Friday, August 31, 2012

Random Friday

1. Owen Grows.

     So I think I've accidentally started an anniversary trend. On Wednesday (our third anniversary), I was making Pioneer Woman's Knock You Naked brownies when I remembered that I made the same dessert last year for our anniversary (a little tongue in cheek humor). And while I was taking pictures of Owen "helping" me mix the batter (more like flinging it across the room and licking the spoon), I also realized that I had taken pictures last year of Owen while I was making them. So I dug through our saved pictures and found the one I took last year of Owen and put it next to the picture from this year. Similar pictures taken on the same date one year apart. See how Owen has grown. I can't believe it. Last year at this time, he wasn't even sitting by himself. He couldn't speak. He had no teeth. Now he's walking, running, talking. Into everything. He's got a personality. He calls me "Momma." Sometimes I miss that little squishy baby. But then I look at the little man on the right and I'm happy right where we are

2. Anniversary recap.

     We had a really great anniversary this year. We had our trip to the Cincinnati Zoo, a date night on Saturday night without Owen, and a nice dinner and relaxing evening watching So You Think You Can Dance on our actual anniversary (so sad that Will was voted off!). We exchanged presents early because we couldn't stand keeping the surprises to ourselves much longer. Tim and I are going shopping tomorrow to pick out my anniversary gift. He wants to buy me a pearl ring since I've been talking about wanting one for a while and it's my birthstone. I bought Tim a Keurig coffeemaker because he has been talking about wanting one for a while and he's not the type of person to mention wanting something more than once, so I knew he really wanted it. I know it's not the most romantic anniversary gift, but Tim is super practical and he would probably just look at me funny if I got him something really sweet. So... I bought him something practical and then got him a few extras that were a little more romantic. To continue the coffee theme, I bought matching mugs on Etsy and had them personalized. I also got a print from for free using my referral credits and framed it to put on the wall in the kitchen. Tim seems to like all of his gifts and has used his coffee mug and the Keurig the last few mornings.

3. Traveling with a toddler.

    Our vacation to Florida will be here before we know it and I am really anxious about traveling in the car with Owen for two days worth of driving. So I have been researching different ideas online for traveling with a toddler and I have been putting away toys and books for Owen so that he has a lot of new things to play with. I recently placed an order with Amazon to get a few more items for our trip. You can see them below. I'm really excited about the book because two of Owen's most recent words are "Truck" and "Honk!" I'm also looking forward to trying out the drink box holder. The car puzzle is one that our pediatrician's office has and Owen really enjoyed playing with it there. Plus, the cars are stuck in the tracks, so Owen can play with it in the car and I don't have to worry about him dropping pieces on the floor. I love Putumayo Kids and look forward to listening to another CD by them. They make kid music that doesn't make you want to rupture your own eardrums. And the Skip Hop toddler backpack will be great for storing all of Owen's new toys and books.  

4. Civil war reenactment

    Last weekend, we went to Battlefield Park to watch a Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Richmond. We were curious as to how Owen would react to all the gun- and cannon-fire and worried that he would be scared, but he had a blast. He sat on Tim's shoulders and kept saying, "Boom! Boom!" He is all boy. The reenactment was interesting, but shorter than it was supposed to be. I think this was because of the heat. We didn't stay very long, but it was definitely an interesting event to experience and a fun outing for our family. 

5. Little artist.

     Owen finished his canvas art project yesterday. It turned out really cute. I had him do another layer of paint over the first because it was a little thin and he had a really fun time painting again. I don't really like the consistency of the paint that we used so I definitely recommend creamier paint vs. the jelly-like finger paint that we used. I haven't decided what I will do with it, but it was a fun experience whether I display it in our house all the time or only bring it out for special occasions (like Valentine's Day). 

6. The jelly sandwich.

      Since I've been a member of the Julep Maven subscription box service, I have become more and more interested in nail art. I'm never going to be super great at it or do some of the crazy intricate and complex techniques that some people do, but I do want to try some of the more beginner techniques. The one that I'm hoping to try next is called the jelly sandwich. You apply a jelly polish (a sheer polish with a jelly-like consistency) and then a glitter polish and then jelly polish again so that you "sandwich" the glitter in the middle. It doesn't seem to hard. Just time consuming since you have to let all the layers dry really well before adding another layer. I found my tutorial on Nail Art 101. The photo below is from that website. 

7. Address stamp.

     My sister-in-law and brother-in-law sent us this address stamp as a housewarming gift this week. I really love it and am so excited to use it on all our outgoing mail. It even made paying our mortgage a little more pleasant! I am still trying to get the hang of using the stamp, but even when I don't do it perfectly it still looks great. It's just kind-of tough to get the right amount of ink on there and to press it down firmly without moving it accidentally.The stamp is from the Etsy shop Filigree Press. I think it makes a wonderful housewarming gift or wedding gift.

8. New favorite pizza. 

     Okay, to be honest, all pizza is my favorite pizza, but this recipe was so wonderful. Last night, I made Pioneer Woman's Steakhouse Pizza. Every little detail about this pizza is perfect. The crust is so delicious and I added a little brush of butter and a sprinkling of oregano and garlic salt on the edges to make it even better. The pizza sauce has such a great depth of flavor with the addition of balsamic vinegar and Worchestershire sauce. The sauteed onions are so flavorful and aren't overpowered by the sauce and meat. And the steak is delicious with a drizzling of steak sauce over the entire thing. Anyway, the next time you make pizza at home, give this recipe a try. You won't regret it!

9. Delicious Dinners Cravebox.

     I received an e-mail from Cravebox the other day telling me about an exclusive box they had available for people in Kentucky - the Hunt's brand Delicious Dinners Cravebox. I entered to win a box and found out yesterday that I won. I'm not sure what will be in the box, but I have a feeling it will be some new Hunt's products and other cooking-related items. Cravebox offers limited edition subscription boxes with various themes and you enter a lottery for a chance to purchase them. If you are selected in the lottery, then you are charged for the box. They have limited numbers of boxes because they offer way more products for the price you pay than most other subscription boxes. To check out their upcoming limited edition boxes and sign up to be notified of when they open, go here. You can then decide after they contact you whether you want to enter the lottery to win that box or not. The upcoming limited edition boxes include ones for coffee lovers, parents of toddlers, new moms, and crafters.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An honest review of The Honest Company

    I've known about The Honest Company for a while now, but I only recently decided to try them out after Owen had been having problems with diaper rash. The company (founded by actress Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan) offers a monthly delivery service for their brand of diapers and wipes as well as household cleaning and beauty products. 
      The Honest Company uses only the safest ingredients for their products and offers a delivery service so that you can enjoy their products with the convenience of having them delivered to you on a monthly schedule. The Diaper Bundle includes a month's supply of diapers and wipes (six packs of diapers and four packs of wipes) and the Family Essentials Bundle includes your choice of five bath and body products or cleaning supplies.The company currently offers about 20 different products from which to choose from laundry detergent to shampoo.
      In general, all of the products do not contain: SLS, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances & dyes, formaldehyde, petrochemicals & common allergens. They are hypoallergenic, dermatologist and allergy tested, and biodegradable. 
      I originally received the discovery pack goodies from The Honest Company to try out, which included: seven diapers, a 10-count pack of baby wipes, healing balm, lotion, laundry detergent, and hand soap. You can order a free discovery pack if you pay the $5.95 for shipping. Use the link below to head to the website and fill out a short form to receive your sample pack. I'd appreciate it if you used my referral because I receive $10 off for each person I refer who makes a purchase. And for a limited time (through the end of September) if you make a purchase through their online shop or order a subscription with them (not the free trial) you can get a $10 coupon for yourself! 
      I was excited to try the diapers on Owen because they are free of chemicals, non-toxic, chlorine-free, sustainable, and made of plant-based materials so that they are biodegradable. These diapers are so great! They are softer than mainstream brand diapers and are also very absorbent. I noticed with these diapers that Owen had no irritations or rashes like he would with other brands of disposables, particularly Pampers which have a strong baby powder scent. I have also had absolutely no leaks in the week and a half that we've been using them exclusively. And Owen sleeps twelve hours at night! I love the three boy designs: plaid, a skull and crossbones, and anchors. Girls designs are just as cute. A month's supply of diapers depends on what size your child wears, but you generally get six packs of between 31-40-something diapers each with the larger sizes and I think maybe eight packs with the smaller sizes since little babies go through more diapers.  
      The baby wipes we tried were very soft and damp and after a recent redesign, they are now thicker and larger. I never tried the original wipes, but I was very happy with the new ones. I'm happy to use disposables that are better for Owen and better for the environment. I tried doing the cloth diaper thing, but never stuck with it, so I'm glad with these I can at least be a little better for the environment and better for his sensitive skin. Each month you receive four packs of 80 wipes. 
     Their household beauty and cleaning products are also great. My favorites include the healing balm, laundry detergent, and lotion, though I haven't tried everything they offer yet. I recently received my first shipment of the family essentials and got laundry detergent, dish detergent, dishwasher pods, hand soap, and shampoo and body wash (which smells like a creamsicle!). As a company that is constantly growing and expanding, they also frequently introduce new products. Recently, they started allowing customers to add up to three more items in their bundle for 25 percent off their a la carte online store price. This is definitely a great idea since they have so many products that I would like to try and it is much cheaper to add them to a bundle than to buy them from the online store and pay separate shipping. 
   I love the care that the company has taken in planning the design of their products as well. Their packaging is really attractive and their diaper patterns are so cute and modern. No annoying cartoon characters. I also love that they take the guess-work out of picking products to use in my household. It's hard to decipher the list of ingredients on various products to figure out whether they are healthy for my family. The Honest Company's products are healthy for us and the environment and I can feel good about using them. And I love the delivery service. If you order both the diapers and the family essentials package, you receive free shipping. Their customer service is also top notch. I have spoken with them on several occasions and they have always been super nice and helpful and I didn't have to wait on hold for an eternity to speak with a real person. 
     The cost of the family essentials bundle of five products is $35.95. If I purchased the above items separately on the Honest Company website, it would have cost me $45.75 - almost $10 more without including shipping. The cost of the diapers and wipes bundle is $79.95. If I purchased these items on their website separately, it would cost $103.50, a savings of more than $20. So the bundle definitely saves me money over buying items a la carte. But I also wondered how they compared to a similar brand. 
     I decided to compare the price of The Honest Company's diapers and wipes bundle to a similar number of diapers and wipes from the company Seventh Generation. Six packs of size three Seventh Generation Free and Clear diapers ($10.99 a pack) and four packs of baby wipes ($3.49 a pack) cost a total of $79.90 (just five cents less than The Honest Company bundle and those ship free to my house). And the Seventh Generation diapers have five fewer diapers per pack (30 total fewer than the number of diapers in the Honest bundle) and ten fewer wipes per pack, for a total of 40 fewer than in the Honest bundle. So when compared to other eco-friendly and chemical-free diapers, The Honest Company is very comparable in price. Plus, where the Seventh Generation diapers are brown and boring, the Honest Company diapers have fun patterns.
       The family essentials pack was also fairly comparable in price to similar products from Seventh Generation. Added up, without tax, the five items from Seventh Generation would cost $34.45. That's just $1.50 less than my essentials bundle from The Honest Company. Tax would make it more than the essentials bundle and I would also have to either go to the store to buy it or pay shipping to purchase it on the Internet. The Honest Company also offers these charts on their website to explain the difference between their products and those of other companies. 

      If you're interested in trying The Honest Company, click HERE. You can sign up for a sample pack to try out a selection of their products for free with $5.95 shipping. If you're happy with the products, you'll be enrolled in their monthly delivery service seven days after receiving your sample. If you don't want to continue with the service, you just call and cancel. 

      I have received nothing in return for this review. I purchased all the items with my own money and am providing this review as a service to my blog readers. If you would like to see more recent reviews of The Honest Company's products, click HERE and HERE.

25 Things - No. 3 (Go to the zoo)

     My surprise anniversary trip on Friday turned out to be something that I've been wanting to do with Tim and Owen for a while - go to the zoo! I had no idea where we were heading when we started out going north on I-75 Friday morning. I ruled out my guess that we were going to Tennessee, but otherwise I had no clue. Tim and I have talked about visiting Chicago at some point, but I wasn't sure if that was something we would do for just a day. Instead, we went somewhere that I hadn't even guessed. The Cincinnati Zoo. Tim and I both have never been to this particular zoo, but we both thought it was comparable in size to the Atlanta Zoo. 
     We had so much fun as a family at the zoo. Owen really enjoyed looking at animals and running around. Tim and I enjoyed just spending time together and watching our sweet boy have a blast. We were also lucky enough to go on customer appreciation day when tickets were half off. We went to the zoo for about $30 total! Here are some photos from our day. 
Surprise! We're at the zoo!
Who knew rhinos liked to take mud baths?
Owen's absolute favorite animal at the zoo was the lynx, who stalked back and forth in front of us. He thought it was hilarious and laughed uproariously. 
Up close and personal with the tigers. 
Close encounter of the ape kind. 
Riding the gorilla. 
My handsome boys. 
Penguins not on icebergs looks very strange. But they're still super cute! 
The petting zoo was a big hit with Owen. Falling in poop was not. 
One of our favorite sections of the zoo was the nursery, where the newly born babies lived. Awww! They would not let us take the baby cheetah home as a souvenir. 
Somewhere between baby cheetah and the flamingos, Owen fell asleep, clutching onto  daddy like a baby koala.
All tuckered out. 
Owen woke up in time to see his first real-life elephant!
This zoo had the coolest giraffe enclosure ever. You got to see them from up high! This is Kimba and he is 16 feet tall. 
For a dollar, you could make out with feed him.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mani Monday

     My sister-in-law Leah has started a new weekly blog post over on her blog A Recipe for Love - Mani Monday. She is posting her current manicure or pedicure (or both!) each week. What I fun idea, right? 
     I am linking up with her post today a little bit later than I meant to, but I was surprised when I checked her blog this morning and saw that we had the same exact manicure! (Julep's Lynn with Yumi as the French tip). So because I didn't want to post the same thing, I had to do a different manicure. Haha! Our taste is so similar. But then again, we both also have a thing for Rumely men so why should we be surprised? 
       I am also linking up because I feel partly responsible since I was the one who recommended the Julep Maven program to her and got her addicted too. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, you can click the above link to find out more about the company and their monthly subscription box of nail and beauty products. If you want to receive your introductory box for just a penny, use the code COLOR2012 when you sign up and take the style quiz. Don't forget to select free shipping! 
      For my manicure, I used the Julep color Charlotte. It is described as a demure lavender creme. The Julep website says the color is, "Sophisticated with a twist. Elegant on a manicure." What I really like about this color is that you only need one coat to make a completely opaque finish. The formula is also really nice because it applies very smoothly. It is one of my favorites of my newer Julep polishes.


      On my toes, I am using Julep's Megan. It is described as a playful and sultry Mediterranean aquamarine shimmer.  It doesn't come out as dark as it looks like it will be in the bottle, but it's still pretty. I would love to wear it to the beach!

Menu Monday

     Our anniversary is this week so we plan on having a nice dinner this Wednesday night, but otherwise we don't have many other plans. I am taking advantage of the last few weeks of summer to make some summery recipes and grill out a lot. We will also be making an easy crockpot recipe to eat Saturday when college football season begins 
(technically it begins Thursday night, but all the fun games are on Saturday). Here's what we'll be eating. What are you going to cook this week?

  • Monday: Spicy black bean burgers with chipotle mayonnaise. We will be eating the remainder of these burgers that have been in our freezer from the time I made them in bulk. They are one of mine and Tim's favorite recipes currently and we could eat them on a weekly basis. I can't even begin to tell you how flavorful and wonderful they are topped with the creamy, spicy chipotle mayonnaise and avocado. I love them with sweet potato fries on the side. (If you mix some leftover chopped chipotle peppers with some ketchup and dip them in that, they are divine!) Gina from Skinny Taste says, "One bite of this spicy black bean burger with spicy chipotle mayo and creamy avocado and you won't miss the meat! Yes, these were good enough to please even the adult carnivores in my home."
  • Tuesday: Cuban pork chops. This is another recipe from the Bush's Grilling Beans competition on Pioneer Woman's cooking blog. FYI, the recipe I tried last week of grilled chicken with chipotle cream sauce was really good. This recipe looks really tasty because the pork is marinated in orange and lime juices with cumin and cayenne pepper. Then you top it with a chimichurri sauce. Pioneer Woman says, "Spicy, slightly sweet, and huge on flavor, these pork chops are out of this world."

  • Wednesday: Tilapia with lemon butter sauce and angel hair fresca. This is a recipe that I've made for years now. It is a Publix Apron's recipe that I first made I think for Valentine's Day or one of our anniversaries, I'm not sure which. But it is a really delicious semi-fancy meal that we both really love. I think it will be a perfect anniversary meal. I also plan on making some type of dessert for our anniversary, but I haven't decided what yet. 

  • Thursday: Steakhouse pizza.  I have been wanting to make my own pizza dough again for a while now and when I ran across this recipe while looking for recipes on Pioneer Woman's cooking blog, I knew this would be a perfect recipe to try out. Here is Pioneer Woman's description, "I love this pizza. I cooked up some balsamic red onions and added a little more balsamic to the pizza sauce for a little more depth of flavor. Then I topped the pizza with thin slices of medium rare steak after I pulled the baked pizza out of the oven. The hot pizza warmed the steak without ruining the beautiful medium-rare redness, and angels sang in the heavens. At the end, I drizzled the whole thing with some good steak sauce…and, well, it was too good for words."
  • Friday: Shrimp tacos. I knew I wanted tacos this week (like every week), but I wanted to try a new recipe or a different type of meat than I normally use. When I ran across this recipe for shrimp tacos on Pioneer Woman's blog and saw that she topped it with cilantro-jalapeno slaw, I knew I had to try it. Add some avocado and a squeeze of lime and I think it's going to be heaven in a tortilla. 
  • Saturday and Sunday: Dr. Pepper pork sandwiches with cilantro-jalapeno slaw. This is one of the best recipes on Pioneer Woman's blog and a great meal for watching the big game on Saturday night. Go Dawgs! (P.S. Owen has learned to "Call the Dawgs" and it is so awesome!) It's super easy to make this recipe because all you do is brown the pork shoulder and then throw it in the crock pot with a chopped onion, a can of Dr. Pepper, and part of a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. (You can use the whole can like Pioneer Woman does, but then you would die.) I will also be able to use more of the cilantro-jalapeno slaw from the night before since I'm the only one who eats it in our household. And this recipe will make plenty so that we can eat leftovers the next night as sandwiches or shredded pork tacos. 
     It's going to be a delicious week!