January Crushes

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Favorite things from January 2013

Every once in awhile I come across products, websites, or just random little items that I wish I could share with everyone. Now I know most people do that sort of thing on Facebook or Twitter, but since I don't have those I decided just to stock pile all my little shout-outs until the end of each month, and make a post out of them. 
So here are a few of the things that I was crushing on during January!

Books: The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld
Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series
I know these books have been around for some time, but I've just now gotten around to reading the whole series,  and I loved them! The last one, Extras, pretty much seemed like just that, an extra, but the first three really had me enthralled. A dystopian world ruled by plastic surgery...It was definitely something new!


TV & Movies : Downton Abbey
Downton Family Portrait
It's BACK! Need I say more? Even Ant has become addicted!


Websites: 
Photoshop Multiple Exposure Tutorial
I've been on quite the Photoshop kick lately trying to make my photos and other blog elements more polished and interesting, and Katrina's blog Pugly Pixel has been a god send. She has tons of free shapes, brushes, actions, and dozens of tutorials to help make your photoshop experience easier, and totally cute. Even if you don't use photoshop, you should still go check it out. There are plenty of great inspiration photos!


Food: Blood Oranges
inside of a blood orange
If you've never had one of these wonderful fruits, you need to try them ASAP. Everyone describes it as having an orange crossed with a raspberry type flavor, but I just call them amazing! I fell in love when Ant and I were in Italy, and was extremely disappointed when we couldn't find any here in the states. January through March seems to be the peak season, but you have to keep an eye out. They show up one week and have disappeared by the next. Last year Ant found a few for my stocking at Harris Teeter, but this year I actually grabbed a bag from Walmart of all places. You never know where they'll be!


Kids: Fisher Price Stack and Roll Cups
Fisher Price Stacking cups
Corbin got these for Christmas, and they have been our most popular toy since then. They stack, nest, snap into balls, and take up practically no room at all. Corbin likes to bang them together, Reli likes to pretend they are mixing bowls, and I've even caught Ant playing with them a time or two. Makes a wonderful baby gift!


Adults: Dyson DC39 Animal
Dyson dc39 vacuum
Yeah that's right, I'm excited about a vacuum, and I freely admit it! Did you know that we have four cats?
(no judging! That's less than we had when Reli was born...) Anyway, we have 2 short-haired cats, 2 long-haired cats, 2 kids, and a vacuum that would spit out just as much dust as it sucked in. Ant has been telling me I could have a Dyson since they first released the animal over 3 years ago, but it never came to pass. So this past black friday when they went on sale, I said "Buy it now! OR ELSE!" (in my very sweetest voice of course), and it was here in less than a week. I don't love it more than fabric, but it's  pretty far up there on the list. 


Just for Fun: Chocolate Truffle Chapstick
Chocolate Truffle Chapstick
Remember all those different flavored Lip Smackers you had back in Junior high? Well, I'm normally a standard Cherry type of girl, but I got one of these for Christmas and loved it so much I went out and bought two more. You know, In case one gets lost like they always do. It's a limited edition after all, so better safe than sorry right? I also tried the Apple Cider flavor. It was alright, but honestly how can that compare to Chocolate Truffles? 

What have you been crushing on lately? Are any of these your favorites too?
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P.S. I didn't receive anything for writing about the products above, I just personally enjoyed them.
Blah blah legal type stuff...

Go Ravens! Baby Jersey

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

*Update - Corbin wore his shirt to cheer on the Ravens during the Superbowl!*

Custom Baltimore Ravens baby shirt

Do you ever have a project that gets so stuck in your head that you can't do anything else until you finish it?
Well with the Super Bowl being only days away this one was pretty much a no brainer.

Did you know the Baltimore Ravens are my team? 
Even though I was born in Pennsylvania I lived right on the Maryland line. Baltimore was much closer than
the Eagles in Philly, or the Steelers in Pittsburgh, so the Ravens became my "home team". (thank goodness!)

Custom Baltimore Ravens Jersey
Corbin actually means raven, but no I didn't do that on purpose...
Well, this year at least 1 (maybe 2) of our most important veteran player are retiring, and besides we're in the Super Bowl!
*Shaking Pom Poms like mad* There's no way I could let the season go by un-commemorated.

So after a few days of tiny scissors, tiny-er paintbrushes, and a whole lot of heat and bond, 
This is what I was left with... GO RAVENS!

Hand-painted Baltimore Ravens Logo

 Anthony would like it known that he does not endorse this in any way. He is a NY Giants fan, but he tolerates my purple passion because we are in different divisions and rarely ever play each other. So I'm not technically rooting against him. We did however have a game this past season, and I must point out that the Ravens crushed the Giants 33-14. So yeah, my team's pretty much better than his, and the kids will totally be on my side! ;D

Do you follow football, or do you prefer a different sport?
 Who's your favorite team?

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Snapshot Sunday - Where's the snow?

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I know there has been a lot of talk about a cold snap lately, but where is all the snow?
These pictures were taken on one of the two days that we had a light dusting, and on this particular day it actually turned to sleet and freezing rain. Yuck. Thank goodness Daddy was home that day, because I surely wasn't going out to "play" in that mess! Reli has been so excited ever time she sees a few flakes. Now I just wish we would finally get a few inches so she can make the snow angels she's been talking about for months!




Yep, that's our sad little foot tall snowman.
What's it like in your area? Got any snow to send our way?
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Tip of the Week - Fray-less Washing

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sewing Tips
Serge the cut ends of your fabric yardage before
sending it through the washing machine.

How to keep fabric from fraying in the wash.

If you don't have a serger, you can always use your regular machine to make a zigzag stitch over the edge.Though in a pinch, you could also seal the edges with fray check, or simply trim them with pinking shears. I have personally not had amazing results with the pinking, and fray checking everything seems pretty expensive to me, but I do know people who swear by both methods.

How to prevent fabric from fraying in the wash

Just think. No more trying to untangle the crazy mess that comes out of the washer or dryer! 
No more giant fiber knots as big as your hand! Plus, it also helps to reduce the "stretched out" feeling
some fabrics get when the threads intertwine and pull on each other. I'm not gonna lie. Once I figured
this out, I really felt like an idiot. again. This keeps happening far too often.

Not sure how you should wash a certain fabric in your stash? 
Check out the Sewing Tips page for more helpful info like the Fabric Pre-washing Guide!

Do you know any other ways to defeat the dreaded fray?
Or do you just toss it all in and fight it out later?

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Random Bookish News...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I just found out that Costco is currently selling Kumon Workbooks (at least in my area).
Reli loves these books, and I was so excited I grabbed practically the entire series! 

Assortment of Kumon Workbooks

I had already been planning to post about how much we adore these books, but when something goes on sale it's best to pounce on it right away. These will probably disappear pretty quickly as it is. We bought our original ones from Amazon ($8 each) because they have a buy 3 get one free deal, but the ones at Costco are in packs of 3 for $15 and you don't have to worry about shipping. I had just added them all to my Amazon wishlist, but I swear Costco read my mind!
Kumon Educational Workbooks
I know there are quite a few homeschooling moms who use Kumon as part of their curriculum, but even if you have no intention of homeschooling, these are a great way to get your kids ready for kindergarten. There are different books dedicated to; tracing lines, simple cutting, upper and lower case alphabets, simple folding, learning how to paste, and plenty more for older children who are working on things like rhyming words or coin counting. If you have a preschool or elementary aged child, or maybe grandchild, I highly suggest checking out these workbooks. They're pretty awesome!
Kumon cutting and pasting pages
I was in no way compensated for telling you about these books, I just really like them!
In other news, Marissa of Rae-gun Ramelings has started an online Book Club that I am participating in. If you have an interest in Young Adult fiction, I suggest stopping over to check out everything she's got going on, including the discussion board on Good Reads. We've already had some pretty interesting chats about everything from Harry Potter to plagiarism, and the ladies there have all been great!
Beautiful Creatures

Our first book is Beautiful Creatures by  Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl which is also coming out as a movie on Feb. 14th. The Salt Lake City set will be having a meet-up to watch the movie, and then most of us will probably be discussing that as well. And, if you are already a member of Good Reads, please feel free to friend me. I love to see what other people are reading!

I think that's all for now. Anyone reading anything good?
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Homemade Baby Food

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I contemplated whether or not I should post about this (especially since I evidently made Corbin fat doing it).
But I know quite a few women who have babies around the solid food stage, and I figured "what the hey".
Maybe some of you are thinking about if you should try to make your own baby food or not.

How to make home made baby food

I started making baby food back when Reli was little. One of Anthony's coworkers was pregnant, and we got her bowls, spoons, and a book about baby food (from her registry) as a shower gift. I was pregnant at the time too and kind of laughed at the idea a little. Who has time for something like that? Predictably, some months later I stumbled upon the Homemade Baby Food Recipes website, and my frugal side started doing the math. 

Then when it was finally time for Reli to start solids, I decided to give it a try. No real commitment, just a "let's see how hard this is" sorta deal. I know Ant was thinking that I would try it once and then give up, but I surprised him (and myself) by following through with months worth of entirely homemade goodness. We only ever needed to use store bought jars for convenience sake when we traveled. It was kinda awesome!

How to make home made baby food

Of course it was nice that there weren't any extra preservatives and what not, and there was much less packaging with out all those jars and little plastic cups, and it was cheaper to buy produce by the pound than in tiny cups...but none of that really convinced me that homemade was the way to go. It turned out to be much easier than I had thought, and it must have been my usual DIY attitude that made it feel "right" to do it myself.

 Some foods don't even need to be cooked or pureed in order to make your own... 
Mash bananas with a fork as needed, serve no sugar added applesauce straight from the jar, 
and yogurt (plain or with a little puree stirred in), are all great ways to make baby food simpler.

Essentially the process involves; peeling and dicing your produce (or using a bag of frozen), cooking it (boiling, steaming, or baking), pureeing it in the food processor, and freezing everything in ice cube trays. It's that simple!

How to make home made baby food

You can blend the purees to make specific meals before freezing, or mix and match the cubes as you go. Just store the ice cubes in ziploc bags and pull out what you need for each meal time. Microwave a few in a small cup, stir, and serve! It's that easy to tailor your little ones meals to their tastes, or even allergies.

Here is a list of my most common purees...
Fruits: pears, peaches, plums, mangoes, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, papaya,
applesauce, babanas, avacado, apricot, kiwi, melon (doesn't freeze well)
Veggies: carrots, peas, green beans, turnips, zucchini, squash (yellow, butternut, and acorn), broccoli,
cauliflower, spinach, sweet potato, black beans, eggplant, chickpeas, potatoes, corn

I also like using...
 tofu or cheese (mixed in when thawing cubes), and
 chicken or turkey (cooked and processed into granules)


What do you think about going homemade?
 Have you ever tried making baby food, or is it too much of a hassle?
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*Disclaimer - I am by no means an expert on babies, nutrition, or even cooking. This is just a commentary on what I have done with my own 2 munchkins. Every child is different so please consult your pediatrician before starting your baby on solids, and make sure you research which foods are suitable for what ages.*

9 Months

Monday, January 21, 2013

9 month baby growth photos

Well it finally happened. This month the Dr. officially labeled Corbin as . . . CHUNKY!
No kidding, He weighed in at 25 lbs 3 oz at his 9 month check up. We're talking the 97% range for his age! Parents are always so concerned that their babies aren't eating enough, and we hear a lot of "Don't worry, they'll let you know when they're full"...blah blah... but that is totally untrue with this lil man. When the Dr. asked me how much he eats during a day, her jaw practically dropped at my answer. Bubba eats waaaay too much!

9 months old

I know there is so much talk about childhood obesity, but I'm really not too worried just yet. Corbin's still on the taller side for his age, and there is still plenty of time for him to even out when he starts walking. I guess I just thought he was going through a ridiculous growth spurt this whole time, but it'll also probably help that we've given up on spoon feeding completely. Now we just let him eat little chunks of our dinner instead, and that should help him to realize he is full sooner than if we are just shoveling it in for him.
9 month baby photo collage
Is it just me or does he already look skinnier in the 9 month picture than he did in the 8 month one?
Can't believe how much I'm gonna miss all those chubby little rolls and extra chins!

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Snapshot Sunday - Christmas Morning

Sunday, January 20, 2013

After posting all those Christmas cookie recipes this past week, I realized that I never even shared any of our pictures from over the holidays. (It really is space cadet central around this place!) So here are some of the shots I got of Corbin's first Christmas. He was definitely more interested in the paper and bows, than any of the toys, but we all know how kids would much rather play with the "junk"!








Gosh he's turning out to be such a little ham!
And here is the Christmas card that I would have sent if I had all my crap together like that...


Can't believe I got another picture with both of them smiling...even if Corbin does have a bow in his mouth.
I thought that one form Halloween was sure to be a fluke! Oh well, Merry (super late) Christmas!

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Tip of the Week - Machine Manuals

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sewing Tips and Tricks
Read your sewing machine's manual.

Always check your machine's manual first to answer basic sewing questions.

I know that may sound like the most "duh" bit of common sense that you've ever heard, but lets be honest...
How many of you really looked at your manual for longer than it took to figure out how to turn your machine on?

Sewing Machine Manual Diagrams

I know I sure didn't, and since I had been sewing for years before I received my first sewing machine, I disregarded the manual completely. Now after owning my machine for over eight years, and moving it to probably eight different houses, I have absolutely no idea where my booklet even is!

Luckily if you have already lost your manual like me, many are available over the internet in PDF form. Just find your machine's model number and google something like - Singer 2662 manual. If you can't find it that way, chances are you can buy a new one directly from the company for around $10.

Needled, Thread, and Fabric Chart
This chart explains which needle & thread work best for which fabrics.
I should probably frame it  I check it so often!
So often I get questions from new sewers saying "How do I get my sewing machine to do X,Y, or Z", but most of them have never bothered to look for an answer in the instruction book in their own home. I would love to help everyone, and I can usually give an idea of what can be done to help, but there are dozens of brands and hundreds of different machine models. The chance that I'll know the exact requirements of a machine I've never even seen is pretty darn slim. Ok, lets face it. It's down right impossible! I'm not a sewing machine repair person, and they even usually specialize in only 1 or 2 brands themselves.

Besides, what's the harm in skimming? You might just get lucky and find something like this in your manual...


Yep, that's a list of things that you can try when your machine is making you want to pull your hair out.
Wait,You didn't know you might have one of those? Super helpful isn't it!
Now tell me honestly...Do you know where your manual is, and do you ever use it? 

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Visit the Sewing Tips page for more helpful hints!
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