This is a chart that I thought might be helpful for anyone looking for appropriate bedtimes for babies and toddlers.
Introduction/Issues We Were Struggling With: I’ve written a little about my experience with hiring a certified sleep consultant to help my 6 month old (now 9 month old) to sleep better. To recap and fill in some background, I was basically having trouble with a nursing to sleep association, naps were all over the place – both length and timing, she wouldn’t sleep without being held – day or night. Now let me clarify, I was not expecting to dump my baby into her crib when I thought it was time for her to sleep and her sleep 12 hours straight without needing something to eat or drink. That seem(ed)/(s) to be unrealistic to me. What I desired was to parent my child to sleep, that is to say help her wind down and get sleepy, so that she could fall asleep easily on her own when laid down after her bedtime routine and feel secure enough in her own bed to get comfortable and resettle when she woke in the night. At 6 months of age, I expected to still need to feed her 1-2 times a night – around midnight and 5 am, I still believe those are realistic expectations of a 6 month old. After reading countless articles and methods online, two different No-Cry type of sleep training books and 2 months of no results, I desperately and reluctantly hired a sleep consultant that had been recommended to me by a friend. Let me say on the front end that I’m extremely thankful for the help this lady gave me. She was a great lady and there’s no telling where we’d be with sleep if we hadn’t sought some outside help. But here’s my “issue” with hiring a sleep consultant: I don’t feel that I was truthfully offered much more information than what I had already read. What I really received was someone to reassure me that the method I had chosen would indeed work and that I wasn’t waisting 2 weeks of my life trying to get sleep that would never come if I was implementing a sleep training method improperly. And I tried exactly what my consultant had me do before I contactted her, BUT I only tried it one night. And the first night is by far the hardest, but even though I knew it would take 7-10 days for significant improvement I was so tired that I gave up on it right away. I didn’t KNOW I was implementing the method properly and felt that I didn’t have even one night to waste. It angers me that I was forced to pay so much, when all I needed was someone I could ask questions to clarify what I had already learned. I could’ve achieved my goal with a lot less interaction, honestly. It’s like I had the pieces of the puzzle, but needed a little help putting them together. In hindsight, perhaps I should’ve contacted the authors of the books I had read to see if they would’ve offered me any free advice – I had, after all, purchased their book.
Sleep Consulting Details: I paid $350 for a 45 minute initial phone call, one 15 minute phone call every week for 3 weeks after the initial call, and moderate email support (she was readjusting policies when I was doing my consultation with her) for 4 weeks. $350. That’s a lot of money to me. I dare say that’s a lot of money to most people, especially new parents who’ve spent God knows how much money on their baby recently. What I couldn’t find the answers to that prompted me to hire someone were these: “How long should my baby be napping?” “How long should she be going between naps?” “What do I do if she wakes from a nap early?” “How long do I try to get her to go to sleep and what do I do when that time is up?” “What sleep training method is best?” I could find some answers to these questions, but they always seemed directed to younger babies and I wasn’t confident that it would suit my baby because she was a little older (it seems “the rules” change every 3 months with a baby, until they’re one). I already knew that babies like routine, that nap and bedtime routines were (are) important. I knew that I could create new sleep associations that I may not intend to and was very aware of the steps I was taking. I already knew a lot of things. In the end, I still did things a little differently than advised and imagine this – my baby is sleeping quite well these days. What is the point of this post? I’m going to be reading and reviewing some more sleep books and methods and I would like to offer some free help to as many people as I can with the knowledge I gain from my research and firsthand experience. You could read these books yourself, yes. But if you’re a tired parent, it would nice to have one place to go that would consolidate all of the different methods and the like to help you get your sweet pea to sleep better! That’s what I’m setting out to do. It’ll require some lengthy posts no doubt and research, that’s ok though, because I like to write and I like doing research.
What I Need From You: I need any tired, frustrated parents of babies 3-12months to contact me. If you have a younger baby and would like to know some things you can do to create healthy sleep habits from birth I would be happy to hear from you as well. I do not really advocate sleep training before 3 months old. However, I do feel that you can begin to create healthy sleep habits early on. I want you to contact me like you would a sleep consultant. There is a contact form with this post. I’ll try to give you an outside look at what’s going on and help you “piece the puzzle together.” Why should you trust me? I’m not making this stuff up myself. I will always be referencing other sources with any advice I give and will do my best to provide those references in my posts or with any correspondence with you. If I had not been so tired myself, I probably would’ve been able to do the research to figure out my own baby’s sleep problems as my unanswered questions weren’t really all that difficult, but the answers were important details. And frankly, sometimes you just need some support.
If you would like some help, fill out the contact form below and I will send you a detailed questionnaire. Before contacting me, I would suggest you read this post. It explains that good naps = good night sleep and has some links that you may find helpful. I find that there are a lot of babies not getting adequate naps, which is resulting in horrendous nighttime sleep! Of course, there may always be multiple issues you are dealing with, but I felt the need to have a post about the importance of how sleep begets sleep. I’m continuously working on the baby sleep inspired posts for this site, so follow me and let me help you out!
I got this recipe from a friend in my hometown. She was constantly writing on her Facebook about these Strawberry Pies and I finally got the courage up to ask her for the recipe. I always hesitate to ask people for recipes because some people don’t want to give away family recipes and I don’t like to be rejected – especially when it comes to food. She didn’t seem to mind! So I’m not going to hesitate sharing it here.
These pies make a great dessert in the summertime because they’re very light, yet still sweet enough to curb that after-supper sweet tooth. As of this writing, I have two chilling in the refrigerator right now! Oh so good!!!
Recipe (makes 2 pies):
- 2 Pints Strawberries, cut and hulled (I like to cut mine into smallish pieces)
- 3 oz Box Strawberry Jello
- 1 1/4 Cups White Sugar
- 1 1/2 Cups Water
- 1/2 Cup Corn Starch
- Dash of Salt
- Cool Whip (if desired)
- 2 prepared pie crusts (you can always make your own, but I just buy them)
Bake pie crusts as directed by manufacturer (or recipe) until golden brown. You’ll want them to be done all the way, because this is all of the cooking involved in this recipe. You’ll notice in the picture above that my crusts sort of shrank down into my pie plates. This is not a desired effect, I think I needed to pull them up a little higher before I baked them. If you buy pie crusts in the metal pans in the frozen section, there shouldn’t be any risk of this.
On the stove in a saucepan, heat water, sugar, corn starch, and salt until thick. I’ve found using a whisk when first mixing in the corn starch gets it incorporated well. Once the mixture is thick, remove from heat and add jello. Mix well, then add strawberries and fold (or gently stir) them to coat them in the liquid. Quickly pour mixture into cooled pie crusts and refrigerate 4 hours or you can place them in the freezer for about an hour if you’re in a hurry.
Serve with a dollop of Cool Whip, if desired.
What better way to put fresh strawberries to use during the hot southern summer? Ok, it’s not THAT hot here today, but I had bought a lot of strawberries from a local farmer and was dying to make some of … Continue reading
I love finding recipes for things that can be bought in the store! So far, I seem to find that things that are mixed yourself are so much better than the store-bought mixes. Honestly, I like sloppy joes, but I haven’t loved them in the past. Then I found this recipe when looking for something different to cook. And oh my goodness – they’re great! I’m convinced that sloppy joes are one of those things that one must taylor to their own tastes, but I love this recipe just the way it is.
Homemade Sloppy Joes
- 2 Tbs Butter
- 2 1/2 lbs ground beef (or ground turkey)
- Half of a large onion, diced (or a diced whole small onion, just dice some onion, ok?)
- 1 large green bell pepper, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic minced (or canned minced garlic, see jar for substitution directions)
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbs brown sugar
- 2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- Worcestershire Sauce (to taste)
- 2 Tbs tomato paste
- Tabasco sauce (optional; to taste)
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Kaiser Rolls or Hamburger Buns
Directions: Add butter to large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain and discard fat. Return meat to skillet/ dutch oven. Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes or until vegetables begin to get soft. Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili dry mustard, and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Also add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and Tabasco if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Spread rolls with butter and brown on griddle or skillet. Spoonmeat mixture over the rolls or buns. Enjoy!
When I started this blog, I hadn’t originally intended it to be solely food centered and I still don’t, but I do want recipes, cooking, and the like to be a great part of it. Since this blog is new and really just developing, I’m going to go with it! Can you believe I used to hate to cook? Something changed in me when I got married though. There was something about having my own kitchen, that I could do whatever I wanted to in, that made me want to be a great cook. I spent a lot of time on the phone with my Granny asking her questions!
If you are a new cook – perhaps you’ve just moved out on your own and realize you have no idea what you’re doing or maybe you’re a newlywed struggling to boil water – I invite you to follow my blog as I help you learn your way around your kitchen. I’m a self-taught cook who loves to try new recipes and challenge myself, but I remember my newlywed days when I could barely make spaghetti! I would read recipes that honestly just didn’t make sense or I didn’t have all of the ingredients and was so tight on money that I refused to buy them all. I found myself needing simple recipes with few ingredients. On top of that, I would constantly guess if the pot or pan I was using would be big enough for the dish. For example, a recipe might have read, “Fill large pot with water and bring to a boil.” I would wonder, “Is this a ‘large’ pot? How much water?”
It was ridiculous! And really funny now that I look back on it 😉
Here’s what you can expect from my “New Cooks” posts:
- Posts may be somewhat lengthy, depending on topic or recipe, etc.
- Pictures to explain things that may otherwise be considered simple to experienced cooks
- Recipes with limited ingredients at first, then we will build to recipes with more ingredients in order to help you build up your spice (etc.) pantry
- Step-by-step directions
- I’m hoping to incorporate videos, but I’m not crazy about myself on camera (who is, right?)
- Cooking tips, tricks, and more
I hope you will follow my blog to see my posts for new cooks!
Cut Down Grocery Waste by buying frozen vegetables or freeze fresh produce.
This can be a give and take situation. Pre-frozen, bagged produce tends to cost more. However, you can reduce wasting food by only taking out what you need and using the rest later so that nothing “goes bad” before you can use it. Frozen produce is also usually picked at peak freshness and frozen right away so you may end up with a better product.
One could argue that you can buy fresh produce only as needed, but that may result in multiptile trips to the grocery store, before you would otherwise really need to go again (which also usually results in you buying things you don’t need). You could also buy more produce than needed and freeze it yourself. The answer to this is really about finding what works best for your grocery budget, what produce is in season, and your local grocery prices.
Follow my blog for more tips on making the most of your grocery budget!
I have been wanting to try my hand at cupcake decorating ever since my friend Stacy came to visit a little while ago. I’ve tried it before and just wash’t successful. I discovered that it turns out I’ve been missing a component for the icing bags in the past. Which I discovered after I thought I had purchased everything I needed this time! I still don’t have that component, but I made, filled, and iced the cupcakes anyway. Ha!
Chocolate Lava Cupcakes
For the cupcakes, I actually just used one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes. I didn’t want a ton of cupcakes, so I halved the recipe – I used half for the cupcakes I made and mixed the other half of the dry ingredients and placed them in a zip lock back to use later (since I was already measuring out the same ingredients I thought I would save myself some time in the future with a “ready mix”). The following cupcake recipe can also be used for a 13 x 9 cake (or about 30 cupcakes).
- 2 cups White Sugar
- 1 3/4 cups Self-rising Flour
- 3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil (you can sub other oils, such as Olive Oil, if you want)
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Boiling Water
Directions (for cupcakes): Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour baking cups OR use cupcake liners. Mix dry ingredients. Add rest of ingredients, EXCEPT WATER, and mix. Add boiling water – batter will be very thin! Pour into prepared cupcake pan. Do not fill cups more than 3/4 full. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. *This recipe is also not my own. I’m not certain where I found it, but I think it was on All Recipes.
Lava Fudge Filling
This recipe was something I found in a Paula Deen cooking magazine I have from a few years ago. Unfortunately, I could not find it on her website to give you an exact link, but I want to give her credit just the same.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate (so 3 ounces total)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions: In medium saucepan, combine butter and chocolate. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Stir in sugars. Add cream; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. You can let this cool a little before putting it in the cupcakes if you don’t want to be handling piping hot sauce!
Once cupcakes have cooled, core them – a lot of the pros use an apple corer. Watch this video for further instruction on how to core and fill cupcakes. I could not find the squeeze bottles they had in that video for filling my cupcakes. So, I improvised by using a squeeze bottle from a condiment I had (threw out the condiment, washed and filled with cupcake filling) – it worked out great! It wasn’t very good at adding the last drizzle over the icing though, but that may have been due to the fudge I was using or the fact that I wasn’t using the correct tool to drizzle it on. I just wanted to eat a cupcake at that point! After filling them, you can top them with your favorite icing. Honestly, you could eat them just as they are without any icing! Maybe with a little ice cream? Yum!
Below is a picture of what the cupcake should look like after it has been cored and filled with the sauce. You’ll notice that I’m not over-filling this blog with food photos. I’m trying to add only necessary photos – ones that I think may help explain something. Seriously, I’m growing weary of blogs’ recipes showing them doing things like adding spices or boiling water… some things just don’t need explanation and instead of taking time to enjoy their photos, I find myself annoyed and scrolling to the bottom for the recipe and going back to the photos if I need a visual clarification on something. Which is why you aren’t even getting a picture of an iced cupcake. You now what an iced cupcake looks like, you don’t need me to show you.
This is my second tip about how to save money by cutting down grocery waste:
Cut down grocery waste by eating leftovers.
A lot of people like leftovers, if this is your case, then continue making large meals and commit to having them for lunch or something the next day. Leftovers are a cost effective way to eat lunch at work. Since there’s not really any extra preparation other than putting it in a take-along container, it saves you time and effort too!
One of my favorite recipes for leftovers is Pizza Casserole.
To view my first tip about how to cut down grocery waste, read my post Budget Meal Tip: Cut Down Grocery Waste, Part I.
I first had Pizza Casserole at Thanksgiving supper at my Grandmother’s, years ago as a kid. One of my cousins, who is always counted on to bring “good food,” brought this dish and it was a hit! My sister and … Continue reading