Steph's Pick | Whole Fruit Juice Tubes

Apr 22, 2011

I love finding great Costco finds! There's just nothing like going into Costco with my usual list of items to buy for the month and stumbling across a new snack, drink, outfit... you name it...Costco probably has had it at one time or another!

And like most things in life, I love sharing my finds with other people. :) That's what bloggers do, right?!

Specifically, I recently stumbled across a 24 pack box of Whole Fruit's Frozen Organic Juice Tubes at Costco. They come in 3 flavors - Apple-Strawberry, Apple-Cherry and Apple-Grape and are 90% juice. Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm.

Now of course I'm having a terrible time finding a picture of them online but take my word for it... they're awesome!

Here are the 3 top reasons why I love these things...

1) They are mostly juice (90% is pretty good for something non-homemade)
2) Nora loves them as an afternoon snack. See below video :)
3) They aren't as messy as a popsicle simply b/c they are in a push-up/tube type container.


Preparing for Easter in our Home

Apr 20, 2011

Whoa....Easter snuck up on me this year! How about you?!

I've had every intention of being very deliberate in our home in preparing all of our hearts for this Easter season. But like so many things... time got the best of me. I hate that! Especially when it comes to such an important season.

I love what Darcy Kimmel says on the Family Matters blog...

"As Easter approaches, we are coming to a most holy time of year. If Christmas is the bow and wrappings of our faith then Easter is what’s inside the package.

Somehow though, Easter doesn’t get the same billing as Christmas. Yes, Easter has its own super character, its own candy line and retailers depend upon it for a boost to their monthly sales total. But the celebration of Christmas has become its own season, demanding our attention from Black Friday to New Years Day. And if bottom lines are really the bottom line, Christmas wins as far as the number one holiday celebrated here in the western world."

Read the rest of her post here.

Despite Easter flying in at a rapid speed, we have done a couple things that we're praying will impact Nora's heart for eternity.

Here's the deal... I really love everything about this kid-friendly teaching tool. I was so excited this year b/c I thought surely Nora is old enough to start to comprehend some of this. I mean - I'd read on a number of blogs about other 2-ish year olds being very interested in the Resurrection Egg process.

Hehe...boy was I wrong! Nora really doesn't fit in with the "norm" anyway. So why would I expect her to do something "normal" this time around?

Now I'm not doubting that other 2-ish year olds could sit through the 12 day egg story...but this daughter of mine did not!

This is how it type-A personality self insisted on taking one egg at a time and telling the story of Easter (because that's what the instructions say, right?). I had this beautiful picture in mind of us sitting down together and having the "Jesus Died on the Cross for you" conversation. But Nora-bora was much more interested in opening up every egg at a rapid speed in no order of any kind and paying little or no attention to what I was saying.

I love it how God teaches us lessons when we least expect it. Does He do that to you?

After God and I had a little heart to heart in the middle of Nora thoroughly enjoying herself I was reminded that "She's just 21 months Steph!" God will prepare her heart to understand this story in HIS timing. Not mine.

Phew - what a relief! God's timing is always better anyway so I'll surrender to that truth!

We'll try Resurrection Eggs again next year :) Until then we'll just play with all of the eggs and special surprises inside each egg.

(If you like DIY projects you can also make your own Resurrection Egg kit using my friend, Nealy's instructions here)

Thankfully I have an awesome MIL who came to the rescue! She brought us a wonderful book called "What is Easter?" when she came to visit a couple of weeks ago and I really do believe it's been preparing all of our hearts for this coming weekend.

We've been reading it daily before naps and bedtime. It's been such a great reminder of the truth of Easter.

AND Nora does sit through this... yipee!!

Here's to YOUR family celebrating the resurrection this upcoming Easter!


Steph's Pick | Salmon Patties

Apr 15, 2011

Everyone has a few "go-to" recipes, right? You know the ones that you generally have everything on hand in your pantry and don't have to consult a recipe for the ingredients?

In our home one of our go-to recipes is Salmon Patties.

When I first moved out to AZ I lived with my aunt Jane and uncle Tom. Thankfully my aunt is a great cook and was willing to let me sit under her wing in the kitchen and take notes while she cooked. Prior to this, I had lived 4 years in the dorms and spent very little time and/or energy I was an eager student.

Salmon Patties was one of the recipes she made. Now I'll admit - I was a little skeptical as canned fish just sounded a little shaddy. Right?! Well, I'm pleased to tell you that this is by far one of the easiest and yummiest tasting options to add fish into your weekly menu. We have these probably a couple times a month with steamed broccoli and gnocchi. Mmm, Mmm.....

Salmon Patties

1 can canned salmon (I prefer Trader Joe's - no bones & skin or Costco's canned salmon)
1 egg
1 Tbsp minced onion
1/2 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 Tbsp olive oil

Drain and reserve liquid from salmon. Mix egg, onion, dill weed, garlic salt, mustard, bread crumbs and salmon together. Make into patties (2 large patties per can or 4 small patties). If mixture is too dry to form into patties, add reserved liquid from salmon.
In frying pan, heat olive oil. Place patties in pan. Brown on each side, turning gently. Drain on paper towels and serve.

** Note: Make sure to buy the canned salmon that is boneless and skinless. Or else you'll have quite the mess :)

Bon appetit!


Our Cloth Diapering Journey UPDATE

Apr 11, 2011

{For those of you who missed my 2 Part Cloth Diapering series back in January 2010 be sure to go back and read Cloth Diapering 101 and Cloth Diapering Questions Answered: Mom to Mom. These posts will give you a little insight into why we decided to cloth diaper.}

UPDATE: I've been wanting to post a cloth diapering journey update for quite some time as I feel like I've learned a number of lessons over the past 2 years that might be helpful for other moms considering cloth diapering OR encouragement for other moms in the middle of it.

But before I begin, like the other posts, I have to clear up two misconceptions.

By posting this I'm in no way saying that 1) cloth diapering is the best decision or 2) I love cloth diapering. Neither of these statements are 100% true. Now, do I think cloth diapering has been a decent decision for our family - YES. And do I love cloth diapering - NO! ;) Hehe. I'm the first to say that cloth diapering is more work... BUT we are still very happy to have made the decision to cloth diaper. And - what about parenting isn't work anyway? I figure why not just add something else to the pile ;)

Now the following items are probably not going to make sense to anyone but those moms who cloth diaper... but nonetheless I wanted to post them as they may be of help to you ladies out there browsing the web for cloth diapering resources.

- Wet Bags
I had no idea I'd have an opinion about a wet bag. Well I do! My favorite (hands-down) is the FuzziBunz In and Out Wet Bag. Why? Because there is a zipper on the bottom!!! No joke ladies, the simple luxury of having a zipper on the bottom when doing laundry is AMAZING! 'Nough said.

- Bum Genius Customer Service.
This is the main reason I wanted to write this post.
When researching what cloth diapers to purchase I read a TON of blog posts, visited our local cloth diapering store, and talked with a number of CD moms. This specific Passionate Homemaking blog post stuck out to me during my reading so I added it to my favorite links list and went about my merry way. Hey - you just never know when you might need to reference it again - right?!
Well - sure enough, after using Bum Genius One-Size Pocket Diapers for just under a year I could tell that the elastic around the legs were starting to loosen. The diapers were leaking so quickly that I'd have to change Ms. Nora every 30 min or so just to keep her clothing dry. Grrr... I was not happy!
BUT I remembered Bum Genius's 1-year warranty (as noted in above blog post that I favorited) and contacted Cotton Babies about sending them back and trading them in. I was frustrated but not ready to give up. :)
Here's the bright side of the story - they were SUPER helpful and supplied me with 24 brand new bumGenius Organic One-Size All in One diapers!!! Woot woot! (Note: I requested the change in diapers as I'd heard that these were much easier to clean and fit better around the legs - I did pay the difference between the two though)
Moral of the story: I will still sing bumGenius praises solely because of their great customer service! Do keep this in mind when choosing what cloth diapers to buy. Good customer service is something worth paying for!

- Diaper Sprayer.
Ladies - this is a must if you're going to CD. We followed this DIY Diaper Sprayer tutorial and it works like a charm! Gone are the days of scrubbing the dirty diaper with your hands. Love it! You can also buy a diaper sprayer if you're not wanting to go the DIY route.

- Disposables.
Yes - I do actually have something to say about disposables.
I, for one, am not above using a disposable or two every once in awhile. Especially during this pregnancy, there have been times when I'm out and about and cloth diapering just doesn't sound like my cup of tea. So, I put Nora in a disposable. I figure - the CD have already well paid for themselves (we figured we were "even" at 10 months of using CDs).
All I have to say about disposables is that I've found that I LOVE the Target brand diapers better than any other brands. Here are the reasons.... 1)Low Price 2)They're actually cute - and by that I mean they don't have characters on them and 3) They don't smell (that is when they aren't dirty).

- Two Babies in Cloth?
I get this question a lot. Have I liked cloth diapering so much that I'm willing to cloth diaper two little girls at the same time?
YES! Well - that's the plan for now. We'll see how it goes. That might call for another update post in 6 months :)

So those are my thoughts for those interested!

Have a Cloth Diapering Question? Feel free to comment below!


Steph's Pick | Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers

Apr 8, 2011

So I know I've mentioned that I started a Scottsdale Cooking Club, right?! Have I told you how much I'm LOVING it???!!! It's such a great excuse to get together with wonderful girlfriends AND eat delicious food - 2 of my very favorite things!

If you're interested in finding out how to start your own cooking club be sure to check out this post on Scottsdale Moms Blog: How to Start a Cooking Club.

Well here is a recipe that a SCC Member, Moriah, shared at our first cooking club.

Now - disclaimer. I've previously made stuffed peppers (probably 3 or so different recipes) and although they've been good they just weren't noteworthy. I'm happy to say that I now have a noteworthy (and Steph's Pick worthy) Southwest Stuffed Peppers recipe!!!

Without further ado...

Southwest Stuffed Bell Peppers


 large red peppers 
1 lb ground turkey
1 Tbs salt
1/2 C white rice (or brown if you want to take the time to cook it), quinoa also works
2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 – 1 jalapeno, minced (or you could sub a small 3oz can of mild green chilies)
1 14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 green onions, sliced
1/2-1 tsp chipotle chili powder (you can start with 1/2 and add more to taste)
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 black pepper, plus more to taste
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
1 1/4 C jack or pepperjack cheese, divided
3-4 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
tortilla chips, just a handful and more for serving if desired.


Preheat oven to 350. Prepare peppers by washing, slicing tops off, and removing insides. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Boil whole peppers for about 3-4 minutes, until they begin to soften. Remove from water with tongs and place on paper towels to drain.
Add rice to boiling water and cook until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno (or chilies) and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add corn, beans, green onions, chipotle chili powder, kosher salt, and pepper. Stir until corn and beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Place peppers in a baking dish. Remove skillet from heat and add rice, tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, and cilantro. Stir to combine well and give it a taste. Add additional salt, pepper, and chipotle powder to your liking. Then evenly divide mixture between peppers.
Top peppers with remaining 1/4 cup cheese (or more if you can fit it on there :) and crushed tortilla chips.
Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
Top peppers with remaining 1/4 cup cheese (or more if you can fit it on there :) and crushed tortilla chips.


Family & Maternity Pics {by Bri Anderson}

Apr 3, 2011

We just received our maternity/family pics from Bri Anderson and I just HAD to share a selection of them with you! Because she really is THAT good!!

You can view more pics on Bri's Photography blog here. And check back on Scottsdale Moms Blog later this week where we'll be doing a recap of our photo shoot with Bri.

For anyone in the Phoenix area.... do keep Bri in mind for your future photography needs. She is AWESOME!

Thank you Bri for sharing your time, talent and passion with our family! We are so thankful to you.


Steph's Pick | Personalized Children's Books from MJM Books

Apr 1, 2011

My mom was one of those moms that kept some of our old books and toys "just in case" - aka: for her future grandchildren some day :). Before becoming a mom I thought this was maybe a little strange. But it's funny how our perspective changes, right?!

In fact, some of our old toys and books actually look pretty retro now and are some of Nora's very favorite toys/books. Moms do seem to be right a lot, huh?! ;)

One of the the books my parents kept hidden away for years was "The Circus Star" - a personalized book given to me by my Aunt Jane and Uncle Tom for my 5th birthday. Over the past 6 months Nora has become more and more interested in books and her love for this old book of mine has grown and grown. She just LOVES it.

Here's a little look at it...

(Yes - it does say "Stevie" - that's an entirely different story)

These are the thoughts that prompted me to look for personalized books that I could buy for birthday gifts. With so many little one's being born on a monthly basis I'm always looking for a creative gift to give to family and friends.

That's when I stumbled across MJM Books. They came highly recommended from one of my very favorite mommy blogs, Cool Mom Picks. After reading a bit more about their books I ordered 3 copies of "If I were Big" and patiently waited for them to arrive in the mail.

I was soooo happy when they came. Not only were they super cute (and creative) but they were the PERFECT birthday gift for the three girls I bought them for (shout out to Callie, Ella and a soon to be birthday girl, Reese). And future birthday's to come I'm sure.

Here's the front cover...

And the first page...

They really are an awesome gift!

If you're in the market for a creative birthday gift do check out MJM Books! The books are fun for the gift giver AND the recipient.

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