Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wrapy Baby Carrier (review)

First of all, special thanks to Thoughts of Fluff for letting me do my first ever "guest blogger" post. With four young kiddos in tow, I'm not often invited to be anyone's guest. Ever. So I'll be on my best behavior...

Today I'll be reviewing the Wrapy baby carrier. This will be my first time attempting to use a wrap-style carrier and I won't lie: I'm stoked! I've always wanted to try a wrap and I've especially heard good things about "stretch" wrap carriers like the Wrapy. Word on the street is that they are particularly comfy for curvy mammas like myself. Considering my only experience with babywearing involves our two Ergo structured carriers (which aren't particularly "curve friendly") and a ring sling that I made from a tablecloth,  I'm really looking forward to giving this a try.

First Impression

This has got to be the most convenient carrier ever made for a first time wrapper! For starters, it comes in a matching drawstring storage bag so I won't have to wrestle an alligator... Oops! I mean "try to properly fold a hugemongous piece of fabric"... every time I use it.

I predict many years of shoving a Wrapy into this drawstring bag -without folding it- in my future.
The Wrapy also comes with a handy little booklet that includes step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to wrap yourself with it for use as a carrier. Better yet, there are also directions on how to use a single wrapping method to carry your child through various ages (from a newborn to a hefty 35 lb toddler) in several different ways.
There's even a breastfeeding carry! How cool is that?!
I'm dying to try all the different carrying styles but my toddler is currently in the "I'm totally independent and can do everything myself including walking but I'll throw a screaming tantrum if you don't wipe my butt fast enough" phase and the newbie is only a few weeks old. So basically one of my daughters is unwearable and the other can only be worn a couple ways. I also have two boys but one of them is six-years-old and the other is a rock (seriously! He's 40" tall and weighs 40 lbs... that's a pound per inch!!!).
This is what 40 x 40 and stubborn look like.
Seriously though, the Wrapy would make an awesome gift for a first time parent. It's got a lot to offer and a lot to teach a first time wrapper like myself, which is amazing. If you follow their FaceBook page, you can see all sorts of tips for more than just wrapping, too.

The Details

I'm a huge fan of the gender neutral color options (blue, black, gray and red) that the soft, breathable and comfortably stretchy fabric comes in. I chose blue, which is closer to a navy color. My color selection process involves three factors that all of the Wrapy color options meet though: A) I wanted something that matches most of my clothes, B) Something that my husband wouldn't be embarrassed to wear in public and (most importantly) C) It can't easily stain from mustard-ish newborn diaper blowouts. Speaking of which, I'm an even bigger fan of the fact that the entire thing is machine washable AND dryer safe.
It's like the people who made the Wrapy are telling me "Relax Mommy. Don't slave away hand washing and scrubbing the poop and curdled milk spit-up from your carrier. Just throw it in the machine and pour yourself a glass of wine to go with that chocolate and your new book..."
Like most wrap carriers (which are essentially just a massively long piece of fabric) It has a convenient tag to mark the center of the wrap to make the wrapping process easier. The Wrapy also has nicely tapered ends, which I really like. Many of the cheaper wraps I've seen leave the ends square which looks unfinished and bulky hanging down.
All in all, I really like the Wrapy carrier. It's priced extremely competitively for the baby carrier market, offering an incredible value. I honestly couldn't buy enough fabric of this quality to MAKE a wrap carrier for the price that the Wrapy goes for on Amazon (seriously, I checked)! And for such a simple product it was very thoughtfully designed. It's now officially at the top of my baby shower gift list for new mommies who won't realize how badly they need the freedom of babywearing until they're crying over a pile of dirty dishes/laundry while bouncing a screaming infant on their hip. It's the gift of sanity.
And of course, what's a review without a disclaimer?... Lost and Farm was sent the above product to facilitate this review. This did not sway my opinion in any way though. All opinions in this review are 100% my own honest opinion and therefore may differ from your own.
Ann Milligan is a devoted wife, mommy to four crazy kids, a Chicken Soup for the Soul author and freelance writer. Her extremely limited free time is consumed by a chocolate addiction, obsessive internet cat stalking and her blog at LostandFarm.Wordpress.com.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sun Tea

Few things excite me about summer more than sweet tea. I’m a huge fan of sweet tea. More so, I’m a huge fan of sun tea. My whole family is, actually. We can go through a lot of it, but we often make “Arnold Palmers” with it (half tea, half lemonade) which helps it stretch a bit.



I’ve actually been asked a few times how we make sun tea, so I thought I’d share it with all of you. People do it many different ways, but this is how we do it:

·         1 container
·         6 (black) tea bags (we usually do 3 decaf, 3 caff)
·         1c sugar
·         1 gallon of water

That’s all you need! Well, that and sunshine. I add the cup of sugar to the container first, then the water. Finally, I add the tea bags (and lid!) and place it in the sunshine for the majority of the day (we prefer at least 6 hours). After we bring it inside, we strain the bags, stir to mix in any undissolved sugar, and enjoy!


Some people prefer to dissolve the sugar in a bit of hot water before setting it out, but we never do. Not all the sugar will dissolve, but that’s okay. My kids don’t need a bunch of sugar!
Other alternatives would be doing 3 black tea bags and 3 flavoured like raspberry or peach. If you’re curious, yes… both taste amazing mixed with lemonade!


Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Adventures with chicks (pt. 4)

At 3 weeks and 3 days, the chicks have definitely given a better idea of what they will look like as they get older. They also quickly were growing out of their new container. We planned a similar set up as we had for our injured hen (and also that we used for our roo when we first got him), except significantly more straw for snuggling against and a heat lamp.

I had a friend over, (the person that introduced me to keeping chickens, actually!) and she helped me put a little band around the legs of a couple of the chicks.

Our little bantam is growing some feathers in and looking less like a chipmunk!
The barred rock is starting to show her barring instead of sporting all black with a white dot on the back of her head.
Still pretty certain this is a black australorp, and we are intending on keeping her.
Our two blues wouldn't hold still for the picture, but my friend did her best to get them to at least show their face for the camera. 
The feathers are coming in on the supposed buff cochin, and they are white! When I realized these two will likely be identical, we quickly banded the one that Squiggle wanted as her own chick so we could tell them apart.
The two easter egger (EE) chicks. The one on the right is Bobbles, and we banded her just in case they started to look more like each other like what happened with Squiggle's chick.

As the chicks grow, they are getting more spirited. By that, I mean they are more active and when I reach for them and they will either loudly run from me, or run up and peck at my wedding band.

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Perfect Pancakes Recipe

Pancakes are one of my favourite breakfast foods due to their versatility. You can pair them with a variety of fruits (incorporated into them or fresh cut on top of them), add other sorts of mix-ins (chocolate chips, anyone?), or serve them plain. Real maple syrup is always a winner in our house, but sometimes my husband likes to use plain pancakes as the outside of a sandwich, adding some eggs, cheese, and bacon or sausage between it.

Better yet? They freeze really, really well. Make extras and freeze them in a huge gallon freezer bag, and you can pull some to toast or microwave for a quick, yummy breakfast some other time! For easier storage, put pieces of wax paper between the pancakes and don't freeze them until they've cooled down completely.

Anyway you look at it, pancakes are awesome.

Yes, I accidentally let one get a bit too brown. Oops! Still tasted good, though! You can see some of them have chocolate chips mixed in, others don't. 
Problem is, for the longest time we didn't have a good recipe. We tried recipe after recipe, and we finally stumbled across a winner. Actually, we stumbled across this recipe over a year ago. We've used it multiple times since then, and it's always fabulous. The only reason I never shared it before now is because I kept forgetting to take pictures!

(I apologize in advance for the quality of food pictures on my blog. I only have a cell phone camera to work with right now. I try to make the best of it, though!)

The following recipe was found on Allrecipes.com and is for 4 servings. You can change the number of servings you want on the website and it will do all the adjustments to the ingredients for you, though. I normally double the recipe, but if I'm freezing anything I triple it.

FLUFFY PANCAKES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 Milk
  • 2T white vinegar
  • 1c all-purpose flour
  • 2T white sugar
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2T butter, melted
  • cooking spray (or whatever you prefer to grease your pan)

1) Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to "sour" (aka: make buttermilk).

2) Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.

3) Whisk egg and butter into buttermilk/soured milk.

4) Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Fully mixed batter. Now is the time to mix in any extras like chocolate chips or berries!
5) Heat a large skillet over medium heat and grease. Pour 1/4c of batter onto the skillet, cooking until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip, and brown on other side.

Due to sodium restrictions Bobble has from previous medical issues, we use a sodium-free baking powder to help reduce the sodium content of the pancakes.

I like to use butter to grease my pan before cooking the pancakes, and I like to mix in chocolate chips or berries. I've also become rather fond of adding some cinnamon to the batter or very lightly sprinkling some cinnamon on them as soon as I put the batter in the pan. So yummy!

If you're in need of a pancake recipe, you should definitely give this one a try!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. The recipe is the Fluffy Pancakes Recipe from AllRecipes.com. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Adventures with chicks (pt. 3)

At two weeks of age, they looked much different!


Many more feathers, and much larger, too. We upgraded their container to something longer (They still have a heat lamp, of course!) and gave them a bigger food bowl and an actual watering container.



I took a picture of each chick individually at 2w and 2d:
Bobble's EE (pic to left is another EE)



 The two above are both going to be blue or lavender of some sort. The one on the right has feathers on the legs, too.

Above left we don't really know what she is. I was guessing Black Australorp at first, but I really don't know. The above right is a Barred Rock chick, and she will look just like our girls that we already have.



The one above on the left is Squiggle's chick. We are guessing she is a white cochin. I thought the one on the right would be a buff cochin due to colouration, but the feathers are coming in white... so maybe we got two white cochin chicks?

 
This last one is our accidental bantam. This chick is half the size of the others, and we have no idea what breed it might be. The bantam chicks are straight run (not sexed), so we don't know the gender, either. (S)he has a poof on their head, but not big enough to be a Polish chick, and they have five toes. Our best guess is maybe a Bantam Houdan?

It's crazy how much they change in such a short time frame!

Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff is responsible for the content of this post. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

MMB Instagram Takeover!

Now that my kids are out of diapers, I don't have as much need for the cloth diapering stores I once held so dear to my heart.... but that doesn't mean I don't still shop at them! While some stores only sell cloth diapers and accessories, stores like Mom's Milk Boutique (MMB) offer so many things that they still get my business from time to time. 

Things like Life Factory bottles (which I adore), RLR (great for more than just diapers!), and also some awesome around-the-house things like essential oils or a french press!

Okay, so what's new with MMB? They are taking over Instagram! Each day they are adding new items to their sale, so follow Mom's Milk Boutique on Instagram to see what items are on sale each day. The sales are running through the 20th, so that's nearly another week of awesome sales! 



The items currently on sale are Life Factory, Learning Tower, Hape, and Green Toys. Not what you're looking for? Check back each day! 

To take advantage of the sale, use code Instagram during checkout!

Happy shopping!

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and may differ from your own. Links are affiliate links.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Spark of Amber - Baltic Amber Necklace

Baltic amber jewelry has been talked about for a while now, though I'm still surprised when people don't realize the versatility of it. When I was given the opportunity to review an amber necklace from Spark of Amber, I thought it would be a great way to help spread the word about Baltic amber jewelry.

So what IS Baltic Amber jewelry?

"Baltic Amber is a fossilized resin. Euorpeans greatly prize this beautiful stone for its claimed 100% natural anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and calming properties. The healing oils of the Baltic Amber are said to relieve teething pain, tame baby's irritability, and relieve inflammation in the throat, ear, and stomach." - quoted from Spark of Amber's summary on their beautiful teething necklace "The Midnight".

Note that I quoted that from a teething necklace page. Please know that these teething necklaces are not meant to be chewed on, but rather are named as such due to their potential healing properties. They can help alleviate teething pain and symptoms. They should never be chewed on!

Should a child chew on it, or should it break, each bead is individually knotted so they don't have the opportunity to shove a handful of beads in their mouth.

Spark of Amber offers so much more than just teething necklaces, though. You can get amber necklaces, amber bracelets, hazelwood and amber jewelry, earrings, keychains... they seriously have some options! You can even have a custom mother's bracelet made that has beads that represent children's birthstones. To see all their options, check out the "Browse Products" tab on their page!

Are you looking for something natural to potentially help with attention, focus, or hyper-activity? Check out "The Serenity" necklace as a possibility! Lepidolite and Black Tourmaline beads are added between raw Baltic amber beads to encourage calming. The colour of the beads also makes it completely gender neutral, so it will be great on boys or girls.

All of the amber beads used in Spark of Amber's jewelry are from Lithuania due to their high quality.

Since Bobble is not interested in wearing anything at the moment and Squiggle is ready to remove something after mere minutes, Spark of Amber sent me a necklace for myself. I was sent the lovely Luxury Green Adult Amber Necklace "The Meadow":


It arrived in a cute little bag which was quickly confiscated by Bobble to be used for Lego storage (or something like that). Thankfully, I was able to retrieve the necklace before he made off with it!


The colour varies from each necklace due to the nature of the amber resin, and in the direct sunlight this can still look a bit orange or brown. This is one thing I absolutely adore about the necklace, though! I love how it can appear different in different lighting, and I love how each necklace is completely unique because of this natural variation.

A close-up of the clasp closure


Though my camera focused on my actual fingers instead of the necklace, this gives you the absolute best idea of the exact colour of the specific necklace I got. As I mentioned above, this can look a bit different in various settings, and it will vary from necklace to necklace, bead to bead.

The above was taken in indirect, morning lighting, and below was direct morning light. Neither picture has had colour tweaked or filters applied.




The particular necklace I got was polished, and was longer than I would normally wear. I liked that I could tuck it into my shirt and out of sight of Squiggle, though. She tends to grab and pull on things that she likes (read: everything), and would have tried to yank it right off of me!

You can also find unpolished, or "raw", jewelry from Spark of Amber.

The necklace was very beautiful (as you can see), light weight, easy to put on and take off, and was very comfortable. Anyone that happens to have longer hair or lots of little hairs on their necks has likely felt that horrible pull of a hair while wearing a necklace. That hasn't happened with this necklace. Not a single time. The necklace is very good quality!

I'd like to add this little tidbit on Baltic Amber in general: I've used Baltic amber jewelry on both of my children and myself, and various different brands over the last 5 years. From what I have experienced first hand, the effects of the jewelry differ from each person. Granted this is not medicine, the best way I can think of to liken the differences is to compare to a pain reliever. Some people get a migraine and need 2 children's pain relievers, and another person could have a migraine and take numerous extra-strength pain reliever to get the same effect.

Every person is different.

Bobble didn't have any response to the Baltic amber jewelry he had (positive nor negative). He looked adorable, and that was that.

Squiggle seemed to have lessened irritability when wearing hers.

I started wearing some amber jewelry because I have joint pain and headaches. My headaches decreased in frequency, though I didn't wear amber continuously and cannot really attribute the wearing of it to lack of joint pain or not.

No matter what your reasons for wanting to try Baltic amber jewelry, you will be guaranteed a gorgeous piece of jewelry. That gorgeous jewelry might just help with your child's pain caused by teething or earaches, too. Best of all? NATURALLY.

Don't just go off of what I say, though... try it yourself! Spark of Amber has generously offered one of my readers an item of their choice (up to $30 value)! Enter below for your chance to win! Can't wait to see if you won? Check out their store and get some high-quality Baltic amber jewelry with really fast shipping. They get orders out quickly!

Giveaway is for US/CAN only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclaimer: Thoughts of Fluff was sent the above product for review. This did not influence my opinion of the product in any way. All opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. Thoughts of Fluff is not responsible for prize shipment.