daily deal: St. Patrick’s day shirts with FREE shipping

Check out the link below! 

Shirts range from $1.99- $4.20. All Children’s Place sizes. 

Get them while you can!

https://www.childrensplace.com/

❤ K & A 

make your own baby food

When my son was a baby, I liked to prep meals for him as well.  I pretty much made all of his baby food, except when we were traveling.  He LOVED to eat and I made his food from the beginning.  I plan to do the same thing with our next child.  One of my shower gifts was a Baby Bullet and I definitely put it to work.  It is easier than you might think to prepare healthy meals for your baby and you don’t have to own a Baby Bullet to do it.

My husband and I like to eat organic as much as possible, so we wanted our son to eat organic as well.  As many of you know, organic baby food can be pretty pricey, but making your own food makes it very affordable.

We started with a brown rice cereal and then moved on to avocado, bananas, peas, pears, apples, squash, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.  All of these foods are great foods to start your baby’s eating journey.

As they grow older you can try asparagus, carrots, green beans, white potatoes, oatmeal, and peaches, as well as other veggies and meats.  You want to stay away from honey, peanut butter, citrus fruits, raw berries (strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries), egg whites, whole milk, and shellfish/crustaceans.

To make your foods you need either a good blender, food processor, or some sort of food grinder/masher.  For my son, we usually did a brown rice cereal mixed with a fruit and/or veggie.  To make brown rice cereal you will grind the rice up into a fine powder with your blender and then cook, similar to regular rice, with water on the stove (1/2 cup rice to 4 cups water).  You can add more or less water to change the consistency.

I liked to make big batches of the food to last for a few weeks.  Fresh food in the fridge will last for about 3 days, but food in the freezer will last about a month.  To store my food I used my Baby Bullet containers, but since I made such large batches I also use ice cube trays.  These are a great way to store exactly one serving of food.  Plus once your baby begins to eat more you can give them different foods at one meal, such as a fruit and a veggie cube.  I liked to make two fruits and two veggies, plus rice cereal at one time.  That way and I could mix up different flavors and my son didn’t have to eat the same food everyday.

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Here are some recipes for beginning foods:

Bananas – 1 banana to 1/4 cup water (blend)

Sweet Potatoes – 1 peeled, steamed potato to 1 cup water (I used the water leftover after steaming since it has some of the nutrients from the veggies in it).

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Zucchini – 1 steamed zucchini to 1/4 cup water

Pears – 1 steamed, peeled pear to 1/4 cup water

Peas – 1 steamed cup peas to 1/4 cup water

Squash – 1 steamed squash (remove tips) to 1/4 cup water

Apples – 1 steamed, peeled apple to 1/4 cup water

Avocado – 1 peeled and pitted avocado to 1/4 cup water

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(Note: for all foods you can add more or less water to change the consistency)

With all of these foods you will add them to your blender and then blend until they are smooth.

Do you have any favorite baby food recipes?

❤ K

 

Back to Work as a New Mom

I recently had a baby in October where I took a nice 12 weeks of maternity leave. Coming back to work has been a major change for me. I thought it would be helpful to provide new moms with information to help with the transition.

  1. Try to get your baby on a schedule in the beginning. There are many different books and websites that will give you ideas on how to have a good schedule. This will make things easier when you return to work because you will not have sleepless night where you have to wake up and make it through an 8 hours work day.
  2. Check with your job regarding pumping options. Make sure you know exactly how your job works if you are plan to continue breastfeeding when you return to work. You will need to have a schedule and know if your employer has a shared space or any space at all. You will also need to let your manager know your pumping plan/schedule especially if you work for a place that isn’t very familiar with breastfeeding moms.
  3. Check your options for free pumps. Currently a free electric pump can be received if you have insurance. Look at the pump options and if you have choices make sure you get the one with the best reviews that work for your pumping style. I have become more interested in hands free breast pumps because it makes it a lot easier if you are trying to do anything else while you are pumping.
  4. Make sure you are eating well and have snacks to last throughout the day. This is especially important if you are pumping during the day. Pumping burns a lot of calories and if you aren’t eating right you may lose your production and nutrients in your milk.
  5. Find a daycare that has hours that work for you, people that you trust with your baby, and things that are important to you (camera, in-home, center, uses cloth diapers, works with breastmilk).

I hope all the new moms have success in their transition back to work. Leaving your baby is never easy so making sure you have a smooth transition is always helpful.

❤ A 

pregnancy style

I wrote this post when I was pregnant with my son, but it still applies.  I found myself referencing this post when trying to think of clothes to wear now that I am pregnant again.  So, in this post I decided to share some of my pregnancy style.  I was told several times that I looked “cute pregnant” or that I “wear pregnancy well” and I would always get compliments about my outfits.  So here are a few tips I have found that worked for me.  I didn’t want to spend too much money on maternity clothing, since I knew most of it could not be worn after the baby was born.  I bought a few maternity pieces from Target and worked with the other items I already had.

Since I am a working mom, I need work appropriate outfits, as well as casual outfits.  I bought one maternity dress, borrowed another, bought two pairs of maternity jeans,  two long sleeved shirts, a short sleeved shirt, black dress pants, a black dress skirt, a pair of black leggings and two belly bands (black and white).  That’s it!  Most of the items I bought were on sale, from a consignment store and for the others I used coupons I received when I started my registry with Target.

Here are a few pictures of my outfits and what items I mixed and matched to make each outfit:

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In this pic I was around 23 weeks and my outfit is a dress I found that was a little big on me, so I added a belt, scarf, and some flats.  This outfit contained no maternity items.

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In this picture I was 24 weeks and my outfit included my maternity leggings, a big white button up shirt, a cardigan, red scarf, and a black belt above the belly.  I also wore my black riding boots.

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In this pic I was around 28 weeks and my outfit includes my maternity black skirt and long sleeved maternity shirt.  I also added a scarf (I LOVE scarves) and a white tank top.  I found some great long white tanks that I love to pair with my shirts.  They are cheaper than the maternity brand tanks and work just as well because they are still long enough to cover my belly.

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This was taken at Week 29 and does not include any maternity items, except a belly band.  I paired a turtleneck that I had with another long tank, jeans, white belly band, and riding boots.  Plus I added a necklace.

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This was taken during Week 30 and contains no maternity items.  I wore a stretchy skirt with a big button-up shirt and cardigan.  I love big button-up shirts and I happened to have this one in my closet, but you could probably get one from a husband, boyfriend, brother, male friend, or thrift store.  They are everywhere!  I also added a skinny belt above the belly and flats.

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This was taken during week 31 and contains no maternity items, except a belly band.  I am wearing some stretchy jeans that I had and a belly band, plus I added two loose tank tops that I had and a cardigan.  I also added my black boots.

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Week 32 – This outfit did not contain any maternity items.  It is a wrap dress, which I already owned and a long tank top.  I added some fun jewelry and red flats.

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Week 32 – Here is that button-up shirt again!  I added a white tank under the shirt, a belt, and my maternity jeans.  I also added flats as well.

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34 weeks – Big, white button up shirt, purple tank top, maternity leggings, scarf, jean jacket, and a black belt.  I also wore riding boots this this outfit.

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35 weeks – This outfit included a stretchy, non-maternity dress, maternity leggings, a cardigan, and a black & white belt.  I wore riding boots with this outfit as well.

It is hard to put together maternity outfits that are cute and comfortable, but here are a few tips to save a little cash on your maternity clothes:

  • Cardigans work great in the fall and winter: I have lots of them and they don’t have to be maternity to add something extra to an outfit.  Also, you can pair a cardigan with a short sleeved shirt if you don’t have many long-sleeved options.  
  • Before you purchase maternity items, check your closet:  I found many items in my closet that were stretchy material and could be worn for most, if not all of my pregnancy.  
  • Stop by your local consignment store:  I checked a few consignment stores in my area and couldn’t find anything, but then I checked a children’s consignment store and found several items.  Make sure to check children’s stores, as well as your traditional consignment stores.
  • Purchase a few high waist belts:  If you don’t own any belts that you can wear above your belly, purchase a few.  I use them all the time, especially with my non-maternity items.  They help to make these items fit a little more like traditional maternity items and they accentuate the belly!

What are some tips you have found for maternity apparel?

❤ K

 

Meal Prep Pt. 2

As promised, here are a few more meal prep ideas.  If you missed the first post, check out Meal Prep Pt. 1 for more ideas and a little more information about how I prepare my weekly meals.

First up is Hi-Protein Zucchini Lasagna in a Jar from FitMen Cook (http://fitmencook.com/hi-protein-zucchini-lasagna-meal-prep-in-jars/) for lunch.  I LOVE this lasagna and it is very easy to make!  I make mine in Pyrex dishes, but he uses hermetic jars.  I had a green smoothie for breakfast (spinach or kale, protein powder, frozen fruit) and english muffin.  I had an apple and boiled egg for snack and my trail mix.  
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This lunch I found on Buzzfeed Tasty (https://www.buzzfeed.com/hannahmars/17-delicious-healthy-grain-bowls-that-will-fill-you-up?utm_term=.kdAVjJ0r9#.ntX56lA34) and it includes a chicken burrito bowl (this was so yummy!).  Oatmeal for breakfast, an apple and boiled egg, and trail mix for snack.

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This prep included a green smoothie for breakfast, salad in a jar (layers: salad dressing, strawberries, chicken, lettuce), and crackers that you can’t see also in the jar, with soup.  The snack included a boiled egg, an apple and peanut butter, and carrots with hummus.  I LOVE mason jars!  They are great for meal prepping and easy to transport to work.

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This lunch included sesame ginger tuna lettuce wraps with tomato and avocado.

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This lunch included a greek quinoa bowl from the Peas and Crayons blog (http://peasandcrayons.com/2016/01/greek-quinoa-bowls-recipe.html).  This was a very yummy recipe especially if you like Mediterranean food.

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Another salad in a jar!  This salad includes the following layers: salad dressing, tomatoes, black beans, corn, avocado, cheddar cheese, and lettuce.  I added tortilla chips on the side.

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Do you have any good meal prep ideas?  

Follow me on Instagram for more prep ideas!

❤ K

purchase a car with confidence

My husband and I had to purchase new cars about a year and a half ago.  My car, at the time, was pretty old and started to need more for upkeep than we thought the car was worth.  My husband was in a car accident shortly after that and sadly his car was totaled, but at least he did not have any major injuries.  This made us pros at car shopping in a very short period of time.  Here are a few tips that we learned along the way.

  1. Decide exactly what you want in a car.  Similar to when you are buying a house, determine what is on your must have list.  Do you have to have a back up camera or bluetooth hookup?  Do you have a long commute and need a certain MPG for your car?  Are there certain models you will not consider?
  2. Technically number 1 & 2 are interchangeable or could be happening at the same time.  Go to your bank and see if you can get pre-approved for a loan (if you don’t have the cash to cover your car).  Determine what your payment will be based on the loan and what fits your budget.  If you know you can only afford a certain amount, tell your bank that amount and they can tell you a loan amount based on this number.  They can also tell you different amounts based  on the length of your loan and the interest rate. It is good to get pre-approved by your bank so you have a start off point for a price for your car and so you don’t have to haggle with the dealership about your payment.  If they have a better offer than your bank, you can always consider their financing, but this gives you a start and a leg up during negotiations.  Also, check online for car loan interest rates and make sure your bank has a good rate.  We went with our credit union because it had the best rates at the time.
  3. Begin checking prices for the cars you might be interested in purchasing.  This is pretty easy to do nowadays since so much information is available online.  My bank recommended checking out the Carvana (www.carvana.com) site.  You can buy a car through this site, but I used it to compare prices too.  You can put your criteria for a car in this site to get an idea of the type of car that is in your price range.  If you have a certain car in mind, then you can look up that make and model to get an idea what it is selling for online.  I also check Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com).  This site gives you an estimate of what specific cars are selling for based on the make and model.  I usually start with a site like Carvana first when I don’t know what make and model I am looking for, just to get an idea of what might be in my price range.  Then I move to Kelley Blue Book to get the accurate price.   screenshot_2017-01-21-11-59-32
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  4. You also might consider contacting your insurance as well.  They can give you an estimate of what your insurance might be based on the year, make, and model of different cars on your list.  This can help you when planning your budget with your new car payment.
  5. Now, you can begin looking online or visiting dealerships.  You can check online at places like CarMaxx or you can also consider Carvana.  I looked at both locations for prices and then went to the dealership.  I wanted to see the cars before I made my purchase and there were several dealerships close to my home, so it made it pretty easy.  When you visit the dealership keep you list of must haves in mind.  For example, when I went to purchase my car I saw a car on the lot that was the same year, make and model as a car I saw on Carvana.  The car was much less (by a few thousand) than the car on the Carvana site.  The dealership really wanted to sell me the car, but it was more because it had extra features.  The dealership tried to explain that it was more because of these features, but these were features that were not on my must have list.  I explained this to them as well.  I told them I would happily buy the cheaper car on Carvana and since this was the only year, make, and model of the car that they had on the lot, I was prepared to leave if the price would not come down (ALWAYS BE READY TO LEAVE).  They came down on the price because they saw that I was not invested in getting the car.  I ended up purchasing the car for almost the same price I saw online. 🙂
  6. The dealership will also try to convince you to use their financing and sometimes they will say the price includes their financing or something along these lines.  Check their interest rates and the terms of the loan.  Most times your bank will offer a better deal.  

These are a few of the tips I have learned.  The most important thing is to do your research before you make a purchase.  Go into to the dealership will all the information and be prepared to haggle and walk away if they are not willing to meet the price you know the car is worth.

Good luck and happy shopping!

❤ K

Meal Prep Pt. 1

As a working mommy, I am a big advocate for meal prepping.  Honestly, I even meal prepped prior to having my son because it saved me SO much time in the mornings.  Time saved in the morning means more time for me to sleep! 🙂  I pack my lunch (and breakfast) almost every day of the week which saves a lot of money, but is also usually healthier than buying food at work or from a fast food restaurant.

So here is the rundown on how I prep my meals.  I usually do my meal prep on Sunday afternoon.  I prep a breakfast, lunch and 2 snacks for most days.  For breakfast, I pack a grain, protein and usually a fruit/vegetable.  For lunch, I pack a protein, vegetable/fruit, and usually a grain.  For my snacks I usually do a fruit/vegetable and protein and a trail mix.

Here are a few of my meals to give you some ideas:

For breakfast I am usually pretty basic.  I do oatmeal (either old fashioned or steel cut) in a jar.  I will add cooked cinnamon apples and nuts or dried fruit and nuts.  I cook my oatmeal in batches because it takes a while to cook steel cut and old fashioned oats, so cooking them in advance really helps.  I put them in jars and warm them up at work each morning.  I will take a boiled egg or greek yogurt for my protein.

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(Steel cut oatmeal, cinnamon apples, and roasted pecans)

This lunch prep included chicken quesadillas.  I was being a little lazy that week so I bought the pre-cooked chicken (Simple Truth), but usually I will grill some chicken breasts.  I added a salad, salsa, plain greek yogurt and avocado to complete the lunch.  My husband and I use plain greek yogurt in place of sour cream, which will add a little extra protein to your meal.

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Next is one of my non-oatmeal breakfasts.  I made egg white, spinach, and mozzarella sandwiches on a thin bagel bread.  I cooked the egg whites and spinach in a pyrex dish in the microwave.  Then I added the mozzarella cheese, let it melt, and then put them in the freezer.  On the day I ate them, I reheated in the microwave and then added the thin bagel bread.0419161752

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Here is a photo of all my meals for the day.  This includes oatmeal and a boiled egg for breakfast, an apple and peanut butter for a snack, homemade trail mix for another snack, and chicken and cheese hand pies for my lunch.  With my lunch I added a green salad, carrot, cucumber, and red pepper cold salad, and mandarin oranges with blueberries.  I prep EVERYTHING when I do my meal preps, so I boil all my eggs for the week and even put the peanut butter in individual containers for each day.  I wait to take my eggs out of the shell the night before I will eat them.  My trail mix usually includes cashews, dried cranberries, and almonds.  I do trail mix almost everyday because I can eat it in the car and I have a long commute home. 🙂

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This meal included a sweet potato and black bean quinoa bowl (http://www.spoonfulofflavor.com/2015/01/14/sweet-potato-black-bean-quinoa-bowls/) for lunch.  I had oatmeal for breakfast with a boiled egg, an apple and peanut butter for snack, as well as carrots and hummus and trail mix (I have a long commute!).

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I will share more meal preps in another post, plus I try to post my meals on instagram (when I remember) so follow me for more ideas throughout the year.

❤ K