Monday, July 21, 2014

So I guess I'm Mother Gothel, she's a princess and princesses only eat princess food.

Two big things have been going on around here.

1. I have a very independent two and a half year old. She is fearless, bold, adventurous, feisty and just an all around kick in the pants. Every day she surprises me. These days dinner tends to get in the way of these imaginary adventures and she's been opting for on the go foods. 

2. Princesses. 24/7.
So more often than not we encounter days where the only food she wants to eat is "princess food." Does anyone have any idea what "princess food" means to a toddler? My best guess as to the most basic requirement of "princess food" is that it needs to be pink. What is a mama to do?

So like the wicked Mother Gothel, I've figured out how to sneakily disguise her essential nutrients, with the help of a my Cuisinart Baby Food Maker and Yummi Pouches. Mother knows best!

The first part of my master plan is to create an easy to eat, yet very "princessy" puree that even the pickiest toddler won't be able to resist. One of our standard recipes that I have created is Apple, Strawberry and Butternut Squash with a touch of cinnamon. Butternut squash is an excellent source of Vitamin A, fiber, potassium and magnesium. Apples are an additional fiber source, and pack some Vitamin C. Strawberries have lots of Vitamin K and are an antioxidant powerhouse. Combine all of those and you've got the makings of a healthy snack! Mwwaaaa hahahaha! 

The second part of my evil plan involves one of my henchmen, the Cuisinart Baby Food Maker.  It's an all-in-one appliance, meaning I can steam my apples and squash, then add my strawberries and puree, without pulling out tons of gadgets or adapters. That leaves enough time to meddle in my daughter's affairs, boil some toads and worry about my waning beauty while talking to magical mirrors or tending to a mysterious fountain of youth plant.

Finally, to ensure the assimilation of said wicked potion, Yummi Pouches make normally messy purees portable, so that was a no-brainer in my evil plot to ensure Penny eats healthy. We love Yummi Pouch because...

  • The shape - it's a rectangle and super easy to clean. 
  • Dishwasher and freezer safe. 
  • BPA free, PVC free and phthalate free. 
In addition to pureed food, I like to prepare packs of yogurt, applesauce or smoothies thickened up with ground oats for quick on the go snacks.

Does this sound like a truly evil plan or what? Let me tell you, the unknowing princess surely fell victim to my tricks and walked away satiated.

Want to win a Cuisinart Baby Food Maker along with a 4 pack of Yummi Pouch Brights to put your dubious potions delicious creations in? Enter to win this fabulous prize pack by commenting below:

1. Visit Cuisinart's baby food recipe site and tell me which recipe you think your little one will go "goo goo" for. Please leave your best contact email address so that I can email you if you win. (See full rules below)

2. Gain an additional entry point by visiting Yummi Pouch's recipe page and leaving a comment here with a recipe that you'd  like from there too!

Rules: Entering this giveaway is completely optional; however in order to qualify to enter you will need to leave a comment answering question #1, and for an additional entry option you may also answer question #2 in separate comments. The winning entry will be validated. Open to the US only, aged 18 years or older. The contest ends at 6:00pm PST 7/25/2014. The winner has until 6:00pm PST 7/26/2014 to respond to the email notification. The Pierogie Mama is not responsible for prize fulfillment. The winner will be contacted at the end of the giveaway and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. 

Bluberry Yogurt Popsciles with doTERRA Lemon Essential Oil

Do you use essential oils therapeutically or in your cooking? I recently purchased my first set of doTERRA oils through That Mama Gretchen (Breathe, OnGuard and Lemon Essential Oil) and I've been having a blast experimenting with the lemon in my cooking.

Check out my recipe for Blueberry Yogurt + doTERRA Lemon Essential Oil popsicles on her blog!

Did you see my recipe for raspberry creamsicle popsicles on the blog earlier? I made them using my Zoku Duo popsicle mold, but you can really use any mold you like. Check out that post to see the recipe & enter my giveaway for the adorable Zoku Fish Pops 
(which are sure to make your kiddies giggle). 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Seattle area: Got a princess? Take her to the Enchanting Fall Ball!

I've mentioned a few times around the blog that we are in full princess mode with Penny. It hasn't been that much of a surprise; my husband's family are die-hard Disney lovers and there has been plenty of princess swag passed down and around. We love it, it's cute, and I'm working really hard to teach my daughters what the true meaning of a princess is. She's anything but a dainty waif who waits around for her prince to do the job - Disney has been doing much better as portraying stronger female characters than they have in the past.

Not too long ago we met a few of the characters of Enchanting Princess Events.  Not only was that experience what led to the full on princess-obsession that currently rules my house; meeting these ladies has started my thinking-wheels on how to successfully introduce women as capable and strong role models.
After our quick meet-and-greet with Beauty and Cinderella, I contacted Lianna (who plays Beauty) and we got to talking about how she started her company and how we can work together. I quickly learned that Lianna has the same goals in mind when it comes to using her power as a princess in molding young minds and making a difference.

You see- dressing up and taking photos with children isn't all what it's about for Enchanting Princess Events. These ladies take it a step further and give back to the community. In addition to being available for private events, the characters of ePe host various non-profit events and you'll find them throughout the greater Seattle area for various appearances; namely visits to the Children's Hospital! Lianna says "when we visit the hospital, our characters get to visit the Playroom as well as the various floors with patients and we autograph photos to leave with everyone. The kid’s expressions are so priceless when visiting! Our last visit, The Ice Queen and Ice Princess attended and most of the patients had Frozen playing in their rooms! We aren’t Russell Wilson, but we are able to make some of the patient’s day!" 

Their largest fundraising event is their annual Enchanting Fall Ball, which is held in October. With the growing popularity over the last 3 years, ePe has been able to expand the beneficiaries of this event to The Children’s Museum of Skagit County and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County!

This year the Enchanting Fall Ball is being held at the Marysville Opera House. At the Fall Ball there will be mingling, photos, activities, desserts and of course, DANCING! A couple surprises include an Arendelle area including Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post! The entire family will love it! In addition to the 2 ball sessions, there are limited slots available for the VIP (Very Important Princess) ticket. There are only 9 tickets available for each VIP Tea event and you get to have your own private tea party with the 9 characters for an hour before attending the Fall Ball!

The heart for charity and bringing children to higher levels is really what sets Enchanting Princess Events apart from any other "book a character" business. You can also easily see from the photos that the characters and their costumes look like the real thing. Lianna takes great pride in her business that everything about these princesses are real. They do not wear wigs (well, Rapunzel had to break that rule, but she really does have long blonde hair!) and their dresses are custom made for the actress. I daresay that their dresses are truer to the movies than what the actresses at Disneyland & Disneyworld's actresses wear!

It's the deliberate act of acting real and being real that is important to the characters of ePe, as well as showing little girls that a princess is not just pretty. This is why Lianna also launched Enchanting Apparel, to display some of the characteristics of each princess that is beyond simply beauty. These adorable shirts carry words that identify strengths that young women should all strive to achieve. The goal with this line is to encourage young girls that being a princess is not all about being pretty, but more importantly embracing the inner beauty and amazing characteristics they possess. There will be an exclusive Enchanting Apparel shirt available for pre-purchase for the Fall Ball!

So have I convinced you that this is THE event of the season to take your littles to? Yes, even your sons will enjoy the magic coming alive from their favorite Disney classics! Lianna has made an unprecidented, exclusive offer to Pierogie Mama readers for tickets at a discounted rate to the Enchanting Fall Ball on October 18, 2014.

This special discounted rate will be valid only from July 20, 2014 - August 1, 2014. On August 2 their tickets will be at full price. So get this date on the calendar, get your family dressed up in their best and
be our guest!

You'll see my little Pierogie family at the first session of the fall ball.  If you happen to notice us, please stop me and say hi! I love meeting my readers :)

Keep in touch with Enchanting Princess Events

Comment below and tell me which princess is your & your child's favorite!

Disclosure: Thank you, Enchanting Princess Events, for sharing about this great cause and event with my local readers, and for sponsoring my family to attend the ball. No other compensation was provided, all opinions are my own. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Importance of a Good Fitting Nursing Bra

Did you experience a change in your breasts during pregnancy and nursing? Silly question, right? :)

Our bodies undergo so many changes during the brief 9 month period where we grow our children within our bodies. It's not just our skin that changes; too many people focus on stretch marks or weight after baby. It's a beautiful thing that we experience, and God intended for us to be marked after this important time. These changes call for a different way that we care for ourselves though.

I argue that our breasts go through the biggest change of all. What didn't produce milk before now does. They are bigger, heavier, fluctuate in size throughout the day and over time. A good fitting bra during pregnancy and nursing is monumental in the short term and long term of your breast health!

I never knew how to fit myself correctly for a bra though. It's funny, the day when I bought my first supportive and comfortable bra in my 3rd trimester with Penny, it truly sunk in that my life would never be the same. I never shopped for supportive and comfortable; I always opted for cute or flattering. I felt like such an old lady when I explained to the "sizing expert" what I was looking for in a bra. Oh yes, how my world has changed. These days, comfort and support are #1 on my list (cute and flattering are a bonus). #sahmproblems

Ever since breaking the ice on having a supportive bra, I've been hooked (pardon the pun). After Penny's birth I lived in nursing tanks for the better part of her first year and purchased several nursing bras as "going out" / "fancying it up" occasions. My poor husband. I tried on a few different brands of retail store cheapies and finally snagged a couple Bravado Designs bras on sale at my local baby boutique. And my view of bras changed again. Prior to nursing I was a 100% underwire gal. All the time. I never had a problem with them and liked how it felt. Once I began to nurse I found that I will never look at underwires the same way ever again. I also found that the sizing I found most comfortable in nursing bras was completely different to what I used to wear. A big part of that, of course, is because my body changed after having children. Another part of it was that I never learned how to correctly size myself.

The Bravado Designs website has a really good video on how to properly size yourself - check it out. Are you the same size you thought you are?

Why is having a well fitting nursing bra important?

  • Function: you'll be nursing (or pumping) all day and you need to have quick and easy access. Bravado Bras have very well made clips that are durable and easy to clip on/off with one hand.
  • Fit: a bad fitting bra is a sure fire way to cause more problems than just discomfort. It can lead to mastitis or plugged ducts. Because your breasts change size throughout the day as they fill and drain, your bra needs to be able to accommodate that change without putting pressure on the breast tissue. In addition to checking the sizing video above, you want to be sure that you're not spilling out of the cups when your full or empty.
I've had the chance to review 3 of Bravado Designs' nursing bras, here's what I thought about them!

The Bravado Bliss has always been my favorite nursing bra, hands down. It is thick enough that if I spring a minor leak it won't go through and you can't see nursing pad outlines. It is the closest bra that  I've found that makes me feel close to my pre-pregnancy days. It has no underwire, which I love, but that doesn't stop it from making your rack look good ;) This bra is fitted by rib cage and cup size.

The Bravado Essential Embrace is my replacement for nursing tanks. It is made of thinner material (a combination of cotton and microfiber), but is still very supportive. Again, no underwire but fits like a good sports bra too. Because it is so thin, I usually wear it only at home or if I have a sweatshirt (or thicker shirt) over it, because it will show pad outlines and nip bumps. This bra is fitted by rib cage and cup size.

The Bravado Body Silk is my in-between; it is thin and breathable like the Essential Embrace but also features moulded cups that you can slip in to make it look more like a cupped bra (like the Bliss). It's one of the top selling bras that Bravado makes. This bra is sized in small through XL.

If you're looking for a good set of workhorse bras, these are my top picks. My Bliss and Essential Embrace have lasted me through two kids (and almost 2 1/2 years of nursing), without wear and tear.

Do you have a favorite Bravado Bra? Tell me all about it!

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Weekly Family Slumber Party // Princess Movie Night (with The Perfect Pop App)

Thank you, Pop Secret, for sponsoring today's post! 
Check out the new Perfect Pop App to make your family movie night a memorable one too. 

A few months ago, Penny got to meet a couple real-life princesses and ever since then it has been 100% princesses 100% of the time. We've got princess books, princess shoes, princess dresses, princess necklaces, princess balls, princess dolls, princess forks...ok you get the drift. If I need to convince Penny to do something, I tell her that this is the princess way. For example, she got this weird bloody nose right before nap time a few weeks ago, so after cleaning her up and getting her back to bed for her nap, I wanted her to lay on her back for a few more minutes to make sure the bloody nose had stopped. Penny normally likes to sleep on her side or stomach, so the best way I could convince her to sleep on her back was to show her how Princess Aurora sleeps, on her back and her hands clasped at her chest. Worked like a charm!

Riding along this princess wave, one of the ways that we reconnect as a family at the end of a long week is our weekly family movie / slumber party nights. We don't ever have to ask Penny what movie she wants to watch; you guessed it - Princess Movie! This typically means Frozen, Tangled or The Princess and The Frog. We've tried a couple other animated movies but these three have stuck.

Snacks are an important part of movie nights, and because our movie night is also a slumber party we opt for bed friendly snacks. We fill our water bottles for the night and keep them close on the night stand, this way
we don't worry about spilled drinks in our bed. We also opt for easy to grab snacks, specifically popcorn, because c'mon, movie night just isn't complete without popcorn! Our favorite popcorn is Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter. Other ideas include meat and cheese slices or hummus and pita bread triangles. We try to avoid sugary snacks because it's late and part of the point of a movie night is to not have to actively put your kids to sleep ;)

Our tradition is to pile into our pile into our king sized bed around 6:00 on Friday nights and snuggle together for a couple hours of uninterrupted, technology free family time. I nurse Ruby to sleep and we settle quietly in. Penny will usually stay awake for the entire movie, but sometimes she curls up and sleeps on me like she did when she was a baby. Oh, my mama heart swoons when my big toddler girl snuggles on me like that!

I had mentioned popcorn on movie nights - isn't burned popcorn one of the most annoying things in the world? It's such a difficult balance between perfect pops and making sure all the kernels are cooked. I recently got to try out the Pop Secret Perfect Pop app and I think we've got a winner!

With our microwave, the Perfect Pop app suggested that we stop 34 seconds early. The result? Not one burned piece and they were softer too. I ran a comparison bag (because one bag simply isn't enough) without using the app and the popcorn was tougher. However, and maybe this was a fluke, there were more unpopped kernels in the first batch than there were in the second (90 vs 70). I still think that I'd be willing to give up a few kernels to make sure that my popcorn tastes good.. Quality over quantity, right?

If you're like me, you're probably wondering how does an app know that my popcorn is done (and isn't that what the popcorn button on the microwave is for?!). Well, even with that handy-dandy button we still end up with burned bags from time to time. The Perfect Pop app listens to the pops and the time in between and will tell you when it's done. In the meantime, it also gives you trivia to pass the time!

The Perfect Pop App is free at the iTunes store and is compatible with most Apple devices. Liked this post? Please take this 1 question survey.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Pop Secret, though all opinions are my own. Apple is not affiliated with in any way, nor does it endorse or support this third party app. 


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