Easy Homemade Paleo Mayonnaise

EasyPaleoMayoI have had hankering for my most favorite Crisp Chicken Salad recipe that I saw on daytime ABC show, The Chew. So crisp, so delicious, and I love to roll it up in some lettuce leaves and chow down (will post a recipe to this on another day).  Now, I have been on this quest to eat “clean” and make healthier eating choices to improve my own health and wellbeing.  So I wanted to take this fabulous chicken salad recipe and see how I can make it just a little “cleaner” by not using store-bought mayonnaise that’s full of preservatives.

This version of mayonnaise is a paleo mayo recipe that found a few years back and adapted to my own taste. You can either use an immersion blender, a regular blender, or a food processor (my preference). Just make sure if using a blender or food processor, it has an opening where you can pour in the oil while it’s running.

Also, it is highly recommended that you use a light olive oil and not extra virgin olive oil, as the extra virgin will affect the flavor of your mayo with an overwhelming olive oil flavor. So light olive oil works best for this recipe.

The trick to get this mayo to be the perfect consistency is the SLOW pour of the oil. Use a measuring cup with a spout that you can easily pour in a very thin stream into the bowl of your processor. This ensures that the emulsion process works right and turns into that thick, creamy mayo you know and love.  Pour the oil too fast, and you run the risk of it separating and being more like a runny salad dressing.

Paleo_Mayo_Ingredients

** This recipe does have raw egg in it, so if you are squeamish about raw eggs, this recipe may not be for you.

DIY Decor: Mossy Easter Egg Wreath

Spring Easter Egg Wreath

I don’t have a whole lot of Spring or Easter decor in my house, at least not a lot compared to how much Fall and Christmas stuff I have. So little by little, I’ve been getting and making a few things here and there. This season I wanted to do some kind of wreath using eggs for an Easter theme, and this wreath sort-of came together by accident. This is the story of an almost DIY disaster.

I was wandering the aisles of Hobby Lobby, looking for eggs that I can possibly paint and speckle myself. Then I ran across these little beauties in that were wrapped with a bow in a little egg carton.

More Speckled EggsCute right? I was so happy I found eggs already in the color scheme I was aiming for AND with little brown speckles on them. They’d be perfect for the wreath I had in mind. And I didn’t have to paint them myself! YAY! That celebration was short lived.

speckled eggsSee that cute little egg carton they are placed in? Well, little did I know, those suckers were glued in there, and I mean GLUED in there. So when trying to remove these eggs from the carton, I ended up having to tear as much of the cardboard on the bottom as I can, which was no easy feat. Then that still left these big globs of glue that were really stuck on there. When I tried pulling off the glue, it was taking the color/paint off with it. There was just no taking it off without ruining the whole egg.  Clearly, I bought the wrong eggs at Hobby Lobby, and this wreath is going to be a disaster.

So I had two dozen of these eggs I wanted to use for my wreath project, that had bits of cardboard and glue stuck on the one end which was rather ugly looking. So my next task was to figure out how I can conceal the ugly ends. Enter sheet moss.

grapevine wreath

I was planning all along to use this grapevine wreath I had in my craft stash. My original plan was to glue on the eggs through out, and intersperse little bits of moss in a few spaces. What ended up happening is that I had to use much more of the sheet moss than I originally set out to do. After gluing all the eggs on the grapevine wreath first, I then took pieces of the sheet moss to wrap around the “ugly” bottom of the eggs and filled all the spaces in between with hot glue. That pretty much is all it took to end up with my final product.

Mossy Easter Egg Wreath

To finish it off, I just added a super simple burlap bow. My wreath was complete and you can’t even see the ugly globs of glue and cardboard. What I though was going to be a major disaster, actually turned out to be a halfway decent looking wreath. Yay Easter!

Moss Easter Wreath

 

Neutral Burlap & Chevron Wreath

Neutra Burlap and Chevron wreathSo I’ve been doing a few little projects here and there when my kids give me some free moments (thank God for nap time). This one I had done a little before Christmas time, and a even added a little winter flair to it to make it more seasonal during that time. But it really is a nice neutral wreath that you can have up during any time of the year, at least in my house.

It was another super simple wreath to make, and I had many of the materials on hand already, including 3/4 of a yard of this gray chevron fabric I scored in the scrap bin at Hobby Lobby.

burlap and chevron wreathWhat you need to make this:

To make, start with the straw wreath form and take the burlap ribbon or long strips of burlap fabric  and wrap around the wreath until fully covered. Hot glue on the back to secure in place.

To create rolled rosettes: Cut burlap and whatever fabric you choose (I chose this gray chevron scrap fabric I found) into strips about 1-2 inches wide. Take the strip and fold in half length wise. Start tightly rolling one end of the fabric into a little roll, and start to hot glue it underneath to keep in place. Then start taking the strip and folding in towards the center, then turn slightly and repeat. Just keep folding in, turning slightly, and folding in again, hot glueing on the back every so often to keep the rolled flower folds in place. Once you get your flower to the size you want, take any excess and fold it onto the back of the flower and glue in place.

Burlap and Chevron Wreath RosettesI added the rolled rosettes onto wreath in whatever pattern looked pleasing and then hot glued onto the wrapped burlap wreath. Then I took some of the rest of the scrap chevron fabric I had, folded in the sides and glued them with liquid stitch to have a clean edged ribbon to tie at the top. It’s not the fanciest bow, but it adds little something.

In the holidays/winter time, I added a couple of these jeweled snowflake picks I found at Hobby Lobby to make the wreath go along with the rest of the snowflake themed decor I had at Christmas. They were quite easy to stick in and then take out when the season was over and I can keep it up the rest of the year in the spot of my morning room.

Burlap and Chevron Winter Wreath

Next up, I have a few more Spring and Easter themed projects I’ve had in the works that I’ll be posting soon.

All About Nathan – Look Who’s Two!

2 year old nathanOne of the many reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to document the happenings with my children and have a place to remember what their younger years were like.  It’s time for an “All About” post and today’s focus is all about my second born and newly minted 2 year old, Nathan.

This little peanut that made me a mom for the second time, and made Joey a Big Brother has just recently turned 2 years old. We celebrated with cake and a little train themed party, because like his big brother, he has become a huge fan of trains (more on that later). His second year certainly has flown by and he has grown so much and even became a big brother. And he is the best big brother.

N_2ndBirthdayThis year we’ve really seen Nathan’s true personality emerge as he went from babyhood into toddlerville. What he showed us is that he is a sensitive and shy little guy. It takes him a while to warm up to someone or even make eye contact when he first meets them or hasn’t seen them in awhile.  This shyness a trait he gets from his mother (believe it or not).

After his first birthday, we were slightly concerned about his language development because of chronic ear infections. But we didn’t worry for long as his speech and comprehension suddenly blossomed overnight and at this time we have quite the chatterbox.   It is makes it so much easier now that he can tell us what he needs, and what he wants. But at times we need to remind him to use his words.

Like most two year olds, he wears his emotions on his sleeve. He is the master of what I call the “toddler flop”. Don’t know what that is?  Well tell your 2 year old no, or don’t give him what he wants and you will witness a quick drop to the floor usually followed by tears or wails. And when he is feeling really sad, he comes up to me, takes my hands and places them on his cheeks on either side of his face and says “I’m sad”, which seems to be the way he likes to calm himself down.

Much like his older brother at this age, he has developed a love and obsession with trains. It probably helped that his older brother has quite a collection of Thomas and other train toys already, so it was natural for him to gravitate to those toys. He LOVES trains of all kinds it seems. He loves train themed books, train themed toys, Thomas and Friends (obviously), train videos, riding on trains, etc. Sometimes he loves to sit and watch YouTube videos of real life trains going by, which is helpful when I need to keep him occupied for a few minutes so I can shower.

He has turned into a loving big brother to his baby sister, and is a good buddy to his big brother. Also Nathan appears to be a budding wrestler. Both his father and I are quite impressed at his natural wrestling abilities (where the heck did this come from?), especially the takedowns of his older brother, who is nearly twice his size. And his poor big brother is usually minding his own business before Nathan launches his attack.

Nathanis2_v2He has a smile that warms your heart and gives the biggest hugs. And unlike he was 1 year ago, he actually sleeps so much better. By himself! And does it (usually) without a fight! Imagine that.

Likes:

  • Playing outside
  • Peanut butter sandwiches
  • Going Bye Bye
  • Trains
  • Dump trucks
  • Snuggling
  • Doing things himself
  • Wrestling with big brother
  • Chasing big brother
  • Loving on little sister
  • Chocolate anything

Dislikes:

  • Getting off train rides
  • Disney Characters in Costume/Santa
  • Spinach
  • Being chased by big brother
  • Milk in the wrong cup
  • Sharing (working on that)
  • Naptime (sometimes)

Mastering Motherhood – Who are We Trying To Impress?

iStock_000010560937SmallWhile trying to manage life with my three littles under the age of 5, it isn’t always picture perfect. My house doesn’t look like a magazine, my kids may be unruly at times, and my table doesn’t always have 100% organic foods scratch made by me. And I am coming to the realization that THIS IS OK.

I don’t think it should be any secret, motherhood and parenting is hard. We’re always wondering if we are doing the right thing with our kids. Making sure we are raising them right. Making sure they’re growing enough and eating healthy enough. If we are engaging their mind enough. Are we ever doing enough? What it seems to come down to is insecurity, and we are torturing ourselves with it. The pressure we put on ourselves to be the perfect parent come with a lot of internal voices (or external if you tend to hang around the sanctimonious types) telling us that we are screwing up, further feeding those insecurities.

What comes first is what we are feeding our children. First thing we are hit with when they are babies is that “Breast is best”. Don’t give them any of that evil formula because, OMG, that is poison! Except if you’re a mom like me who has major supply issues, that “evil formula” is what keeps our babies from starving. But in the pressure to be the perfect mother, when you have trouble performing that ultimate motherly act of breastfeeding, the feeling of failure prevails. And so begins some of the major insecurity and self doubt in our mothering kills.

So continuing on with what we are feeding our kids, you absolutely MUST make sure that everything you are giving them is all organic, hormone-free, non-gmo, etc. Wait, you carefully budget and buying EVERYTHING organic is too cost prohibitive for you? OMG you are poisoning them!  Well at least you don’t use plastic plates and tableware, don’t give them plastic sippy cups, or store any of your food in plastic containers. Wait, you don’t use ALL glass containers all of the time?? OMG, plastic! Oh the horror! You’re poisoning them! 

Then, it seems we need to have our kids dressed perfectly… you know in adorable and always fashionable (and organic) clothing so they are ready for a photo shoot at a moments notice. You also need to make sure to have your house immaculate so you can easily take said photo shoot of your kids in “candid” fashion and simultaneously show off your gorgeous Pinterest-worthy home decor as well as your Pinterest-worthy kid photos. Wait, your kids aren’t perfect clean little angels that never mess up the house? And they don’t always keep their latest baby fashions clean and free of spit-up or stains?  OMG, you’re doing motherhood all wrong!

What about the awesome kids enrichment programs and craft projects to engage their minds and expand their horizons. Of course, those craft projects always come off perfectly. Your kids are such talented artists ahead of their time. And of course, said projects are always perfectly mess free. Wait, your 2 year old doesn’t speak 6 languages and can’t even scribble remotely in the lines?? OMG, your kid is so behind!

Well you are babywearing your little ones until they are the age of 5, right? Wait you use a stroller some of the time? OMG, you are an attachment parenting failure!

Well you cosleep with your babies right? Wait, you DON’T cosleep and you sleep train? OMG, you are heartless! Wait, you DO cosleep? OMG, that’s so dangerous!

Had enough yet?

It’s a strange thing many of us do to ourselves as mothers, putting on the pressure to be perfect in nearly every aspect of motherhood. Through dozens of parenting books and websites, we get so many mixed messages out there to begin with on what is the right way to nourish, teach, and raise our children. Not to mention what we observe the other seemingly “perfect” moms, we get to thinking we have to be all things to everyone. The picture of perfect motherhood.

Really, when it comes down to it, who are we trying to impress? Other Moms? Are we letting the “Sanctimommies” get into our heads? Are we risking our sanity just to make lives picture perfect and Pinterest-worthy for others to see?

Can we stop this madness and just make sure that our kids are happy, healthy, well mannered, and keep them alive until it is no longer our responsibility to do so?  Stop playing into the Mommy Wars, and stop judging others on the lifestyles and the choices they make for their own families. Other moms that make different choices or take different paths than you are not an indictment on your own lack of perfection.

I can certainly tell you, my (almost) 4 month old does not care a wit if she doesn’t sleep on an organic mattress blessed by monks and doesn’t necessarily wear adorable hipster approved, fashionable, organic clothing all the time. And my 4 year old certainly does not color in the lines at all, but I am not worried about his college prospects right now. My kids are clean, fed, happy and healthy, so I am doing my job ok so far. I am certain that I am going to fail sometimes.  I am just trying to master motherhood the best I can, embracing my imperfections and all.

Welcome 2014 – The Year of Awesome

hello_2014Happy New Year everyone! Today is the first day of 2014 and I am very much looking forward to this coming year. 2014 is going to be the Year of Awesome.

Like most people are doing these past few days, I am sitting down and reflecting on where I am now and documenting where I want myself and my family to be in the coming year. You may call this making resolutions, but I always thought the word “resolutions” is a little too cliche (and a little lame). Besides, who remembers those “resolutions” after the first month? So let’s call this my “Goals & To-do List for 2014”. That’s much better.

Smile More, Stress Less.

  • In my quest to become a better me, I need to remember what is important, what is not, surround myself with positivity and let my smile shine. Life is too short to hold on to stress and negativity.

Get Fit.

  • I am 3 months postpartum, and I can’t really use the “baby weight” excuse all year. It is time to get my but and gear, work on a more active lifestyle. Notice I said get fit instead of lose weight. As much as it would delight me to see the scale tick downward, my main goal is to be stronger, have more energy an just generally feel better.

Change our diet.

  • Kind-of goes hand-in-hand with getting fit, but I need to make some changes to be a healthier me, and make sure my kids have healthy habits. Nothing too drastic, and no traditional “diet”. I’ll write about this more later, but I am going to stick to more whole foods, especially when feeding my family. In addition to that, I plan to cut out sugar AND artificial sweeteners, and cut my consumption of wheat and other carbs. Nothing processed.

Take Zumba Instructor Training.

  • I found the one exercise activity that I absolutely love. So much so that I get sad when Zumba class is over because I want to keep going. I started it 3 years ago after my first son was born, did it through my 2 last pregnancies and now I’m on a mission to use Zumba as a tool for my “Get Fit” goal above, and become a Zumba instructor.

Organize and clean house.

  • I have plenty of stuff. My kids have plenty off stuff. Too much in fact. It is time for some major purging of my closet, kitchen cabinets, and toy room. The Salvation Army/Goodwill will have lots of donations coming their way from me. I can’t wait to get rid of the clutter and feel more in control of my house.

Save more and spend less.

  • I like to shop, but it is time to prioritize. We have lots of things that we would like to save for in this house, which means I need to spend less on non-essentials. And like I mentioned above, we have too much stuff as it is. So I am making an effort to be more budget conscious, focus spending only on needs and essentials.

Use my fancy camera more.

  • I purchased a nice DSLR camera last year for myself for Mother’s Day.  I got it to take better pictures of my kids, and I need to use it more for that purpose.  I still have a bit more to learn about using this camera and could use some new lenses to play with. Also, I need to get to make sure I have more pics in front of the camera with my kids. Don’t want them to look back at all their pictures and think they were mother-less.

Have more fun.

  • I am going to have more fun, play with my kids, and do more of what I love. Got to remember not to take life too seriously, and get down on the floor and play with my kiddos. I will work on a bunch of craft projects and get my kids in on the crafting action. We will have fun!

Blog more.

  • I like to write. I like to document and share things in my life. I need more practice at it. And I need to do it more than a couple times a month.

So that is my master to-do list for 2014. I know that being a mom of a preschooler, toddler, and infant all at once can be a bit chaotic. I’m not striving for perfection, but doing the best I can.  It will be the Year of Awesome, so let’s rock this new year.

Dollar Store DIY: My Snowflake Wreath

DS_DIY_Snowflake Wreath

I’m sure you’re done with all of your Christmas decorating by now, right?  I am about 50% done but really it is taking me so much longer now with Cassie to attend to.  That, and I’ve gone crazy and decided to put up two trees this year, which means I need to craft up a few more ornaments. Yep. I’ve lost my mind.  Anyways…

I’ve been inspired by seeing others do “dollar store decor” projects, and so I decided I would experiment with my own. My theme this year is turning out to be snowflakes since all the ornaments and other decor I’ve been gravitating to lately happen to be snowflake related. So it is no surprise that I decided to go with a snowflake wreath, similar to one I have seen on Pinterest (where else?), and wanted to make my own version with what I could find at the dollar store. So off to Dollar Tree I went in search of ornaments and baubles that I could make something out of.

I experimented with a few different configurations and ribbons and I like the final product. I especially  love the lacy effect that these snowflakes make. And it is hard to tell in the photos, but they are covered in an iridescent glitter as well, so there is plenty of sparkle.

This snowflake wreath one is extremely simple to make once you have all the materials. Here’s what you need:

snowflake wreath supplies

  • A couple packs of snowflake ornaments, varying sizes – Mine came from Dollar Tree
  • Basic wreath form – I used a skinny grapevine wreath spray painted white, also from Dollar Tree. You can also just cut one from cardboard if you are in a pinch.
  • Ribbon of choice – Both the white ribbon and the red glitter ribbon are from Dollar Tree
  • Glue Gun

Take your wreath form and paint it white so nothing shows through. Once wreath is dry, take your hot glue, arrange the larger snowflakes  overlapping slightly and glue them on to the wreath. Next, take the smaller snowflakes and layer over the top, again overlapping slightly, and glue in place. Next, you dress it up with the ribbon or bows of your choice.

DSsnowflake_wreath

 

My first incarnation of this wreath, I used a white and red ribbon, but I wasn’t wild about it. Too much white and not enough contrast.

 

DSsnowflake_wreath2So next, I decided on this red glitter ribbon since I liked the glittery pop of color.

DSsnowflake_wreath_bow

You can make this wreath without a form by gluing only the snowflakes together, but it may not hold up well. I suggest that if you want more stability to your wreath, then you should use some sort of wreath from as a stable base.

DSsnowflake_wreath4

I have a couple more snowflake themed crafts I’m working up this season, while simultaneously finishing the decorating for Christmas in my house, which seems to be taking 5x longer now with the new baby in the house and one more person that needs my attention nearly all the time. I’ll be done by the 24th maybe.

Happy Decorating!

Have some dollar store craft ideas up your sleeve?  Let me know about it in the comments below!

Fall Is Not Quite Over Yet – Easy Burlap Ruffle Wreath

It is still November, and we are still technically in the fall season. Though I am totally cheating on Thanksgiving now since I started listening to Christmas music every day for the last 2 weeks (thanks to SiriusXM). I am seriously resisting the urge to put up my Christmas tree before Thanksgiving since I’ve seen so many of my friends and favorite craft bloggers put up their trees already. I’ll resist for a couple more days.

So since we have a couple days until we fully launch into the Christmas season, I have a few fall wreath projects that I whipped up in the last couple months and have been meaning to show on the blog. I was in the total wreath making mode this fall, and went a little crazy with the burlap.

First up, my Easy Burlap Ruffle Wreath

burlap_ruffle_wreath

This one couldn’t have been more quick and easy to make. When all is said and done, it probably took only 30-35 minutes to put together. This one is slightly larger than the average wreath since I used a 20″ form, but it goes great on my large empty family room wall. Here’s a Quick how-to:

Items needed:

Start your wreath by creating a small loop with your ribbon and push it up through from the back of the wreath form, starting in one section. You may want to use floral wire to secure this first loop in place, but that is completely optional. Through each of the three sections on the wire form weave and twist loops through. I did mine in a pattern of weaving the loops back and forth, with a little bit of twisting and fluffing until you make it all the way around the wreath form. Then you have a complete  burlap ruffle wreath. You can leave it plain as-is, or add in some floral pics, beads, etc.

burlap_fall_wreath

This wreath on it’s own has so many possibilities since burlap is so neutral, you can put anything on it. I wanted to be able to use this wreath for different seasons, so I didn’t want to permanently glue anything on it. On the above wreath I grouped together a few fall flower pics and just stuck them through the folds in the ribbon and the wreath form and they have held in place pretty well. I will probably change it up for the winter and spring.

Here is another burlap wreath I whipped up even quicker.

ChevronBurlapWreath

Ok, so I’ve bought in to the chevron decor obsession.  I want to use it on everything now, and have amassed a stash of chevron fabric and ribbon. Anyways, on this wreath I used this chevron printed ribbon found at Hobby Lobby. It was made the same way as the above, just a smaller wreath form which I only needed 2 rolls of the ribbon. I glued on a coordinating burlap flower, and done. This one was complete in 20 minutes.

chevron_burlap_wreath2

So that’s just a couple of the many things I managed to craft over the fall, mostly done before our little girl arrived and took up all of my time. Ok, done with that now. Time to usher in Christmas. Where’s my Christmas tree?

Our New Family – 8 Weeks Have Flown By!

8weeksflownby2So when we were last here, I was on the verge of my induction and giving birth to Baby #3. That was a little over 8 weeks ago. Well, if you follow my on my Facebook page or Instagram (and if you don’t, WHY NOT? Go ahead and follow me here and here), our little lady arrived on the evening of September 16th, and Cassandra Emily made our little family of four, a family of five. We have been smitten since she drew her first breath!

So how are things going? Surprisingly (to me), quite well.  She’s a little over 8 weeks old now and she has just fit right in to our family life pretty easily. We are really blessed that she is such an easy going baby. REALLY blessed. Give her some mommy milk, keep her in a clean diaper, and she is a happy and quiet girl.

We have good days and bad days, but I am not feeling as stressed and overwhelmed as I thought I’d be. Going from 2 to 3 has taken some juggling, but I am managing pretty well. (Wine after bedtime helps on the bad days)  I have to get creative with entertaining the boys while frequently nursing their sister, but we find a way. Speaking of the boys, they are completely in love with little Cassie as well. It totally melts my heart.

So I’m back to the blog with lots of  new posts brewing. The newborn fog is finally wearing off. DVDs, Netflix, and Disney Jr have bought me some time and entertainment for the boys.  Breastfeeding is going is going amazingly this time. And I swear by babywearing. Life is good, and I’m working on enjoying the present as much as possible.

This Baby’s Birthday Has Been Decided

The end is in sight! That’s right, this baby’s eviction notice has been posted, and the induction date has been set for next week. A little earlier than I expected, so I am trying not to freak out, but it certainly will be a relief not to be pregnant anymore.

Get the pleasure of weekly non-stress tests until the end of this pregnancy. Lucky me.

Get the pleasure of weekly non-stress tests until the end of this pregnancy. Lucky me.

In this pregnancy, just like my previous two, I have been “blessed” with Gestational Diabetes again (thank you obesity and genetics!). The GD diagnosis sort-of puts me in the “high risk” pregnancy category. Now say “sort-of” because all of my pregnancies have been relatively uneventful, the blood sugars have stayed relatively in control when I behave on the diet, and babies have remained safe and healthy (and not giant babies which they always warn you). With GD, along with being on the special diet, I get a few extra growth ultrasounds and weekly NSTs in the remaining weeks of pregnancy. And this time, because I had start on insulin a couple weeks ago, I get a few extra visits with the Perinatologist sprinkled in.

So last week, much to my surprise, after my first appointment with Dr. Doom & Gloom (the Perinatologist), midwife wanted to talk induction date. Parts of the baby were looking slightly large on the latest growth ultrasound, though still only 68th percentile. And because I am on insulin during this bout of GD (first time I’ve ever had to do that) they felt more comfortable for me to have this baby between 38 and 39 weeks. So that brings us to next week.

Am I ready? Yes and no.

Yes, I am totally over being pregnant, tired of having to diet, and tired of body being in pain from the waist down all the time. So I can’t wait to just not be pregnant anymore. Not to mention, we finally get to meet this baby and introduce them to our family.

On the other hand, I don’t feel quite ready because my to-do list seems like a mile long, there is always a mess to clean up (thanks to my 2 busy boys), always more de-cluttering to do, and I don’t feel like I’ve quite mentally ready and fully practiced in all of my hypnobabies techniques to get ready for this birth (a whole post for a different day).  Oh, and then there’s the fact that, OMG, I’M ABOUT TO GO FROM BEING A MOM OF 2 TO A MOM OF 3… two of which are under the age of 2! Freaking out just a little bit.

So ready or not, here it comes. By this time next week, we will be snuggling our new baby at home. Thank goodness we will have great support from our families (my awesome mom is coming!) and with their help I should make it through the next few weeks with some sanity.