Mar 26, 2014

Red & Blue Dyes Strike Again!

In April 2011, I wrote about London's sensitivity to red and blue dyes and the angry diaper rash she would get as a result.

At the end of the post, I state that I hoped she would grow out of the sensitivity. The good news is that she seems to have done just this. 

But we recently discovered Sydney may have the very same sensitivity. She woke up with the rash last Wednesday morning. And by Wednesday evening, it was oh so angry. Sydney was doing the same things as London had when she had these rashes - fighting diaper changes at all costs and putting up a huge fight. 

Cameron and I both sat there thinking what could have caused it. The only thing I could pin point was a change from Children's Advil to generic children's ibuprofen. Sydney had her first two molars coming in and we have been giving her Advil at night to help her sleep. The two nights previous we had used the generic brand. The only reason we bought generic was because our grocery store had downsized such offerings and chose to not offer Advil Chidren's - regular Advil and Infants Advil was still available there.

London was just about this age when she developed the insensitivity. Had the change from brand to generic been enough to bring it out in Sydney? We're not 100% sure, but we're 95% sure this is what caused Sydney's rash. And therefore, like London, we will be regulating Sydney's artificial dye intake until she is about London's age now. Good thing we don't have Eggo Blueberry waffles to hide from her like we did with London. It took us months to consume those without her knowledge. 

And actually, ever since London's sensitivity developed we have been pretty mindful of avoiding artificial dyes outside of special occasions. Guess Sydney will just have to deal with yellow only for now.

But, just as a public service, I would like to share the video about Fake Blueberries, red and blue dyes and pre-packaged food here, again: 


Mar 19, 2014

A Lesson in Chicken Stock

A couple weeks ago I attempted my very first Roasted whole chicken as a nice Sunday dinner for Cameron, London and myself - Sydney didn't last long enough that evening to try it. It turned out alright, a little on the dry side, so I'll baste more often next time, but with the juices in the pan, we were able to over come that issue. All in all, I was pretty proud of myself and the relative success of the experiment. 

And Cameron, London and I had a lovely dinner around the table, a habit Cameron and I want to work toward establishing as the girls get older. It will definitely help when all of us can eat the same dinner, at the same time. 

There were some leftovers as a result of this dinner and 5 lb bird. And thus launched my idea to attempt making homemade chicken stock. We use chicken stock pretty frequently in our house, particularly when making rice so we buy the pack at Costco. With the idea that we will have actual chickens some day, with more roast birds in our future as they stop laying eggs, learning to make chicken stock didn't seem too far fetched and would allow us to fully use our birds all the way to the end. 

Plus, finally, literally years, since begging my mom for Martha Stewart's Cooking School cookbook for my birthday or Christmas, I actually opened it up and used it! (I think I got it just as I got pregnant with London so life kind of ran away from me) 

I knew one of the first lessons was making stock, and the first recipe in that lesson was making Chicken Stock (which I learned once I opened it for the second time). 

I loosely followed the recipe, and over the course of the 1st weekend of March, I made my first batch of chicken stock. Martha's recipe called for just two carrots and two celery stalks - I bumped those numbers up a little. All in all, it was a pretty easy process and in 1 1/2 hours on Saturday, we had the stock. We poured it into a bowl to let it cool to room temperature over night. 

Sunday morning we removed the layer of fat that had accumulated on top of the broth (surprisingly, there wasn't that much) and re-heated the stock. Once it was warm, we set about pouring it into Pint-sized canning jars. We ended with 7 jars. One of those jars' lids didn't pop like it should to seal it properly so that one got placed in the fridge for immediate use that next week.

And use it we did - about half of it went into a Chicken with Cremini mushroom sauce recipe we love. The homemade stock definitely affected the taste of the dish - in a very delicious manner. The sauce had much more flavor than it usually does. Now I'm hooked on only making homemade chicken stock. 

I found the whole process to be pretty easy even though it spanned two days. For the most part, it was a hand-off exercise once everything was in the pot until it was time to can. And the house smelled delicious the entire time. Because of it's simplicity, and the added flavor homemade over store bought makes, I am definitely considering weighing the cost of purchasing a bird every once in a while for a roast chicken dinner and stock, over just purchasing the stock from Costco every few months. At least while we don't have chickens. Likely, the store bought cans we have now will be our last.

Mar 12, 2014

Summer Garden 2014

 Originally, we had decided not to have a summer garden this year. Between a gopher problem and not having time or money to build raised garden beds to combat the gopher issue we put the idea on the back burner. 

Problem is, we love our summer gardens and the fresh veggies that result. And I'd been saving cardboard papertowel rolls and toilet paper rolls in anticipation of starting of garden with seeds this year. Plus, with all the raw veggies we get at the grocery store each week and all the land we have at our disposal now, it just didn't seem right. 

Looking at this now, compared to all the seeds and I think this may need to be larger! Good thing we have the room.

So during the break in the gloriously rainy weather we have been having (it's spring rain too, so it's not too cold), Cameron took the tractor out and turned some earth just out back to prep for a garden space. He'll just be at war with the gophers this year (which I think he actually gets pure enjoyment from). And then we headed to Home Depot to pick out our seeds. 

We came home with seeds for: 

  • Red Onions
  • Corn
  • Canteloupe
  • Sunflowers
  • Bell Peppers
  • Cucumber
  • Jalepeno Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Watermelon
  • Sugar Peas
  • Snap Peas
  • Sweet Banana Peppers
  • 3 varieties of tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Yellow Squash
We also have some left over Pumpkin Seeds and plan to harvest Giant Pumpkin seeds from the Giant Pumpkin we brought home in October. Plus, there is more we plan to get for the pumpkin growing season, but I'll save that for another day. 

Time to get to seed-planting! We did pick up a few trays for seed planting as I have been saving the cardboard rolls like crazy, but we don't have enough stockpiled for all the seeds we bought!

I can hardly wait for the veggies to start rolling in. 

Mar 4, 2014

The Time Has Come...

The other weekend I hit my limit. I feel like every weekend is spent cleaning, with no fun involved at all. And Cameron is right there with me. Yes, we get so tired during the weekend, that things do fall by the way side and have to wait for the weekend, but this time my frustrated focus landed on London. She loves to be a good helper - yet when I asked for her help by picking up her room and her toys/clothes in the family room, I was met with a perfect "No". 

At work on Monday, I mentioned my frustration to a co-worker, who mentions that her daughter got behind such chores only when she had a list to check off or when she earned money toward a fun Dollar Tree toy. And so to Pinterest I turned. And inspiration struck. 

I'd get a magnetic board and print out some graphic magnets. The board would have London's name on it and a "To Do" column and a "Done" column. At the end of each week, where she was a good helper, she'd get a little treat or we'd go do something fun on the weekend when time allows. 

We headed to JoAnn's that very night. All I needed to complete the project was a magnetic board and magnet sheets of paper. I had sticker paper for printing the words and placing on the board back at home. $7.50 and a 1/2 hour later, I had what I needed and set to work that night. The cost was so low thanks to the surprisingly large selection of reasonably priced magnet boards, in all kinds of colors, at JoAnn's and some great coupons on their App - one for 50% one regular-price item and another for 40% off. Our total was actually less than the board cost alone, at full price. And instead of magnetic sheets for printing, I found business-card sized magnets with a sticky side - so the graphics just needed to be printed on regular paper and cut out and stuck on. 

A before of all the supplies: 

And an after: 

Basically, all I did was cut out the words for the board on sticker paper and stuck them on there. Someday I'll get a Silhouette Cameo which can do all the letter cutting for me, including all the middles : ). I cruised the web for the images that would work for what I need London's help on. I found some great ones and threw in a few I know she likes to help out with, including feeding the dogs and helping empty the dishwasher. Some of her current chores are: 

  • Flush the Toilet
  • Get up on Time
  • Put Away the Laundry
  • Help unload the dishwasher
  • Be a good listener and do as your told
  • Say Please
  • Say Thank you
  • Water Plants - this will come in handy after we get some "treats". London has requested a Flower garden this year. 
  • Put Away Books
  • Clean up the Bedroom
  • Clean up Toys
This past weekend, the girls spent with their Grammy, which meant I was able to get a lot of cleaning done, including cleaning London's room. When she got home Sunday night and saw, she actually said "Thank you Mommy for cleaning my room". It was a perfect time to introduce her to the chore chart and move some of the "to dos" over to the "done" side of the board. The best part is London was very receptive to this and excited about it even Monday morning, when I told her she could move the "Getting up on time" over to start her day.

Supplies Needed: 
  • Magnetic Board
  • Magnets
  • Chore Graphics
  • Sticker Paper
  • Scissors