Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Organic Lavender Baby Oil Recipe

Almost all of the baby oils found at the grocery store (even the all natural ones) are made out of mineral oil, so the molecules are too large to be absorbed into the skin.  It creates a nice greased baby but it's not capable of actually moisturizing the skin. Not to mention that mineral oil is a byproduct of distilling petroleum into gasoline. Not something I really want on my baby's skin.

I decided to recreate one of my favorite baby oils using organic ingredients. It turns out, I love it more than the original. The shea butter makes it thicker than most baby oils yet thinner than a lotion. It rubs in really well  and I haven't had any issues with it staining clothes. The shea butter has a pretty strong smell, but once it's cooled the lavender scent prevails. It's heavenly. I use this on E after every bath, and occasionally in between. I like to use it on myself on occasion as well. The only disadvantage of this oil is that one of my dogs loves shea butter and will eat an entire batch of this if given the opportunity.

Organic Lavender Baby Oil Recipe
4 oz organic sunflower oil, expeller or cold pressed
4 oz organic safflower oil, expeller or cold pressed
1 oz organic jojoba oil, cold pressed
1 1/2 oz organic shea butter
3-4 drops lavender essential oil (optional)

Combine sunflower oil, safflower oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter in a small saucepan. Heat very gently just to melt the shea butter. Once liquified, stir in lavender essential oil (or any other skin safe essential oil) and carefully transfer to lidded container.

To use, shake well and then rub small amount into skin after baths or when extra moisturizing is needed.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Favorite Things Fridays - Music

This post is for E.

She amazes me with her love of music!  

I like music and love to have it playing during the day, but she loves it! She asks for it regularly by pointing to my laptop and dancing and snapping her fingers. She notices within a millisecond of Pandora timing-out, and will ask for it again.

And my favorite, she plays her own music on her Fisher Price Laugh & Learn puppy. It's a toy with multiple settings, playing games, singing songs, and teaching colors and body parts. She repeats her favorite songs by paging through multiple others until she gets back to the one she wants. Then she sings and dances to it, and repeats it again. And, as proof that she's my daughter, she also routinely skips the songs that she hates. So far, I have to say she's got great taste in music and I appreciate not having to hear bad songs repeatedly :)

Her favorite songs on the puppy are a catchy little song about colors and Head and Shoulders. She routinely skips the Itsy Bitsy Spider. How awesome is that?!

Blogger didn't want to let me upload a video, so a picture will have to suffice for today.

Dancing away!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Salted Bittersweet Chocolates

I love chocolate, but hate paying a small fortune for good dark bars which, more often than not, contain refined white sugar. These salted chocolates are the perfect bite sized candies to satisfy my sugar cravings without any nasty chemicals or refined sweeteners. The coarse salt creates one of my favorite pairings of salty-sweet. E and I love these! (Chou thinks they're too bitter.)

Salted Bittersweet Chocolates
adapted from
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup local raw honey
1/4 teaspoon (or more) coarsely ground real salt (this one works well)
dash vanilla extract

Whisk together the cocoa powder and melted coconut oil until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients until well combined. In the winter when my kitchen is freezing, I do this in a double broiler. I put a small saucepan on the stove on my lowest heat setting until it starts to simmer. Turn it off, and put a larger glass bowl containing the cocoa powder and coconut oil over the steaming water before stirring in the remaining ingredients. This keeps the coconut oil from hardening when the cold honey is added to the mixture.

Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper. Spoon or pipe the chocolate mixture onto the sheet, in bite-sized morsels.

Allow to harden (fridge or freezer will speed up the process) before placing in an airtight container and enjoying. I keep these in the fridge, although I'm sure they'd be just fine on my counter in the winter.

this post is linked up with Real Food Wednesdays 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Valentine's Day 2013

I've never been a fan of Valentine's Day. Just when you think there's no way sugar can be morphed into something more disgusting than a Peep, Valentine's Day brings conversation hearts. Nastiness! Sure, as a kid I loved getting a card in the mail from Mommom and cute little puzzle from Aunt Jenn, but the whole idea of having a day set aside for romance is just not my thing. I have long felt that one day of sweet gestures and romance can't make up for a lack of it the rest of the year. And if it's present all year long, then why do we need a special day for it? Admittedly I'm not one for ooey gooey romance and never will be, but of course I like feeling special. I love getting flowers from Chou! But I love them so much more when I walk downstairs and am completely surprised by them, because it's just a normal Tuesday, and Chou thought of me! All by himself. No prodding from Kay Jewelers or Hallmark. That makes me feel special. And Chou's really great at that! All. Year. Long.

Needless to say, we don't normally do to much on Valentine's Day. This year I decided to decorate because pink is fun and I hate how empty my house is all winter once I take Christmas decorations down. But I didn't have time. I saw a cute post on using pureed beets to make pink heart pancakes, so I bought beets to help us be just a little festive. And then I remembered E won't eat pancakes, pink or not. Have I mentioned Valentine's Day just isn't my holiday ;)

E's G.G.Mom bought her a cute little ballerina outfit when she was born, and I've been meaning to catch a few pictures now that she's grown into it. Valentine's day was as good a day as any. So while we didn't do anything extra special or different, we had a great day! E dressed up for a few minutes, we took a walk through a favorite park as a family, and we ate a great home cooked meal for dinner. Chou and I even split a glass of wine. Livin' it up ;)

Here are a few pictures of our all-out Valentine's Day... :) And yes, even with a dslr, the easiest way to catch repeatedly decent natural light pics of this active girl is to put her on a chair.

this is begging for a caption contest
bad dogs!
bad baby!
she was done with pictures once she was actually dressed. she's squishing her teddy bear between her back and her chair, hence the awkward position and cute little belly.

A highlight of our day was an adorable card E got in the mailbox from our neighbor. Yeah, the picture quality from my Blackberry Storm 2 is unparalleled, haha.

And just because she's too cute not to share, here's a pic from 2012:

And for those of you who just love Valentine's Day and everything it stands for, might I suggest my amazing sister's blog post.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fourteen Months and Crazy!

Chou and I had our first relaxing weekend in what feels like a year! It was glorious. After having Chou away followed by an extra kid for a week, we were exhausted. We lounged around on Saturday and went to the mall that evening just to get out of the house. We're lame, I know, but the entire rest of the county was lame right along with us because the mall was packed. We forgot the stroller, so we got a great workout in as well :)

Yesterday (Sunday), E took two real naps and still slept well last night. That might be the first time ever. Even she needed a weekend! She's been busy as ever.

Some memorable E moments from the past week:

-She climbs the stairs way too efficiently! In the past week she's started playing upstairs, coming down occasionally to make sure I'm still here and then continuing to play upstairs. She's climbed straight over Titus and kept going. She's climbed with toys in both hands. I'll hear her at the top of the stairs and go over to spot her as she comes down, and she's already downstairs playing in the 0.2 seconds it takes me to get there. She's crazy and gives me frequent heart attacks.

-She really likes to take things apart and put them back together. Whether it's a travel mug, a stack of paper plates, or all the Tupperware we own, she's obsessed.

-She's learned to take caps off pens. The other morning she opened my eyeliner, several pens, and a highlighter, which she consumed before I found her.

-She's a hoarder and an organizer. She frequently puts her own things away, never to be found by me ever again. I've found stacks of cloth wipes underneath her changing table, underneath a dog bed, and there's still one I'm waiting to find, judging by how many wipes have up and left. Every morning within five minutes of getting dressed, she removes her socks and puts them in her bebePod seat (not sure why I'm still putting socks on her feet). Last night I cleaned out three days worth of socks from her seat, along with shoes, her water, and a dog bone that I didn't even know was under the socks. My purse felt a little heavy on Friday so I looked in and found another dog bone.

Collecting bones
Hoarding and playing. There's a dog bone under there somewhere.
 -She's currently obsessed with her bebePod. She spends hours climbing in and out and sitting in it. Not sure why it's suddenly so interesting.

-She can finally point to her nose (most the time) without accidentally landing her finger in her mouth instead. She also has learned where her ears are.

-She loves putting things on her head, from hats to blankets to clothes. She likes crawling around blindly and laughing hysterically when she "accidentally" runs into the dogs. However, if I put a hat or bow on her it immediately comes off.

-She loves stuffed animals and dolls. She'll give her doll a bottle and a pacifier (neither of which she's ever had herself) and she likes to give the doll her favorite teether as well. Seriously, where does she learn this stuff?

-Tooth #6 will be here any day now. She's been biting everything, but hasn't had any trouble with sleep or grumpiness.

 -Chou's gotten tired of her unwillingness to walk, so he's been strongly encouraging her to get up. She humored him by sauntering the whole way across the dining room yesterday, but still views walking as more entertainment than transportation. She's never once taken a step without prodding from us. I'm fine with her not walking for like another year, so whatever they work out is fine with me ;)

-She said thank you in Mandarin yesterday. Only appropriate to celebrate Chinese New Year with a little Chinese.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bubble Baths

E loves baths! She has from the first time we were able to let her sit in a sink full of warm water. (We were all happy when her cord fell off and we could trade those annoying sponge baths in for real ones.) She has turned into a really happy kid, but it's still nice to have an activity or two that can turn a grump back into a giggler. Usually I'll take her out for a walk or to run errands to distract her if needed, but it's crucial to have an indoor activity that does the trick as well for those days when it's freezing/sleeting/just plain miserable. If it's terrible weather and we both need a break, I brew a cup of tea and draw up a warm bath and go sit with E while she plays in the tub. It's guaranteed to make us both feel wonderful! A few weeks ago I picked up some bubble bath for her to try out, and she's most definitely a fan. It's all natural Burt's Bees, so I'm okay with her playing in it and, unfortunately, eating it. It still has that awfully sweet bubble bath smell, I was hoping it wouldn't. I'll try a different brand next time, but for now this works!

inspecting the goods
tasting the goods

bubble goatee 

The Top 10 Ways Having Dogs Will Prepare You For Having Kids

10. They have basic, daily needs that must be met no matter how busy you are. It seems like a no-brainer, but countless times we have made plans and then sometime later stopped and said, "but what are we going to do with the dogs?" From a night out after work to a weekend away, plans need to be made to meet their basic needs.

9. They leave their toys everywhere. Seriously. Titus loves to empty an entire bin to find one bone. Somehow, my dogs know how to spin in circles, roll over, and crawl across the floor backwards on command, but not to pick up their own toys. Hoping we don't repeat that training oversight with E ;)

8. They are instantly interested in whatever you're trying to clean up. A toy that was previously unnoticed is suddenly their favorite toy ever.

7. They know that the only reason you'd sit on the floor is to play with them. You would never sit on the floor to relax, do yoga, or watch TV. If you're on the floor, it's because you wanted to snuggle or play endless games with them.

6. You get used to dealing with poo.

5. They wake up at the same time on weekends as the weekdays. It takes some serious effort to convince dogs and babies to sleep in on Saturday mornings. We've pretty much given up.

4. They provide endless entertainment. Whether we're sitting at home with just the three of us or have a house full of friends, babies and puppies provide great conversation starters. Like the other morning when Chou and I were laughing hysterically watching E bend over with her butt in the air and face to the floor to eat her spilled peas straight off the floor. Or when she decides she doesn't like the current location of our coffee table and slides it into the adjacent dining room. Or when she lets out repeated shrieks and giggles just to hear the sound of her own voice. Or the evil little laugh she reserves only for terrorizing a sleeping dog.

3. They can always turn a bad day into a good day. On a day when nothing seems to go right and they only seem to be exacerbating the chaos, one smile, kiss, or tail wag can make you realize that life isn't that bad. Even on the worst days, there's nothing so bad that a smile from E can't fix it!

2. Our own will always be cuter and more loving than any one else's. Period.

1. They will always love you and are quick to forgive, even when you've had a rough day and haven't treated them as kindly as you should have.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Favorite Things Fridays - MOPs

When Chou and I started dating, the vast majority of my friends were male, and the majority of his friends were female. Throughout high school and college, I naturally gravitated towards guys to avoid the drama and  emotion that came along with girls. I never related well to most girls, despite growing up with only sisters. Fortunately, Chou makes up for what I lack in sentiment and emotion. He'll gladly pick out a chick flick to watch with my sisters or female friends, and occasionally have to wipe tears as he complains about dust in his eyes. Inevitably, I roll my eyes and leave the room (or, in a moment of insensitivity, laugh and get forced out), confused as to what could possibly be so moving and how anyone could be that engrossed in a fictional plot. Chou is a Life Group leader for middle schoolers at church. Two years ago when he was just getting started, I asked him how he liked it. His response, "I don't know. Boys are so tough to connect with. It would be so much easier if I was leading a group of girls." I'm happy to say that he's since figured out how to connect with his guys, and just came back from a weekend of eating contests, immense farting, and plenty of bonding.

So while I'm plenty girly when it comes to figuring out which of my three pairs of brown boots goes best with my purse, there are plenty of times when my closest female friends refer to me as heartless. If Chou and I are looking for an emotional or relational decision, Chou's the man for the job. However if we need a decision based purely on facts, I'll happily make a spreadsheet of pros and cons to decipher the logical choice. Chou and I don't often read marriage books or attend seminars, because a lot of the generalizations just don't apply to us. Two years ago we heard Mark Gungor when he came to our church to speak on marriage. He was highly entertaining and we definitely got some useful info from him, but as usual, so much of what he said just wasn't us. He joked about how guys can stare into a cupboard for a solid five minutes and can't find what they need, and their wife will come by and grab it from the front of the center shelf and hand it to them. I distinctly remember this example, because that exact thing happened to us literally the day before, except in reverse. I was the one staring blankly into the cabinet.

I feel like I've gotten a little more balanced since knowing Chou and can relate better to women than before, but it's still often a stretch for me. Our church has a group for moms of young kids called MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) that I really wanted to try out in order to get to know some local moms and find some more friends for E, but I was really hesitant to go. Thanks to some gentle prodding from Chou and a few friends, I gave it a chance. I came home from the first meeting excited to get to know some awesome mamas, but feeling like it would be another one of those women's groups that I just didn't relate to. I can't tell you how wrong I was! I have been so blessed, encouraged, and stretched by the women I've gotten to know as well as some of the awesome teachings and info shared during our meetings. I can honestly say that my daily life has changed thanks to these meetings. We had Bonni from Mom By Example share on time management, and I implement some of her strategies daily in order to successfully be a full time mom and part time employee, all without leaving the house. I've been motivated get moving again (thanks, Steph!) and I've developed some great friendships with ladies who can offer support and advice. I'm so thankful for these ladies