Monday, October 24, 2011

Baby Deals (Part 3)

The following deal sites are sites from which I have only purchased from once or twice, so my experience is minimal, but positive.

MamaBargains is a deal site that offers several items throughout the day. There is no knowing when a new deal will pop up. If a deal sells out quickly, it will immediately move onto another deal. If it is selling slowly, they'll put up a new deal after some time has passed. There may be several new deals throughout any given day. The only items I have purchased through this site are a nursing necklace and a "randomness" girl pack (this contained random baby girl items and we loved what we got...a neat towel, socks and CD).

Plum District is a site sort of like Groupon, but for mom's (and dad's too). Most of the items posted are family and baby/kid related. I only recently discovered this site and purchased a "plum steal" for a discount at the Just Between Friends sale in Portland last month. It saved me a few dollars and was easy to use!

Baby Half Off offers a new deal everyday, at half off the original retail price. I just made my first order last Friday...baltic amber teething necklaces for my girls. I have been told they work by several people and figured I would give it a try at the half off price. I have yet to receive my order (although, I just received notification that my order shipped today - Monday). I will have to let you know, when I receive them, how fast the shipping is and how I like the product.

This concludes the list of baby/kid/family deal sites I have used. There are many more out there that I have briefly explored, but have not yet purchased from. Here is a short list of those few I have yet to explore...

Daily Deals for Moms
Family Finds
Juice in the City (Not yet available in Portland)

If you have used any of these, please share your experience. I would love to hear about it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Baby Deals (Part 2)

So, it's been a couple of days since I posted last, but we have been dealing with sickness in our household. Plus, Jon and I both work full time. Between that and babies, I seem to often run out of hours in the day to do some of the things I would like to do. It's all about priorities...and my family is first!

To continue my mini series on baby deal websites, I want to introduce you to Zulily. This is another great site that has not one, but several (about 25) new deals each day! In order to view the site you'll have to create an account, but I highly recommend it. They do send you daily emails with the daily deals, so if you don't wish you receive those, you may be able to opt out or just use an email address you don't use often.

The new deals are available at 6am PST each day, and you'll find all kinds of popular product brands...Phil and Ted strollers, Melissa and Doug, Carters, Teva, Fuzzy Bunz, and a whole lot more. You'll find products for baby, kid, mom and dad. You'll find toys, games, clothing and even home decor. There are all kinds of things you never thought you needed!

In my experience, shipping has taken about a week. Go take a look...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Baby Deals

With twins, I have to be a bargain hunter. I like nice things though...even many "name brand" baby items. I, however, have to buy many things in twos and this can get very expensive!

I have gotten pretty good at doing my research on the best items, and then doing my part to research the best deals. Along the way, I have discovered some great baby/kid/mom bargain websites out there and, over the next few days, I want to share with you a few of them...

My all time favorite baby bargain site is Baby Steals! They offer two "steals" a day at 9am and 9pm MST (so, 8am and 8pm my time). Once the steal is sold out, it is gone (unless they bring it back for another steal on another day). Sometimes things don't sell out for quite some time and sometimes they are gone within minutes. It helps to know the product sometimes. During each steal, they offer a hint for the next steal and sometimes you can figure it out and be ready to steal it when it comes up. The items are often 50% off or more!

Some popular products have been Babylegs, Ergo baby carriers, Medela, Bravado and Glamourmom nursing tanks/bras, Aden & Anais, Petunia Pickle Bottom, Ju Ju Be, Robeez and a whole lot more! You will find all kinds of baby and mom "needs." You will find some random things too. Just wait, you'll find yourself an addict...just waiting for the clock to reach 8 o'clock! There is a "secret" archive too, filled with items that did not sell out. You can find it here.

For those with older (not baby) kids, there is Kid Steals. There is only one new steal (in the morning) per day there.

Here is a picture of Esme in her Babylegs brand footless tights I "stole" from Baby Steals...

You can't really see Ellerie's in this picture, under her tutu, but they have an adorable watermelon print (hot pink with little white seeds and green trim at the ankle). I have to post a picture of each of my girls...

Oh, I forgot to mention shipping...The shipping is fabulous! I've always gotten my items within 2-3 days!

Stay tuned for more baby deals...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Easy Crockpot Butternut Squash Puree

My girls love butternut squash! I'm trying to make all their baby food from fresh produce, but butternut squash (along with other varieties of squash and pumpkin) is one of those not so quick things to cook. The microwave is really something I am trying to avoid and I'm always looking for the fastest and best ways to maintain as many of the food's nutrients while cooking.

The first time I made butternut squash for the girls, I tried out my electric steamer (see picture below...butternut squash on the bottom, sweet potato on top). This method worked pretty well, but I still had to regularly check on the squash (and sweet potato) to make sure it didn't get so soft that it fell apart, falling through the slots in the trays. This method did work pretty well for preparing both foods simultaneously.

The other day, I was reading one of my recent favorite blogs, Wholesome Baby Food, and I read about cooking pumpkin in the crockpot to be used for purees. What a great idea! I thought this would surely work for butternut squash as well. So, I went at it...

Earlier this week, I purchased 3 beautiful organic butternut squashes that were on sale at New Seasons for a great price...$0.99/lb. I estimated that two of them would probably fit in my large crockpot and the other I saved for my dinner tonight (butternut squash bisque...yummy!).

Do you notice the rubber gloves in the picture? You'll need a pair of those to wear while peeling your squash. I know this from experience. If you don't wear gloves, your hands will be covered with this dried super glue like substance that is released from the skin of the squash. I have heard there are some who have not had this experience, but if I were you, I wouldn't take the risk. It's awful!

Start by washing your squash, and then put your gloves on and start peeling. You'll need to peel away approximately 2-3 layers to get to the meat of the squash. You don't want to see those green veins all over. Once the squash is all peeled, cut it in half lengthwise, scoop and toss out the seeds, and then chop it in chunks. I left them pretty decent size chunks.

Toss the chunks in your crockpot (I use a crockpot liner bag for easy clean up) and put in 1/2-1 cup of water (I used 1 cup of water for the 2 squashes). Put on the lid and set on low for 3-4 hours. I let mine go 4 hours and it was perfect!

Let the squash cool down a little and toss the squash and any liquid into the food processor. You may need to do it in batches. Run your food processor until your squash is the consistency you would like.

I freeze my purees in cube trays. Mine are specifically for baby food, with lids for easy stacking, but any ice cube trays will work. Once frozen, empty the cubes in freezer bags and they are easy to pull out the serving(s) you need.

Once your baby is at an age where they can have spices (check with your pediatrician), you could add nutmeg, cinnamon or vanilla to your squash, prior to cooking, as well.

I purchased a few pie pumpkins this week as well. Those will be next.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

7 Months

The girls turned 7 months old on Tuesday (October 4th). I cannot believe how quickly time is flying by. They will be a year old before I know it!

The girls have sure grown and can do all kinds of things. They are both rolling and scooting around the room (Esme's is more of an army crawl). They love toys that make noise, but small balls (especially ones that rattle or make noise) that they can hold in one hand are their favorites!

Ellerie started sitting up all by herself at 5 months and Esme reached that milestone a few weeks later. Ellerie can now go from the floor to a sit position all by herself too! Both girls show an interest in being on their feet. In fact, the pediatrician is convinced we will have early walkers (Jon and I both walked early at about 9 months), but we'll see.

The girls have an incredible love for books! They sit through 5-6 books at night before bed, and we read all kinds of books throughout the day. Their favorite book seems to still be "Where is Baby's Bellybutton" and they now know how to lift the flaps on each page! Do I have smart girls or what?!?!

They also love music! They love songs that we sing, CDs and toys that make music. Esme loves to clap her hands to songs too! I wish I could find a baby music class that had openings on the weekend (since we work all week). I'll keep looking...

Once we reached the 6 month mark I introduced them to some solid foods. I'm not terribly worried about getting in a lot of solids as they get a complete nutrition from breastmilk, but they are doing very well (now that they have gotten used to it) and are enjoying this time.

I have made all of their baby food. It's so easy, cheaper, and it tastes WAY better!! So far, the girls have tried rice cereal (they don't care for it by itself, but don't mind it mixed in with other foods), butternut squash (love it), sweet potato (love it), peas (don't care for them much, but will eat when mixed with other foods), avocado (like it) and apples (love them).

Here are some pictures of their first experience with solid food (homemade organic brown rice cereal)...