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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yums in the Tums

IMG_1197 Coops does not enjoy kiwi.

I do not consider myself to be a “green” mama. Sure, I want the best for my baby (who doesn’t?) but I never even remotely considered making my own baby food. I don’t even eat organic myself, so during pregnancy I never thought I’d be spending my weekends bonding with my stove, dozens of ice cube trays, and my food processor.

I had preconceived notions about making my own baby food: it is hard. It’s time consuming. It’s expensive. It requires equipment I don’t have. And mainly…. I just don’t wanna. Let me tell you – all those things are true. Yet here I am, a “green” mama with a freezer stocked full of enough baby food to last me at least three months.

IMG_1212Mama, where are my Mums?

Listen up y’all: if I can do it, you can too. WORD.

I started off by reading Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. This book is a great resource just for starting out, but please be warned it does contain some inaccurate information. Be sure to check the AAP website for up to date recommendations on when to start certain foods. I did love that this book had great lists of when to introduce what foods, how much food your baby should be eating for their age, materials you need for food preparation, the benefits of each food, and detailed recipes.

Then I discovered www.wholesomebabyfood.com. This website is the place to be! I love that is has detailed information on the best way to prepare each individual fruit and vegetable. I consult this website every time I make a new food for Cooper.

So far I’ve made avocados, apricots, pears, mangos, nectarines, peaches, plums, prunes, pumpkin, winter squash, green beans, carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes. Cooper has also had bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe, and applesauce. I have not made homemade applesauce because I had a jar of unsweetened applesauce in my pantry that I didn’t want to waste.

I won’t lie: making your own baby food is time consuming. However, if you make it while you are making your own meals, it isn’t so bad. I spent a few weekend afternoons making huge batches of food, and sometimes I would pop veggies into the steamer while I cooked and then puree later.

What You Need To Get Started:

I used a big pot with a steamer insert (like this), a jelly roll pan, ice cube trays from the Dollar Store, gallon zip lock bags, a food processor, and a blender.

Of course, you’ll need food. Some I got from the Farmer’s Market, some I got from Whole Foods, some I got some Sam’s Club (bulk produce is the bomb.com!), and some I got from good old Walmart. Don’t tell my other green mamas but… you aren’t a bad mom if you don’t buy all organic. Shh… I won’t tell.

Preparation:

Disclaimer: This is how I cooked each food. It isn’t the only way you can prepare it.

Bananas, avocados, and mangos can be mashed. Simply peel and mash to the consistency of your baby’s preference. I chose to run the mangos and avocados through the food processor – Cooper just liked the consistency more. If you freeze avocado, be warned that it must be eaten immediately when thawed or it will turn green.

IMG_1330Peaches after baking

I baked the apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums. Clean the fruit thoroughly. Cut in half, twist, and pop open. Remove the pit and place the fruit facedown on the jelly roll pan. You can peel the fruit, but I found that either the skins slipped off after baking or they absorbed into the fruit. I never peeled the fruit. IMPORTANT: add 1-2 inches of water to the pan. Bake at 400 degrees. The time will depend on your fruit – apricots and plums cook very quickly (15 minutes or less) while peaches and nectarines can take up to 40 minutes. Check them often. The fruit is done when it is soft and mashable throughout. I simply ran the fruit through the food processor until it was smooth. Save the fruit juice and add to the processor if needed (I never needed to do this with these particular fruits).

Making your own prune baby food is absolute torture. I highly recommend buying this particular food, or be a smarty like me and belatedly figure out that prunes are simply dried plums. Hence, if you make plum baby food, there is no need to make prunes. Duh. If you must make prunes, buy prunes without pits, else you will spend 2 hours attempting to de-pit the prunes before cursing and throwing the whole pot away.

Pears can be steamed. Wash, peel, and de-core. Cut into chunks and place in a steamer basket for about 7 minutes. Run it through the food processor with a bit of the leftover water.

Winter squash and pumpkin are best baked. Wash thoroughly, and then cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and place cut side down in a jelly roll pan. Add 1-2 inches of water, and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes to one hour. The squash/pumpkin is ready when you can pierce the shell easily with a fork. Run through the food processor until you reach the desired consistency.

Green beans are best steamed. Don’t cut the ends off the green beans – simply wash them thoroughly and steam for about 10 minutes. I found that I got the best consistency using a blender on green beans and peas. I don’t know why, but when I used the food processor, the green beans and peas were slightly grainy. I ran them through the blender and they were perfectly smooth.

IMG_1181Peas in the processor

I boiled the peas. Confession: I used frozen peas because I couldn’t find any peas that were already shelled. Judge me if you must. Add them to a saucepot with a little water, and boil until they are soft and mashable. Again, the peas do best in the blender.

Sweet potatoes are best baked. Wash, wrap in foil, and bake at 400 degree for about an hour. When they are done, remove foil and peel off the skins. You will need to add a little bit of water to get a smooth consistency.

There is quite a bit of controversy on preparing carrots at home. Some recommend you should purchase carrots because big baby food companies test for the amount of nitrates in carrots. I did make Cooper some carrots, but do your own research and decide. I recommend steaming your carrots – I baked them and they took forever. Simply wash, peel, (or be lazy like me and buy prewashed and peeled carrots) and steam for about 10 minutes. Carrots, again, do best in the blender.

Storage:

IMG_1190Peas, mango, and green beans – the consistency is off on the peas and green beans. This is before I discovered they do better in the blender.

Here’s what worked for me (although it is a bit wasteful, I’ll admit). Once each fruit/veggie had been run through the food processor or blender, I’d pour the contents into a gallon zip lock baggie. Then I would snip off a corner and use the zip lock as a makeshift piping bag to fill each ice cube tray.

I find ice cube trays to be the best method for freezing and storing. Simply fill with food, freeze, and then pop out into individually labeled zip lock baggies.

IMG_1229 Pears, peas, mango, plums, and carrots

Serving The Food:

For breakfast, Cooper has 1 tablespoon of rice cereal (my next step is to make my own rice cereal, but right now we use Happy Bellies) mixed with formula and 2-3 cubes of fruit. I mix up the rice cereal, add the cubes of fruit, and heat for about 40-45 seconds.

For lunch, Cooper has 4 cubes of veggies. According to his daycare provider, he is still hungry, so I am going to start sending him 2 cubes of fruit as well. I heat the veggies up for 45-60 seconds.

For dinner, Cooper has 1 tablespoon of rice cereal (made with formula) mixed with 2-3 cubes of fruit, and 3-4 cubes of veggies. I also give him 2 Mums crackers at dinner, as well as puffs or fresh fruit in the mesh feeder if he’s still hungry.

Your baby’s formula/breastmilk intake will change when you start feeing them solids. Discuss how much they should be drinking with their doctor. Babies should still get the bulk of their calories from breastmilk or formula. Cooper drinks about 4-5 six ounce bottles a day.

I figure that 2 cubes of fruit/veggie equals a stage one jar of food, and stage 2 is about 4 cubes of fruit/veggies.

Why Should I Make My Own Food?

There is a variety of reasons to make your own food, and I’ll leave it up you to decide what’s best for your family. I don’t think I’m “better” because I make his baby food. I don’t think it is bad to serve jarred baby food. Believe it or not, Cooper gets Earth’s Best Organic (gasp!) when we’re out and about. I started him on jarred food before making my own food.

For me, I like knowing what is in the food and how it is prepared. Plus, it tastes great! I am not the healthiest person in the world, and it is really important to me to do every single thing in my power to ensure that my son isn’t overweight and unhealthy like his mother. I believe I’m teaching him early to love pure fruits and veggies – and it is my hope in the future he’ll choose those foods over other, less healthy options.

A lot of people will tell you that making your own food is cheaper. I don’t know if that is necessarily true, particularly if you buy organic. I purchased four different types of winter squash from Whole Foods (organic) and spent well over $25 on the lot. I did buy a half bushel of peaches from a nearby plantation, and I figured out that each serving costs roughly 25cents. That was a bargain! However, if you have a garden, you can really save a lot of money!

Questions? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email! I’m happy to help!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tuesdays at the Table: Low Country Boil

All the small stuff Tues at the Table Red Gingham_edited-1 Click on the picture to link up!

Nothing in the world says summer to me like Low Country Boil. It’s such a southern meal, and to me it reminds me of being at the beach, hanging out with my family, and laughing and talking while the food cooks over the fire.

IMG_1051

Ingredients:

  • Zatarain’s Crab Boil, one pouch
  • 2T Old Bay seasoning
  • Corn on the cob
  • New potatoes
  • Shrimp
  • Sausage (I like spicy!)

You’ll need about 1/2 pound of shrimp per person.

Cook the potatoes first. Sausage and corn go in next, for about 5-10 minutes. Shrimp are last and only cook until they turn pink.

If you’re outside, spread the table with newspaper, drain the water, and simply dump the boil on top of the table. Serve with cocktail sauce and beer! Delish!

What’s cooking, ladies?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Look!

Thanks to my super talented friend, Danielle, My Chihuahua Bites has a fantabulous new look! If you are reading this in a reader, please click over and check it out!

I know some of you might be wondering why I lost the chihuahuas when my blog name is My Chihuahua Bites. Well, my life has changed tremendously since my last design and I didn’t feel like the girl with the dogs really represented who I am anymore.  What do you think?

If you a new to my blog (or if you want a refresher on what my blog is all about) check out my About Me and other pages. Don’t miss out on JC’s Favorite Blogs if you’re looking for new blogs to add to your reader.

Back to Danielle – I cannot recommend The Design Girl enough! I am a notoriously difficult client, and Danielle worked with me to create a look that is 100% me. Not only has she designed my blog, but I bet you’ll recognize her work at Kelly’s Korner, Just A Girl, Baby Makin(g) Machine, The Glamorous Life of a Housewife, Monogram Chick, and literally hundreds more.

Danielle offers custom blog designs, pre-made templates, Twitter backgrounds, and more. The Design Girl is offering My Chihuahua Bites readers $10 off a blog makeover! Just mention you came from my blog.

Don’t forgot to follow the Design Girl blog! Not only is D a super cool girl blogging about her life changing move from LA to Chicago, but she’s giving away a pre-made template. Go here to enter!

Thank you, Danielle! I love my makeover!

7 Months Old!

Dear Cooper,

IMG_12717 months old

On August 14th, 2010 you turned 7 months old! Wow! Where has the time gone? It is true what they say: time flies when you’re having fun. Your dad and I are having a blast with you! You make us laugh each and every day.

IMG_1075

This month you weigh 18.5 pounds. You are wearing size 6-9 month clothes and are in size 3 diapers. You drink 4-6 ounces bottles four to five times a day. This month you started eating solid foods!

IMG_1197You are not fond of kiwis.

For breakfast you have rice cereal and a fruit. You love peaches, mangos, plums, applesauce, and pears. For lunch you have a vegetable. Green peas are your favorite vegetables, but you also love green beans, carrots, and winter squash. Dinner is around 5:30 and you eat one tablespoon of rice cereal mixed with fruit, a vegetable, and some sort of fresh fruit or yogurt. You love mashed bananas, watermelon, blueberries, and cantaloupe. You do not love kiwi. Your favorite treat is Mums. You go crazy when you see the package!

We have finally settled into a bedtime routine, and that time is so special to me. When I get home from work, we spent a couple of minutes playing together. Then it is time for your dinner! After dinner, you have splash time in the tub. Daddy gets you ready for bed, and Mommy feeds you a bottle and rocks you to sleep. This is the favorite time of my day!

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You are growing and changing so much every day! You have mastered the art of rolling over. Why should you crawl when you can get wherever you want by rolling? You feel the same way about sitting up. You can sit up, but you choose not to. You would much rather be on your belly. You haven’t started crawling, but I think you are close! When you can’t reach something by rolling, you bend on leg and use the other to push yourself across the floor.

You are talking up a storm! You love to express yourself. Everyday I wake up to the sounds of you “talking” in your crib. You love to shriek at George and JC. You are very loud!

40475_152487458099982_100000161874573_519010_4356335_n

One of the biggest changes to happen this month is that you changed daycare providers! You left The Sunshine House and are now staying at Mrs. Bri’s house. You love Mrs. Bri and her family!  Mrs. Bri has three children who love you and play with you everyday. She has a big dog, Bella, that lets you pet her as much as you want. Mommy is so happy to have found Mrs. Bri. It means so much to be to know you are with someone who loves you when I am away from you at work.

Mommy and Daddy were a little under the weather this month, so one weekend you went to Ana & Papa’s house so you wouldn’t get sick. You had a blast! You got to visit everyone in the family. Ana & Papa love spending time with you! They didn’t want you to come home!

Copy of Picture 234

I can’t believe the summer is almost over. Fall is sure to bring big changes, and your daddy and I are excited about every single step in your development. You are such a special boy, Cooper Bear! We love you very much.

Love,

Mommy

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blog Sale! Coach and D&B

Update: Everything is pending.

I’ve seen people around the blogosphere doing this, so I thought I’d post a few items and see what kind of response I got. At one time, the only gift Jason ever gave me was purses. He knew I liked them, and they required little thought or effort on his part. I’ve grown quite the little collection of Coach and Dooney & Bourke purses, and they are doing me no good just sitting in my closet.

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Dooney & Bourke signature collection. Black. Purchased in 2007 and used just a few times. There is a slight dark spot on the front of the purse but it is barely noticeable. Inside has one cell pocket, one zipper pocket, and a key strap. This is a very roomy purse.

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Brown Coach, purchased in 2005. Again, used just a few times. I love this purse, but it is just too small for me. It would be great for a teen or someone who just prefers smaller purses. The front flap opens, and there is a zipper pocket inside. There is also a pocket on the outside of the purse.


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Dooney and Bourke. This purse is in perfect condition! I got it in 2006. My mom used to have a similar bag when I was in elementary school. This is such a classic with the paisley print on the inside of the bag. It has an outside zipper pocket, inside pocket, and a cell phone pocket.

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Coach. Classic, beautiful purse with a little bling from the rhinestones on the straps. It has one inside zipper pocket and one cell phone pocket.

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Brown Coach purse. This is a great work bag! It has silver hardware, and the front clasp says “Coach.” It is in great condition.

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Coach. This is the only purse that shows little signs of wear. It is still in great condition, however. There are a few tiny marks on the bottom front portion (barely visible). However, the corners are a little worn as you can see in the picture.

All of the purses are 100% authentic. They are all in excellent condition, and I’ve listed any flaws below. I purchased these purses new for $100-$300 each. I’m selling each purse for $40 each. I’m not out to make a huge profit… I just want a little extra Ebay money to fund my unfortunate Ebay obsession. :)

Buyer pays shipping. Email me if you are interested and I’ll get back with you with the exact cost of shipping to your area.

Paypal only, please.

Email me at andrearhouse at yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesdays at the Table

All the small stuff Tues at the Table Red Gingham_edited-1

Today I’m participating in Tuesday at the Table, hosted by Cole of All The Small Stuff.

IMG_1027 Grilled Vegetable Salad

Ingredients:

  • Red onion
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Hearts of romaine
  • Feta cheese
  • Dressing: olive oil, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar

Half the red onion. Cut off the ends of the squash and zucchini and half. Brush with oil and place on the grill until soft and slightly charred. Cut the tomatoes in half and prep the romaine. Leaving the end of the romaine intact, cut the romaine heart in half. Brush generously with olive oil. Grill for 3-4 minutes – just until the lettuce starts to wilt. Chop up the veggies and combine with 1/2 carton of feta. I kind of made of the dressing. If that doesn’t sound good to you, try olive oil and balsamic vinegar!

What’s cooking, ladies? Please share your favorite salad in the comments. I need some inspiration!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to…

Happy Birthday to Shawn from Seriously!

I’ve been reading Shawn’s blog since I first started blogging. See that hot mama right up there? She’s turning 40 on Tuesday, August 17th. I can’t believe it and I bet you can’t either. I hope I look that good at 40.

Shawn is so very sweet, kind hearted, fun, adventurous, and creative. She is a wonderful mother to her two girls. She’s the best party planner in town – seriously, you should see what she does for her girls’ sleepovers! I’m in awe of the amazing teacher’s gifts she does for Teacher Appreciation Week and other holidays.

Please do me a favor and head over to Shawn’s blog to wish her a very happy birthday!

Happy Birthday, girl! I hope it is a wonderful day!

The Simple Woman’s Daybook

August 16, 2010

Outside my window I see our crepe myrtle finally blooming! It was planted in 2008 and is just now showing flowers. I thought it was a dud.

I am thinking about how quickly time marches on… and how it is marching across my face! Seriously, time is just flying by and I wish I had a second of two to press pause and just enjoy life. There isn’t enough time in the day for me to do the things that once gave me great joy (like blogging). I can’t keep up and I don’t know what to do about that.

I am thankful for my family. I’m so blessed to have such a precious little boy and such a wonderful husband and provider. I’m thankful everyday for God’s blessings, particularly our health and Jason’s job security.

From the kitchen... Jason’s birthday is tomorrow, so I’m sitting here thinking about what to cook tonight. I was going to bake a cake but an ice cream cake sounds delicious!

I am wearing capri sweats, a grey t-shirt, no makeup, and wet hair. It’s my day off and I have no one to impress.

I am creating laundry? Dust? I want to have time to craft (with my brand spanking new Silhouette that hasn’t been taken out of the box!) but I just can’t find time in the day.

I am going to the children’s consignment shop, grocery store, farmer’s market, and ice cream shop. Cooper’s napping so that is what is in store for the afternoon.

I am reading Commencement. It has great reviews but I just can’t get into it. I am so looking forward to the release of Mockingjay next week!

I am hoping to find more of a balance in my life in the next few weeks. There is so much to be done and too little time to do it. I want to start blogging regularly. I need to hit up the gym. I want to be able to express my creativity through crafts. I feel like I’ve lost all the things that used to give me great joy, and it makes me very sad.

I am hearing silence. Blessed, sweet silence. Cooper is napping, Jason is at work, and the dogs are resting. I love the sound of silence.

Around the house is lots of things to be put away. I need to get off the computer and clean!

One of my favorite things is summer and the abundance of fresh fruit. I love cantaloupe, watermelon, peaches, strawberries…. makes me sad when fall comes and these things are no longer in season.

A few plans for the rest of the week: clean my house, do my laundry, and get organized and prepped for my upcoming beach trip! Jason’s 29th birthday is tomorrow, so I need to get some plans together for that.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing:

IMG_1149The very cheesy, homemade card I made for Jason on our anniversary

If you’d like to participate, click here to link up or get more information. 

6 Months Old!

Dear Cooper,

IMG_1127 6 months old

On July 14th, 2010 you turned 6 months old! I can’t believe it is your half birthday. Just 6 months ago I was heading to the hospital for what would be one of the most life changing, amazing days of my life!

IMG_1138Future surfer boy

Picture 067This is your serious face.

You weigh 17 pounds and 3 ounces and are 26 inches long. You haven’t been eating very well this month. You were drinking 8 ounce bottles every 4 hours, but this month you started drinking 4 ounces or less every couple of hours. We have gotten the go ahead to start feeding you solids everyday by Dr. Mundo, your pediatrician. You have tried a bunch of different foods, but you have not been getting baby food at every meal. You still love to get food in your mesh feeder. You love watermelon and cantaloupe!

IMG_0971All smiles in the romper Laura sent you

You are working on sitting up. You are still a little wobbly, but you are getting there! You love to roll around in your crib. I find you some place different every time I go in to check on you! You love to play in your exersaucer, and you jump up a storm in your jumperoo. Your newest trick is making a “mmmmmm” sound – I think you’re trying to say “Mama!”

IMG_1054You love your jumperoo!

You went swimming for the first time this month, and you loved it! You are such a little fish in the water. You don’t mind the water getting in your face at all, and you kick your legs as someone moves you around the pool.

Picture 083Naked time in the pool! Who needs swim diapers? Not Cooper!

Picture 138Too cool for school

We had a couple of fun events this month! Your cousin Megan got married, so we headed home to attend the wedding. You had a blast spending time with your Ana and Papa! You were a hit at the wedding – everyone kept coming up to me and saying “Oh, you must be Cooper’s mom!” I guess you’re so famous now that I don’t have a name… just Cooper’s mommy. That’s fine with me!

Picture 099House family portrait

Picture 111With Ana and Papa

Picture 117Laughing at silly Ana!

On Father’s Day, we went to eat lunch with Ana, Aunt Deb, Terry, Heather, Chris, Cannon, Mari Claire, Mama Betty, and Papa. You love spending time with your cousins because they take turns trying to entertain you. This was your daddy’s first Father’s Day and you made him a special t-shirt with your picture on it. Your Papa loved the picture mug you made him!

Picture 145Father’s Day 2010

Picture 154Kisses from Mari Claire

On the Saturday before the 4th of July, your Uncle Chad, Aunt Tonya, Justin, Lauren, Ana, Papa, and Mr. Price came to visit. We went out to Sullivan’s Island to swim and play. You got to go into the pool, and you had tons of fun watching Daddy go down the big slide and Justin cannonball into the water. You fell asleep before the fireworks started, but that’s ok – there is always next year!

Picture 400Swimming in your patriotic swim trunks

On the 4th of July, we went to Cypress Gardens with Ana and Papa. We had a great time! You got to go out into the swamp on a boat, and we saw a few alligators!

Picture 447Happy 4th of July!

Picture 467You liked the boat, but did not enjoy the 100+ degree temps.

You are in love with George and JC. Your face lights up every time you see one of them! When George comes and sits by you, you giggle uncontrollably. You love to pet his fur. JC still isn’t very friendly, but he’s coming around. He likes it when you share your food with him.

IMG_1041This is George’s way of saying “no petting, please.”

My sweet little monkey… I can’t believe six months have passed since I first held you in my arms. Your dad and I can’t believe you have been in our lives for half a year. We are so blessed! We can’t wait to see what surprises you have in store for us in the future. Every single day is an adventure with you! We love you so very much.

Love,

Mommy



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