toddler muffins

So all of a sudden, the bean has gotten a little picky about food.  He's usually such a good eater, but recently he has become a little finicky...especially about veggies.  So I guess I need to get a little creative about how to incorporate more veggies into his diet.  One weapon in my arsenal? Toddler muffins!

I made these the other day and they are so good!  They taste like kind of a yummy cross between banana bread and carrot cake.  And I did make some substitutions:

  • In place of the squash baby food, I used a squash/pear combo.
  • I used oats instead of oat bran.
  • I used Chinese five spice powder instead of pumpkin pie spice.

So far they have been a hit with the bean (and with mama, too).  I will be on the lookout for other recipes where I can sneak in some veggies for my bean!


the abc box

The bean has been SO into letters lately.  We have been reading to him regularly since he was a teeny tiny bean, so he has always loved books and reading.  But recently, he has taken an interest in the letters that make up the words in his books.  He has started trying to spell out words that he sees in books and on signs while we are out and about.  Even though he doesn't really know all the letters yet, he will point to words and just say random letters.  It's the cutest thing ever.  And while I'm not in a rush to teach him his abc's before he is developmentally ready, I definitely want to take advantage of this interest that he has developed by incorporating letters into our everyday play.  Enter the ABC Box.

Nothing fancy here.  Just an empty wipes box filled with an assortment of items that start with our letter of the day.  We focus on a different letter each day and I just gather a few toys and objects that start with that letter.  I also include that letter from our tactile alphabet set and the corresponding letter from a set of foam letters that we have.  Each morning after breakfast and bath, we sit down together and explore the box.  I show him the letter, tell him what it is, and tell him what sound it makes.  Then, I just let him play with the items in the box.  I also use a couple of alphabet-themed books that we have to show him other examples of the letter.  Right now, we are just working our way in order through the alphabet.  I figure once we have gone all the way through, maybe we will do a Number Box or Color Box.  Or I may just start over with A and use different objects the next time around.  I really want to play it by ear and follow the bean's lead based on what he's showing an interest in.

The verdict?  So far the bean LOVES it!  And, it seems to be working.  He can identify letters A-H and O (he knew that one on his own before we even started using the ABC Box).  He gets so excited to see what's in the box each morning.  And he comes back to the box and plays with the items throughout the day.  He also likes to show off what's in his box when dad gets home from work.  The hubby is loving it, too.  He comes home from work each day and asks the bean, "What's the letter of the day?  What's in the box?"  It's pretty adorable.  And the project cost me $0.00 to do!  Free, fun, educational...love it!


easiest dinner ever

I have recently fallen in love...with my crock pot.  For years, my crock pot had gone neglected...unloved. But in recent months, I have discovered what all the fuss is about and have become reacquainted with my crock pot.  And I love it!  I love it so much in fact, that I asked for a second one for Christmas.  And Santa (the hubby) delivered.  Now I am the proud owner of two crock pots.  And I use both of them regularly.  I even have double crock pot days from time to time, where I put both of them to work making a delicious and easy meal for me and my family.  Well a couple weeks ago, I discovered how to make the EASIEST dinner ever.  You ready?  Here goes...

crock pot + frozen chicken tenderloins + salad dressing of your choice + 4-6 hours = dinner

Awesome, right?

I was inspired by this recipe for chicken souvlaki from Real Simple Magazine.  This recipe has been a favorite of ours for years.  So I wondered if I could combine this old favorite with my new love...my crock pot.  And the answer is YES.  Instead of marinating and grilling the chicken as called for in the original recipe, I just dumped my frozen chicken tenderloins and a bottle of Greek salad dressing into the crock pot.  Six hours later, it had transformed into the juiciest, most flavorful chicken I've ever had.  Pair that with warm pita, tzatziki sauce, and a yummy Greek salad...and I was in Greek food heaven.

Since then, I've discovered that this formula of chicken plus salad dressing equals deliciousness works well with other salad dressings, too.  Last week, I tried a balsamic vinaigrette with the chicken and then served it over rice.  To die for.

So there you go...easiest dinner ever.  Now go wipe the dust off your crock pot and make some dinner!


diy sensory table

What a beautiful day today.  The weather is GORGEOUS.  And (go figure) I feel like garbage...doing my best to fight off the beginnings of a cold.  So, we're taking it easy and not leaving the house today.  Instead of running our usual out-of-the-house errands, the bean and I are hanging out on the back patio playing with our sensory table.  This was a diy project of ours about a month ago.  So far it's been a big hit and I'm hoping to get alot of use out of it this summer.

Keep reading to see how we made it.  To call this a "tutorial" would be a bit of a stretch.  We didn't really have to do much.  It was really just taking stock of what we already had, thinking about what we wanted our sensory table to have, and figuring out the easiest way to put it all together.  And of course, I also searched Pinterest for diy sensory tables and found a lot of inspiration.

We took part of a plastic shelving unit that we've had for ages (seriously, this thing has moved with us a few times and has always served us well) and flipped it upside down.  The underside of the shelf has a lip on it and a raised channel running down the middle.  I figured this would be perfect for holding the bins I was planning on using.  The bins don't fit perfectly in the grid...they kind of tilt outward a little, which is perfect because it allows the kiddo a better reach.  And the lip around the edge keeps the bean from just pulling the bins off onto the ground.

Then I bought a few plastic shoebox bins to hold everything.  One has dry rice.  Another has dry beans.   I also use one to hold our digging and scooping toys.  This summer, we will fill another of the bins with water when we do water play.  You could also use sand, dry corn, whatever.  And the bins are great because when we are done playing, I just put the lids on and store them on the bottom shelf of our table.

Perfect!  And like I said, the bean loves it.   He also likes to help clean up when we're done playing!  Clean up with the sensory table is a breeze...all the rice and beans fall through grid of the shelves and we just sweep it up.  Easy...just the way I like my projects!