Thursday, July 20, 2017

Our Afternoon at Deming Park (Terre Haute, IN)

            Hey guys! I totally dropped the ball this week. I haven't been feeling so great lately, so I'm not gonna lie: I didn't get a proper post ready in time this week. Hell, even as I try to type this my 18 month old is literally fighting with me over the keyboard. Fun stuff. However, I did document our fun day exploring a new park via video the other day, so I will leave you with that today. Enjoy!


This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
ethannevelyn.com

Monday, July 17, 2017

Keep Baby Clean with Happy Little Camper Wipes! (Review)

happy little camper wipes

            Hey folks! It can be overwhelming choosing what products to use for your baby with all of the options out there, amiright? With my first daughter, I actually kind of had the opposite problem. Regular wipes made her butt red and quite frankly, I wasn't crazy about all of the chemicals and fragrances in them. At the time, all of the “green” baby products just started making their debut...Or, I just didn't know where to look, being a first-time mom and all!
            Fortunately, green baby products are much easier to find nowadays. (Or I just know where to look! ;) ) Even though my second baby isn't much of a “baby” any more, she still wears diapers and makes plenty of messes, so I'm always happy to try new green products. Needless to say, I was happy to recently try out some wipes from Happy Little Camper.
            Happy Little Camper currently specializes in baby wipes, with natural diapers to come soon! As far as wipes, they offer 100% cotton ones and flushable ones! You can also purchase multi-packs, which come in handy, especially for the travel sized packs! We had the opportunity to try out the 100% cotton ones. Here are my thoughts on them, in a nutshell:

baby with wipe

*I really like that there are no added fragrances or scents of any kind! It might seem silly, but that is one of my least favorite things about disposable diapers AND wipes. I don't like those artificial smells and furthermore, they seem to contribute to breaking my kids out!

*Not full of unnecessary chemicals. For funsies, I looked these wipes up on the EWG Skin Deep Database. While the wipes themselves are not listed on there yet, I looked up the ingredients I wasn't familiar with since there are so few ingredients in the wipes. Products and ingredients are rated from 0-10, with 0 being really good (health and safety-wise) and 10 being really bad, basically. I'm happy to report that only two ingredients were in the “fair” category at 3 and 5. One of them is an “aromatic preservative”, whatever that means, so perhaps they can find something a little nicer in the future. Still, as I said, it ranked in the “fair” category, so not that big of a deal.

*I also really like that the first two ingredients are identifiable: water and aloe vera. Plus, the aloe vera is nice for soothing baby butts and not irritating them!

*I didn't have to use nearly as many Happy Little Camper wipes as I do other store bought ones that I use. Since we use wet washcloths for butt wiping at home, we only use disposable wipes when we're out and about. Personally, it's extra annoying having to use a billion wipes compared to the number of wash rags we use at home, ON TOP of it just not being fun changing a poopy diaper out in public. These will make life infinitely easier in that sense.

baby with wipe
*Since anyone with kids knows wipes don't just come in handy for butts, we tried them out on a jelly toast mess too. I was pleasantly surprised by how well they worked! I didn't have to use many and this kid can make a mess! Plus, they didn't tear or anything.


            Definitely be sure to check out Happy Little Camper's wipes and learn more about them on their website. You can keep up-to-date with them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Mixed Bag Mama was not compensated monetarily for this post. I received product in return for my honest opinion.
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
ethannevelyn.com

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Problem with Visiting All the Doctors (Within the Same Office)

exam table

             Hey folks! I've made it no secret in the past that I am not a huge fan of doctors. And, while I had a great VBAC experience with the office I went with here in Indiana, you know what was really annoying? Having to see every doctor in the practice. I'm not sure whether this is becoming more of “a thing” in the medical world in general, but I have a feeling it is and wanted to get some things off my chest in regards to it pertaining to OBGYNs.
             First of all, at least at my office, I got the impression that I would still have a main OBGYN (and perhaps I was supposed to) of my choosing, but I would need to at least meet with the other two because of their policy. “Ok. That's fine,” I thought. After it was all said and done, though, I think I ended up seeing the doctor I originally wanted less than the other two! I felt like I was being passed around! But, I'll get to that more in a minute.
             Don't get me wrong: I don't know if this is their reasoning or not, but I can totally understand them wanting patients to meet with all of the doctors because you just never know who is going to be on-call when you go into labor. However, I personally found a lot of faults with this system. (Btw, does anyone know if there is a specific term for doctor offices like this? I would love to know that!)

*First of all, you don't get to know one doctor very well. I don't like that. I loved my OBGYN in Arkansas that I had when I was pregnant with Myka. She almost felt more like a friend than a doctor...And I only had to see another doctor in her practice once, I think, when she was on vacation. Like I said above, I ended up having to see each of the three doctors at the practice here about equally. And I wasn't really crazy about any of them.

*Again, these practices can make you feel like you are being shuffled around. Who wants to feel like they are being passed around, especially when you're hormonal and pregnant?

*You may/will end up having to either see a specific doctor you don't like or a gender of doctor you don't prefer. I realize how trivial this sounds, but having a baby is a big deal. You should want (and deserve) to be seen by someone you are comfortable with and trust! We are paying them, after all, not the other way around.

*With all of the above being said, in these types of offices, you don't seem to have much choice in who provides your care. Yes, I realize you could choose a different doctor's office, BUT...What if it's the only one your insurance will cover? What if, you're like me, and it's the number one or ONLY place you're allowed to VBAC at in the area? What if you live in a rural area and it's your only/closest choice? So, shouldn't we be allowed some freedom in choosing which doctor we would like for our care and to form a decent relationship with?

*I feel like all of these things, whether combined or even one single item, can cause even more anxiety in some patients. Although I am picky about OBGYNs, I also feel like I'm fairly laid back, especially after having two kids. Some people, however, are already high-strung, whether it be due to pregnancy-related concerns or a pre-existing anxiety disorder. Why cause even more, unnecessary stress for these patients?

             What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think you should have to see all the doctors in a practice or just the one you choose? Have you ever been to an office like this? I'd love to hear your thoughts below!
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
ethannevelyn.com

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Prevent Summer Slide With Education.com!

            Hey folks! Are you familiar with Education.com? It's a great resource for parents and teachers alike. You can find worksheets, activity ideas, lesson plans, and even games! It's not just for preschool and elementary-aged children either. You can find resources for students all the way up to high school!

This post is on behalf of Education.com. No compensation was received.

            Since we are in the midst of preschool with my 4 year old, I wanted to share with you this cute and educational game. Kids practice categorization with this sweet Education.com game. Help little ones build the skills they need for school with dozens more preschool games. You can try it out below!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Zucchini Parmesan

zucchini parmesan

             Hey folks! I love this time of year for one reason: zucchini! I've already made zucchini bread and muffins and, to be honest, I'm not crazy about my mom's zucchini casserole recipe (it's a weird consistency), so I'm already looking for new-to-me ways to use it.
             John is the one who actually suggested trying something like eggplant parmesan, so I gave it a go. I've actually never had eggplant parmesan and have only tried chicken parmesan once and didn't care that much for it, to be honest. With that being said, I just made this similar to how I imagine a different “parm” dish would be made. Regardless of whether it's true “parmesan” or not, I hope you enjoy it!

seasonings
What You'll Need:

-2 zucchini
-2 jars of spaghetti sauce
-1 box of Jiffy cornbread mix
-garlic powder
-salt
-pepper
-minced onion or onion powder
-taco seasoning
-gallon baggie
-parmesan cheese
-mozzarella cheese
-cooking oil of choice for frying zucchini (we used peanut)

*Preheat your oil on the stove at a little above medium heat. I used a bit too much oil and they were all floating, so don't use quite that much. ;)

sliced zucchini
*Cut your zucchini into slices similar to those pictures. (Some of them got a little crazy because my 4 year old was helping me. Lol)

*Mix together Jiffy mix and desired amounts of garlic powder, salt, pepper, minced onion, and a tiny bit of taco seasoning, for good measure, in the gallon baggie. Stick about 5 or 6 slices of zucchini in at a time and coat. (Note: If a little dry, you may wet slices with water or eggwash to get dry mix to stick better. You want to make sure they're well-coated!)
seasoned zucchini slices

fried zucchini
*Once your oil is up to temp, turn it back down to about medium and start frying your zucchini slices. You want them to be a nice golden brown. (As you can see from my pictures, I got some a little darker than I intended.) Set on a cooling wrack with paper towel or just a regular plate with paper towel to drain when finished frying.

*While you are frying all of your zucchini, pour your spaghetti sauce into a separate pan or large skillet. Simmer on low heat.

*Once everything is ready, add half of your desired amount of parmesan and mozzarella cheese to the sauce. Add desired amount of zucchini. (You may have extra. I found that one zucchini was not enough and two was a little much, but that's ok! They're good by themselves too!) Combine rest of cheese and serve hot.
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
ethannevelyn.com

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Let's Play Mermaid Island! (Review)

girl with board game

             Hey folks! I hope you aren't sick of hearing about all of the cool stuff Peaceable Kingdom has to offer yet. I have another kids board game to share with you today that especially little girls will love!
             Mermaid Island is recommended for ages 5+. You can play with as little as 2 people or as many as 6, making it great for sleepovers or a rainy afternoon at home. It's a fun little game that, like all PK (Peaceable Kingdom) games, helps children work on certain skills. In the case of Mermaid Island, that is learning strategy, shared decision making (it is a cooperative game), social and emotional development, and following directions. 

mermaid island board game
             What is a cooperative game? Before we go on, I thought I would talk about this a little if you are not familiar with them! Many of PK's games are cooperative games, which means that instead of the end goal of the game be to beat the other person and win, everyone works together as a team against an “outside force” to win together. I just love this idea, especially for the games for younger children who may not handle “losing” well or not understand.

mermaid island board game
             In Mermaid Island, you work as a team to get your three mermaids back to Mermaid Island before the Sea Witch. The Sea Witch gets to start ahead of you on the game board, but luckily there are some helpful tools along the way. You can use the two bridges if you land directly on the starting spot, which gets you much farther ahead on the board. There are also magic wands you can pick up along the way which can be used at any time to move the Sea Witch back a spot. She is also not allowed to use the bridges and must always go the long way, so that is helpful. Unfortunately, she CAN steal your wands if she lands on one, making you incapable of using it for the rest of the game!
             Sounds simple enough, right? This game is for kids slightly older than Myka. I am used to age appropriate ones from Peaceable Kingdom that we have reviewed in the past, which she did fine with. This one was a lot trickier than I expected it to be! But, I think we may have just had really bad luck the first time we played. You can watch the video below to get a better idea of the game and see just how bad of luck we had! Ha ha!


             Myka really seemed to enjoy this game. (She is 4 ½.) In fact, she made me play twice, even after losing the first round, so I think that says something. ;) I had to help her, of course, but I think the game in general is a fun introduction to learning simple strategy skills. She seems to be really into games like this lately as she has also been making me play checkers with her!
             I liked the game because there are not many pieces to lose, it's not mind-numbingly boring, and it plays relatively quickly. It did take a bit longer than our other, younger aged games from PK, but Myka stayed surprisingly focused and interested in it.
             If mermaids aren't your thing, there are PLENTY of other games for different age groups and interests! They are all priced about the same, if not cheaper, than most board games I see nowadays too. (Mermaid Island can be purchased for $15.99) Check all of Peaceable Kingdom's games out and keep up-to-date with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube.

Mixed Bag Mama received free product in return for my honest review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.
 
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
ethannevelyn.com

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Bunny In The Bush Giveaway

The Bunny in the Bush Book & Bunny Box Set Giveaway + Free Printable

 
Winner receives (1) The Bunny In The Bush Book & Bunny Box Set
This is part of our Swinging Into Summer Gift Guide. Stop by and see what else we have for you!
This contest is hosted by the Social Media Gurus Network!
Below is a list of all the bloggers involved in the gift guide.
 

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Now let’s get to the sponsor!

The Bunny in the Bush
WEBSITE ~ FACEBOOK ~ TWITTER ~ INSTAGRAM
 

1 Lucky Winner Will Receive:

The Bunny in the Bush Book & Bunny Box Set
A Bunny Scout Was Spotted at the Circus!  
Check Out My Review
  The Bunny in the Bush - Scout Coloring Page  

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And Now The Giveaway!

This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site.You are not eligible if you have won a prize from the sponsor in the last 12 month. This Giveaway is valid in the 48 Continguous States & DC Only and Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 7/20/17. The winners will have 48 hours to email their information back to brandi at easterbabestheory dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Melissa Cushing at mcushing7 (at)hotmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.
 

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Monday, July 3, 2017

6 Drawbacks of Homesteading


             Hey folks! Our homesteading posts have been few and far between this year. We've just been busy with so many other things! To be honest, the “farm” aspect of my life has been on the back burner lately. I've just kind of been on auto pilot when it comes to that: feed and water the animals, mow the yard, occasionally weed eat. Lather, rinse, repeat. Not that it's anything new, but we've been majorly slacking on weeding the garden again this year too.
             With that being said, homesteading has its obvious perks: you can grow whatever you want, wherever you want, fresh food that you know exactly what is in it, and, if you're lucky, you can even make some extra money off extra produce or even livestock. However, there are some downfalls to farming too that you should be aware of before diving in. (Or relate to if you are in the same boat!)

*Being a homesteader is kind of like being a mailman. You have to get out there and do what you gotta go no matter what the weather is doing. Your animals don't care if it's raining or snowing. They still need fed!

*You can't just up and leave if you feel like taking an impromptu trip somewhere. You have to make sure someone can come over and feed your animals, water your plants, etc. If you like being spontaneous, this aspect of homesteading is kind of a pain in the arse!

*Definitely keep in mind the time commitment! The more plants and animals you have, the more time you're going to have to put into upkeep and care in general. If you still plan to work a “9-5” job, this is a very important consideration. Are you willing/able to get up earlier in the morning to care for animals? Will you have the time and energy in the evening to work in the garden?

*While animal feed is relatively cheap, depending on how many animals you have, it can add up quickly! Don't let me scare you, though. There are plenty of ways to save on feed costs. Many times you can feed your animals meal scraps too! For example, chickens love squash guts and tomatoes. Our rabbits enjoy leftovers from the garden as well as grasses and weeds from the yard more than their store bought pellets! (Can you really blame them? ;) )

*Free range animals seem idyllic, but in all honesty, there are lots of predators out there waiting to gobble them up! We let our chickens free range at first, but we were just losing too many during the day while we would be gone somewhere. Our chickens and pigs have generous pasture areas, but you should keep in mind the cost for such things. If I remember correctly, it cost us about $125 for our main pig area. (We do some rotational grazing.) While we could definitely fit more pigs in it, we built it for two and they have already eaten all the greenery in a couple of short months! (One more thing: You can save on post costs by using your own with trees from your property!)

*If you are wanting to make some extra money (or even have your farm become your sole source of income), you should know that there is quite a bit of wait time before the “initial payout”. Chickens take several months before they start laying eggs. Crops also take several months to grow. Livestock usually takes several months before they are ready to be sold as well. Not to mention, if you are like us, you add more animals a little at a time when you are able, so it may take even longer for whatever payout you are looking for. For example, we got our first American Guinea Hog, Bruce, last July. We did not get our female, Gabby, until March of this year. She is about 8 months old now, so they haven't even made babies yet and likely won't for at least another couple of months.

             I hope I have given you guys some food for thought, but not completely scared you off from homesteading! It's easy to get caught up in the romanticism of the idea without giving much thought to just how much work might go into it. Just be realistic with yourself!
             If you have a farm or homestead, what is your least favorite part?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tex Mex Skillet Meal

tex mex skillet meal

             Hey folks! First off, I apologize for the crappy picture. Without fail, every time I think some new dish I come up with is going to be good, I try to take a decent photo of it...And the food itself usually ends up being mediocre. Every time I don't think to take a picture till the last minute, like today's recipe, it turns out really good! Anyways...
             I just love Tex Mex, don't you? It's easy to make and, I mean, there are lots of food groups in there: meat, dairy, veggies... ;) I hope you enjoy today's recipe as much as we did!

What You'll Need:

-1 lb. of beef
-16 oz. Diced canned tomatoes
-1/2 small can of green chiles
-1/2 small can of tomato paste
-1 C. of rice
-cheddar cheese
-sour cream
-taco seasoning
-tortilla chips


*Start boiling 2 cups of water for your rice.

*In separate pot, on medium heat, add together tomatoes, chiles, and about ½ tsp. of taco seasoning, stirring occasionally.

*Start browning meat with about a tablespoon (more or less, if desired) of taco seasoning.

*Add 1 cup of rice to boiling water. Cook until water is gone.

*Turn off heat on tomatoes and chiles. Stir in tomato paste.

*Add rice to cooked meat. Pour sauce over top. Mix well.

*Add desired amount of cheddar cheese, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips.

This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
ethannevelyn.com

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer Reading: Fun AND Educational! (Review & Giveaway)


             Hey folks! Who says summer reading can't be interesting and educational? I recently had the opportunity to work with a new (to me) publisher, Gibbs Smith, and have some fun nature-related childrens books from their line up to share with you today! Plus, stay till the end for your chance to win copies of both of these books as well!
             If you've been around for awhile, you may have noticed I have an affinity towards childrens nature books. Both of my kids love being outdoors, so it just makes sense that we read a lot of books about critters, flowers, ecosystems, etc. too. With that being said, today's books are a little different from the storybooks I usually review, but I think you will enjoy these as well!

Spring Walk


             Spring Walk, by Virginia Brimhall Snow, is just one in a series of, you guessed it, four books that follow the seasons. (I can't wait to check out the others!) In Spring Walk, the story follows kids and their grandmother as they go for a stroll in spring to see flowers.
             I thought this book weaved educational material (learning different flowers) well with a story to keep kids engaged. It's kind of the best of both worlds! Keeping things fun and interesting is so important when it comes to little ones retaining new information. The story has a nice flow to it as well with it's rhyme scheme. (I always say this helps kids remember new info too!)
             The illustrations, as you can see in the picture above, are quite interesting and nothing like I've ever seen in any other book before. With the vibrant color of the flowers, they almost seem as if they're popping off of the page! I love that they are large and colored, so you and your children can actually tell what to look for on your own flower walks. I always thought black and white field guide-type pictures were a bummer.
             So, the kid verdict? We have read this for our bedtime story and Myka seems to like it. She loves flowers (what little kid doesn't?), so what's not to love, right? She gets to learn some new flowers and I actually came across some I wasn't familiar with either!
             There are some great activities listed after the story as well. (I just love books with more learning and/or hands on activities at the end!) Spring Walk explains how to start an egg carton garden, make a flower bouquet, and more.

Cooking On A Stick


             Do your kids love helping out in the kitchen AND being outdoors? Then they are going to love this book!
             Cooking On A Stick:Campfire Recipes for Kids, is a great little cookbook for camping recipes whether you're a child OR adult! Because let's be honest: Plain old hot dogs can get old real quick when camping, amiright? Here's your solution!
             Before it jumps right in to the recipes, Cooking On A Stick starts off with the basics: how to build a fire, what tools you will need to cook with, fire safety, etc. Initially, you might think all of this information might be overwhelming for kids (depending on their age and whether they've been around campfire cooking before), but the information is actually pretty straight-forward and easy to comprehend. I think it's a great idea that the author included all of this instead of just making this a cookbook: It helps to really get the kids involved in the preparation of their food. (As well as learn some important survival skills!)

             Cooking On A Stick includes main dishes and desserts alike. Many recipes include the main biscuit mix, which is the first recipe listed, though it is used for much more than making traditional biscuits. So don't go thinking these are boring meals!
             I will admit some of the recipes seem intimidating at first, considering you will be making them outdoors and perhaps not have as much space or utensils as home. But, if you prepare as much as you are able ahead of time (mix biscuit mix, chop vegetables, etc.), they're really not that bad. Plus, a lot of them only contain several ingredients, which is my kind of cooking, indoors or out!
             I'm really looking forward to trying some of these recipes out the next time we go camping...Though I should probably try some out at home first. Or, at the very least, practice making a cooking fire. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I've only tried making a fire once or twice...And ended up letting my husband finish it. See! This book is handy for adults as well!
             We just went on our first family camping trip recently and, even though we were only there for one full day and part of two others, I was worried about what we were going to eat that the kids would actually eat too! So, I really am very excited to have discovered this book. Not only do I have some fresh ideas now, I'm hoping I can include Myka some in the food prep like I do at home.

             Gibbs Smith offers an interesting assortment of genres, including BabyLit, Childrens, Regional, Cooking, and Outdoors books, to name a few. You can keep up-to-date with them on Facebook and Twitter.
             Don't forget! Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win your own copies of Spring Walk and Cooking On A Stick. The only mandatory entry is your email (for contacting the winner), but remember, the more entries you have, the higher your chances are of winning! Open to U.S. residents only. See terms and conditions below on giveaway form for more information.

Mixed Bag Mama received products in order to facilitate this review. Regardless, all opinions are my own. This giveaway is not associated with any social media platform, including, but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sponsor is responsible for prize shipment. 
 
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
ethannevelyn.com