Head on over to Mom to Bed by 8 for a chance to win an iPad 3!
Author Archives: Michelle VanHuss
I’m going to have to take as many pictures as I can before my husband deploys later this year and most likely takes the good camera with him.
I decided to take the camera along on a recent visit to the sprayground and got some great pictures of Kelsey in the fountains and clmbing on the lion statues (which she can now do by herself, oh boy). I managed to snap the shutter right at the exact moment to catch her dumping water over her head which she thinks is hilarious to do. It is second only to pouring the water on me. Just trying to enjoy this part of our lives.
Check out the photo contest at I Heart Faces:
I took a few snapshots of Kelsey playing at a nearby playground with my cellphone a couple weeks ago so when I saw a “yellow” challenge I knew what to put her in and where to go to get some great pictures with a better, not as grainy camera. So glad I did because I got a couple of great shots of her.
It’s weird and great at the same time to watch her climb and go down slides all by herself now. She’s grown so much and now says a couple of not very well pronounced words (car, cracker, shoes, chair, banana, honeydew). I have to admit it is nice when, even though I know she can do it by herself, she’ll reach out for my hand to help her up.
Check out The Paper Mama’s Photo Challenge:
It has been so hot lately and it’s not even technically summer yet. I never thougt I would know any different but Ohio ruined me for summer weather. We’ve been to the sprayground, the pool or playing with the hose in the backyard practically every other day for the past couple of weeks.
I’ve worked out some activities for Kelsey and I for the summer that hopefully won’t be too hard on the old pocketbook. I got a youth membership at the YMCA for Kelsey which lets me take her to the Open Family Gym times and Parent/Child Swim Lessons for no additional cost. Then I got a postcard in the mail for 50% off a program so I signed her for Tumble Tots class for the second half of the summer since she’s been loving the open gym time. In addition, before we decided on Kelsey’s membership, we were given 10-day guest passes so I’ve been trying to stretch those out so I can take Kelsey to the pool until her class starts. So there’s something to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays for now.
I’ll be also be taking her to Growing Together class at Baby Bungalow on Mondays. I skipped this last session because it seemed a little over her head when I took her about 14 months but I could definately see her learning new things and being more confident already so I knew I wanted to go back to it. In the hour class they do a bunch of different activities and the kids get moved along to the next activity but at least I get an idea of the types of activities Kelsey likes and is ready for so I have things to do with her througout the rest of the week.
That leaves the sprayground, playgrounds and other activities that pop up to fill in the rest of the time. I’m hoping Kelsey will come around to touching sand at some point so we can go to the beach but it doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon. Also, we’ll be getting a family membership to Glazer Children’s Museum for those crazy hot days, super rainy days, and need-to-get-out-of-this-house days for the next year.
Well, along with summer comes one of my favorite foods and one of my favorite desserts. Mangoes are out and about and Key Lime Pie is so good. When we went to Key West a couple of years ago we had at least one slice everyday! My wonderful husband had the brilliant idea to make Mango Key Lime Pie. Publix sells a pretty tasty one but it’s, dare I say, too sweet. Thankfully this one came out not as sweet but just as tasty. We used this recipe for the filling and this recipe for the crust. We had enough filling for the large pie plus we filled 4 ready-made mini pie crusts. We didn’t have any whip cream and skipped the garnishes, just plain old pie. (If you’re looking for more inspiration, here’s a link to a bunch of mango recipes.)
Here’s to kicking off the summer!
With spring in the air, and having already missed strawberry picking season (we just couldn’t get our act together to get out and do it), we decided to try to get out to the short blueberry picking season. We started out at Fort Lonesome Farm in Lithia, Florida. It was basically the front and side yard of a home but it looks like a lot of homes in the area take advantage of the land and have a variety of products.
Kelsey had a great time “talking” to the chickens and following them around and then feeling her way around the plants. She wanted to use the shears and kept carrying around the basket. I was happy to let her explore the different textures, shapes and colors.
While there were many more items we would have liked to pick up, we settled on a few, including some things we hadn’t tried before: mulberries, kale, patty pan squash and apple mint.
These little berries were messy but tasty. Tasted like kind of cross between a raspberry and a grape to me. We didn’t end up making anything with them but here is a link for information and recipes in case you want to try them.
About half was turned in to Kale Chips. The rest eventually became Kale and Basil Pesto.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse, dry, remove stems and break kale into pieces. Spread out on baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with spices (we use a Mexican Fiesta blend we found at Whole Foods or black pepper, we try not to add salt to things when we can). Bake for 20 minutes.
Patty Pan Squash:
At the time, we had no idea what this UFO-shaped thing was. The gentleman there told us what it was and told us what he does with it. He said to cut the bulb off and grill the pieces. After a little research, I came across this recipe and made a few changes to suit our taste and to use what we had including the fresh basil and rosemary growing out back.
Buttery Patty Pan Squash with Basil and Rosemary
- 1 patty pan squash, 1/4 inch slices
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- fresh basil and rosemary, chopped
- fresh ground lemon pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep ingredients. Lay slices in a baking pan, drizzle butter over slices, scatter basil and rosemary over slices and crack pepper over it. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
It came out tasting pretty good, kind of a typical “squash-y” taste and texture, if that makes any sense. The fresh herbs gave it a lot of flavor. I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to get another one but it wasn’t bad and I would have it again.
I’ve been having some trouble with insects in my garden and wasn’t trusting the mint so we decided to pick some up while we were here to make another batch of Mint Simple Syrup for iced coffee. Boil 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar and a bunch of mint leaves. Once the liquid is clear, take it off the heat and let it sit the rest of the day. You might want to give it a taste test over now and then to make sure it doesn’t get too strong.
There was some mint still left so I decided to chop it up and freeze it in ice cubes. It might be good with some handmade sweet tea!
After Kelsey followed the chickens around again, we headed out to find some blueberries. It was getting towards the end of blueberry season and not every where was still open for u-picking. Basically we just needed to decide to make a right or left from Fort Lonesome Farm and keep our eyes peeled for a place. We found one which was, again, basically a backyard. Will and I were chitchatting the whole time, which wasn’t very long, and when we got to where we were going, I got out and opened Kelsey’s door only to find she was passed out asleep.
Will and I traded off blueberry picking and waiting by the car so Kelsey could sleep. I had a nice conversation with the man that owned the farm and we talked about a whole different bunch of things. Finally, it was my turn to go picking. You know, I could have stayed out there picking for an hour! You get in to a groove with looking for and picking the blueberries and can just kind of zone out and think or not think, which ever ends up happening.
We ended up with about half a bucket full for about $10 which came out to just over 8 cups worth. Of course, that’s not including the couple here and there that I popped right in my mouth! Check me out in the bucket holding rig – for stylish, hand-free blueberry picking.
We ended up doing a couple things with the berries. Some went in to shakes and oatmeal. We made some delicious Blueberry and Banana Muffins (had some really ripe bananas I wanted to use up) and Will made a delicious Blueberry Cheesecake. Both recipes were adapted from cookbooks we had at home. I wish I would have taken more pictures, but it was so good that it didn’t last long!
Blueberry and Banana Muffins (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 beaten egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- 3/4 cup mashed banana
- 3/4 cup fres or frozen blueberries
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Grease muffin cups, don’t line. In medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry mixture. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mix. Add mashed bananas and lemon juice. Stir until moist, batter should be lumpy. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake in a 400 degree oven fo 20 minutes or until golden. Cool in muffin cups; serve warm.
It was great having some different fresh fruits and veggies around the house for a bit. Always makes me feel a little healthier, even if they end up as desserts. Looking forward to the next new food.
It may only be the “unofficial” start of summer but it’s already been summer for at least a month here in Tampa. Letting Kelsey play in the kiddie pool I noticed the basil was trying to bloom. Again. It was getting too tall and has been trying to bloom every couple of days, it was time to cut it back. I just hope I didn’t kill it by taking too much off.
Once again, I found myself trying to think what I could do with something in an effort to not throw it out. Pesto it was. I then remembered that there was some kale still in the fridge from our u-picking adventure a little while back. After a quick search, I found a couple of recipes for Kale and Basil Pesto. I used this recipe as my starting off point and used what we had on hand.
2 cups basil
2.5 cups kale
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts (can use walnuts)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (we were out of minced and fresh so powdered it was)
fresh ground lemon pepper and salt
- Hand shred and rinse basil and kale. Chop in food processor. Slowly add about 1/2 cup of olive oil.
- Add pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to process until well blended.
- A tip from a basil pesto recipe: 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Ramano cheese–add this only if you are serving immediately
It is sitting in the fridge for now. Hmm, what to have it with? Some tri-colored pasta, spaghetti, chicken, pork? We’ll just have to wait and see!
It has been fun having our little garden. I can sometimes get Kelsey to water the plants and today I was picking the basil leaves and giving them to her to put in the bowl. Then she dumped it all out. Well, she is just 16 months old. Looking forward to her being more involved as she gets older.
Event dates: July 1 to July 15.
Details: This is a free blogger event, open worldwide and blog accepting sign ups now.
- If you do not wish to post the announcement, send the $5 via paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org with your email address and BeeSavy Event in subject line or notes portion of the form.
- Once you have posted your announcement or sent the paypal payment, fill out this form.
- You will receive an email from me with 7 days, confirming your participation. If you do not, please email me at email@example.com and I will check into it for you.
- Then around June 28th you will receive another email from me with the html code for publishing the giveaway. Note it is required that you publish the giveaway html in full to be included in this event. I will verify links on July 1st around 8am central and if you have not done so, your link on the rafflecopter will be removed. This keeps this event fair for all who joins.
Referral prize: The top referrer will receive $50 paypal or Amazon credit for your effort. Then the top 2 runners-up will receive $10 paypal or Amazon credit Just make sure to add-on your announcement that they should add your blog name or url in the referred by section on the sign up form. This bonus will be paid the on June 2nd after your referral links have been verified.
Part of staying at home right now means tightening the belt where finances are concerned. Between my husband and I there are 3 sets of parents, 4 siblings and 8 nieces and nephews. Then there is the two of us and our daughter and everyone has birthdays on top of the gift giving holidays throughout the year.
Whenever I possibly can, I try to find the best deals to stretch our gift giving dollars. One way is to take advantage of coupon codes and websites that provide lists of them to all my favorite stores. I was recently asked to review CouponChief.com and went for a look at what I could find for all the moms for Mother’s Day.
Coupon Chief has the largest source of online coupons and store discounts for apparel, electronics, travel, entertainment and more!
- Find coupons for 1000’s of retailers.
- Search for coupons and browse by product category.
- All coupons are valid and rated by community.
- Rate coupons and leave comments.
- Set coupon alerts and view your browsing history.
- Share coupons with friends and relatives via email.
- Submit coupons and earn some cash.
- CouponChief demo video.
I love photo gifts, especially for the grandmas, and found codes for Shutterfly, Snapfish and Tiny Prints. Sites like Wine.com would be perfect for my mother-in-law, Bath & Body Works for my Mom and Kohl’s for my stepmom. I like that this is also a great way to discover sites that you may have missed like Coffee of Hawaii.
I’m already looking ahead to my next anniversary. I always get my husband a “traditional” wedding anniversary gift, like a cast iron skillet for our sixth anniversary. Could a wool scarf be in his future for next year? I doubt we’ll live in Florida forever. These from Scarves.com could be as low as $12.75 with a current coupon code.
They also reward you for submitting coupon codes with their Pays-2-Share Program. Every time someone uses a coupon you’ve uploaded, Coupon Chief will give you 2% of the sales via check or PayPal! This is something I am definitely going to try to start doing.
They also have Coupons-4-Causes where you can help support your favorite cause every time you shop. Just use their coupons for your online shopping, and they’ll donate up to 20% of the purchase to your favorite charity, school, or church.
Coupon Chief is worth a look next time you’re shopping online and could be a great fundraising or extra income opportunity.
**This review was sponsored by CouponChief.com but the thoughts and opinions are my own.**
This is kind of out of left field. I have a to do list 3/4 of a page long but here I sit watching another episode of The Little Couple while enjoying a little evening snack. There seems to be a lot of talk about alternate ways to become parents right now.
Guiliana and Bill seem to be good people but are having such a run of bad luck with their attempts at IVF and then finding out she had breast cancer. The Little Couple, Bill and Jen, are great but can’t seem to catch a break either. I also have friends that wouldn’t be parents if science hadn’t given them another option.
After two years of trying for Kelsey we basically figured out that my body had some issues that it needed to resolve and I just needed to get a little healthier. Once I got that under control it became a matter of timing and, bam, Kelsey. I’m hoping it is the same for #2 and I’m already about 25 pounds lighter than when we conceived Kelsey.
It is just frustrating that a 15 year old is probably getting knocked up in the back seat of a car somewhere right now while couples that want a child so badly have to go through flaming hoops (and boat loads of money I imagine) to make it a possibility.
It got me thinking about the woman who become surrogates and that they must be angels on earth. I’m choosing to be optimistic that Baby Mama is not the norm of the surrogacy world. I considered that maybe once I have the children I want, why not rent out the parts to help someone else out? Then I remembered that I’d have to give birth…hm…yeah, I don’t know if I’m willing to go through that without the prize at the bottom of the box. Also, after looking at a couple of websites, I don’t think I would qualify.
I think that makes it even more extraordinary in my opinion.
I recently tried my hand at taking some baby pictures for a friend. I think I did alright but definately have room for improvement. Good thing I’ll probably get another chance in a little while to try out some other ideas.
While we had things set up, I took the opportunity to snap a few of my little muse. Here is one I thought fit the “happiness” theme of the I Heart Faces Photo Challenge for April. She’s just such a happy little girl. In this photo I was asking her where her head was. She’s always so proud of herself.