Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Our First Year Raising Turkeys for Thanksgiving

Disclaimer: This is a post about raising turkeys for Thanksgiving. Yes, we slaughtered our own turkeys. Due to the nature of this post, the very end will describe the process, but I did not include pictures of the process (mainly because I didn't really think to take any).

This year we moved to our dream home, a modern "homestead" of sorts, and so many of my husband's and my goals are coming to fruition. We have just over 5 1/2 acres of space that's a range of flat usable yard, terraced paths where we built our chicken coop and plan to grow a vegetable garden, an established apple and pear tree, trails to run our quad and dogs on, a creek, a separate mother in law building with garage space for the hubby and so much more. The house is beautiful, built as though someone had us in mind. I could literally go on about all of our plans for this piece of heaven, but today I'm going to write about our experience with raising turkeys for the first time.

For the last three years I've raised close to three dozen chickens of various stages (this year was my first with chicks - The Pierogie Peepers) and we decided that we also wanted to give turkeys a try. I had only tasted an all organic pastured Thanksgiving turkey once, though it was long before I even cared about what that truly meant, but both my husband and I knew that this was something that a lot of people raved about so we decided to give it a try and see if it was something for us.

For simplicity's sake, I decided to get turkey poults (the term for baby turkeys) from our local farm store, and they offered only one variety this year; broad breasted whites. Turkeys come in a huge variety of breeds and of the domesticated type you can divide them into two groups (just like chickens) - commercial and heritage breeds. A heritage breed bird is one that is considered old school; the breed was established prior to the 1950's (and hasn't been subject to the commercialized selective breeding), takes longer to mature and still mates naturally. A commercial breed is pretty much the opposite - a domesticated bird that has gone through the selective breeding process over generations, probably starting around the 1950's, to grow bigger, faster and easier. Broad breasted white turkeys fall into the commercial category. They mature in as little as 16 weeks! On the other hand, many heritage breed turkeys take well over a year to fully mature and reach their maximum size. Some people say that there is a marked difference between the taste of a commercial versus heritage bird, even those that are fed the exact same food and grew up side by side.

A broad breasted white turkey (which is the exact same thing as a broad breasted bronze, they are just different colors) was developed to grow a huge amount of breast meat. Because that's what we Americans love. The white color was developed because it looks more sterile. Commercial birds were bred to grow big and fast, so interestingly enough most of them have no idea how to mate and due to their size are incapable of it (even if they were given a life long enough to act). It's my understanding that all commercially hatched turkeys are a product of artificial insemination.

There are many reasons why you would choose between a heritage and commercial breed for poultry, but mainly what it came down to for us was that this was our first year (so we took what we could easily get), these birds were intended for Thanksgiving dinner so they did need to mature in a relatively short amount of time, and we were curious to see how big it really would get.

So on June 2 this year our little gang of three turkeys arrived at Two Tire Fire Farm and they were raised in the brooder next to The Pierogie Peepers (the 11 chicks that we got a few weeks earlier). In comparison to raising chicks, the poults were a lot more slow to get up to speed. They were about twice the size of a chick of the same age, but didn't have the inherent knowledge of how to eat or drink. Truly, people who raise turkeys will tell you that either you put a chicken chick or two with poults to show them the ropes, or you have to dip their beak into the food and water for a few days to show them. The phrase that turkeys are dumber than a box of rocks tends to be true in my experience.

We chose three turkeys because we wanted one for our Thanksgiving dinner, a friend asked us to raise one for them and I got a third one "just in case," because again.. turkeys aren't very smart and don't have the best resilience to disease and honestly, begin to look mighty tasty to predators once they get a bit of meat on them.

Before they were a month old it was pretty clear that we have one tom and two hens. I was really hoping that we had two toms so that the other family could have a nice big bird as well, because we had no clue on what to expect for how big they would get. They graduated from the brooder with a heat lamp by 5 weeks to living exclusively outside in a mobile turkey "tractor" (a pen that we can move around to give them free range of grasses, bugs and dirt but keep them protected).

I found that they really did not graze and forage on grass nearly as much as chickens would in that same space. It would take 2-3 days for them to eat all the grass in the footprint of their tractor whereas it would easily be done in a day with chickens. Turkeys, at least mine, were incredibly picky about their food. I had started to introduce leaves and fresh grass into their brooder at an early age, but they never cared for it. My chickens get tons of kitchen and veggie scraps in addition to their feed and getting to forage in their own tractor, but the turkeys really wouldn't touch it. On a really hot day I brought half a watermelon to them (a real treat!) and they cautiously circled it for hours. Had this been in the chicken pen - it wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes.  Finally I dumped some of their pellet food on top of it and they tried it. ???

I found that it was incredibly difficult to source organic turkey feed in my area. It was completely unheard of. Raising an organic pastured turkey was my highest priority because I'm well aware of the benefits of this standard of food, although the cost is higher. I am thankful that this financial cost is something that we can afford because it's important to my husband and I.

I was lucky enough to find some organic meat chicken food ("fryer ration") and fed that to them until I found a feed store about 3 hours away (luckily, in the town that my parents live). The reason why choosing your feed for your turkeys is important is because of the protein level. More protein = faster growth, just like any other animal. Turkeys are recommended to have between 19% to 30% protein in their feed. Meat chicken feed tends to be at about 18-21%. However, more protein is not always better. If you feed any animal too much protein too fast they won't be able to healthily support their own weight. The horror stories that you hear about chicken production farms can be true - chickens whose legs break at the end of their life cycle because they simply cannot support their own weight. They've been stuffed too much. That was my fear for the turkeys. So I decided that a gradual increase in protein would be a safe bet. They were fed an 21% protein diet (on CHS Payback Organic Fryer) until they were about 12 weeks old, when I found that Modesto Mills has an organic turkey ration that is at 28%. At 19 weeks (about 5 weeks before slaughter) I added organic cracked corn into their diet, which is a "finisher." The finisher feed, in addition to the regular feed, helps finish off the meat but giving it an extra bit of fat which will add to the flavor. They got about 40 pounds of cracked corn in the final 5 weeks. The three turkeys went through 160 lbs of feed and 40 lbs of cracked corn in their 24 weeks of life.

We slaughtered them the Saturday before Thanksgiving. A friend who has several years of farming experience came to help out, as well as the husband of the family that we grew one of the turkeys for. Our local feed store rents a "poultry processing kit," which includes a stand, kill cones and basin, a scalder and a plucker.  My husband had slaughtered turkeys and chickens "by hand" in the past and it was a time consuming process. The kit cut it down to processing 3 turkeys and 6 roosters in under 3 hours. Because of the ease of this process, the whole experience was quiet, humble, humane and respectful. I wasn't sure if I wanted to watch the process because I was worried that it would be too hard to watch, but it really wasn't that bad. I was the primary caretaker for the turkeys and was reminded every day that their lives have an expiration and that their sacrifice would be respected. At the last minute I decided that because I had taken on the responsibility of raising them I should see it through to the end. I watched; I don't think I will ever want to participate, but I'm glad that I know have an understanding of the process.

There are several ways to kill a bird, but the way that we did it was by placing the bird head first into the kill done and slitting the jugular and allowing the bird to bleed out. It only takes a few minutes and the bird does not struggle. After it is gone, you place it into the scalder to get the feathers to come off easily. Scalding the bird loosens the pores and regardless if you have to pluck by hand or have a machine that does it - it's easier. A plucker essentially looks like an open washing machine that spins the body around with some rubberized nubs that pull the feathers off for you.  We placed two roosters at a time into the scalder and plucker but the turkeys were way too big.

After the feathers are removed you remove the head, then the neck, feet (we saved them for our dogs!) and internal organs. Because I was only watching, I can't give you a tutorial on what exactly to do. You then cool the body and you're good to go!

So what did our birds weigh in at? That was my most anticipated surprise!!

Our tom - 31 1/2 lb and the two hens were 21 and 22 lbs.

I brined it in a Costco brine mix (it had apples, cranberries, vanilla bean and other spices) for about 48 hours and I made an herbed garlic butter to slather on top and under the skin. It was stuffed with my mom's stuffing. For a bird that size we expected it to take just over 7 hours to cook at 350 degrees. So I prepped it the night before Thanksgiving and got up at 5am to put it in the oven. It ended up being ready (165 degrees at the thickest part of the thigh) almost an hour and a half early. THAT was a surprise! I read that pastured turkeys take a little bit less time but I wasn't expecting that big of a difference. The other two turkeys also took less time than expected.

And the verdict on the flavor? Even the most skeptical of family members (we invited almost 20 adults to get this bird eaten, after all!) agreed that this was much better than store bought. We still had a ton of left overs that were used for turkey sandwiches, pot pie and a few other things. I simmered the carcass to make broth that I pressure canned with a Black Friday purchase.

It's very likely that we'll grow a turkey or two every year from now on. They didn't take any more work than my chickens do and the pay off was worth it for us. It was very personally satisfying to see 6 months of work bring so much of our family together for a great meal and wonderful memories.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pierogie #3 is on the way! -- 15 week ramblings--

I announced on my facebook and instagram a few weeks ago, but being that my blog has been quiet for about a month now - I figured a REAL post was in order.

We are expecting our third baby in June!

The name of my blog, The Pierogie Mama, comes from what we have called our first born before we knew her sex, so naturally as subsequent babies became #2 and #3.

Our first two children are spaced 2 years (to the week) apart and this baby will be about 3 1/3 years younger than our second born. We chose to wait a year longer for this baby so that we had more time to let each of our older children develop their personalities and *hopefully* be getting a little more help (or at the very least, having both of them be a bit of independent) so that I may feel a little less of a hot mess whenever I walk into a room. Or just in general life!

Both of my daughters were born in the water, you can read birth story #1 and birth story #2 here. We have the same plan for #3.

How did my first trimester go? Well, last time I was super tired all the time - no surprise because I was chasing around a 15 month old and nursing through my pregnancy. Ruby, my second born, naturally weaned at 25 months so I've had a bit of a break to restore myself and my body in preparation for this pregnancy. My energy level didn't drop a whole lot in this pregnancy, but I did feel food aversions and a lack of appetite pretty much from 6 weeks through 13 weeks, resulting in a loss of probably 5-7 lbs. Shortly after Thanksgiving I started to feel more like myself and I've been back on board with eating and keeping the house and homestead in order. It feels so much better!

We had our first appointment with our midwife last week and we got to hear the baby's heart beat for the first time! Unfortunately we listened right after my blood draw and both of my girls were still really upset from seeing it, so they were too distracted to really get to hear the magic. The next appointment that they will get to be a part of will be my 20 week ultrasound in late January.

Penny still remembers our appointments to "the baby house" while I was pregnant with Ruby and it was really fun getting to talk with them about how the baby is developing and what the purposes of the placenta and umbilical cord are.  Penny wasn't present for Ruby's birth, and my heart tells me that I prefer to labor in private, but it may very well happen that things will change and they will get to witness the birth of their sibling. Who knows? Ultimately I'm really ok with whatever happens; it's God's will. I like to put in my requests but am pretty go with the flow.

And that is pretty much what it is!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Beco Toddler Carrier - For the Joy of Babywearing

Shortly around the age of two, I thought Ruby was done with babywearing.

It was happening less frequently; she wanted more independence in the grocery store or on hikes. I'd be able to get her into my Boba 4G (which we've had since she was a newborn) if she was very sleepy or if it was absolutely necessary for her safety, while I held her big sister's hand.

I quietly packed the Boba away, thinking about all of our adventures that we've had and truly how comforting it had been to her. It was her favorite carrier and the one she almost clung to like a lovey. I tried a few times to borrow a friends' carrier to try out a new brand and she adamantly would not allow me to put her into it. She'd run for her Boba. Twice a month when I'd go to MOPS, she was quickly soothed in the Boba when one of her blessed MOPPETTS care takers would gladly wear her in it for the two hours while I had a break.

It dawned on me that maybe the problem was that she was too big for it. She certainly hadn't outgrown it by the safety standards (she was about 25 lbs and maybe 31 or 32 inches, an average 2 year old girl) but I did start to wonder if the seat just wasn't wide enough for her anymore. So I gave my friends at Beco a call and the Beco Toddler Sloth in Orange came to live with us.

Yes, Miss Ruby was hesitant at first. She was not too keen on this new visitor in our house. But we worked on it for a little while and the joy of babywearing returned!

She quickly snuggled into the wider panel, I could feel her knees were better supported in the uber deep seat, and even my own body felt better aligned with her toddler weight more evenly distributed. Her body relaxed as she remembered how wonderful it was to snuggle up onto mama's back. Even her preschool aged sister asked for a chance for uppies, because it's been a long time since we've been able to do it for her too!

The Beco Toddler has come with us EVERYWHERE since then. We've gone camping, it accompanies us on farm chores occasionally and most importantly - waits in my truck for those days where the grocery shopping trip is a wee bit too close to nap time.

So what is the Beco Toddler, exactly?

It's a soft structured buckle carrier (SSC), meaning you can wear your child on your front (facing you) or on your back (also facing you), on the hip or criss-crossing the straps across your back for front carry (it helps spread the weight even more). It secures the child to you with backpack straps with a buckle at your hips and at your chest. It's one of the most popular, ergonomic and easy ways to wear your child. Beco has two carrier sizes; the Gemini for babies who weigh 7-35 lbs and toddler for big kids over the age of 18 months and range in weight from 20-60 lbs.

The buckle at your hips requires two handed release for safety

There are tons of friendly features on the Beco Toddler that I've appreciated in comparison to the other SSC carriers that I've gotten to try out. It comes with a hood which comes in handy for naps or nursing. It's removable!

The mark of a good SSC to me is lots of adjustibility. You've got a growing kid as well as a great variation of body types for caregivers. Many members of my family have adopted babywearing, so it's great when a carrier can be adjusted from my frame, my either of my sister in laws, my mother in law AND the 6'2 athletically built uncle or grandpa.

Another important creature comfort feature of a SSC is storage pockets. Because honestly, while I am babywearing my carrier is also my wallet. It goes with me everywhere, so why not cut down on extra luggage? The Beco Toddler has a small pouch that is perfect for the few essential cards or cash that you might carry around with you.

And can I mention, again, this funky cute sloth and chameleon print? My kids are quite in love with Zootopia (that sloth scene MADE the movie for grown ups everywhere, I'm serious) and Tangled, so seeing two animals from both of the movies makes me and the girls smile.

So if you ask me, the Beco Toddler is a really awesome toddler carrier. It is durably made, comfortable, adjustable and has extended our babywearing days! And did you know that Beco Toddlers are on sale??

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Beco. I received product in exchange for my honest review. Truly, I love this carrier, and think you will too!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Giveaway: Chimparoo TREK

Babywearing is a life saver! You can hold baby close, keep him comfortable and happy with two arms free! Some of the most sought after baby carriers are Woven Wrap Conversions. Woven Wrap Conversions combine woven wrap fabric with a soft structured carrier (SSC) design. That's why Mama Banana Adventures loves the Chimparoo TREK baby carrier. This SSC uses the Organic Cotton woven fabric from Chimparoo's line of woven wraps to makes affordable SSCs in a beautiful range of colors! Read Mama Banana's Adventures Chimparoo TREK Review and enter to win one below!

Chimparoo baby company was founded by Christine Duhaime, a Mom and Occupational Therapist, in 2007! The company continues to grow and offers a range of carriers that are Made in Canada and from Organic Cotton. Their latest release, TREK Aquaterra, combines the colors from the water and land into a beautiful color gradient. With many adjustments and options, these carriers are both beautiful and functional.
Chimparoo TREK Features include:

  • Fits most babies 7-45 lbs
  • 3 Positions: Front, Hip and Back
  • Generous waist belt sizing
  • 2 Places to Adjust Padded Shoulder Straps for Great Fit
  • Chest or Back clip slides up and down
  • One-Handed release buckle
    • So you can keep the other on baby!
  • Wash carrier before first use
    • Hand wash or use garment bag so straps don't get tangled on an agitator.
  • Designed to be used with Stirrups
  • Stretchy Head Support and Seat for Newborn
  • Elastic Bands to Roll Up Extra Streap Length
  • Curved Top of Body Panel for Head Rest/Support
Now for your chance to win one below! One lucky USA or Canadian resident will win an Aquaterra TREK carrier of their own! Void where prohibited by law, open to residents 18+ . Find out details about how to enter and use the giveaway tools widget below to complete your entries. Winner will have their entries checked and verified, contacted via the e-mail provided and have 48 hours to respond. Good luck!

Disclosure: Chances of winning are based on number of entries received. This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network. Open to USA/Canada, winners must be 18+, void where prohibited. Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prizes, lost or stolen prizes. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Questions about this giveaway? Contact

Friday, October 7, 2016

Tula Sidekick Giveaway!

Tula Baby Carriers have become wildly popular! Using gorgeous prints and amazing features, it's no wonder!

A group of awesome bloggers have gotten together to give one lucky fan an gorgeous Tula Standard Baby Carrier in Coast Sidekick!
One of our most popular Tula prints, Sidekick, is transformed with a ventilated black mesh panel and hood. Playful comic bubbles and sound effects cover the printed frame of Tula Coast ‘Sidekick’ and has black canvas on the straps and waistband. This fun comic book themed Tula Coast carrier reminds us that every superhero parent can use a sidekick to help save the day!
Tula Coast is designed to bring a cool ocean breeze to your day! This line of Tula Baby Carriers offers a reinterpretation of our original framed panel design using breathable mesh material which creates a ventilated carrier perfectly suited for active lifestyles and warm weather locales.

Baby Carrier Features:

  • High quality mesh center panel in black that allows optimal airflow
  • Black canvas base
  • Removable, regulated hood in black breathable mesh
  • Highest quality Duraflex buckles
  • Large front pocket on the contouring hip belt
  • Dual-adjustment straps, provide the perfect fit
  • Extra padding around leg-opening for baby’s comfort
  • Supportive shoulder padding for your optimal comfort
  • Hand-made from 100% OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certified canvas
  • Instruction brochure

Each Baby Tula Carrier:

  • Can be used in both front and back carries
  • Can be used from 15-45 pounds (baby sized carriers) and 25–60 pounds (toddler sized carrier)
  • Provides an ergonomic M-position seat supporting optimal development for baby’s body
  • Easy to care for and machine washable
Have you been wanting one? Here’s your chance! One lucky winner will get the chance to win this beautiful baby carrier

So head below for your chance to win! Giveaway open to US & CA and ends on 11/07 at 11:59m EST. Good luck!
Disclosure: All opinions are 100% mine. This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network.All opinions and experiences are Conservamom‘s. Open to US &CA ,must be 18+. Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor will be responsible for product fulfillment to winner(s) of the giveaway. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. For questions or to see your product featured in an Event you can contact Elia At Conservamom

Friday, September 30, 2016

Just Between Friends of Marysville / Mount Vernon Fall 2016 consignment sale haul!

Remember when I told you that the Just Between Friends of Marysville / Mount Vernon was coming to Skagit County? It's here! I am giving you a sneak-peek of what you can find at the sale, right here on The Pierogie Mama.

I love finding treasures at these consignment sales. Did you read the original American Girl series when you were a child? Kirsten and Molly were two of my favorites and I happened to find an almost complete paperback set of Kirsten and the full set of Molly in hardback. I was sad when I learned that my own collection wasn't saved, so finding these books is the start of regaining it for my own daughters. I have a 9 year old niece that has her own American Girl doll and has started reading the books, so I excitedly got these for her to put under the Christmas tree and they will get passed back to my girls when they are of age. But I'm also going to readily admit that I first thought of myself - I want to re-read them too!

At this sale I bought something that I haven't bought at a JBF sale before; and honestly was never sure if I would buy used. I found a Britax Frontier-85, a combination of a 5 point to booster seat with 4 years left on it until expiration. Buying used car seats is a tricky deal. Recalls, possible accidents and overall care of the car seat are difficult to keep track of when you are buying a used seat through a craigslist meet up or a facebook group. But why was I comfortable buying one from a Just Between Friends sale? Each JBF sale has a recall and car seat specialist on staff and when a car seat is brought in by a consignor it is inspected before it is accepted and put on the sale floor. I also educated myself on what to look for when buying a used car seat. I had the opportunity to actually talk with the consignor who brought it in, because I was volunteering during drop-off (more details at the bottom). Ultimately, buying a used car seat is not for everyone and is a tricky process, but for me all of my requirements lined up so I was comfortable buying it. And it was $65! I saved 75% off retail!

We stocked up on the typical Fall and Winter essentials in 3T and 5T. These long sleeve pajamas were $2-4 per set.

Frozen is still going strong in this house of little girls. My 4 year old spied this one from a mile away - and yes, I obliged.

So all in all - here was my total haul.

Including the car seat, my final price was $156.78. Retail would have been $567! 73% off retail! If I removed the $65 car seat, each of the clothing and book items was $3.65 each.

Just Between Friends of Marysville / Mount Vernon is going on September 30 - October 2, 2016 at the Skagit County Fairgrounds in Mount Vernon, WA. If you want to see what other great deals there are, definitely don't miss it!

Friday 9/30:
9am-8pm - $2 at the door, waived by preregistering for a free admission pass.

Saturday 10/1:
9am - 5pm - FREE admission
5:30pm - 7pm - $5 Half/ Price Presale, tickets need to be purchased in advance.
Consignors have the option to reduce their items to 50% off on the tail end of the sale. Look for tags that do not have a star and that item will be 50% off! 

Sunday 10/2: Half price day!
8am - 1pm - FREE admission, all items without a star on the tag will be 50% off. 

What did you find at this JBF sale?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Just Between Friends of Marysville / Mount Vernon. 
All opinions and photography are my own.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Chicken Recipe Round Up!

Ladies, I love me some chicken. It's the main meat that I cook with! Here's a round up of Pierogie Mama chicken recipes that you can find here on the blog. Thanks to Foster Farms for sponsoring this post - where you can find so many more delicious chicken recipes!

Do you have a favorite? Leave a comment!

MiaMily Hipster Babywearing Carrier Giveaway

Win a MiaMily HIPSTER Plus

Welcome to the MiaMily HIPSTER Plus Baby Carrier Giveaway

hosted by Maman on the Trail

She’s at it again, folks! Maman on the Trail is reviewing the next generation MiaMily HIPSTER and giving one away to a lucky reader!

The MiaMily HIPSTER Baby Carrier is a multifaceted baby carrier that allows you to safely and comfortably carry your baby in 9 different ways. It is unique in its design and has a built-in seat that allows for Baby to be worn facing out, while maintaining his or her legs in a healthy position. This same seat also prevents some serious back pain for you because it is ergonomically designed for hip holding, unlike your hips! Maman on the Trail reviewed the MiaMilly HIPSTER.

The MiaMily HIPSTER Plus is everything that we loved about its predecessor and more. The biggest change? The seat is now a pouch big enough for a diaper change (or more if you use ‘sposies). Other noticeable improvements are: anti-slip pad on the seat, two-way adjustment on the straps, Velcro that doesn’t cling to your clothing, and a larger cellphone pocket. The perfect, versatile, do-it-all baby carrier for all of life’s adventures!

And now for a full list of the MiaMily HIPSTER Plus’ amazing features…

MiaMily HIPSTER Plus Review -
  1. Snap-on head cover (fits well in pocket when not in use).
  2. Chest clip with padding.
  3. Teething pads that wrap around straps and attach with snaps.
  4. Two-way shoulder strap adjustment so you can adjust from the front and the back.
  5. Double-shoulder carrier top with Duraflex buckles and auto-locking YKK zipper to attach carrier top to seat base (also found on single shoulder carrier top).
  6. Wide waist band with Velcro that fits up to 43 inches/110 cm. (Not pictured, but also available: extender belt for waists up to 59 inch/150 cm)
  7. Unique 3D hip seat with built-in storage. The hip seat base is intentionally built wide enough so that your baby’s hips rest in a healthy position, where his/her legs are lifted and supported at hip level and not hanging or dangling, thus allowing safe forward facing carry. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute has tested and approved the HIPSTER as a hip healthy product.
  8. Anti-slip guard and extra padding on 3D hip seat.
  9. (Not included with carrier) Single-shoulder carrier top with rotating buckle, shoulder pad and adjustable strap.
  10. Zippered detachable front pocket layer that creates 2 pockets (also found on double shoulder carrier top), reveals a mesh vent when detached.
  11. (Not included with carrier) Dual purpose front drool pad that gives baby a safe, clean place to teethe while also keeping the carrier clean.
  12. Foldable travel bag that is stored inside its own pocket.
  13. Side pocket, perfect for a cell phone.
For a full review of the MiaMily HIPSTER Plus Baby Carrier, check out this post by Maman on the Trail.

Enter the giveaway to win a MiaMily HIPSTER Plus Baby Carrier from Maman on the Trail!

Feeling lucky? Enter below for your chance to win a MiaMily HIPSTER Plus in your choice of in-stock colour. Come back for daily entries to increase your odds of winning. Good luck!
Terms & Conditions: Open to residents of Canada and the USA, 18 years of age or older. Confirmed winner(s) will be contacted via email and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of the sponsor(s). Canadian winners must successfully complete a skill testing question. For questions or to see your product featured on Maman on the Trail blog contact Monica at

4 Tips for Shopping at Just Between Friends + JBF Marysville - Mount Vernon Giveaway!

Friends, you know I love Just Between Friends sales, and I am so lucky that I live so close to two of the best sales in Washington State! JBF Marysville-Mount Vernon is only a short skip and a hop from our new home and I am getting into my game mode. I'm tagging my items for consignment and writing up a list of what I'll need for my two daughters to last us through the next round of JBF sales (usually in the Spring). 

JBF Marysville-Mount Vernon is still new to Skagit Valley, so many of you might be new to what JBF is and what to expect. Let me clue you in on a few of my JBF shopping tips!

1.  Beeline to the items on your list that aren't clothes first. You can find strollers, toys, shoes and all sorts of gear at JBF in addition to clothes. Those "hot seller" items go fast, so I make sure I sort through those first. Clothes will always be there, but that double B.O.B. stroller or super marked down Ergo babywearing carrier probably won't be!

2. Like I mentioned before, 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! 

3. 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. Depending on the age of your child, they may be a help or a distraction while trying to shop. I remember the first JBF sale that I went to after Ruby, my second child was born. Penny was 2 years old and Ruby was 2 weeks old. I wore Ruby in my NuRoo shirt and Penny hung out in the stroller.  It was kind of cool because that was Penny's first shopping experience where she started to express what kinds of outfits she'd like, but also harder because I was trying to squeeze a stroller into some tight spaces and also eventually had a toddler and baby melt down. Now that my kids are older, I will probably have them hang out with Grandma and Grandpa for my main shopping session, but I will probably bring them back for 1/2 off day and let them pick out some clothes too!

If you are bringing your children, don't fret! Pikachu is visiting JBF Marysville-Mount Vernon this time!

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. I've snagged quite a few really good deals this way - 2 unopened bottles of BabyGanics sunscreen fro $5, new cases of Country Save detergent, and 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.

Have I gotten you pumped up for this sale yet?? It gets better! Just Between Friends of Marysville-Mount Vernon has partnered with The Pierogie Mama to get you some awesome prizes!

Just Between Friends of Marysville-Mount Vernon Fall 2016 Sale
September 29 - October 2

Skagit County Fairgrounds

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Just Between Friends of Marysville - Mount Vernon. 

All opinions are my own. Please see giveaway rules for complete details.  Some design work was created through FreePik.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Just Between Friends of Everett-Monroe Fall 2016 Consignment Sale {Giveaway}

This is my first year of Back to School shopping. My oldest is now a pre-schooler.

How. Did. Life. Move. So. Fast??!!!

I've seen a ton of Facebook posts about parents who are scrambling through the department stores, seemingly run over by other Back to School parents, trying to get great deals on clothes but also hassling with sold out sizes. Even though Penny starts school in mid-September, I'm sitting back and waiting because...



Just Between Friends consignment sales are an awesome place to find a huge variety of clothes, at truly affordable prices. I've been shopping at these sales, which happen 2-3 times per year, and spend less than $100 on clothes, books and to and it all lasts me through the next season. Here are a few examples of what I've bought at previous sales, with their retail values:

Estimated retail: $149.06

Really, can you go wrong with ANY of that?? It's pretty spectacular!

Just Between Friends is a nationwide consignment event that takes place several times per year, typically in the fall and spring. Just Between Friends of Everett-Monroe also holds a third sale at Everett Community College in the summer! 

At "JBF" you'll find everything you need for maternity, baby and child through teen. Local families consign their gently used and new items for 50-90% off retail prices. It's my favorite place to shop because I can get everything they need for each season for literally a fraction of the price of what I'd pay at the store. Not to mention, children outgrow clothes so quickly that it makes financial and ecological sense to buy used.

So mark your calendar for the upcoming  
Just Between Friends of Everett-Monroe Fall 2016 Sale
Sept 22 - 25, 2016
Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA

I love partnering with Eunice, the owner of JBF Everett-Monroe, because she loves giving out prizes just as much as I do. She is offering 3 separate prizes for this sale! 3 Pierogie Mama readers will have the chance to win $25 JBF bucks, or two 2 Prime Time Shopping passes (winner can begin shopping as early as Thursday Sept 22 at 10am!) Enter in the giveaway widget below. 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Just Between Friends of Everett-Monroe. 

All opinions are my own.  The prizes will not be mailed to the winner, they will be available at check in.  Please see giveaway rules for full details. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta

What is the main protein source for your family? Chicken is the primary meat that I serve. It's such an easy and versatile meat to cook. But in recent years, consumers have become more aware of the connection between how meat is raised to the effects it has on our bodies as well as the ethical reasoning behind treating production meat with care and dignity.

I've kept a small flock of laying hens for the last 3 years and raising them by hand has given me a new appreciation for the animals that provide food for us to eat. I am very mindful to teach my daughters that the eggs on their plate for breakfast didn't magically appear from thin air; and neither do any of the other ingredients that we are blessed to share at our table. My thought process isn't unique; in a recent study 85% of Millennial parents indicated that their criteria for buying meat and poultry has changed over the last several years, 42% cited having a child as the primary reason.  When I buy any kind of meat I prioritize on buying organic or antibiotic free. I also want to rest assured that the animal was treated with respect during its life and prepared for my table with dignity. That's why I chose Foster Farms Simply Raised fresh chicken for this meal. Simply Raised poultry never has any antibiotics, the chickens are fed an entirely vegetarian diet and are American Humane Certified. When the time of butcher comes, the meat is minimally processed without any additives, preservatives, steroids or hormones. It's also good to know that Simply Raised Foster Farms chickens are locally grown in the Pacific Northwest, so I'm not having to pay for transport time between the farm and the grocery store where I buy it. When it comes to store bought affordable chicken, you can't beat Foster Farms!

I can't talk about this delicious meat without giving you an equally delicious recipe, so here you go! This is a new one for our house, but a goodie that came over from the kitchens of That Mama Gretchen and her sister.



  • 1 cup basil, fresh and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • salt, pepper or Italian seasoning to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces cavatappi pasta
  • 3-4 chicken breasts, cubed
  • Extras: more Parmesan cheese and diced tomatoes
1. To make your pesto, blend basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil, give it one more spin and set aside.
2. Prepare pasta as according to package directions, drain and set aside.
3. Melt butter in a large skillet and slowly add in the cream, stirring constantly. Add the pesto, still stirring. Once it has thickened up pesto in and swirl it all around. Yum – pesto cream sauce! Add the drained pasta to the skillet and set aside.
4. In a separate skillet, pan fry your chicken cubes with a drizzle of olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper or Italian seasoning. Cook until it is done.
5. Combine chicken with your pasta and sauce - and you're done! Plate it up and top it with Parmesan cheese and diced tomatoes. Bon Apetit! 

Looking for more inspiration?

 I call this the "Pinterest of Chicken Recipes" - you're bound to find a bunch of good, simple recipes that are renditions of good old fashioned comfort food favorites in there!  
Which one is your favorite recipe?

Disclosure: Thank you, Foster Farms, for sponsoring today's post 
and letting me share this deeeeeeeelicious recipe! 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tula Dew Drop Giveaway


After entering for the Tula, don't miss out on this
 Dahlia Cloth resuable menstrual pad 3 pack giveaway!

Tula Baby Carriers have become wildly popular! Using gorgeous prints and amazing features, it's no wonder!

Each Tula Ergonomic Baby Carrier:
  • can be used in both front and back carries
  • can be used from 15-45 pounds (toddler carrier is approved for 25-50 lbs)
  • can be used from birth with the use of the revolutionary Tula Infant Insert (not included), and into toddlerhood with Tula Free to Grow Extenders (not included)
  • is easy to use and comfortable
  • provides an ergonomic M-position seat supporting optimal development for baby’s body
  • is easy to care for and machine washable
  • is made by hand from 100% Öko-Tex Standard 100 certified cotton
  • is made with the highest quality Duraflex buckles available
  • includes features such as dual-adjustment straps to allow for the perfect fit, additional leg-opening and shoulder padding, and a large pocket on the contouring hip belt
  • includes a removable hood to support baby’s head while asleep, protect from sun or wind, and allow for comfortable breastfeeding
Have you been wanting to own one? Here’s your chance! One lucky winner will get the chance to win one of these beautiful baby carriers in Dew Drop print

So head below for your chance to win! Giveaway open to US & CA and ends on 9/22 at 11:59m EST. Good luck!

Disclosure: All opinions are 100% mine. This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network.All opinions and experiences are Conservamom‘s. Open to US &CA ,must be 18+. Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor will be responsible for product fulfillment to winner(s) of the giveaway. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. For questions or to see your product featured in an Event you can contact Elia At Conservamom

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dahlia Cloth Review - New mama cloth line from Buttons Diapers! {Giveaway}

After reading about Dahlia Cloth, don't miss out on the Tula giveaway!

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of cloth diapers - they've saved our family countless dollars (especially because they were able to be reused for subsequent children, including a niece and nephew!), they feel better for baby and they are just plain CUTE. There are tons of reusable cloth products that are gaining popularity in the recent years, but it wasn't until the birth of my second child where I dove head first into the world of reusable cloth menstural pads.

Why buy reusable menstrual pads? It's pretty much the same reason why you would choose cloth diapers over disposable, and honestly most disposable products period. They save me money, they are soft and comfortable, they can be pretty, they are much nicer to the environment and you will hear this from a lot of cloth pad users - your period is actually lighter. There are many speculations as to why, and one might call me a conspiracy theorist, but part of me wonders if all those extra chemicals in disposable products affect the menstrual cycle to last longer because that means you need more of their products and they get more money. Even disregarding that, cloth is a beneficial alternative because you are now removing that chemical contact with your body. Montsano stays out of my vagina

Cloth menstrual pads go by many names; mama cloth, R.U.M.P.S. (re useable menstrual products), moon pads or moon rags. They are useful for women through many phases of life - menstruation, post partum healing, urinary incontience or simply as panty liners. They come in different lengths, shapes and materials. 

Many women get a little bit of an "ew" factor when they think about how they will have to care for these pads. Honestly, it takes almost no special care at all. Depending on how many cloth pads you have, you can wash them all at the same time at the end of your cycle or you may have to wash more often to have what you need. I recommend keeping a small wetbag around to place soiled pads into until you are ready to wash.

If you are currently cloth diapering - just throw them in the same load as your diapers. If you aren't, you can wash them by hand with warm water and air dry or wash them in the washer with warm water and dry them on low. I've washed mine with dark towels or sheets without issue. It's also recommended that you rinse them out prior to storing them in the wetbag to prevent staining and making it easier to wash.  It's really not rocket science! And if you fall in love, which I am sure you will, you'll grow a stash that will hopefully be enough for one cycle so all you have to do is wash them all at the end and put them away for next month.

So when Amy, the owner of Buttons Diapers, whom I know personally and love her line of cloth diapers, approached me with the opportunity to review her brand new line of cloth menstrual pads called Dahlia Cloth, I jumped for joy! I've been a fan of Buttons Diapers for as long as they have been on the market and knew that the attention to quality, price point and useability from Amy and the Buttons Diapers team would be evident in this expansion of their lines. 

The Dahlia Cloth pads come in three lengths - small (8.5"), medium (11") and long (13.5"). The size you will need may depend on what part of your cycle you are using them for and your own body shape. I like to use longer pads for my heaviest days, overnight or post partum. Shorter pads are nice for the start and end of your period. It's nice to have a variety of lengths to choose from, because for me I have some cycles that are heavier than others, and I can adjust which pads I'd like to use that day.

Dahlia Cloth pads are simple to use. Lay your pad down onto your underwear, just like you would for a disposable pad with wings, with the absorbant side facing you. Tuck the wings under your underwear and snap together. You can expect to wear a cloth pad anywhere from a couple hours to up to five during the day, or longer and more absorbant ones for overnight. 

Want to know a cute little secret that I love about Dahlia Cloth? If your baby is also wearing Buttons Diapersonly you would know that you and your baby may be matching that day! When I look at my cloth pad stash a smile crosses my face because I get to choose between many different colored patterns or prints. Dahlia Cloth currently comes in Afternoon Tea (a floral print), Meadow (leaves) and Midnight (black). 

The pad is made up of several different layers that play an important role to being an effective pad that is comfortable and leak free. The top layer (which comes into contact with you) is a soft fleece. The core of the pad is absorbant microfiber. It is backed by leak-proof PUL (poly urithane liner), which are those prints that I mentioned above. PUL Is the same material that makes cloth diapers and wet bags leak proof.  Being a Buttons Diaper user I immediately saw that the same materials are used for Dahlia Cloth. I can rest assured that if these materials can handle the dirty work that my children do to them, they can certainly handle mine! 

I tried the medium and long length pads and saved them for my heaviest flow days. They felt comfortable, didn't slide around in my underwear and never leaked. I can understand the trepidation that a woman feels when trying out a new menstrual product - wondering if they can leave the home in fear of having an embarrassing leak. I can say with confidence that I didn't have any worries about that happening. 

For this review I had a couple of my mama cloth friends chime in on their thoughts of Dahlia Cloth too. Both of these friends are experienced mama users; all three of us actually worked on The Pad Project that I shared about with you in the beginning of the year. Luda is primarily a Cup user but wanted to have some pads for "just in case," and she loved how thin and comfortable Dahlia Cloth felt. Kelsey was so excited to see the beautiful prints on the pads, "It truly makes a difference for me having something beautiful that time of the month. I am a mom of three boys and trust me my pads are the only place I get to see flowers and the colors pink and purple in my house!" Kelsey tends to have a really heavy flow and she found that the large size pads worked great for her during the day and night.

You can purchase them through Buttons Diapers and on Amazon.

Buttons Diapers is excited to offer Pierogie Mama readers with the chance to win a 3-pack of Dahlia Cloth pads, in their choice of length (small, medium, long) and print (Afternoon Tea, Meadow or Midnight). Enter via the giveaway widget below, see rules for details.

Disclosure: This giveaway is hosted by The Pierogie Mama, the prize is sponsored by Buttons Diapers. This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions and images are my own. I received product in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was provided. Please see the giveaway widget for full details and rules. 
Please email me at if you have any questions or would like to see your product featured. 


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