Friday, August 29, 2014

Stargazer Soaps Purely Natural Oatmeal Milk and Honey

Did you child have cradle cap after birth? Cradle cap is defined as:
  1. a skin condition sometimes seen in babies caused by excessive production of sebum, characterized by areas of yellowish or brownish scales on the top of the head. (thanks Google)
I was kind of waiting for it to go away on its own and I was pretty good about rubbing coconut oil on it about once a day. I was expecting that to work; coconut oil is sort of my wonder treatment and it's worked for every other skin ailment we've ever had. Four months passed by, and instead of getting better it was getting worse. I never took a dedicated picture of it, but there were moments where her fontanel was almost all covered in a fairly thick, quickly growing scab.  

I was talking to Nicole, the owner of Stargazer Soaps, about this and she recommended her Purely Natural Oatmeal Milk and Honey soap bar. Using locally sourced goats milk and honey, and ever so soothing oatmeal, I knew I'd have to give this a shot.

Ruby is now coming on six months and her thick scabs are long gone. She is still working through very thin, almost freckle-like pieces but they are quickly healing up. I suspect in the next month it will be completely gone!

This soap is wonderfully mild and perfect for anyone with skin issues or for little babies. I have used it on both of my daughers this summer and not only has it helped with the cradle cap, it's also kept Penny's skin nice and soft after many fun filled days outdoors.

Nicole started making her own soaps as a response to her own family's reactions to commercial soaps, including a daughter who had eczema. You can read more about Nicole's journey to creating her own line of beautiful soaps and also purchase them online. Pierogie Mama readers also get 20% off their order with the code PIER10!

Connect with Stargazer Soaps

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Currently (vol 2)

Thinking about// Some really hard stuff that can very quickly overtake this sweet, bubbly post and turn it into a dark, uncomfortable one. So rather than getting into it, I'll leave it as this and ask you to send up a little prayer for this heart of mine.

{Not} watching// Season 2 of Orange is the New Black - BUT I SHOULD BE!!!! We got hooked on season 1 a couple months ago, and it became an evening ritual to watch an episode before bed. But lately life has been really busy and tiring so early bedtime (even for grown ups) is the new black for us but I'm dying to get back into watching it!

Photographing// Baby, our resident broody hen, as she is on day 7 of 21 of sitting on her eggs. In about 2 weeks, we're hoping to have a few baby peepers to show off!

Feeling// helpless, but working to reinvigorate and distract myself while God puts his plans into place and shines a bright light into that bit of darkness that's on my heart.

Thankful for// Ruby sitting up. Yes, Ruby sits up! Why am I thankful? Because now she is able to play independently for a little bit, hold her own with Penny and guess what? I even caught a glimpse of Penny showing Ruby how to play with a toy! Be still my heart, these girls are the best.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lemon-Pepper Tuna BLT (a rendition of a Starbucks copycat!)

Any time I'm going for a longish drive, I battle with myself...should I stop at Starbucks and get a caramel frappicino and one of those amazing chicken salad BLTs? And more often than not, unless I am in the serious mood for a treat, I convince myself that nigh on $10 for a coffee and a sandwich is just not worth it. Instead, I silently vow that I will make this at home and pack one for myself the next time I go out.

Friends, this day has finally come. Except I've adapted this recipe to use Bumble Bee® Premium Light Tuna (you can use a pouch or can), because tuna contains high levels of omega -3's which are important for brain function along with a myriad of other benefits. I chose light tuna over albacore because I'm a nursing mom and albacore has been shown to contain higher levels of mercury than chunk tuna. I also prefer the flavor of chunk tuna to albacore. 

You'll need:
  • Bumble Bee® Premium Light Tuna in a water pouch or can
  • 3 T Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 T Lemon Pepper Seasoning (adjust to your taste, some seasoning already includes salt in the mixture)
  • Oven roasted tomatoes
  • 4 strips cooked bacon
  • lettuce
  • thinly chopped scallions
  • salt and pepper
  • a squirt of lemon juice (I've fallen in love with the flavor from lemon essential oil, so I added 1 drop instead)
  • sliced creamy havarti
  • your favorite sandwich bread
This makes 2 sandwiches. 

You'll do:
1. Prepare your oven roasted tomatoes and bacon ahead of time.
2. Mix together the tuna, mayonnaise, lemon pepper seasoning, tomatoes, scallions, lemon juice or essential oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Assemble your sandwich with the bread, a couple slices of bacon, havarti and a leaf of lettuce. Add a good dill pickle too.
Oooooh lawdy. I think I may have gone to heaven.

This is a delicious sandwich to pack for anyone's lunch - it's a twist on the the good old standby tuna sandwich that we all grew up with. It's also one of my go-to dinners on hot or busy nights because everything can be pre-made ahead of time. Pack this in your, your husband's or kid's lunch and they'll be asking for more, I promise!

Find more delicious tuna recipes from Bumble Bee Tuna!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Currently (vol 1)

Thinking about// My parents will be moving to Europe in less than a week and will be gone for 2 years. On one hand I am really happy for them and am totally hoping for a family trip there in the future, but on the other hand I am thinking about how their absence will affect my daughters. Penny is very close with my mom and I know she will miss her terribly. What is almost worse is that Ruby really won't know what she's missing out on, and I wonder how this two year assignment will affect her relationship with them when they return.

Reading// Dark Hope: Book One of the Archangel Prophecies. This is the first book that I've read since finishing the Hunger Games series last summer and I have been really hungry (wow, no pun intended) for a good book. The first 100 pages were slow, but in the span of 2 pages I knew that I'd be hooked for the rest of the series!

Thankful for// my backyard. On super hot days, I'll cook dinner and we take it outside. We don't have a picnic table yet, so most evenings dinner is served on a blanket in the grass. A cool breeze, the scent of my peach tree wafting over, the curious clucks of the chickens and laying while eating dinner (a la Ancient Roman style).

Photographing// who else? These cuties!

Loving// experimenting with my lavender and lemon oil essential oils. I recently started using essential oils for wellness, and have really started to love the intense flavors that these two oils bring to my cooking and baking. I've used lemon oil in several recipes that normally call for lemon juice (try Blueberry Yogurt Popsicles) and I also tried lavender lemonade!

Monday, August 18, 2014

One last Lake House Dinner + Lavender Lemonaid Recipe (with Essential Oils)

“I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the Beef Checkoff. I received products to facilitate this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.”

7 days.

That's all the time that my parents have until they take off for a fabulous two year assignment to Germany.

Between the mixed emotions of their departure, we knew one thing was for sure - we had to take one last family trip to Mount Rainier and we had to have a one last hurrah dinner on the deck of their lake house. The house that hosted our wedding, the house where we lived for the first nine months of my daughter's life. There's a ton of memories tied up here, and farewell dinner was a little bit of closure for this life changing event for them.

What did we serve?
Filet mignon wrapped in bacon, seasoned with Williams & Sonoma Butcher's Rub
Baked Potatoes
Sourdough bread
grill roasted corn on the cob
and my new favorite.. Lavender Lemonaid.

You'll need:
1 large, juicy lemon
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup water + 6 cups water
6 drops of doTERRA Lemon Essential Oil
3 drops of doTERRA Lavender Essential Oil

You'll do:
1. Juice the lemon into your pitcher
2. Gently heat the 1/2 cup of raw honey with 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pan. Heat just until the water and honey combine well, you don't want to boil it. Remove from heat.
3. Add your drops of lemon essential oil and lavender essential oil to the honey mixture.
4. Pour the honey mixture into the pitcher with the lemon juice. Mix well.
5. Add the 6 cups of cold water.
6. Fill your pitcher with ice.
Now let that cool down and garnish with a sprig of lavender from your garden and you've got an absolutely delicious spa-like drink!
This was an excellent, hearty meal after our day trip to Mount Rainier. After an unexpected 4 mile hike from Narada Falls down to Longmire, it's an understatement to say that we were tired and hungry!

The Beef Checkoff was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It's a national marketing and research program funded by America's cattle farmers and ranchers. Cattle farmers, ranchers and importers direct the national checkoff program, which uses funds toward research and promotion efforts designed to increase domestic and/or international demand for beef. The Cattlemen's Beef Board and USDA oversee the collection and spending of these beef checkoff funds. You might be familiar with "Beef. It's What's For Dinner."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Babywearing Through Mount Rainier

Caution: This post contains a ton of babywearing!

This past weekend we decided to take a family trip up to Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park as a last hurrah for my parents taking off for Europe for the next 2 years. I had been wanting to see the gorgeous wildflower fields that are infamous in August and it was the perfect family bonding time that we needed.

We drove up early on a Sunday morning and made it to Paradise, which is the starting point for summiting Mount Rainier and offers the most glorious views of the volcano (that you can drive to). Even though it's at 5,400 ft elevation, it was a HOT afternoon. You never know about the weather when you're that high up, it can change so quickly, but we were blessed with a gorgeous blue sky, albeit hot temperatures and the beautiful variation of wildflowers.

Pretty much everyone took a turn wearing the babes :)

We hiked around Paradise and then headed out for an impromptu hike that took us from Narada Falls down to Long Mire. It was a 4 mile all descent hike - which was easy but let me tell ya, my knees and toes were hurting for the next 2 days!

None of this would have been possible without babywearing! There was no way a stroller would have worked for 5 month old Ruby and a 4 mile hike for 2 year old Penny would have been too long. So naps and nursing happened on the go and we all were happy hikers :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

4 Tips for shopping at your next Just Between Friends (and a giveaway!)

So you've heard about "JBF" right? Just Between Friends is the best place to go for consignment sale shopping for your entire family! It's no secret that you save boku-bucks at these events, as items are marked 50-90% off retail prices. You'll find children's clothes from birth through teenage years, maternity, nursing and regular clothes for mama, toys, games and gear and so much more!

There's JBF sales all across North America twice times (sometimes three) a year and I'm extremely fortunate that the closest event to me is a 5 minute walk from my house at the Evergreen State Fairground in Monroe, WA. The fall consignment sale is Sept 12 - 14th - with a little bit of pre-sale access too (I'll talk about that in just a sec!).

Because of the sheer volume of what is available at JBF sales, it's very easy to get overwhelmed and carried away. Now that I've been to about a dozen of these sales, I'm ready to impart on you a few really helpful tips on making the most out of your shopping experience.

1. Start compiling a list ahead of time on what you're looking for. Think about the sizes and toys you'll need for the next 6 months or so, what kind of gear or helpful things you'd like to have. This upcoming sale is the "fall" sale, so be on the look out for cold weather and holiday items! That means think ahead for gifts too! 

2. Bring help! It's always more fun to shop with friends, right? This way you get a second pair of eyes on what is cute, extra hands with kiddos, or simply a budget enforcer. 

3. Try to arrange some help or an alternative activity for the kids. I don't say this lightly, because my girls go with me everywhere. At the last JBF event, I brought 2 week old Ruby and 2 year old Penny with me. I wore Ruby in my NuRoo shirt and Penny hung out in the stroller. I say this from experience - it's so much easier and less hectic if you can just focus your deal finding rays on the sale instead of also coordinating toddler snacks or possible melt downs when she sees a toy that she MUST have. Also prepare yourself for long check out lines - at really popular sales I've waited in line for close to an hour! YIKES! I've experienced and heard my own fair share of toddler and baby meltdowns while in line.

4. Have an idea of what the item is worth, and if it's a good deal or not. I write this as a note on my shopping list.I see something unexpected at the sale, I pull out my celly and do a quick google search to see what retail price is. At the last sale, I snagged a wooden balance bike for over half off retail! The consignors try to keep prices competitive and you should expect at least 50% off retail at these sales, but sometimes the deal is not as good as you may think it is.

The JBF Sale wouldn't be anything without consignors, so if you are thinking to clear out some of your clutter, sign up to consignConsignors will earn a base of 60% on their sales (less a $10 Consignor fee), but can earn more and have the fee waived if you volunteer.

Here's the details you'll need on this season's consignment sale:

September 12 - 14, 2014

Evergreen State Fairgrounds

14405 179th Ave SE, Monroe, WA 98272

Shopping times:
Fri Sept 12th: 9a-7p
Sat Sept 13th: 9a-5p
Sun Sept 14th: 8a-1p (1/2 Price Day)

But guess what? You get to hear about a little secret.. there's a pre-sale too! You can buy tickets or enter to win some below! We've got 8 separate prizes for our lucky readers .. so check out the giveaway widget below and enter to win!

What are you looking for at this next JBF sale?

Disclosure: Thank you, JBF Everett for sponsoring this post.  All opinions expressed are my own. The Pierogie Mama and participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Confirmed prizes will be saved at  the"will call" table at the JBF Everett/Monroe event. 

DIY Soap Bits for cloth wipes

This post was originally part of the Accessorize Your Stash in August Giveaway Hop

If you're a cloth diapering parent, at one point or another you may have been lured further into the deep dark underworld of going against the grain by learning about cloth wipes. Cloth wipes, in the long run, probably don't save you that much money, but they certainly mean you have 100% control over the ingredients that come into contact with your baby's skin. They're also super convenient because they go into the wash with your cloth diapers and can be used for a plethora of other things; like dish rags or wash cloths. They can also be made from a plethora of different things; such as dish rags or wash cloths or re-purposed old sheets/t-shirts/left over fabric, and if you're not the crafty type you can certainly buy them pre-made. 

Same goes for the solution that you pour over the cloth wipes. You can buy a pre-made solution (though I can't recommend any because I've never tried it) or you can make it yourself! And it's super easy - it's all done in less than an hour and it'll last you probably for the entire duration of your diapering of a child. My first batch lasted me almost 20 months, and that's with diapering 2 kids for 5 of those months! So it goes a loooooooooooong way! Read below on how to make it yourself!

A special shout out to Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil for sponsoring the giveaway prize in this post.  Enter to win a jar of your own after the recipe! I love coconut oil, it has so many uses (check out my recipe for banana bread using coconut oil) and it has many health benefits. Coconut oil, in the cloth diapering application, is extremely useful to keep on hand as a rash cream 
and I love using it in my soap bits recipe. 

You will need:

1 bar of Dr. Bonner's Castille Soap (I like the lavender scented)
1/4 c of Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil

6 drops of Melaleuca Essential Oil (also known a Tea Tree Oil)

1. Using a cheese shredder, grate the bar of soap into a bowl. Transfer into a medium sized pot. 

2. Add coconut oil and Melaleuca.
3. Add water until the soap is covered.
4. Heat at medium-low and stir occasionally. It will begin to clump, but as the water evaporates and the soap heats up it will all become one big lump.
5. Pour into a parchment paper lined baking dish. Allow to slightly cool at room temperature and cut into small pieces (about the size of your thumb nail). Finish it off by cooling it quickly in the freezer until it is completely solid. They'll break apart easily. Store in tupperware or ziplock baggie a cool, dry place.

To make soap solution for your cloth wipes, you will use 4 cups of boiling water to one bit. Boil the water, pour into your desired container (I have a 4 cup Pyrex cup that I reserve for this) and add the bit. Stir a little to help incorporate it. It will not bubble, it will just become slightly soapy water. Pour this mixture over your cloth wipes until they are as wet as you'd like them to be. I like to keep about a day's worth of cloth wipes (about 8-10) in my wipes warmer and refill in the early morning so that we don't have issues with mildew.

Learn more what what is coconut oil

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Your clicking on these links helps support my family & this blog - purchasing through these links is no additional cost to you but if you purchase something then I get a little kickback. Makes sense, I'm telling you about how awesome it is, right? So thanks for stopping by :) 
 I am a Tropical Traditions customer, and while they are providing a free product to giveaway, I was under no obligation to write a positive review. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Happiness Happens When...

Happiness happens when...

I've finally reached a rhythm with my two girls, Penny (29 months) and Ruby (5 months old). Rhythm does not imply a schedule or that I've got everything down...because I most certainly do not. But the random crazy hectic life that appeared to be my destiny when we welcomed our second daughter in March seems to have evened itself out.

The rhythm I speak of is that we can simply be together; we co-exist in our daily lives and throughout the day we ebb and flow together. The days where I feel like one girl has to be put down or somehow occupied while I love on the other are slowly waning.

This week I've come to realize that Penny and I have really become a team. The Big Little Miss can very quickly anticipate what is going to happen next in the day and she seems to be getting prepared even before I ask her to. I had to sit back and smile for a moment when I took a look at her after telling her that we'd be leaving for my eye appointment soon. While I changed her little sister's diaper and got myself ready, she filled her princess backpack with her "necessities," put on her shoes, adorned herself in all the necklaces and bracelets she can find and topped it off with her summer hat. She stood at the top of the stairs, patiently, while I loaded Ruby into the Suburban and politely said that she can walk down the stairs herself, that she doesn't need me to hold her hand. When did my little Penny grow up?

Yea, we still have crazy days. We have crazy hours. There's moments where I'm not sure if I am cut out for this.

And then I see these two girls playing, and I am overwhelmed with the purity of their friendship. They look into each other's eyes without any judgement or pretense. If Penny had felt slighted in the last 15 minutes because Ruby may have accidentally laid an arm upon Penny's beloved "luly" (her lovey blanket), the sour feelings are gone within moments and the two are back to loving each other, over and over again.
True happiness creeps up on me these days. I'm overall a very blessed, satisfied, but very tired mama. But my love tank is filled to the brim and overflows in the most unexpected moments. Happiness happens when I stop for that small moment and take a mental picture of what I'm seeing, because before I know it, that backpack will be full of books and calculators (not My Little Pony and marbles), or that squishy snuggly baby is strolling down the street alongside me to get the mail. 

Disclosure: thanks, Happy Family, for sponsoring today's weepy mama moment. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Drop Your Pants for #Underwareness

Pierogie Mama readers, you're going to think I've gone off the deep end. A 20ish mama writing about bladder leakage problems? Well, it's a more common problem than you think, and it's not just something for old people. The walls are coming down and more people are becoming open about this condition that plagues 65 million Americans, and half of them are under the age of 50. That's why Depend has started the #dropyourpants campaign for #underwareness. 

But don't dismiss this post just yet - this isn't a review post. It's more of a "just so you know..." post. Read on.

#Underwareness is a social movement and a charitable cause. Because leaking is such a personal issue, a lot of people stay quiet about it. Depend launched #dropyourpants to help ease the social stigma. 
Depend will be donate $1, up to $3 million, over the next three years to charities that advance the research, education and awareness of bladder leakage for:

-Every pant drop, photo and video shared Using #Underwareness and #DropYourPants; and
-Every personal video made about what Underwareness means to you that is uploaded to YouTube and tagged #Underwareness and #DropYourPants.

Oh, and Depend wear is not the old saggy underwear that we conjure up in our minds. They have the look fit like regular, comfortable briefs. Get a free sample and see for yourself. 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Depend about the #dropyourpants for #underwareness movement. 


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