Monday, May 25, 2015

A Safe Sleep giveaway

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to attend the La Leche League Conference. The keynote speaker spoke about the Safe Sleep 7. Having coslept with my babies (and sick of horror stories from those who coslept in an unintentionally unsafe manner) I am pumped to know that there is some concrete guidance for new parents.

The Safe Sleep Seven is followed:

"If a mother is:
1. A non-smoker
2. Sober
3. Breastfeeding
And her baby is:
4. Healthy
5. On his back
6. Lightly dressed and unswaddled
And they:
7. share a safe surface"

(From La Leche League's "Sweet Sleep" book :

Yep, that's right fearmongers, you can sleep with your baby without increasing the SIDS risk. Take that Milwaukee! 

We have all heard stories of fatigued parents feeding their babies in an unsafe location only to fall asleep and suffocate the small one. At the conference they suggested that every parent make/know how to make their bed a safe sleeping space for their baby so they would know where to turn in times of exhaustion without feeling they have to try to force themselves to stay awake only to find out they have succumbed.

I know cosleeping is not everybody's cup of tea, but it does make sense to have the option as a back up and know how to do so safely.

Even many parents who cosleep choose to set up a crib, at least with their first baby as it is hard to predict how sleep will look.

Luckily I was able to get most of my first baby's nursery furniture free as hand me downs, including the crib mattress. I know that a lot of people think used mattresses are icky, but I felt it frugal and environmentally smart. If you, like I, go for a used mattress I would recommend getting a mattress protector to keep whatever hidden funk may be in the mattress away from your babe. If you, unlike I, buy a new mattress cover, I would recommend getting a mattress protector to protect the mattress from whatever funk seeps out of baby's diaper (and maybe minimize that horrible offgassing  that occurs with any new toxic brick you purchase).

Nowadays you can even complete a baby register on Amazon. If you are doing so may I recommend the Tiny Wonders Organic Baby Crib Mattress Protector. It is made with a bamboo cover and a waterproof core and has a zip tight seal to protect baby against allergens and dust mites and the mattress against liquids and the accompanying stains.

Best of all you can wash it easily and even tumble dry on low heat. I recommend buying two as I find messes come in multiples with little ones and I seriously had a good five. It seems excessive until your household comes down with a stomach bug. That is when the tumble dry low comes in handy. The lightweight material really cuts down on the dry time too.

So go ahead and throw a few on your wishlist. Enter this giveaway and you will be all set for next winter's onslaught of stomach flu. ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did you/will you cosleep? Why/why not?

Any tips for sleep those first precious days/months/years?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hooray Hoorag

After a long evening of intense conversations I commissioned The Ogre to assist in my review of the beloved Hoo-rag.
I I love the Hoo-rag but honestly I wear it as a head band every time, and I was not in the mood for photos. 
So The Ogre agreed to try a few styles out for me. I love this guy. 
The Hoo-rag is available in dozens of patterns. I  Like this pattern aesthetically and  think it makes a great yoga head band
 What's nice is that the Hoo-rag doesn't have a seam to muck up your look. 
I have an extra one to give away. 
Please leave a comment telling me how you would wear your Hoo-rag and why I should give it to you. 
Of course YOU can go ahead and buy your own in the style of your choice HERE:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dates can be fun AND FREE!

I will be the first to admit it. My husband and I? We are cheap!
We love having a good time but this work a little, have fun a lot lifestyle doesn't leave us with much of an entertainment budget.

And the extra money I do have tends to be blown on restaurants with the fam. 

I want dates to be special with The Ogre, so I have to do a bit of sleuthing.
If a date opportunity suddenly presents itself my first step is to check the best Twin Cities frugal events blog, PhenoMNal. We have found out about so many great restaurant deals on that blog. A couple recent dates spawned from quick searches on PhenoMNal included comedic improv with a focus on democracy at the Hamline Library and "I am Kindness" an art show at Chambers where beautiful pieces of art were bid on with good deeds instead of money.

We are also frequenters of live theater, our favorite being Pillsbury House Theater. Their shows are Pay-What-You-Can and most tours include a show or two with free licensed child care and/or a post show discussion. Their shows always get you thinking, AND talking! The Gospel of Lovingkindness opens May 29th and we plan to go early in June, let us know if you are interested in accompanying!

Last Saturday I surprise The Ogre with a low key date day. We started off the day by bringing the kids to their final gymnastics class then The Ogre dropped me off at a baby shower for my cousin's wife. While I attended the shower he brought the kids to my in-laws for the afternoon.
After he picked me back up I led him back to St. Paul and the Culver's parking lot. For lunch? No! To give blood! 
We gave blood together a few months ago and it felt good taking the time out of our busy schedules to do something for others. I thought at the time I would get some girlfriends together to make a routine of it but never had so when I heard the bus would be stopping at a nearby Culver's on the afternoon of our date I had to pencil it in. 
I almost was too low on iron, but that third time was a charm, and good thing it was, because afterwards we both received a pint of ice cream as a thank you for our "gift." 
Only complaint I had was that the mint ice cream was green. Unnecessary food dye alert!! Consider yourself warned! Still though, that ice cream is totally gone by now.
After returning to our house and doing some much needed yard and house work (teeny tiny dent) I told The Ogre to dress up because we had more plans. Over to the James J. Hill house we traveled for Yelp's Mystery Masquerade. 
If you looked though your peep hole and saw this, would you open the door?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am new to the Yelping thing, but consider me a convert. I had read about these invitation only parties on PhenoMNal before, but it really was an almost too good to be true event. 
Most of the Yelpers knew this and came REALLY dressed up with fancy masks they had purchased for the event. The Ogre and I, new to the game, made our masks at a booth they had supplied with craft material for such slackers as us. We enjoyed the craft though and The Ogre's mask was so creepy he was stopped a few times for photo opps. We must've looked like we knew what we were doing because a couple fellow Yelpers thought we worked there. 
There was a scavenger hunt that led us on an intimate journey through the James J. Hill House and earned us a prize bag, a table with Yelp swag (flasks, stainless steel water bottles), free tarot readings I didn't notice until too late, a photo booth, and food bountiful food, drink glorious drink.
My faves included steak salad from Cafe Bonxai, my first taste of Cambodian Food from Cheng Heng (anyone want to check it out with me?), the Craftmade thai lime toffee The Ogre convinced me to sample, and for drinks the Bittercube booth (delicious and non glutenous unlike all the beer booths!)
The Ogre was pleased with my date planning and I will definitely be keeping my Yelping up.
What do you like to do for a fun, affordable date with your sweetie?*
I can't get enough of this creepy mask

*Adopting the term "sweetie" now that I realized it isn't just cute, it is non-gender specific!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Want to peek inside my closets?

Check out this video on how we used some extra space to create A little retreat area for Boo to sit in and read books when he need to calm down and reset. I used The Ogre as a model to show how the space is used. Check out my latest YouTube video to see how we added some micro LEDs that I received free in exchange for a review. I really like them. They add a bit of whimsy and Boo likes that that they look a line of stars. They come in a two pack and are strung on wire whch you can bend in whatever shape you wish and it will basically stay. I am thinking of bending the other into a "Big Dipper" or other constellation to satisfy the little astronaut. 

One thing I love about these lights is that they have that LED brightness but they are so small that they don't hurt your eyes if you accidentally (or intentionally, you freak!) look right at them. They are a little tough for kids hands to click on and off but easy enough for adults. So go ahead, take a look at the video, if nothing else at least you'll get to see inside of two of my closets. Because everybody, whether or not they want to admit it, loves looking inside people's closets.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Two baby product reviews: one fun, one practical

One of my favorite bits of advice during my first pregnancy had to do with how to make nights easier with a little one. I was given the advice to put several layers on your baby's crib mattress (put a mattress cover or pad and cover it with a sheet and then repeat that a couple times to. This way your mattress would be covered in this pattern: mattress cover, sheet, mattress cover, sheet, mattress cover, sheet). Then, when Baby wets through their diaper (happens more than one would wish when you choose to cloth diaper) you would only have to take off one sheet and mattress cover combo layer and underneath will be another set all clean and ready to go. 

The truth is I never had a chance to use this tip. With my first child I was cosleeping pretty much from the beginning and with my second child I didn't even bother setting up a crib. I still think it makes a lot of sense though, for those families who chose to crib their kids. The same technique could essentially be done in a toddler bed or even in the bed of a child in the midst of potty training. Anything to make life easier after having a little one. 

I am attending a baby shower this weekend and so was happy to receive a mattress cover to review for free.The Bamboo Crib Mattress Protector by Swaddlez  arrived just in time for my lucky cousin. I love that it is made out of bamboo (renewable!) and upon close examination I could see that the weave and stitch were of high quality. The corners are fitted and not plastic. I have had plastic edged mattress covers before and they don't stand the dryer. Trust me, new parents do not need to be worrying about washing instructions! 

Just a mattress pad would be a boring gift though. Practical, necessary, thoughtful, but boring. That brings me to my second review: the fun gift! Years back I found this instructional for a simple bandana style drool bib. I thought I could whip a few up but I never made the time. I was thrilled when I came across this multipack of super cute, bold patterned bandana bibs. I was even more thrilled when they arrived and I could see the great craftsmanship close up. The patterned fabric is sturdy and of high quality. The back of the bibs are super soft, soft enough to wear against skin. These would make a perfect photo opp with a pair of Levi's and no shirt. You could throw in a stem of grass in the pucker just for laughs. 


Babies teeth at different times and come in different sizes to begin with. Luckily, the bandana bibs are adjustable and can be snapped on in three different sizes, I'll call them small drooler, medium drooler, and big ol' meaty drooler.


They come in a four pack, which I love, because this way I can buy them to keep in stock for the baby showers I'm invited to or when a friend has a new little one. I'll just pick the right one out for the new mom's tastes and tuck it in the gift as a fun extra. It could really brighten up a boring baby gift of nipple cream and burp cloths! 

How about you? What was one of the best tips you received when you were expecting? 
Or what is YOUR best tip to give a new mom?
Any stand bys you fall back on when it comes to baby showers? 
Have you ever had experiences where you plan to make something then just decide to buy it instead?

Don't look so nervous cat, I SWEAR it's a gift!
**I received product for free in exchange for my honest review!**

My face was licked by a devil's tongue

Today I received a sponge in the mail. Now before you get all silly and Seinfeld on me let me  clarify. I'm talking about a sponge to wash my face with. 

You've probably been hearing a lot about the konjac sponge. It has been blowing up as the most recent beauty "must have." I read about it before in a magazine but didn't exactly understand the draw so I decided to try it myself. 

The sponge comes in a hard form much like a kitchen sponge or natural sponge would be before the first time you use it. It was really rough and I was worried it would be too harsh for my skin but after I soaked it in the sink like the directions suggested it became really soft. The resulting texture reminded me of after I bake my gluten free bread and I have a bit of xanthan gum powder on my hands when I wash them:  that smooth, almost slimey feeling, but it doesn't linger on your hands like the hitchhiking xanthan gum tends to. 

Washing my face with the sponge felt refreshing. It wasn't harsh on my skin, just a mild exfoliation, the type mild enough to do daily. As The Ogre knows, I love me some exfoliation.

Curious what "konjac" is? I was too, so I looked it up. Konjac, also known as "Devil's Tongue" is a tuberous vegetable common in Japanese cooking. Interestingly, is is also used as a gelatin substitute which explains the gummy gelatinous (xanthan gummish) feeling it created on my hands. According to an Allure article I read the sponge will only last a month. It isn't really antibacterial and so will need to be tossed. I'm not sure that I believe that. I want to figure out a way to clean it. Elsewhere on the web I saw statements to replace after 2-3 months, refridgeration suggested to extend life expectancy of the sponge, and boiling  (or microwaving) for a deep sterilization. Best yet,when the sponge ultimately does bite the dust (all good things must come to an end) it is fine to throw in with  your compost.

How about you, have you ever used to konjac sponge? Did you figure out a way to clean it?

One other note although I did purchase the sponge on Amazon I noticed that it is 25% cheaper on abesmarket . I love Abe's Market, especially their try me for $2 selections that change everyday (seriously you need to sign up for the daily alerts for these. Often full sized organic/often allergen free for just two bucks! No shipping)
Disclosures: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review. Please use my link on Abe's as I may receive a small commission from this honestly great website.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Matcha review

I read, on the Mother Nature Network, an article that highlighted seven science based ways to look younger/undo the effects of aging. Among sleep, flossing and meditation was consuming green tea. 
Green tea? I admit I am not the hugest fan. At least not of drinking straight green tea.
But matcha, powdered matcha?

When I was a newlywed I embraced my foodiness with a subscription to Bon Appetite. I  would drop hundreds in a single trip to the grocery store for the ingredients for a few meals containing rare cheeses and out of season vegetables with prime cuts of meat. I  cut out a third of the recipes, categorized them in a giant binder alphabetized under their main ingredient, and mainly forgot about them.

Occasionally I would flip through the binder for (expensive) inspiration. (Nowadays, My food expenditure for the four of us is roughly one hundred dollars per month not including eating out). For some reason I was always drawn to my clipping of the Green Tea Panna Cotta. The smooth,shining strangeness of the pale green construct contrasting against the bold though simple randomly strewn strawberries.

That recipe appeared nearly ten years ago and I have yet to make it.  In fact I don't even have the clipping anymore as I vowed to recycle those recipes I didn't use within a year as part of a decluttering/destuffifying streak .
Inside the bag
But now I have the product my grocery store didn't carry all those years. The matcha! My urban grocery store still doesn't carry the powder, but you can order a fresh smelling batch online.
The trouble with just getting the Matcha now is my lifestyle change. I CANNOT go buy the half and half and the gelatin, unless I find a super deal. I had half and half but used it up in coffee for guests. I had gelatin but used it up when I was out of xanthan gum for my homemade gluten free bread (NOT THE SAME THING).

I am still working through the bag of Matcha so hopefully at least the gelatin will hit a rock bottom price soon. I can always sub out whole milk for the half and half, but for the gelatin?

Ingredients:Just this and the bread
But I always seem to have bread in the house. I stock up on the gluten free ingredients, purchasing in bulk so I can keep a fresh loaf on hand. And I have a family that loves their breakfast, so when I came across a recipe for Matcha French Toast I whipped up a batch.

Banana based french toast!
Bananas can whip up rather well
It was yummy and I really liked that it used bananas in it instead of the eggs. Not that I have anything against eggs but we go through them so quickly that it's nice to have an alternative. 

The only thing I would say is not to give the matcha to your kid. I kind of figured this out because green tea is supposed to have a lot of caffeine in it but I didn't mention it to The Ogre when I put the leftovers in the fridge. Several hours after Boo was supposed to be asleep and he was still bouncing off the walls we finally put it together that The Ogre had accidentally given him the matcha tainted french toast. Everything ended up fine I just wouldn't do it again ;)
Happily munching away
**I received product for free in exchange for my unbiased review**