Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ladybugs on the Loose!

We have some vegetables growing in our backyard: green beans, cucumber, broccoli, tomatoes, basil, yellow squash, peppers, and more!  Sounds delicious, right?  Well, the bugs think so, too, and they are eating away at all my delicious vegetable plants!  So, a few days ago we took a trip to our local plant nursery and purchased a container of ladybugs.  For $7.99, you get 1,500+ ladybugs, ready to take on all the pests in your garden!  Well, I had the container sitting on the kitchen counter (we were waiting to release them later in the evening).  In comes my wild child, knocks the container off the counter, pulls off the lid and lets at least 150 ladybugs loose in the kitchen!  Luckily, they didn't try to fly away and we were able to collect most of them.  We have 4 cats, so let's just say that they took care of any ladybugs we missed.  I'm so sorry little ladybugs! :(

Anyways, we were able to release the majority of the little red beetles into our garden, which made for an awesome nature observation experience for Olive (as if 150 ladybugs crawling on the kitchen floor wasn't enough).  She helped me spread them about our garden, allowing them to all find their new homes.  Then we spent about 20 minutes just watching them.  Listening to Olive exclaim, "Ohhhh", "Ahhhh", "Oooooh, nice!", "Oh, bugbug!", was so precious and memorable.

Making friends...

Up close and personal.

"Ohhhhh!  Bugbug!  Nice!"

I love these next 4 pictures.  They show such a great progression of feelings.
"Hmmm, this is interesting, but I'm not too sure yet".

"Oh yes, I think I like this!"

"Okay now ladybug, you're getting a little too close.  You aren't going to go up my sleeve, are you?"

"OMG!  She's on my shoulder!  Be still, be still!"

We had such a pleasant time watching the little ladybugs crawl and fly around us.  Even if you don't have aphids or other unpleasant bugs in your garden, I highly recommend picking up a container of ladybugs.  Set them loose and watch your little one burst with excitement!  Just remember to release them outdoors, not in the kitchen.  :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Week of Toddler Meals (23 months old)

About 6 months ago, when my daughter was 17 months old, I created a post that showed what she ate for an entire week.   It was my hope that my post would help another mom/dad to get ideas for feeding their own little one, something that I struggled with for a long time.  Well, Olive is almost 2 years old now (just one more month!), so I thought it might be interesting to do it again.  She eats a lot of the same things she did at 17 months, but there are some differences.  Some things you might want to know:

  1. My husband and I have recently adopted a vegan diet.  That means no meat, no dairy products,  no eggs, and no animal products of any kind.  What does that mean for my daughter?  Pretty much the same.  We took her off whole dairy milk (we were going to stop at 2 years anyway) and switched over to almond milk.  She used to eat eggs a lot, so there is no more of that.  When we decided to go vegan, we still had meat and cheese in the house.  You will see some meat and cheese in some of the meals below - Olive got to help finish it all (my husband and I ate something different), but it's gone now and we won't be buying more.   
  2. Even though I am vegan, I am choosing to still buy yogurt for Olive.  I think yogurt has a ton of good things for her and I don't want to let my choices take away something from her that is so healthy.
  3. She drinks about 10 oz of almond milk in the morning and about 8 oz at night.  We plan on weaning it a little when she turns two, offering it more throughout the day in smaller amounts.  I also let her have water throughout the day when she wants it.
  4. Most days, Olive eats what we eat.  But she is a toddler!  I occasionally make her something different because she doesn't want what I serve her (or I can't because it's too spicy).
  5. This is actually a little more than a week.  There are 8 breakfasts, 9 lunches, and 8 dinners.  So....bonus! :)
  6. If you want to know the recipe to something below, just leave a comment and I'll let you know! :)
Okay then, without further adieu....


blueberry muffin, sliced grapes, cup of veggie/fruit smoothie (homemade)

vegan whole wheat pancakes with pure maple syrup, chunks of colby-jack cheese, applesauce

oatmeal with mixed berries, flax meal & almond milk

yogurt mixed with applesauce & flaxmeal, vegan whole wheat blueberry pancakes

English muffin with natural peanut butter & all-fruit spread, sliced grapes, chunks of colby-jack cheese

banana, potato-onion-bean scramble

yogurt with applesauce & flaxmeal, rye toast with vegan butter, sliced grapes

warm quinoa with chopped bananas and coconut milk


peanut butter & fruit spread sandwich, fresh tropical fruit mix, small cup of almond milk

whole wheat crackers, chunks of colby-jack cheese, hummus

vegan quinoa "burger" and hummus sandwich, clementine wedges

grilled cheese sandwich, black beans, cantaloupe

cous-cous, corn, tomato & white bean salad

watermelon, whole wheat cracker, bean-cucumber-corn salad 
hummus on lavash bread, banana & blueberries

watermelon, peanut butter & fruit spread on pita bread

bean & rice burrito (BRC burrito from El Pollo Loco, minus the cheese), frozen blueberries


crispy chicken bites (last of the meat!), roasted brussels sprouts & carrots, lemony yogurt dipping sauce

sweet potato chunks, broccoli, avo-dilla

veggie burger, sweet potato tater tots

roasted zucchini, frozen peas, slice of cheese pizza

vegan "chicken" patty, frozen banana chunks, fruit/veggie smoothie

roasted broccoli, carrots & cauliflower, homemade spaghetti & cheese

pinto bean soup, baked potato fries, brocolli & cauliflower

vegan quinoa sloppy joe, vegan potato salad (note:  This is my serving - I forgot to take a picture of hers before she started eating.)  

I hope some of these ideas inspire you to create some new meals in your own home.  Happy Eatings! :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Year of Dates: January, February & March

A few months ago, I posted about a gift I gave to my husband for Christmas:  A Year of Dates.  As you might be able to tell, I haven't been that great about posting my monthly date ideas.  Well, no more of that!  I'm going to start posting every month from here on out!  Since I'm a little behind, I'm going to put 3 months into this one post.  (Also, I didn't take any pictures of my first two dates, so I didn't think they would make such a great post.)  So without further adieu...

JANUARY:  Dinner at a Restaurant

I don't have any pictures of this because we were basically the only ones in the restaurant and it felt weird to be taking pictures of us and our food.  Anyways... To save some money, we bought a gift certificate from, which allows you to buy a gift certificate for less than what it's worth.  For example, we spent $15 on a gift certificate that was worth $25 to spend at the restaurant.  It's a pretty cool idea.  Just make sure you read the fine print before you purchase.  Some restaurants only allow you to use the certificate on certain days or on certain items.


We went to an bowling alley that has daily specials.  On Sunday, they have $2 shoe rental plus $2 per game.  Pretty good deal!  Plus, they had cheap drinks and food which made it a really fun and frugal night.

MARCH: Taylor Guitar Factory Tour

Finally, pictures!  We live about 2 hours away from San Diego, where the Taylor Guitar Factory is located.  My husband is a wonderful guitar player and I thought it would be fun to tour a guitar making factory.  Taylor Guitar Factory offers daily FREE tours, which is awesome.  We made a day out of it, eating at a yummy vegetarian restaurant prior to the tour.  On the way home, we took the top off our our Jeep and enjoyed the awesome California weather!  It was a great, cheap, and relaxing day.  If you have any factories in your area, guitar or otherwise, I definitely recommend checking them out.  Who knows, they might even let you tour it for free!

Date Cost: Free (well, we did have to spend gas money to get there)
Time Spent: 1.5 hours
When to go: M-F

Lots of guitars you can take off the wall and play - this was just a small selection, there were a ton more!

Play Away!

Oh yeah, you get to wear a cool pass when you're on the tour.

Guitar necks waiting to find a body.

Wood that's waiting to be turned into a guitar.

Carved out front panels of guitar body.

This was a fun and interesting tour.  Definitely a unique date idea.  We were able to take home some free coasters that were made from the hole in the guitars and my husband got a new baseball cap.  At the very least, my husband and I were able to spend a purely adult day together.  And as much as we love our daughter, we were actually able to find lots of other things to talk about.  Crazy, huh?  :)

I'll be posting our April date soon!  (I've been sick, so we've had to postpone.  Hopefully we can go next weekend!)

Friday, April 13, 2012

One Little Monkey Jumping on the Bed!

We had a dreary, rainy day today.  Not so bad on its own, but I woke up with a nasty cold and was not in the mood for anything.  After a few hours of laying on the floor and reading books here and there, Olive was starting to get on my last nerve get very rambunctious.  Since we couldn't go outside, I made a little bounce house in my living room.  I moved the coffee tables out of the room, grabbed my daughter's crib mattress, threw it on the floor, and lined it with pillows.  Then I resumed my position on the floor - wrapped in a blanket and sipping tea - and let her go at it.

...and go at it she did!

At some point, she decided that the mattress should be flipped over.  She looks like she's in pain, but she's really just being dramatic.  Don't worry, I wouldn't let her give herself a hernia.  :)

I swear, sometimes I think she's secretly practicing to enter the World's Strongest Baby Competition.  She'll walk over with something she clearly should not be carrying while saying, "Heavy!  Heavy!".  

I definitely give this "indoor excess energy activity" 5 Stars!  The best activities are: simple, free, open-ended, and use things you already have on hand.  Mattress jumping definitely fits all those categories!

I hope you all have a fun weekend and maybe let your little monkey jump on the bed!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Toddler Gifts Under $20

My daughter is turning 2 years old in less than two months from now.  I can't believe it!  I've been doing a lot of searching for gift ideas for family and friends (so we don't end up with Super Annoying and Loud Plastic Electric Guitar 3000!).  A frugal person myself, I don't like seeing others spend more than necessary, so I thought I'd share some great toddler gift ideas that are $20 or less.  

I just ordered this for my daughter today.  I came across these awesome little magazines while shopping at my local Depot for Creative Reuse.  I bought 6 used copies of the magazine (from 2004) for $0.25 each!  I didn't realize until I got home that they are actually a subscription magazine!  They have colors, shapes, vocabulary, counting, and nature-centered stories inside and they are wonderful.

 Finger Puppets from Ikea - $4.99 for pack of 10.  
Honestly, Ikea has a TON of awesome toddler/kid things that are under $20 - check out their website for more fun things!  I bought the people finger puppets awhile back for Olive.  I recently saw they were carrying the animal puppets and I had to scoop them up!  We keep them all in a container in her toy area and use them daily.  They are great for inspiring imagination in little ones and are just so darn cute!  And yes, they fit on adult fingers, too.
Okay, I could be here all day listing fun things I've purchased from Ikea - this is the last one, I promise!  Sturdy, cheap, looks like a delicious slice of watermelon.  Need I say more?
Magic Towels - $1.00 each.  
If you don't know, magic towels are washcloths that have been compressed into a tiny little square, circle or other shape.  When you put them in water, they expand to normal washcloth size.  I remember getting these as a kid and LOVED them!  It was always so fun to be surprised by the picture on the washcloth (which is usually some kind of bright cartoon).  I have found this recently for $1 at stores like The Dollar Tree and the 99cent Store.  For that price, you could buy 20 of them and make some kid's day!

Book & Animal Combo from The Dollar Tree - $2.00-$7.00.  
It can be The Dollar Tree, The Dollar Store, The 99Cent Store - any store that sells things for $1.00 and under.  Check out their children's book section and the toy section to find a book and toys that go together.  For example, I purchased all of the items below from The Dollar Tree, for a total of $6.00.  All of the animals appear in the book.  You might not have these specific ones at your local dollar shop, but I'm sure you can find some kind of book/toy match!

Any of the wonderful Putumayo CDs - Average of about $13.00.  
Putumayo are compilation CDs that work with many different artists and span a wide range of cultures.  There are dozens of the CDs that are labeled as "Putumayo Presents: Kids", but honestly, I love listening to them as an adult.  They truly do provide music that the whole family can enjoy!  (Listen to a sample on Amazon or iTunes!)

Puzzles - The one below is $12.95 and can be found at Discount School Supply.  
You can find countless puzzles out there for under $20 and some that are really educational, too.  Discount School Supply has a number of great wooden puzzles as do Melissa and Doug.  Personally, I prefer wooden puzzles because they have a sort of nostalgic feel and they are much sturdier than cardboard puzzle pieces.  

Do you have any favorite toddler gift ideas under $20 that we could add to the list?