Sunday, September 29, 2013

White Chocolate Maple Acorn Cookies (Peanut Allergy Safe!)

I love to make these cute cookies from Nutter Butter Bites and Hershey's Kisses, but I realized last year that one of my husbands cousins actually can't get anywhere near them because of his severe peanut allergy. In honor of his cousin, and adults and kids everywhere with peanut allergies, I wanted to create a delicious alternative acorn cookie recipe that is just as cute, but peanut allergy safe, and her is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy!

What you need
2/3 cups butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3oz melted real white chocolate + 1oz. 

What you do
Cream the butter and sugar. Add syrup, vanilla, and eggs, and mix well. 
Mix dry ingredients, then add to wet ingredients and stir. 
Add 3oz of white chocolate. 
Roll out dough. Use a cookie cutter or other kitchen tool to cut out small circles. 
Make lines in the dough with a fork. 
Bake at 375 for 5-7 minutes or until beginning to brown. 
Allow to cool. 
Melt remaining oz of white chocolate and spread on non fork marked side of cookies. Stick one Hershey's kiss to each acorn. 
If desired, add peanut allergy safe mini chocolate chips to tops of cookies as stems!

My tips
Check all labels to make sure all ingredients are peanut allergy safe. This list is a great resource, but always check ingredient lists and allergen warnings, and contact manufacturers if in doubt to ensure they haven't changed their manufacturing processes.

This recipe has been entered into the Safest Choice Eggs recipe contest hosted on Bakeaholic Mama and Buns In My Oven.

Friday, September 27, 2013

7 Quick Takes

I posted 7 Quick Takes today but because I edited an old one I never posted, it posted it as being on Septmeber 6th! Ugh! Anyway, here is today's 7 Quick Takes post!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Don't Touch That Baby!

Welcome to the September 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Safe

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and tips about protecting our families. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

A frustrating and all too common experience for new parents is that upon taking their sweet baby somewhere public, or even to a family gathering, people not only want to touch the baby but also think they are entitled to, and frequently do so without warning. Depending who, where, your comfort level, and the health of your baby, this might not be a big deal. But if you aren't comfortable with it, your baby isn't comfortable with it, or the health condition of the toucher and/or baby mean this could put your child's health at risk, this unrequested touching can be a huge problem. For example, my 7 month old has Down syndrome which means he is at higher risk than a typical baby of developing a respiratory illness or ear infection. So what's a mama (or dad) to do? Here are my top strategies:

This is by far the most effective strategy I've found to prevent unwanted touching of my child. Usually the worst case scenario with baby in a carrier is that someone will shake his foot. Most people who are inclined to touch the baby despite the carrier will simply put their hand on the baby's back. I don't personally mind this because I know they and my baby both probably enjoy the warmth of that touch, and I can throw the carrier in the wash when I get home and know the risk of germ exposure is pretty minimal since they didn't even touch my baby at all. 
If you or your baby are bothered by even this sort of touch, keep your hand on the baby's back yourself. Most people won't put their hand over yours. 

Enlist an ally
My mother-in-law obviously knows about my son having Down syndrome and what all that entails as far as heightened risk of respiratory illness. She also knows all the old ladies at church much better than I do, and knows which ones need warned off of touching him, and how best to address them thanks to many years of chatting with them. If you find someone who can help casually mention your "no touching" policy to would-be-cuddlers, they can relieve a huge stress off of you!

Offer hands and wash hands
My other strategy if I can tell touching is inevitable is to preemptively offer a body part to the toucher. Usually for us this means a foot or a hand, which we then remove the shoe from and/or wash immediately upon arriving home, and make sure it doesn't go in his mouth in the meantime. This actually works really well (but I sit in the back seat of the car by the baby. Otherwise it'd be tough to keep feet and hands out of his mouth!)

Honestly I think it's somewhat ridiculous that new parents have to be so vigilant about not having other people touching their baby all the time, but for some reason it's considered a socially acceptable behavior to touch babies without asking their parents. These strategies help our family avoid unwanted touch without having to tell every person we meet about the links between DS and respiratory illnesses, and I hope they help your family too!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon September 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Stranger Danger — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her approach to the topic of "strangers" and why she prefers to avoid that word, instead opting to help her 4-year-old understand what sorts of contact with adults is appropriate and whom to seek help from should she ever need it.
  • We are the FDA — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger makes the case that when it comes to food and drugs, parents are necessarily both their kids' best proponent of healthy eating and defense against unsafe products.
  • You Can't Baby Proof Mother Nature — Nicole Lauren at Mama Mermaid shares how she tackles the challenges of safety when teaching her toddler about the outdoors.
  • Bike Safety With Kids — Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs shares her tips for safe cycling with children in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • Spidey Sense — Maud at Awfully Chipper used a playground visit gone awry to teach her children about trusting their instincts.
  • Watersustainablemum explains how she has used her love of canoeing to enable her children to be confident around water
  • Safety without baby proofing — Hannabert at Hannahandhorn talks about teaching safety rather than babyproofing.
  • Coming of Age: The Safety Net of Secure AttatchmentGentle Mama Moon reflects on her own experiences of entering young adulthood and in particular the risks that many young women/girls take as turbulent hormones coincide with insecurities and for some, loneliness — a deep longing for connection.
  • Mistakes You Might Be Makings With Car Seats — Car seats are complex, and Brittany at The Pistachio Project shares ways we might be using them improperly.
  • Could your child strangle on your window blinds? — One U.S. child a month strangles to death on a window blind cord — and it's not always the obvious cords that are the danger. Lauren at Hobo Mama sends a strong message to get rid of corded blinds, and take steps to keep your children safe.
  • Tips to Help Parents Quit Smoking (and Stay Quit) — Creating a safe, smoke-free home not only gives children a healthier childhood, it also helps them make healthier choices later in life, too. Dionna at Code Name: Mama (an ex-smoker herself) offers tips to parents struggling to quit smoking, and she'll be happy to be a source of support for anyone who needs it.
  • Gradually Expanding Range — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how she is increasing the area in which her child can walk alone, a little bit at a time.
  • Safety Sense and Self Confidence — Do you hover? Are you overprotective? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses trusting your child's safety sense and how this helps your child develop self-confidence.
  • Staying Safe With Food Allergies and Intolerances — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is sharing how she taught her son about staying safe when it came to his food allergies.
  • Don't Touch That Baby!Crunchy Con Mom offers her 3 best tips for preventing unwanted touching of your baby.
  • Playground Wrangling: Handling Two Toddlers Heading in Opposite Directions — Megan at the Boho Mama shares her experience with keeping two busy toddlers safe on the playground (AKA, the Zone of Death) while also keeping her sanity.
  • Letting Go of "No" and Taking Chances — Mommy at Playing for Peace tries to accept the bumps, bruises and tears that come from letting her active and curious one-year-old explore the world and take chances.
  • Preventing Choking in Babies and Toddlers with Older Siblings — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now gives tips on preventing choking in babies and toddlers along with Montessori-inspired tips for preventing choking in babies and toddlers who have older siblings working with small objects.
  • Keeping Our Children Safe: A Community and National Priority — September has many days and weeks dedicated to issues of safety; however, none stir the emotions as does Patriot Day which honors those slain the terrorist attacks. Along with honoring the victims, safety officals want parents to be ready in the event of another disaster whether caused by terrorists or nature. Here are their top tips from Mary at Mary-andering Creatively.
  • A Complete Family: Merging Pets and Offspring — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the ground rules that she laid out for herself, her big brown dog, and later her baby to ensure a happy, safe, and complete family.
  • Be Brave — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about helping her kids learn to be brave so that they can stay safe, even when she's not around.
  • Catchy PhrasingMomma Jorje just shares one quick tip for helping kids learn about safety. She assures there are examples provided.
  • Know Your Kid — Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassfras refutes the idea that children are unpredictable.
  • Surprising car seat myths — Choosing a car seat is a big, important decision with lots of variables. But there are some ways to simplify it and make sure you have made the safest choice for your family. Megan at Mama Seeds shares how, plus some surprising myths that changed her approach to cars eats completely!
  • I Never Tell My Kids To Be Careful — Kim is Raising Babes, Naturally, by staying present and avoiding the phrase "be careful!"

Friday, September 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes September 27, 2013

--- 1 ---
Boy #2 will be 8 months old tomorrow! Hurray!

--- 2 ---
His latest tricks include sitting independently and playing peek a boo. He pulls the blanket over his face himself and its pretty adorable to see how much he enjoys controlling the game himself. 

--- 3 ---
He also started saying "dadadadada" which makes my heart melt. I'm pretty sure my husband likes it too!

--- 4 ---
 I ordered a skirt from Lands End Canvas and I'm so glad I did. It's even cuter and comfier than I had hoped. Now I just need to figure out what color of tights go with a really dark brown skirt. Any ideas?

--- 5 ---
We took our 4 year old (and baby, who mostly slept in a woven wrap) to some local museums this weekend and it was so fun and refreshing! I'm noticing more and more that Boy #1 really craves and appreciates time spent with him more than any other way of showing our love. 

--- 6 ---
I've been lazy and just got out the baby food maker to finally use it for this baby! I'd love to hear suggestions of your favorite baby purées or steamed diced foods for babies!

--- 7 ---
This Sunday is Michaelmas, and as a convert to Catholicism I have been wanting to learn more about the faith by celebrating some fun historic Saint days, so we are going to do something fun this weekend. Do you do anything for Michaelmas? I've seen a few ideas online, but overall it seems to be a pretty under celebrated day!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Perfect Coloring Books for Perfectionist Preschoolers

My preschooler hates coloring books.

He gets extremely upset when he makes a mistake (which is pretty often-he just turned 4 this summer, after all!) because you can't erase crayon or marker, the typical tools of the trade for this age. Both of his Grandmas have sent him some really great coloring books to entice him, but nothing could convince him, until finally we hit upon some outside-the-box solutions, and I thought I'd share them in case other mamas are struggling with the same thing! Without further adieu, here are my top choices for preschoolers who don't like traditional coloring books:

Scribbles series coloring books

This innovative coloring book series starting with Scribbles followed by Doodles and Squiggles comes from Japanese artist Taro Gomi and contains prompts rather than pictures to color in. A few pages have prompts an American probably wouldn't have included, but it's easy to cut out or ignore just those pages (like a very simple toilet with the prompt "Draw someone sitting"). My son actually loves this coloring book! I think it hopes that there is no real right or wrong way to do most of the pages which helps my son feel free to just enjoy being creative!

Pencils and erasable colored pencils
While non-sharp writing utensils are understandably the writing instrument of choice for most preschoolers, pencils like the Chunky #2 Pencils I bought my son, or Erasable Colored Pencils can really  bring out the creativity in a kid who won't let loose with crayons and markers. The funniest thing to me is that my son doesn't even want to erase all that often...he just wants to know that he can erase if he needs to.

Wipe away books
Dry erase, wipe away, or Wipe Clean books are another fun alternative to traditional coloring books and workbooks. Like the name indicates, they have slick pages so you can wipe away your marks with a tissue or paper towel or piece of felt. Roger Priddy, a baby book powerhouse, makes the best wipe away books for preschoolers in my opinion. We have two at our house and a handful more at my mother-in-laws house and he generally colors in at least one or two every day!

Dry erase colored pencils
Last but not least, Crayola's latest invention, dry erase colored pencils, is nothing short of brilliant in my opinion. They have bright colors, the wood makes them durable (I won't buy dry erase crayons anymore because they are so easily broken), they don't stink like dry erase markers, and they make beautiful lines and even shading, which is pretty much unheard of in the world of dry erase! I really hope they keep making these and make many more colors. I love these and intend to have a box on hand as long as they make them! When my son is coloring, the dry erase colored pencils are the thing I want to steal and use myself!

What drawing tools and books do your kids love?
Links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links which mean your products don't cost any more, but I get a tiny sliver of Amazon's profits!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Capitol Hell Book Review

What it is
Capitol Hell is a novel about the stress and hilarity that ensue when a Target-clearance-wearing girl from the Midwest heads to DC to work for as a staffer for her larger-than-life Senator.

Who wrote it
Jayne Jones and Alicia Long, both former staffers of Senator Norm Coleman who've worked in a variety of positions for state and federal congressmen. Jones is now a professor at Concordia and Long is an attorney in DC

My thoughts
I thought Capitol Hell was a fun, quick read. Jones and Long's intelligence and wit come through clearly as they depict their fictional staffer-Allie-and her misadventures in DC and on the campaign trail. I thought the main characters were interesting and compelling.  The book is at least partially a composite of their own experiences and funny stories they've heard from other staffers, so I think that contributed to it being a little over the top at time, but I personally found it hilarious, which is what I think Long and Jones were going for. 

While I personally am not a fan of drinkin', cussin' & sex in books, the quantity(not too terribly much) and explicitness (mostly innuendo) seemed pretty standard for the genre and would probably not bother most adult women or most teens. I personally would not recommend it to a teen, but I would recommend it to anyone older than that. Another tiny thing  I disliked was a seemingly random dig at nursing mamas (depicted as irrationally protesting a Senator who made a sexist comment completely unrelated to breast feeding or even motherhood). It was very tangential and minor but still irked me a bit. It just seemed unnecessary! Oh and at one point (the first page I think) the main character says she's going to "try and" do something, which made me want to shout to the entire upper Midwest "try TO. TO TO TO TO". I went to college with lots of kids from South Dakota, where the main character is supposed to be from and they all do this, so perhaps it was an intentional South Dakota touch.

Overall I thought it was a great summer read and I definitely hope they follow it up with a sequel full of even more shenanigans as Senator McDermott runs for President! 

Quick read

Some explicit language
Some sexual innuendo and allusions

Get it
Capitol Hell is about $13 in paperback
or $8 for Kindle on Amazon at time of posting. 

The bottom line
A fun summer read, especially for anyone who loves politics! Best for women college aged and above. 

Always check current prices before buying as they can change fast online, especially on Amazon as different sellers compete! The links posted are Amazon Afilliate links which means if you buy, the cost stays the same to you, but I get a chunk of Amazon's share of the profits!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My September Bucket List

I know I won't get all these things done, but here are a few of the things I'd love to do before October gets here:

Eat birthday cake!
Walk through crunchy fall leaves
Bake apple pie (and eat it of course!)
Catch my baby pivoting on camera. (I will have to be sneaky because he stops to smile for the camera if he sees it.)
Eat candy corn
Put up my fall wreath, with at least one new thing in it. Sunflowers maybe?
Celebrate Michaelmas
Buy an external hard drive
Have a picnic while the weather is still warm

What's on your list for fun this September?