Friday, August 29, 2014

Plastic Bag Storage

Our little town still has plastic bags when you go to the grocery store.  I try to bring my own reusable but most of the time I forget.  These little bags are pretty handy in the diaper trash.  They can take over your house though pretty quickly.
I have found that using an empty tissue box as a storage container for these little things is pretty awesome.  So many fit in the box and then when the container in the Kidster room runs out of bags I just refill them from this box. 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

DIY Kitchen Wipes and Toddler Hand Wipes

I feel like I’m constantly wiping down the kitchen counter.  I hate using the commercial “Lysol Wipes” because I’m not really all that sure what is in them.  The hippie part of me would really prefer to use natural disinfecting cleaners.  With the recent Kidster illness I’ve been doubling my efforts to really keep the kitchen and the KID as clean as possible without using products like bleach and anything with Triclosan.  Germs are good for kids, in moderation at least.

I’m going to show you how to make your own kitchen wipes and using the leftover bits, how to make toddler hand wipes.

Here is what you will need:

  • Slightly used up roll of ‘select-a-size’ paper towels (I’m working on a reusable cloth version)
  • Very sharp knife, preferably not serrated
  • Lysol Wipes container, rinsed (or any kind of cylindrical container)
  • Small rectangular container with lid
  • Bohemian Baby Body Wash and Shampoo (or any kind of hippy baby soap)
  • Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Method All Purpose or Method Counter and Glass  (or whichever cleaner you prefer)
  • Warm water


Mark the paper towel roll near the top of the container.


Cut the paper towel at the mark.  You can also use an electric knife.  Any serrated knives will cause a bit of fluff on the edges but that’s all I have and it worked out ok.  Pour in your warm water and cleaner.  I usually do half and half water and cleaner. Then fill to about a quarter of the way. You can always add more.  If you have too much that’s ok too, it’ll just be leftovers for the next time.  Pull out the cardboard cylinder in the middle of the roll.  It’s ok if it pulls a bit of the towel out with it, that will just be the starter end.

Put the roll into the container.  I usually close it up tight and then turn it over for a bit to let it all soak through.


Now it’s time for the Kidster hand wipes. It’s still not an exact science since I kind of made it up as I went along.  Take the towels apart from the top bit that you cut off.  Lay them neatly on top of each other.


Then, mix together 1/4 cup of warm water, T of coconut oil (coconut oil has anti-everything properties and moisturizing too), one squirt of hippy soap.  Place the paper towels in the container and pour the mixture over the towels. Press down and let it all soak in.  If they still aren’t damp after a few minutes just add a bit more warm water. 


I use these for Kidster after she’s finished eating to wipe off her face, hands and even her feet if they are a bit dirty. I’m pretty sure cut up pieces of t-shirt will do the same job.  I will be trying that soon!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Random Ramblings

These past two weeks have been quite challenging for this stay at home mom!  Kidster had a weird rash (turned out to be Hand Foot and Mouth, yuck), then Hubster had tonsillitis and pool Little Man was sick too.  I was more of a nurse than anything else!

Little Man’s last day was on Friday so Kidster and I are in the process of getting in shape, well, Mom is in that process.  She’s having fun making new friends in the child care center.  Although according to the care givers she’s more of an independent kiddo.  We already knew that.  The fact that she doesn’t want to leave makes me happy that she’s having fun.  When I picked her up this morning she was watching a young man playing a video game, just like her mom huh?

Now that I’m no longer caring for Little Man I am responsible for the dinner making. Eeek!  I haven’t made dinner more than 10 times in the past 4 years so this is a feat for me.  Thankfully I have to really help me out!  Import recipes, add them to a meal planner and then it creates the shopping list for me!  I love this thing.

I’ve also been working on a few different projects that don’t quite fit in my old scheduled posts.  I’m going to be posting regularly again in a few days so keep an eye out for some really great tips and tricks coming your way.  Now that the Fabrycated Kitchen is in the initial testing stages there might be a few flops, I’ve never claimed to be a good cook! 

See you soon!


Friday, August 15, 2014

Pre-packed Toddler Lunches

This week I’m going to show you how to save a ton of time, and space in your fridge, by making your toddler lunches ahead of time.  This is great for stay at home moms or working moms who send their kids to preschool!
I purchased 10 three compartment containers at the dollar store but you can use whichever type of compartment container you like.
This is a great way to teach kids healthy eating habits, portion control and is especially great for toddlers who have developed the ‘pincer’ grasp.  I will often bring the empty container to a restaurant as a plate for Kidster to eat our food out of.  When it’s time to leave I can just put the lid on it and go!
This is a great way to pack up leftover dinner into pre-packed Kidster lunches/dinners. I also use a grease pencil / China marker to write on the front of the box what they are for so if Hubster is on his own with Kidster for a day he knows which box is which!
The big section is for veggies, the smaller
sections for grains, meat, starches, and fruit.
These containers stack really well in the fridge and take up very little space.  I have one stack for lunches, and one for snacks!  When we go on a play date I can just reach in and grab a pre-packed box and I know Kidster and Little Man will have full bellies! The containers shown have frozen->steamed veggies, grilled sausage, and ranch style beans. The colorful containers really make eating fun and the food looks appetizing!  These are pretty great for a mom trying to get rid of the baby weight, too!  Just pack up a few Mom boxes with fruit, veggies, yogurt, or pasta.  We get hungry too!
Check back next Friday when I share my $10 Dollar Store shopping list for kid friendly fun!
What is YOUR favorite way to make yummy toddler meals?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Basil Propagating and Use

I always wait until the herbs and vegetable plants go on sale at our local plant nursery.  Houston has a seriously long growing season.  I’ve had tomato plants that grew tomatoes for an entire year! I end up getting some pretty leggy plants but with a little TLC they end up becoming quite healthy. 

I love love love basil!  I love making strawberry basil sorbet during the hot summer months.  A bit of strawberry, some basil and honey in the ice cream maker and there you go. Delicious! 

I purchased a deeply discounted basil plant about 3 months ago.  I’m embarrassed to say that it is still living in the original plastic cube that it came in.  It lives in the kitchen window sill and gets regular water and light but I really need to get it properly potted. I have already propagated it and it has a much larger spawn currently living in my Square Foot Garden outside.

IMG_7223 Original basil plant, trimmed a sprig off of the top, put it in water and when the roots began growing I planted it into the garden outside.







This what the sprig grew into!



Basil is very very easy to propagate.  Simply cut off a stem from the top of the plant.  You’ll want to have a sprig with about 5-6 leaves.  Cut the bottom end at an angle for the best water absorption.  Place in a small glass of water until you see quite a few white hairs of new roots.  Then plant outside in your garden or in a pot inside.  You can pretty much do this as many times as you like as long as the original plant is healthy.  When the tops of the plants start to show flower CUT them off!  When a plant is ‘going to bolt’ it’s trying to make seeds and therefore the strength of the plant is going to that purpose and NOT to growing more delicious leaves.  The flower stalks are have a lovely smell and taste are quite nice on a salad.

I have recently been introduced to jarred pesto sauce.  It is divine but since the ‘baby’ basil plant outside was so large and needed a trim I thought why not try my hand at it?



Picked about a handful of leaves and let them soak in a bowl for an hour or so.  Easier to get the dirt off of the leaves without bruising them.







The leftover leaves and flowers
were pretty left on the counter
to make the kitchen smell
good for a day or two.




  Let the leaves sit on a towel for a little while to dry off.  I may have bruised my leaves a bit but it won’t affect the taste.






Turns out pesto has pine nuts and parmesan cheese.  My kitchen, however, does not.  I came across this recipe for Pistou (Basil Pesto without Nuts).  Pistou is a French form of pesto that does not have nuts.  I didn’t use parmesan cheese because throughout the process of researching and making the pistou I decided to make it into something akin to a simmering sauce for chicken.

Here is the original recipe for Pistou:

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves (I only had one cup of basil)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (I used 1 clove)
  • About 1/4 cup quality parmesan cheese, grated (I will certainly use this next time!)
  • Splash of fresh lemon juice
  • About 1/2 cup olive oil (I used 3 tbs)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a food processor or blender, chop up the garlic until it is minced.
2. Add in the basil and cheese and start to blend. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running. Blend until smooth.
3. Squeeze in a little lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Taste the sauce and adjust to your likings.
5. Put in a freezer container and freeze if you wish or use it right away.



So since I used such a small amount of basil it didn’t fill up the processor very well at all, it was kind of sad looking.  So I transferred it to the small Baby Bullet blending container.  Still, just too sad looking.  SOooooOOoOO  I added in some spinach from the fridge that about to be wilty.  Then I transferred it to the silicone freezing mold.  A few nights later Hubster used it in a pan to make chicken breasts.  It actually turned out really well!  It was a handy fragrant sauté starter.

I think if I want to make a pesto sauce next time around I’ll need to propagate a few more plants around the yard.  They are really pretty and grow really well almost anywhere.

What is YOUR favorite basil dish?


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blueberry “Muffles”

I recently attempted to make a healthy version of blueberry muffins.  Blueberries are in season and on sale at our local market so I had quite a few.  Kidster isn’t a fan of blueberries by themselves so I figured I could bake them into muffins and she would eat them.  I used this Blueberry Muffin recipe with a few changes.  The muffins were not that great.  They didn’t go to waste but they weren’t super yummy.  My best friend Hetr ate a few when she came to visit but I’m sure it’s because she was just hungry!

Here is what you will need:

  • 2 cups sifted, all-purpose flour (I used a cup of flour and a cup of milled oats, I sifted the oats but put the big pieces in anyway, mistake.)
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used honey instead, the muffins browned really fast!)
  • 1/4 cup soft butter or margarine (I used Trader Joe’s coconut oil, the muffins had a distinct coconut flavor…not sooo bad but not great)
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

I made the muffins as directed and had a bit of batter leftover.




Leftover batter.











I used my tablespoon cookie scoop to make four little muffles.







Pretty, good for you and delicious!




20140730_223705761_iOSKidster loved them and even asked for more!

So the next time you’re making muffins and have a bit leftover, toss it into the waffle iron and you’ll have muffles!

What’s YOUR favorite fruit muffin?


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2 Ingredient Pancakes

I keep running across these ‘2 ingredient’ pancakes all over the internets.  Kidster is a huge fan of bananas but she really needs more protein in her breakfast to fill her up and keep her going!

It’s pretty simple:

  • One banana
  • Two eggs
  • splash of vanilla (my own preference)

Blend it all together.  I used my Baby Bullet Blender that I received as a gift for my baby shower.  I actually use it all the time. 





Just blend away! You could also use a fork or whisk.









I used a tablespoon for the first ‘pancake’.  Just to make sure the pancakes are the same size.





IMG_3196It was really hard to tell when the pancake was ‘ready’.
Even though the edges were browned
it still stuck to the pan. IMG_3197

After a few failed attempts at getting the pancake so stay a pancake shape I made it into a crepe style pancake instead.




I have to say that this pancake is not something that I will make instead of pancakes.  I will, however, use it as a crepe!  Next time I will put some jam or fruit in the middle.  Or maybe some cream cheese!

Check back next week when I make Meat Free Tuna Salad!

What is YOUR favorite pancake recipe?


Friday, August 8, 2014

Cardboard Crafts

Today’s Fun Kid Friday is brought to you by my lovely friend McMommy (she recommended the Nutella stuffed French toast) and my other lovely friend VeggieMama. 

I haven’t been as ‘crafty’ as usual since I’ve been dealing with a weird sciatic nerve thing.  Thankfully these two ladies have been having some fun with their kids and were more than happy to share.


Toilet paper roll + Paint + Googly Eyes = A snake and an octopus!




A giant cardboard box + $7 in supplies from the Dollar Tree = a new play house/flower shop/market stand for my kid.


I really need to get a move on and buy some paint for kids projects! 

Be sure to visit next Tuesday when I show you how to cut down your toddler food preparation time!

What is YOUR favorite thing to do with leftover cardboard?


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Product Endorsement: Thirty-One Gifts

When I had my baby shower for Kidster I received a ton of Amazon gift cards.  Wooohooo! Right? I really wanted a super cute, super handy diaper bag.  BUT Hubster seemed to feel left out of the Amazon spending spree and he had mentioned that he really liked Fisher Price FastFinder Diaper Backpack.  So I bought it.  He wasn’t nearly as excited about it as I had hoped.  After all I had ‘sacrificed’ my dream diaper bag Soho Soren The Owl 6 in 1!  I guess in my addled pregnant mind I had transformed my Hubster into a squealing bag and shoe loving lady person.  What man gets excited about a DIAPER BAG?  None.  I’ve dealt with the bag as long as I could, 18 months actually.  It’s super handy, don’t get me wrong.  Kidster will use it as an overnight bag for years I’m sure.  Lots of zippered pockets, etc.  I spent the next year and half packing and repacking all manner of bags that I would find around the house or were given to me.  Nothing really soothed the frantic mom lady in my head who could never find her wallet on a play date!

When you’re out and about with toddlers it’s much different than with infants.  Toddlers want things, they WANT things NOW!  I really loved the Soho Soren because it had a ton of ‘quick grab’ pockets on the outside.  Kind of like a mom toolbelt.  Well ladies and gentlemen I’ve finally purchased the diaper bag of my dreams.  This is actually something that not just mom type people would want either.  It would be perfect for going to outdoor festivals, the beach, tradeshows, or traveling out of town.

My friend, McMommy, is a consultant for Thirty-One Gifts and I recently hosted an online only (no scrambling to clean the house, make nibblies or take a shower!) Facebook ‘party’ for her products.  I really liked the catalog and figured I might get a bit of a discount or free stuff.  Wowie wowie! I spent less than $60 and got three amazing bags!  An owl lunch thermal, a really awesome mom purse and the super amazing awesome Zip Top Organizing Tote.  This thing is serious. 

I took it on it’s maiden voyage to the Barnes and Noble story time, lunch and playground trip.  It was like the heavens opened and Jeff Buckley was singing “Hallelujah”.  It’s the little things that make a mom happy right?

Here are few photos of the diaper bag of wonderfulness:

IMG_7214What is that you might ask?  It’s a travel container for Kidster’s “bbbboooon”.  Also known as spoons.  Oh, and a bib of course.  That pocket to the right is holding my iPhone 5c quite nicely too.



Those are Little Man’s shoes hanging out on the mesh pocket on the end.  Pretty freaking cute huh?  He never needs them since most toddler playgrounds are “No Shoes”.  But at least we have them when we need them.







Hoo Hoo is that? That is Kidsters totally NOT spill proof owl straw cup. I don’t have to worry about that now since it has it’s own little place to hang out. 

My sunglasses are hiding on the left and Little Man’s cup is on the right.


That brings us back around to the other side.  Aren’t Kidsters star Mary Jane’s the cutest?  She loves them.  She’s always trying to put them on.  Getting pretty good at it too. 








But wait!  There’s more!  The inside has a vinyl layer so leaks are super easy to clean.  I’ve got diapers, wipes, diaper trash bags, wallet, cash, and a cute owl thermal lunch bag with snacks being kept cold.

So enough about this fantastic diaper bag ‘o’ happiness.  I just wanted to share! If you are interested in maybe hosting an online only Thirty-One Gifts party so you can get great products that make life a bit easier be sure to message me so I can give you McMommy’s ‘deets’ as the kids are saying these days.

What is YOUR favorite “Tupperware Party” type product?


Growing Cucumber

I was reorganizing my ‘kitchen’ books recently and found an old 1980’s book called “Square Foot Gardening”.  I read it cover to cover and loved it.  My more green thumbed friends pshawed the method and said that it was silly or that it was waste of time… well, I’m happy to say that so far I’ve grown 18 radishes, 2 cucumbers and 8 Hungarian wax peppers.  I’ve learned a lot along the way but next spring I will be getting my garden ready a lot earlier and water a lot more often.  But the book was right.  I haven’t had to spend more than just maybe an hour a week on my garden. 

Basically you can grow a certain number of a certain kind of plant in a square foot.  No more rows!  It’s set up so that you can reach everything without stepping on the soil and letting it stay ‘fluffy’.  Throughout the season you only really had to tend to each square foot as needed.  I tried to grow lettuce, that was a failure, evidently I started way too late and it got way too hot.  Lesson learned!  BUT the cucumbers and tomatoes are doing quite well!


I used yarn to ‘draw’ the square feet, the fence came from the dollar store, and Hubster built the lovely ‘trellis’ with a bit of pipe and twine.  Pretty cool huh? I used plastic spoons to label the plants / seeds. The writing faded quite quickly though. Next year I’ll make something a bit more lasting.



Using plant clips from the dollar store I was able to ‘teach’ the cucumber to grow up the trellis and not along the ground.  I planted two seeds. Next year I will start the seeds a lot earlier and those two plants will produce enough cucumbers for my small family for the whole summer.



20140805_185848104_iOS First cucumber of the season!  The rest of my garden became a little overgrown with weeds since it was SOOO hot outside.  My father, who comes from a long line of farmers, informed me that I could just lay newspaper over the unplanted sections and that would keep the weeds away.  Sure enough.  It worked!  I have a bell pepper plant that is growing through a square of newspaper with no weeds in sight!



I gave Kidster the cucumber and she walked around with it, nibbling on it, for about an hour.  She was really made when I tried to take it away!
















This was my first growing season in our new house and I’m pretty happy with how it has turned out so far.  No reason to use a whole packet of seeds when you can use a few and store the rest in the fridge for next year!

Next week I’ll show you how to propagate your basil and use it too!

What is YOUR favorite garden veggie?


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nutella Stuffed French Toast

My friend McMommy recommended that I try ‘Nutella Stuffed French Toast’ after last weeks “Cheese waffles”.  I couldn’t help myself!  So easy, so good and not terribly bad for a breakfast ‘treat’.

All you will need:

  • 4 slices of bread, crusts cut off  (one egg is enough for two ‘sandwiches’)
  • 1 egg
  • splash of vanilla
  • Nutella or generic hazelnut spread
  • Jam or preserves
  • Trusty waffle iron


Just to clarify, raspberry jam on one side of one slice, Nutella
on one side of the other slice. Kind of like you’re making a sandwich.




Lay the slices of bread on the egg on the UNspread side. 
Wiggle around until it’s well coated.


Cook for about 4 minutes, or until the ‘steam’ stops rising.


These were so easy and so very tasty. The kidster went from whining to silence in 10 seconds flat!  Thanks again to McMommy who recommended that I try them, they have become a staple for our weekend family breakfast! Now I just need to find bigger bread!

Keep an eye out next week when I show what to do with that bit of leftover muffin batter!

What is YOUR favorite use for Nutella?


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hiding Cords from Kids

We were pretty lucky that our new house has an entire wall of built in bookshelves in Kidster’s room.  Super handy for storage but not so great when her monitor and Scentsy owl have cords that hang down to the wall.  I was always worried that she would pull the cord and the Scentsy would fall on her! I didn’t feel like she could play in her room ‘alone’ for very long because of that danger. After a few hints to Hubster he made a trip to Lowe’s and picked up this CordMate for about $5.
It’s basically a tube with a flat side covered in adhesive. He cut a bit of the end off so it could go around the bottom of the shelf.  Kidster can’t reach that shelf yet so now I feel pretty comfortable letting her play alone in her room for short periods of time.

What is YOUR favorite kid safety ‘hack’?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mini Corn Dogs

Last week we made Homemade Honey Nut Cheerios, a perfect snack for kids AND adults!  This week we’re making Mini Corn Dogs.  These are so yummy I ate 4 of them pretty much as soon as they came out of the oven.

I didn't use an exact recipe, simply inspiration from photos on Pinterest.  I used the packaged corn muffin mix, Jiffy brand.  They are about $.75 at any grocery store.  It’s not the most healthy thing but for a fun snack for the kids you can't go wrong.

Simply mix the batter as directed on the box, using the same temperatures and times as listed. Pour the batter in a bit less than half into your mini muffin tin.  I used my 2 teaspoon sized ‘cookie scoop’.  Cut the hot dog into about 1 inch lengths.  I actually stood up the hot dog in one of the empty parts of the tin and measured it to below the top as a guide.  Press the hot dog bit into the corn muffin batter in the tin.  I then put a bit of tiny cubes of cheese in around the hot dog, about 2 pieces. 
Bake as directed, let cool, ENJOY!
Kidster isn’t a fan of the carby foods so she mostly dug out the hot dog and left the rest of the corn muffin bit for the dog but when she’s older she’ll hopefully like them, we sure did!
Next week I’ll show you how to make the ‘2 Ingredient Pancake” that seems to be so popular lately. 
What is YOUR favorite way to eat a hot dog?