Let’s go camping in Florida and a $50 camping card giveaway

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in 52 Weeks of Experiences, Adventures, Florida, FOR MOMS, Fun as a Toddler Mom, Life as a Toddler, Other Recommendations, PRODUCTS, TODDLER, TRAVEL

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Note: Kohl’s has provided us with a $50 gift card for the giveaway and the products listed above.

The Backstory

With spring approaching and Lexi getting older, I have been thinking a lot about taking her camping. She keeps seeing camping references in books she reads and shows she watches and has become pretty interested in it. While we were in Chattanooga on a press trip ( post coming up), she bought a little lantern at Ruby Falls and has been inseparable with it, talking about camping with her lantern. Now my experience with camping equals to zero. I grew up in a city and during my adult life never had anyone who was even remotely interested in going camping (and who wants to go alone?). So I always wished I could camp, but never had the opportunity to make it happen. Andrew always said “ugh, bugs mosquitoes, why???”.

Despite all that, I have planned out all the camping spots I wanted to go to years ago and have had that on my to do list periodically looking it over.

Obviously when Lexi was little, going on my own first camping trip was out of the question. Now that she is 4 and is herself interested in it, it would be a shame not to get it going. Two females against one male. We know who wins there. So we started shopping on Kohl’s for their camping sale event.

Big Announcement!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in 52 Weeks of Experiences, Adventures, BABY, Best for Baby, Birthdays, BUMP UPDATES, BUSY MOM TIPS, Cooking, Daily, Disney, EVERYTHING ELSE, Fashion and Outfits, Florida, FOR MOMS, Friday Finds, Fun as a Toddler Mom, FUN TIMES, GET FIT, Green Products, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, Letters to Lexi, LIFE, Life as a Toddler, Monthly Updates, My Pregnancy, New Mom Experience, Nursery, Other Recommendations, Parenting, PHOTO, Photo Stories, Photography for Mommies Tutorials, Pre-CONCEPTION, PREGNANCY, PREGNANCY FASHION, Pregnancy Q of the week, Pregnant With Style, PRODUCTS, Real Life Photos, TODDLER, TRAVEL, Tried and True, VIDEO

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BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Some of you, who follow me on social media, might have noticed that for the last 6 months I have been working on a few projects. I am ready to officially announce the first one.

Together with a friend of mine, I started a new business, Melody Lane, a clothing store that is focused on making sure that women in all stages of their lives have access to comfortable, affordable and most importantly versatile clothing. (see below on details of a $500 giveaway!)

Pregnancy, motherhood, nursing, party, fitness, vacation, career, school – it’s amazing how many stages we go through as women that require a completely different wardrobe. So our goal is to offer clothing with versatility and affordability in mind. Items you could wear for several occasions and during several stages of your life. Clothing that is comfortable, yet still looks good, because I have to admit that since becoming a mother, comfort trumps looks, however I still want to look good.

My Little Kitchen Helper

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Best for Baby, BUSY MOM TIPS, Cooking, FOR MOMS, Fun as a Toddler Mom, Health and Fitness, Life as a Toddler, Other Recommendations, PHOTO, Photo Stories, PRODUCTS, TODDLER

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I know that I’ve slacked in the department of product reviews since getting busier, but I am hoping to fix that in the near future and trickle out reviews of some of my favorite things or at least compile them into the TRIED and TRUE posts.

This is going to be more of a story of how our life evolved with the product than an actual review, but in so writing about it, you will get a good idea whether you might enjoy this product as much as we did or not.

This particular item has sneakily made its way into our life in more ways than I anticipated. We had featured a Kitchen Helper on Daily Mom, right at the time when I was struggling to keep Lexi occupied while I cooked. I had also heard good things about it from MULTIPLE people. So I thought it was a worth product to try and see if it solves our little problem. Our first test was Easter Cooking out of all things. I took an egg nest recipe from Daily Mom (of course), Lexi and I put on our favorite Mommy and Me aprons and we started cooking.

The Importance of Knowing Your Child’s Personality

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, FOR MOMS, Fun as a Toddler Mom, New Mom Experience, Other Recommendations, Parenting, PRODUCTS, TODDLER

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A few months ago, while nursing Lexi to sleep, I was on a Facebook Gentle Parenting group reading someone’s post about their daughter. I think she was refering to her daughter being an extrovert and her being an introvert and the difficulty surrounding her parenting due to that.

After reading her post, something clicked in my mind. The way she was describing her daughter seemed very much like Lexi: high excitement, high energy, non-stop movement unless she is doing something that requires her attention, constantly needing attention, not playing on her own.

I had always thought Alexis was high needs in the best possible way when she was little but some things just didn’t jive. She wasn’t sensitive in a way high needs children tend to be, she just needed a lot of attention and was very specific in what she liked (which was not being constrained)

This new idea suddenly made sense.

Artifact Uprising Photo Books

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, Life as a Toddler, Other Recommendations, PHOTO, PRODUCTS, TODDLER

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Working on the Lexi’s classes and activities post, as well as the last one in the Holidays in Review, Christmas Morning, but in the meantime, I’ve had this post prepared since before Lexi’s 2nd birthday.

See I’ve been in love with the style of the photo books by Artifact Uprising, and I even had a code for a complimentary book, but it wasn’t until mid last year that I could put it together and, obviously, now till I was able to blog about it.

I really don’t have to gush about it, because the style is apparent in photos, but this is by far my favorite book to use for my photos. I felt it was perfect for Alexis’ First Birthday because our photographer’s style was exactly what Artifact Uprising is all about- mute colors, blurred edges, softness, calm, peace.

It’s softcover, has the feel of a true coffee table book and the kind of pages that you see on the tables of artists and designers.

It’s the book that you WANT to page through. I’ve always been a fan of hardcovers, but this book just begged to be the soft approachable softcover.

My goal is to put all of our years in Artifact Uprising books and have a stack of them sitting in the living room- matte, soft, beautiful stack of memories. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?

My next project will most likely be their Instagram book– it’s pretty amazing!

Enjoy the photos! Some of them I never got a chance to post on this blog… (the photos in the book were taken by Stacey Downey Photography, the photos OF the book are mine)

My kitchen help

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Cooking, Health and Fitness, Other Recommendations, PRODUCTS

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I wouldn’t be able to cook and get meals done the way I do if it wasn’t for these handy appliances.

Here is what I use virtually on daily basis.

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Fagor Juicer

{holy crap, it’s on sale on amazon for 42% off!!!)

I’ve only recently started making my own juices but that was something on my to-do list for years. Little did I know what a difference it makes in the taste of the juice. If you haven’t tried squeezing your own apple juice or orange juice, come over to my house and I’ll do it for you, because it is SERIOUSLY night and day. It’s like the juices you drink at restaurants and buy at the grocery stores aren’t juices at all, even if they are organic and not from concentrate.

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The biggest two complaints I’ve heard about juicers from friends and online reviews are that they are hard to clean and assemble/take apart or that they are too hard to use ( especially when it comes to manual juicers).

I have zero complaints about our Fagor Juicer. Once I figured out how to take it apart, it was a breeze – 5 different parts to clean that easily snap in and out of the juicer and rinse clean with simple water, as long as you don’t let the juice bits sit on it for hours. I am not kidding: you just run them under running water and voila (Depending on the fruit sometimes you have to help the stuck skin from under the disposal shute)

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The juicing part is easy. You throw cut up fruit inside and it pours juice out of one end and waste out of the other. It rarely gets stuck or clogged. I honestly have zero issues with it and it makes perfect juice.
It’s considered a slow juicer which means it takes its time to get out every possible drop of juice from the fruit, preserving vitamins, minerals and all the nutrients. All the materials that come in contact with food are BPA free.

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While for those of us who eat fruits and vegetables on daily basis, juicing  might not be such a big deal, aside from  the taste standpoint, for average eaters who rely more on meats or processed food, juicing is almost a must because you can cram so many more fruits and vegetables into a glass of juice than you can actually eat in one sitting. So if you or your baby isn’t a fan of the green stuff, juice it with something sweet and have them drink it – perfect solution! You can find a ton of tasty recipes online by googling “juicing recipes”.

BUY HERE / LEARN HERE

Cuisinart Multi-cooker

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I heard about multi-cookers from my sister who lives in Russia who swears it’s the solution of all world’s problems.
It really is pretty neat. I have a Cuisinart 3-in-1 multicooker (as you can see from the sticker that I didn’t bother removing for months. lol. Also it’s on sale on Amazon as well.) I am not sure if everyone is familiar with the concept, because I didn’t know what it was prior to her mentioning it. It’s basically like a slow cooker with several settings: slow, steam and sautee/brown. It really is as simple as it seems. You throw a bunch of food inside, close the lid and set the correct setting and the timer. On the saute function they recommend that you stir occasionally but otherwise it really can be left to its own devices.

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It is especially helpful because I barely have any time to cook, but it’s something I HAVE TO DO, so I try to find ways to make it less of a time consuming process without sacrificing food quality.

This cooker works well with both veggies and meats on both slow and saute functions. It’s huge and the finish does not contain any cancer causing chemicals (PTFE/PFOA) that are commonly found in non-stick surfaces (I emailed the company and checked). Cooking beans is a breeze on the slow cooker option, vegetables do great on the sautee setting and I would imagine meats would do great in it too.

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The pot itself is removable so you don’t have to move the whole appliance to clean it or serve food. Temperature can be set custom, there is a timer and my favorite “keep warm” feature.

Meals I usually make in it are any type of vegetable combinations, potatoes and mushrooms, beans and peas. It works out really great because I often make 2-4 meals at a time and this doesn’t have to crowd the stove surfaces.

BUY IT/ LEARN MORE

MiTutto Hand Blender

Oh wow, what a tool!

I always despised using those big kitchen appliances that chopped things because they were a pain to clean. At the same time, blenders were not up to par either, because they would only puree/chop up the bottom of the food pile and leave the top untouched. You’d have to shake it in order to get the top food down to the blades.

MiTutto is like this kitchen “wand” that does pretty much everything. It has a bunch of adapters for aerating, whipping, mixing, chopping, crushing, pureeing food, so it replaces many appliances and can be used in any dish not just the provided one.

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The two major uses of MiTutto for me are to make purees for popsicle and smoothies and to get vegetables chopped evenly. The even chopping part is pretty self-explanatory and it’s most likely due to the small and evenly sized bowl. But where it really shines, at least for me, is the pureeing part.  See, because it’s a handheld wand, when you puree fruits or vegetables, you can control the angle and pressure of it. That makes it easy because you can push down on the fruits/vegetables to force them to mush even if they are “resisting” like it often happens in traditional blenders.

Does that make sense? It takes seconds to get things pureed. It comes with a convenient measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring: seriously a great tool starting from baby pureed solids to any kind of daily cooking.

BUY IT/LEARN HERE

Homemade Popsicle recipe

I wanted to share this amazing popsicle recipe I came up with using the MiTutto wand. The ingredients are really interchangeable and I only came upon this because those were the only three ingredients we had in our house. I would not necessarily recommend any of these brands of ingredients specifically. Normally I would go for an organic peanut butter and soy milk creamer, because the coconut one turned out to have titanium dioxide in it (what?). So if you try this recipe, just replace the ingredient brands with the ones that you like to use. I’ve been asked for this recipe a few times on Instagram – it’s really delicious.

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Ingredients:

1 pear

1 spoonful of Peanut Butter (other butter)

1/3 of a cup sweetened creamer ( coconut, soy, dairy- whatever you use)

Add to the blender or MiTutto cup and blend. Pour into a popsicle mold, freeze.

Lexi ate the whole thing in one sitting. A huge hit.

PostPartum Skin Care

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Daily, Friday Finds, Fun as a Toddler Mom, HEALTH, Health and Fitness, LIFE, My Pregnancy, New Mom Experience, Other Recommendations, PRODUCTS, TODDLER

NON-TOXIC SKINCARE

A year after having a baby and I think I am finally in a good place when it comes to my personal care routine. {I am always searching for better products, though, so I will keep updating you if I find something superior}

I still don’t have time to do certain things regularly, especially now with my new website, Daily Mom.

I don’t get to shave legs unless I am going out somewhere semi-important.

I forget to moisturize my body more often than I care to admit, and that is one of the biggest things I need to work on.

I wash my hair only if I know that I will be leaving the house. Or when it’s really dirty.

I put my make up on at the same time or when I want to look more put together at home.

I like to prioritize and personal care falls somewhere in the middle on the priorities list. However, one thing I have done over the last year is assemble a good “team” of personal products that I use, love and swear by. They help me be a little bit more of a woman that I want to be without having to put too much effort into it. I’ve been mentally writing this post for 6 months and each month I would add something else to it.

In fact, in the last week, I’ve had a chance to try out some organic and natural hair products that I am quite impressed with that you can read about on Daily Mom in the coming months. I am thinking about going on a mission of finding more obscure products and brands you don’t see in retail stores and trying them out. If only I could find time…

In the meantime,

I am the host of…

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Other Recommendations, PRODUCTS

The first giveaway in the 50 Days of Giveaways!

Yes, you read it right! The 50 Days of Giveaways on Daily Mom have begun and I have the honor to kick them off with our first giveaway!

I probably don’t need to repeat myself on here  but if you haven’t already become a reader of Daily Mom, you should really check it out. It’s a new website that I launched a month ago with a group of girls.  It’s an amazing resource of posts and articles for the modern woman and mom. Imagine Pinterest worthy posts with useful information about all aspects of life – from parenting to beauty, fashion, green living, health, fitness, and more.  No fluff whatsoever.

We’ve been preparing for our launch celebration, a fabulous event, called 50 Days of Giveaways, for months now and we’re finally there! For 50 days, we will be giving away one awesome prize a day to thank our new readers.

So today I am proud to present to you, our first giveaway!

This one is for all of you, TTCing folk!

While it seems like neons ago, I remember the time spent preparing for the conception of  Alexis. It was exciting, scary, wonderful!

If you’re currently trying to conceive or are planning to in the future, this giveaway is for you!

Today’s giveaway

Baby Beach Essentials

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in BABY, Florida, Friday Finds, New Mom Experience, Other Recommendations, PHOTO, PRODUCTS, TRAVEL

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As the Florida summer heat subsides, I am planning on making many more trips to the ocean and having fun in the sand. Alexis is the ultimate water baby, and so am I. So the beach is where we both belong. In the meantime I have found a few things that have made our beach outings bearable even in the summer heat. Some of them are absolute must haves for a baby, as far as I am concerned. I have put together these items hoping they would make being at the beach pleasurable even with a young baby and to my surprise they WORKED FABULOUSLY!

1. FAMILY BEACH CABANA UPF 50+