Author: Kristy

Crockpot Pizza Stuff

Crockpot Pizza Stuff

I love pizza. But you know, gluten and carbs and stuff. Fathead pizza is a great substitute and it’s not like it’s super time consuming, but sometimes I want the comfort food with minimal work.

Queue the Crockpot! What a wonderful invention.

Ingredients:

1 onion

2 orange bell peppers

1 poblano pepper

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

Garlic

Basil

Oregano

3 chopped yellow squash

1 pound Italian sausage

Mozzarella

Parsley

Red pepper flakes

Directions:

1. Cook sausage and set aside. Chop and dice all the vegetables and combine onion, peppers, tomatoes and tomato paste, and squash in crockpot. Cook on high for about 2 hours.

2. Add garlic, oregano, basil and parsley. Stir in cooked sausage. Sprinkle with mozzarella and stir in. Top with more mozzarella. Crack the lid to vent steam and cook 1-2 more hours.

3. Serve with red pepper flakes and parmesan.

Luxurious Body Oil

Luxurious Body Oil

Okay, so I don’t really do makeup much. I’m not well-versed in the cosmetics and beauty scene. However, I do like herbs and I like making my own stuff, so sometimes I make my own skincare products.

This can be used as a general facial cleanser with cotton pads. It can also be used as a natural makeup remover.

When I wipe my face with cotton pads after applying, it’s amazing to see how mich comes off on the pad. I don’t know how everyone else’s skin works, but if I have something like a pimple on my face and use this stuff for a day or two it clears right up.

Ingredients:

A carrier oil (olive oil or coconut oil are great)–I really prefer coconut oil because I like the solid set at the end for easy application.

Dry herbs or essential oils: I like calendula, rose petals, chamomile, lavender, and jasmine flowers. Some other great additions include clove, thyme, sage, rosemary, and peppermint.

A way to slow-heat your oil. I use a  double boil technique with a glass bowl on the stove.

Cheesecloth

A small mason jar

Directions:

1. Select your oil and dry herbs. I like using ingredients that are well known for their anti-inflammatory properties, as well as cleansing and nourishing.

2. In a glass bowl, combine oil and dry herbs. Place inside a small pot or pan with about an inch of water. The water should not be touching the bowl.

3. Heat until water boils. Allow herbs to infuse for as long as you can possibly wait (mine is usually 1-2 hours, simply because I’m not patient). Make sure the pot always has water.

4. Remove glass bowl from pot. Remove from heat. Using your cheesecloth, strain the herbs out of the oil into your mason jar.

5. Add some essential oils if you like. Make sure to do this after the oil is off the heat, since essential oils are volatile.

6. Enjoy your new, luxurious oil!

 

Quick Keto Avocado Dip

Quick Keto Avocado Dip

If you’re looking for snack ideas for a low carb diet sometimes it can feel like quick and easy options are limited. One of the go-to snacks in our house is pork rinds, but let’s be honest, that gets so incredibly boring. I always get burnt out on pork skins pretty quickly.

That’s where the dip comes in: having a wonderful, creamy dip really ups the ante. This flavorful concoction contains both avocado and sour cream, packing quite the punch in terms of fat content. This amount is for 2-4 people, but can easily be multiplied for larger groups.

Ingredients:

1 avocado

1 tbsp lime juice

1/2 cup sour cream

Spices: I used 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne , 1/4 tsp oregano, a pinch of salt, a dash of black pepper, and a dash of cumin.

Directions:

1. In a small bowl mash avocado and lime juice with a fork.

2. Add spices and mix.

3. Add sour cream and mix until well combined.

 

See? Quick and easy!

Top Ten Baby Shower Gifts

Top Ten Baby Shower Gifts

We are just emerging from baby territory into young kids and it wasn’t long ago that we were having gifts showered upon us in preparation for an entire new phase of our lives.

Karissa is officially a kid and Madi, sadly, is no longer a baby in many ways. It’s a very bittersweet thing. But because we are fresh out of baby phase, I definitely still know what my favorite baby products are.

Disclosure: some of the supplies linked are affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you use this link to make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

1. Diapers

This is the practical parent in me speaking! Unless someone is doing EC, they’re going to need a ton of diapers. Why not give them a bit of a head start! We were given many, many different varieties and sizes of diapers at our baby showers for Karissa, and we didn’t have any left over. My favorites at the time were the Honest Company, they seemed comfortable enough, baby friendly, lots of cute prints/patterns, and most importantly (in my opinion), they didn’t leak like a lot of the other natural brands did. Since our kids are older now, I’ve actually changed to cheaper diapers, HEB store brand or Pampers depending on where we’re shopping.

2. Animal Pacifiers

I’ve written in depth about my experience with losing my breastmilk when Karissa was young. Because of this, she used a pacifier as a soothing mechanism frequently for a few months while we adjusted to the situation. I was bound and determined not to use pacifiers in our lives, but let’s be honest, sometimes life doesn’t care about our plans.

It only seemed natural to make sure that Madilyn had a pacifier that she liked, just in case. We settled on this cute moose pacifier  pretty quickly, and she loved it! Neither of my kids used pacifiers for long, maybe 2-4 months, but Madi still carried it around as a dear toy and chewing device for a long time. Worth every cent.

3. Books

We have a million books in our house. We have so many, in fact, that recently I made some cardboard bookshelves to try and keep them from being thrown across the floor every day. Which didn’t work, by the way–now the kids just take pleasure in removing them from the shelves to peruse and then toss on the floor. Argh.

Anyway, books are a great way to get a child interested in learning! I try really hard to read to the girls every day, and when I’m just not feeling it thankfully their dad steps in and handles things.

Some of our family favorites include: Little Yellow Bee, the GruffaloBlue Hat Green Hat, Dinosaur Dance (most Sandra Boynton), Hand Hand Fingers Thumb, Mr. Paint Pig, Karen Katz lift the flaps, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie

4. Baby Carrier/Sling

Hands down the number one most used item in my day to day life every day for the last (almost) three years is a ring sling. A family member gifted me a wonderful Maya wrap for Karissa’s baby shower and I was instantly in love. I actually ended up buying a second one, a lightweight summer sling, and a water sling.

Matt and I both tried many varieties of carriers and the ring sling is what we were both most comfortable with. The learning curve is so-so, but once you figure out how to comfortably sit baby in one it’s so fast and easy. I personally couldn’t do any of the front carriers well and I had a Moby wrap that I genuinely tried to get the hang of, but the way she sat in it always felt unstable for me. User error, surely. A big plus to the ring sling for me was that the kid sits on one side/hip, so my dominant hand and other side remained largely free. Usually it’s helpful for doing whatever work I’m trying to do or carry the other kid.

5. Multipurpose Healing Balm/Diaper Ointment

We use Kuumba Made salve for EVERYTHING. Any cut, rash, itch, or skin problem at all gets this salve slathered all over it. It’s just wonderful to not have to worry about having multiple tubes of stuff for different purposes when one great concoction will do the trick.

6. The Nosefrida

The Nosefrida is the modern parent’s solution to the uncomfortable problem of snot and congestion. This wonderful device replaces a traditional bulb syringe and is, in my opinion, easier to use and easier to clean.

7. Toys: Manhattan Toys, blocks, musical Caterpillar

This ridiculous caterpillar lived in our house until the batteries finally died, and then for a year after that, that’s how popular he was. As babies the girls both just loved the little mirror and the tune he played, and frequently it was the only thing that would calm them down when upset.

Some other wonderful toys for young ones include almost anything from Manhattan toys: we had the winkel rattle, classic baby beads, skwish classic rattle, and bababall. The bababall is still very popular with everyone for throwing because mom doesn’t get mad if soft toys are thrown in the house. These blocks are also still very popular. Blocks are really great. We used Megabloks for a while but swapped them out for Duplos now because I really like the size and options better.

Now that the kids are older, this LeapFrog music player, dubbed “the green thing”, is the most popular toy around. Someone gave this to Karissa when she was really young and soon after Madilyn was able, they began to fight over it. We actually bought a second one, which I kid you not to my horror perished in an open cup of water about two weeks after we bought it. We finally replaced the one that we lost with a pink one, which is now the “pink green thing”. The original one, now nearly 3 years old, is on it’s last legs, so I am both amused and embarrassed to admit that serious talks have begun on whether or not to buy another “pink green thing” to replace the original. I am probably making a mistake in revealing the most popular toy in our house, because we seem to heavily rely on Amazon’s stock of these and may rely on it until our kids turn 18 and move out of the house.

 

8. O Ball

My aunt gave us the O Ball  when Karisssa was 3 months old and uh honestly, I wasn’t all that excited. I mean, I got the concept of it, but it seemed really lackluster. So very, very wrong. This wonderful contraption mounts onto strollers, carseats, rockers, and probably bouncers (don’t know, never tried one) and so many things can be attached to it! This was a wonderful distraction for a year or so for Karissa, and then about 3 months for Madi because her sister would come over and take the toys that were hanging away from her.

This pairs wonderfully with the musical caterpillar from earlier. There were many, many hours of musical caterpillar hanging on O Ball when Karissa was small.

9. Rocker or bouncer

A lot of hours were also spent, for both of my girls, in a rocker a lot like this one. I can’t find the actual one that we used, I guess the latest and greatest model has replaced it. Any time I needed my hands free I could put them in here, usually with the O Ball to play with, and feel confident that they were comfortable and secure. Some naps were even taken in here, huzzah!

10. Money

I know, money is such a lame gift, but if you don’t know what they need they will be ever grateful for the donation.

Dinosaur Week!

Dinosaur Week!

Sometimes I like to do themes for the kids for a day, a few days, a week, or whatever. The local zoo has a fun summer thing set up where there are animatronic dinosaurs throughout the place, so I thought that this would be a really fun way to get the girls excited about going to the zoo to see the dinosaurs! If you aren’t near San Antonio, and thus don’t have a zoo or something to take them to see the dinosaurs, you can add a fifth day of dinosaur activities.

Warning: this post is a bit long extreme. I’m going to put a link to some of the recipes instead of inserting the whole recipe so that the length will be a little more reasonable.

Pro tip: my kids are young enough that we can add the word dinosaur to almost anything and make it more exciting, hence the general basis of my naming theme.

Disclosure: some of the supplies linked are affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you use this link to make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Day 1

Recipe: Prehistoric Peanut Butter Cookies

Recipe here.

Activity: Dinosaur Dance Party

My girls play this silly game where they put blankets on their heads and run around saying, “I’m a scary dinosaur!” They also really like to dance and listen to music. I thought, why not try to combine these two things? Plus, thanks to Sandra Boynton, we have a pretty good idea of how dinosaurs like to dance. So throw a blanket on your head and break out your best velociraptor moves!

Day 2

Craft: Dinosaur Sticker Collage

We found these awesome holographic dinosaur stickers at the dollar tree and have some others from Michaels. With the ridiculous amount of stickers I’ve collected, it’s hard to keep track of where they come from. These stickers seem like a lot of fun.

When we do focused crafts like these I like to do them with the kids so they can see my idea of how to do it. They do whatever they want, of course, but it’s fun to do together. First, with a green piece of paper, cut out a basic “ground” shape. You might need to do this for kids, too. On a second piece of paper (orange, yellow, or blue), glue this ground to the bottom. Now the dinosaurs have somewhere to roam!

Next, bust out the markers. We’re going to add some rocks, grass, trees, and a sun–or whatever you want to, that’s just what I’m adding. Landscape complete!

Add dinosaur stickers! Proudly display artwork on wall.

Activity: Dinosaur pool party

On this nice summer afternoon we’re filling up our cheesy eight dollar blow up pool and adding plastic dinosaur toys. Voila! Simple and still on theme.

Day 3

Craft: Dinosaur watercolors

I know, it sounds lame. I’ll be totally honest, too: it’s pretty lame. The kids will be happy, though. For this you’re just going to cut out the most basic dinosaur shape that you can out of construction or printer paper (you can trace, sketch, draw, or print one out if you need to–there are a ton of awesome free printable coloring pages available via a quick google image search).

Looking at Google images for assistance

Once you have your dinosaur, simply hand it to them with some watercolors. They will have a blast painting their own dinosaur. Once done, I like to let them (or do it myself) glue this to a second piece of colored paper and display on the wall once dry.

Recipe: Stone Age Soup

So, here’s the deal with Stone Age Soup…it’s really just a way to get everything that’s been sitting unused in the fridge into edible form. Squash, carrots, onion, frozen veggies, old meat or a scoop of gelatin…What I’m saying is that you probably don’t need to go out and buy ingredients. It’s a mom way of framing something dull into something a little more fun.

Day 4

Activity: Dinosaur Containers

These are what we’ve been using as our portable busy boxes lately due to the current dinosaur obsession. But it turns out every morning before breakfast they want to play with these while I cook. Win!

Recipe: T-Rex Treats

Recipe here.

Day 5

Day 5 must be awesome. It’s what all the days have been leading up to, which is why on day 5, we have zoo day! Alternatively, you can use these awesome endings.

Recipe: Dinosaur Pancakes

Recipe here.

I tried dinosaurs three ways: freehand, using a squirt bottle, and pouring into cookie cutters.

The squirt bottle probably would have been amazing if I used regular pancake batter, but I had some almond flour clump and clog the nozzle.

Cookie cutters worked the best, but the first batch I didn’t remove the cookie cutter quick enough and they got stuck.

Some of these attempts were just plain hilarious:

Strange monster and swirls
Turtle and witch “dinosaurs”

Activity: Paleontological Excavation

This might seem like a bit of work, but it’s really not so bad. Just bear with me.

First, you need to decide where your “dig” is going to happen. If you want to fill a tub with sand or dirt, that’s great. I’m going to pick a little patch of dirt outside because I think my girls will enjoy that a lot, and I’m not using it. Plus, it’s good for them to be in the dirt.

Next, locate some plain rocks that you can draw or paint on. I’m going to be lazy about it and just draw with a white paint marker. I have two kids, so I’m doing about 10 each. Draw some bones on there–the beauty of this is that they can be ugly/imperfect and it’s no big deal.

Bury your dinosaur “bones” in your excavation site. Be sure to spread them out a bit. If you’re doing this outside like us, stick some small sticks around the outside to mark the area and “rope” it off with some string.  Be sure to create separate dig sites for each kid.

Hand them a shovel and let them dig!

T-Rex Treats (low carb chocolate)

T-Rex Treats (low carb chocolate)

These buttery, chocolatey gems were inspired by Dinosaur Week, and they’re unreal! Seriously unlike anything else, the texture of the cashews and the cashew coating combines perfectly with the chocolate and “blood” drizzle. My husband came in afterwards and said, “hey, cool, it looks like meat, bones, and blood!”

These are sure to satisfy any carnivore’s sweet tooth.

Amounts vary depending on your molds. If you don’t have molds for this you can pour in a tray and cut into squares.

Ingredients:

For the Filling:

1/2 cup cashews

1 stick of butter

1/2 cup confectioner’s swerve

10-15 drops of red food dye

For the Chocolate:

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup confectioner’s swerve

1 tbsp heavy whipping cream

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp moringa greens powder (optional)

a tiny amount of emulsifier such as xanthan gum (optional)

For the Drizzle:

20 drops red food dye

1 tbsp cocoa powder

4 tbsp butter

20 drops liquid stevia

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter for the filling in the microwave, about 30 seconds. Add swerve and red food dye.
  2. Stir the cashews into the pinkish red butter mixture. Spoon into molds or scatter in a greased tray.
  3. Melt the coconut oil and butter for the chocolate in the microwave. Add heavy cream and vanilla and whisk with a fork.
  4. Add swerve, cocoa powder, and greens powder and whisk until combined.
  5. Pour over cashew mixture evenly. Place in refrigerator or freezer and allow chocolate to set.
  6. For the red “blood” drizzle, melt butter in microwave, 10-15 seconds. Add red food dye.
  7. Add cocoa powder and liquid stevia.
  8. Remove chocolate from refrigerator once it has set. Remove chocolate from molds/tray. Drizzle red chocolate on top and serve.
Quick Pancake Mix (grain-free)

Quick Pancake Mix (grain-free)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/2 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

1. Whisk ingredients together well with a fork or whisk.

2. Using a container with a pour spout or large spoon, pour onto griddle or nonstick pan. Cook on medium heat until batter becomes bubbly throughout.

3. Flip and cook 1-2 more minutes. Remove from pan.

We usually just top these with butter, but the possibilities are vast–you can use whipped cream, fruit, maple syrup, honey, or cinnamon butter!

Simple Activity Schedule

Simple Activity Schedule

I’m not good at sticking to complicated things. I like to have the freedom to go spend the day out and about without feeling like I need to rush home. Sometimes when we’re at home, though, the kids get restless, and I feel like the day is easier if I have a schedule to fall back on.

This is the activity schedule that we’ve been (loosely) following lately. If they don’t want to do something on the schedule I don’t force them, this is just designed to make the day flow a little easier and make all of us a little happier.

Disclosure: some of the supplies linked are affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you use this link to make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Morning Music

Before I’ve had time to wake up and become less of a grouchypants, we start by singing a few little songs. It puts me in a good mood (usually) and encourages that patient mom part of me. I also think that it helps them with their patience a little bit, too. Plus, I just think that music is a very important skill to encourage.

If I find that I just really don’t have it in me I’ll set out some instruments instead–they have a keyboard and xylophone that they really enjoy.

We sing lots of Little Baby Bum songs and songs from these children’s music CDs that we use as car music.

Breakfast

Next is breakfast, also known around here as morning monster feeding! Karissa will usually start saying that she wants food and little sister mimics this. Half of the time they repeat it enough to drive me crazy, and the other half of the time they must notice that I’m already crazy because they leave it alone. Sometimes I’ll give them something to do at the table while they wait. This usually helps but depending on the activity can also lead to more mess to clean up.

Skill Building 

After food it’s time to clear the table and do some activities that require thinking! This is when we get out the puzzles, do pom pom color sorting, counting exercises, or lacing. Madilyn isn’t super into the puzzles, but I like watching Karissa do them. She will try for a while and then if she can’t get it she will start to get frustrated, but just ask for help.

Outside Time 

I think that it’s important to get a little Vitamin D  every day, preferably without toxic sunscreen involved. Our backyard has a huge shade tree in it, so we don’t have to worry about too much sun when we’re back there. There’s a 95% chance that the kids want to play in water when we go outside, and only about 5% chance that I get out of it.

Snack

Quick, simple snack (hopefully). Lately it’s been leftovers, slices of things like peppers, carrots, cucumbers, cheese or meat.

Nap/Rest

Madi still absolutely NEEDS a nap every day. Her mood this afternoon indicates that she didn’t sleep enough. Karissa likes to skip naps to hang out with dad instead, but can get pretty grouchy in the afternoons if I let her skip. Naps are usually my favorite part of the day, because if both of them are sleepy then I get to nap and snuggle both kids. Mommies need naps, too!

Afternoon Art

After we take a nap, we’re all recharged and ready to go. This is the time for creativity and fun at the table! Sometimes it’s as simple as water painting (I love these Melissa and Doug water pads), practicing using scissors, or stringing beads into a necklace.

Focused Reading

We’re participating in the Half Price Book summer reading program. To be completely honest, this is mostly to motivate mommy and daddy to read to the kids more. They’ve both been showing lots of desire to read, and Karissa is constantly sitting with books in her lap trying to read by herself, reciting the story, or telling a story based on the pictures on the pages. This is very exciting for me, so I really want to help encourage that desire!

Karissa’s (older) current favorites: Go Dog Go, One Fish Two Fish, The Gruffalo, Barnyard Dance, Blue Hat Green Hat

Madilyn’s (younger) current favorites: Hand Hand Fingers Thumb, Little Yellow Bee, Moo Baa La La La, The Belly Button Book, any Karen Katz lift the flap book

My current favorites: Dinosaur Dance, The Gruffalo, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, But Not The Hippopotamus

Dinner

By the time dinner rolls around we’re all ready to sit down and eat together. Usually this is some kind of meat pan fried with vegetables thrown in, sometimes an easy crockpot concoction, or leftovers. Occasionally my husband makes a fantastic brisket that I can whip up veggies for, and usually they last us a week. Of course, after the first two or three days I start to dice it up and throw it in stir frys to make it less briskety.

Tidy Up

After dinner we try to get the kids to help us tidy up, I usually try to clean the kitchen and ask them to pick up toys and books. This is met with mixed success, but is infinitely more successful thanks to a work/reward system that I will be writing about soon.

Bedtime Routine

Baths, toothbrushes, diapers, pajamas, and bed!

By this time I’m thankful for some peace and quiet and ready to finish up what I need to get done and hit the hay myself.

Obviously some of our routines will be different than others, but this simple framework works great for our family.

Prehistoric Peanut Butter Cookies

Prehistoric Peanut Butter Cookies

Karissa is going through a huge dinosaur obsession, and if you ask me that calls for a fun cookie recipe! When I think of dinosaur times, I think mud, rock, brown and earthy and dark. It logically follows that peanut butter and chocolate would fit into this mindset, right? RIGHT?!

Anyway, onto the cookies. They’re great, and only 4 ingredients!

Prehistoric Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips I use Lily's stevia chips
  • 1/2 cup erythritol swerve
  • 1 cup peanut butter sugar free natural
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, combine ingredients until smooth.

  2. Place parchment paper on baking sheet. Roll batter with your hands into balls about 1 inch wide. 

  3. Place balls on parchment paper and mash flat with fork. Bake for about 30 minutes.

  4. Allow to cool and enjoy with a nice glass of almond or cashew milk.

 

 

 

Portable Busy Box

Portable Busy Box

Sometimes you go somewhere, like a restaurant or the doctor’s office, and the kids get bored and restless sitting there. What can you do?

I’ll admit that I have resorted to handing over my phone in some dire circumstances, and although I am never particularly proud of myself for this, I am thankful for the temporary reprieve that it offers.

However, I knew in my bones that there had to be a better way. And then suddenly, after a hankering for turkey lettuce wraps, the solution sat in front of me in the form of an empty lunch meat container.

Just a smallish container and the possibilities became endless.

Supplies:

A small container per child

Art supplies–colored pencils, crayons, markers, stickers, and coloring pages have worked well for me

Small, versatile toys–blocks, figurines, or even a puzzle might be fun

Directions:

Mix and match! I like to change the contents of the containers frequently because I enjoy their surprise when they see what’s inside.

That’s it! Cheap, simple, fun, and effective.