-the-shelf Ultra Pure White for the ceiling by Behr paint and primer in one and Quill  by Olympic. I was inspired to pick the color from a house crash that Young House Love had done in Portland, Oregon. The color seemed like the perfect greige...a gray/beige tone.

And I was right! I am so over the moon crazy for this color. It kinda reminds me of clay or silly putty... anyone remember what that was? Of course, we used newspaper on our silly putty so it may be extinct now...along with the newspaper (sad..I love reading the paper).

Along with the white ceiling, the whole room seems brighter, more cheerful, and bigger. We still have to caulk long the edge of the can really tell how wonky our walls our by this pic.

We also put up our 3" base molding that is also painted Ultra Pure White in semi-gloss. I guess now would be the time to tell you that we also installed new flooring. Gone is the green vinyl tile...well, it's still there, but under the laminate. So I guess if we ever get nostalgic for the old floor we could always rip this out....No, no, that's not going to happen.


I think I will be sitting with this color and paneling for some time. I love it! It took me a long time to get here (along with a lot of paint) but I am so happy with the result. What erroneous adventures have you undertaken with DIY and home remodeling? I'm not the only one...right?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cream Cheese Grilled Cheese

Happy Wednesday blogging peeps! Today I am going to share my recipe for cream cheese grilled cheese. 

While I was trying to photograph my recipe in the making, my son Atticus asked me to take his picture with all his 'creatures' (I guess that's boy-speak for stuffed animals lol).

Okay, back to my sammich.

Alas, I realized that I was out of the sharp Cheddar cheese slices that I usually like to use (mixed with smoked Gouda is the best!) so I decided to improvise and see how it came out. I used generic white bread, Mexican-Style shredded cheese, butter, and chive and onion cream cheese. 

Simply spread butter on one side of the bread and place in a pan over medium heat. Butter burns pretty fast so don't have your heat up too high.

Grilled cheese is creamy as-is but add chive and onion cream cheese and you instantly have a sandwich that makes this run-of-the-mill lunch decadent and delicious. 

Spread the cream cheese on only one side of the bread.

With basic ingredients, this cream cheese grilled cheese is absolutely delicious. Use some good french bread and better cheese and it's even better. With a 3 year old who wants to eat grilled cheese for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it is nice to have a more grown-up version for me to eat.

Bon App├ętit!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Little Homemade Christmas

I am attempting to make every child I know something handmade. I would really like to make everyone handmade gifts every year for Christmas but I just don't have it in me to craft that much stuff. My brain hurts just thinking about it.

We welcomed three new babies to the family this year and I started out just buying them little toys but really wanted to do something special for them. I was at Joann Fabrics when I happened upon these adorable make-your-own picture books and doll sets. They were are clearance for $4.97 each!

(Note to self....take more pictures.)

I debated for awhile, thinking I didn't want to take on a project when I didn't know if I could get it done. At that time my Dean was 5 months and a if-you-take-me-off-the-boob-I-will-cry breast feeder. I really couldn't put him down without a fit. I decided to go ahead and just try. I'm glad I did because they turned out so cute!! I wish I had bought all of sets that were left!

You can make the kits exactly as they come or you can fancy them up a bit with piping/Bias tape and embroidery. I only had the time to do a little fancying up and I really love the result!

Here is what I used:

On the back of the package it states that you need to get batting. You could use anything as batting for this. An old t-shirt, old sheet etc. Its ok to be soft and pliable, it's for a baby to chew on and throw around. It also says to get Bias tape (as seen above). This is also optional. It does look nice though.

I actually did some research on how to make baby toys make that crinkly sound. What I found out was that toys use cellophane which is fine but it cant have any heat on it, it will disintegrate. For a baby toy that is going to need to get washed I cant figure out why they would use cellophane. So I found a couple of websites that said to use oven bags instead. They are heat resistance, able to have food touch them and, best of all, make a great crinkly sound! They actually worked out quite well. 

The first step really has to be ironing. I absolutely hate is ironing. It's so tedious and I don't have a good place to iron so I hate doing it but it is really necessary for an even, finished product. 

See how crinkly the fabric is? Iron it. It makes life easier in the long run.

I cut out and folded the instruction so that I could keep looking at them while I worked. I make tons of mistakes on almost every project I do so I now know not to get cocky. 

The instructions say to baste....I did none of that. Unless its a slippery fabric I usually don't baste. I'm's a long step....nope not gonna happen. I just pinned and sewed.

It clearly says in the instructions to mark the pages directly on the fabric and this is an important step because you cut off the little page indicator below the book. Then you get confused when you put the book together cause you didn't follow the instructions and have no idea what pages go with what. (This happened, yes it did.) So mark them and cut them all out.

Also cut your batting pieces at this time. Sadly, I had to take my son's batting fort down to get my pieces cut. 

The book has three parts, the cover and two inner pages. I only added the oven bag to the two inner pages and put piping on the outer page.

Here is how I layered the middle pages to be sewn:

Pin them all together. Sew the 1/4 inch seam all around but leave a 2 inch hole at the bottom to turn the pages inside out. I curved the corners of the pages when I sewed. You can leave it square if you like. 

Then trim all the excess batting and plastic. I used my pinking shears to trim. I just got them and love them. Makes things just that much easier!

Turn that sucker inside out! 


I sewed up the bottom hole and then ironed it. At this point you get a little extra steam because you FINALLY see what you are getting for all your hard work. It just gets better, really.

The second page went much easier. I didn't document it so you will have to just take my word for it.

The cover slowed me down quite a bit. On the inside cover it leaves a spot to write a To and From. I was originally just going to write it in with a Sharpie but got the ridiculous notion that I could hand embroider the names in. No biggie right? Yes. Biggie. 

These days, with Pinterest around and such, there is no excuse for not looking something up. I did a little bit of research but not enough because I struggled with it. Oh well, imperfections make something unique right? Right!?!

Well, I started by writing the name out. Then I grabbed some embroidery floss that I had and went to town. 

"Awwww that's cute" - say real embroiderers. 

In the words of my dear departed Momma....."Whatevs!"

After that debacle I got to sew piping on for the first time.  It wasn't that difficult really. Thinking about sewing it was much worse then actually sewing it.

Lined up my layers.

Then put the piping right up to the edge all the way around and pin.

Blurry pic sorry! Clip the piping around the edges to get it to curve.

All pinned and ready to sew. Same as the other pages. Leave extra piping to finish off at the end.

Sew it all around leaving the 2 inch hole again at the bottom.

Before you flip it inside out open up one side of the piping and cut the cord back. Make sure one side fits perfectly in the other. Fold the raw edge back and iron it.

Then flip!


Now tuck the Bias tape in.

And sew it closed!

Then you lay all three pages on top of each other and sew it straight down the middle and voila! A book is made!

You will notice, perhaps, that a different book is pictured above. Well, I again forgot to take pictures of the finished product. Still new at this documenting thing. Same end result though.

The set also came with an adorable stuffed animal to make!

Super easy. Cut out the animal. Face the right sides together and sew all around, again leaving room to flip inside out and to stuff it.

Love those pinking shears!

I stuffed it with a mixture of oven bag strips and batting so it would make a crinkly noise when you hug it. I also thought about adding little pieces of ribbon around the edges like a tag blankie but just didn't have the time to do it.

Sew up the hole and your done. A cute and unique gift for a little one.

I made three remember? How did they come out? Great! I love them! Best of all the babies seem to love them.

I am really happy with how they turned out. Warms my icy soul to see the babies play with them.

Handmade gifts seemed to be the thing this year and I really love it. Did you give or receive a handmade gift for the holidays? What was it? Share!