These are a few of our favorite things (Baby Edition)

Because Chrystal and Angie both had babies recently, we thought it would be fun to compile a list of some of our favorite baby items! Some of these items are essentials, but other items are ones that we have found to make life with a baby a little bit easier! (Please note that while some of the links are for the specific brand that we like, other links just go to the broad category of the item because we are just recommending the item in general, not a specific make or model.)

Johnny-Jumper — Get one of these! Not only have all my girls loved bouncing in these but I have loved all the work I’ve been able to accomplish while they are happily entertaining themselves!
Boppy Pillow — This is really helpful during those early newborn days. It can be used for mama to sit on while healing or it can help in supporting and keeping the baby in place while nursing. This is also really nice to use during tummy time, as well as when the baby is learning to sit.
Bandana Bibs — These bibs are super handy (and cute!) during those weeks of endless drool. However, I have found that not all bandana bibs are made equal. I like these particular bibs because of the special fabric on the back that helps protects the baby’s shirt from getting totally soaked. I also like that they have a snap instead of velcro, as velcro often either doesn’t stay on well or can easily irritate the baby’s skin because of the rough texture.
Bumbo Seat & Tray — We used the Bumbo seat and tray as a highchair for our daughter from the time she was about 6 months old until she was about 2 years old and we loved it! Initially the table seemed a little on the small side, but we never had issues with it. Unlike traditional highchairs/seats that have a cover or insert, this model of the Bumbo seat is all one piece (excluding the tray attachment), which makes it super easy to clean out the crumbs that land in it during meals!
Reusable Food Pouches — I initially expected to use these pouches when we were out and about doing errands and such, but because they are not sealed, the food would need to be kept cold. For this reason, they haven’t been as handy to “throw in the bag and go” as I originally thought they would be. However, they have still been super nice for using at home because they help eliminate spills and extra messes. Our daughter uses one everyday when she eats applesauce for her afternoon or bedtime snack! These Baby Brezza pouches are nice because they open on the side of the pouch instead of the top, which makes them very easy to fill and wash.
Baby Monitor– Unless you want to go the video-monitor route, we found that the cheapest monitor at Target worked just fine for audio. Quality and distance were rarely an issue.
Mini Crib– We were pressed for space when we were expecting our first child so we chose to buy a mini crib instead of a full size crib. Now, four kids later, we live in a different house with more space but we’re still using the mini crib. We like that it doesn’t fill up more of the room than necessary and that our kids have had no trouble sleeping in pack n’ plays when out and about because they are used to the same dimensions in their crib. ***(Our kids did outgrow it around age 2, at which point we just moved them into a toddler bed. However, if you want your child in a crib for longer, then this might not be as good of an option for you.)
Pack ‘n play With both of our babies, we have just used a pack ‘n play for their bed and it has worked just fine! Similar to the mini crib, the pack ‘n play has been nice because it is so small; it has also helped cut down on expenses because we didn’t have to get both a crib (for at home) and a pack ‘n play (for travelling.)
Manual breast pump This isn’t exactly a baby item, I found a simple hand pump to be a lifesaver during those first weeks of breastfeeding when I and the baby were still figuring out how to do it! It has also come in handy for the occasional nursing strike!

This list is short and sweet, but we hope you have found it helpful! We know that there are a lot of other really good baby products out there, so if you have an item that you just can’t live without, we would love to hear about it!

“Don’t heat up the house” meal ideas

It’s summer and it’s hot outside. Heating up your kitchen sounds like a terrible idea, but you still have to feed your family. What should you make? Today, we’re sharing some of our favorite supper ideas that won’t require you to turn your oven on. Salads, sandwiches and quick stove-tops will help to keep your house cool, while still providing ample sustenance for your family. (And if you’re running out of time, don’t forget that sometimes it’s ok to just make a run for takeout pizza too!)

Salads:

Beef Taco salad

Chicken Taco Salad (with black bean salsa)

Cobb Salad

Southwestern Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad

Sandwiches:

BLT’S

Chicken Salad

Ham Salad

Egg Salad

Tuna Salad

Monte Cristo’s 

Cuban Sandwiches

Tomato and Basil Grilled Cheese

Pork BBQ

Turkey/Apple/Brie 

Tomato/Cucumber/Mint

Breakfast for supper:

Overnight oats

Crepes

Waffles/Pancakes

French Toast

Smoothies

Scrambled Eggs and Toast

Breakfast Burritos

Parfaits

Grill- 

Ham and Pineapple Kabobs

Pizza

BBQ Chicken

Other:

Tuna Patties & Microwave Baked Potatoes

Sushi 

Cooked Chicken from the instant pot/pressure cooker 

Quesadillas 

Wraps

Charcuterie Board

Loaded Potatoes 

Layered Taco Dip and Corn Chips

Fried Rice (you can make the rice and saute the veggies during the cool of the day and just heat it up before dinner)


3 Things I Use to Keep My Home Running Smoothly

Keeping a home clean, food on the table, activities coordinated and life somewhat structured is a bigger task than first meets the eye!

Today I want to talk through a few things I do to keep our home running (somewhat) smoothly!

Every day I use these three things:

1. Calendar planner

2. Simple lined notebook

3. 3-ring binder

How I use my planner

I highly recommend the planners that Hobby Lobby sells. They have the month-at-a-glance as well as each week laid out in a much bigger space for organizing all the nitty-gritty of your day.

The monthly page I use for keeping track of bigger events; church activities, company coming, meeting, etc. So when we need to schedule one of those kind of events I can glance at that page and know what days are already booked.

The weekly page I use to help me know where I am going each day and how to get there. 

I write everything on these pages–from my husband’s meetings to when I need to take meat out of the freezer.

 How I use my notebook

A huge part of keeping a home revolves around food. We need to eat 3 times a day, at least, and with kids that means several snacks thrown in there too.

Just a cheap lined notebook helps keep all things food planned and organized.  On one page is our weekly menu. I always know that I have enough food and what meal it is going towards for a whole week. 

On the other page is a constant, on-going shopping list. Whenever I see something almost gone I jot it down on the list. This eliminates so many “opps I forgot” trips to the store and ultimately saves money. 

How I use my binder

The third thing I use is a 3-ring binder. Here I keep recipes and also a master list of meals our family enjoys. This list is all divided out by meat types and what cookbook it is found in. This system makes meal planning and grocery list writing so much easier! 

These three books work hand in hand to help me stay organized and our home running sufficiently. Meals our family likes are organized in the 3-ring binder which I refer to as I make our weekly menu and shopping list in my lined notebook. I then make notes into my daily planner: what day I will make that shopping trip, when I need to start prep for certain meals, events and details of our week. 

I hope these ideas will help you as you seek to serve your family well! Caring for our families is a gift! 

Meatless Meal Ideas

Looking for ways to save a little extra money? Running out of time to thaw and cook meat before dinner time? Today, Rachel shares a compilation of favorite meatless meal ideas. Meat can be one of the most expensive parts to a grocery bill, so why not try and cut down costs a bit? If you challenge yourself to cooking one or two meals a week without using meat, you might just be surprised at how delicious and easy your menu planning can still be.

  • Black bean tacos
  • Cheese or bean quesadillas 
  • Potato bar with any left over veggies in your fridge or a can of beans
  • Quiche
  • Pancakes/waffles
  • Eggs and toast
  • Zucchini tacos
  • Egg salad sandwiches
  • Black bean and rice skillet
  • Black bean burgers
  • Omelets
  • Bean and cheese chimichangas
  • Baked oatmeal
  • Tomato soup
  • Veggie grilled cheese
  • Regular grilled cheese
  • Garden lasagna
  • Potato Au gratin
  • Frittatas
  • French toast
  • Meatless Taco salad
  • Bean burritos
  • Veggie chili
  • Shakshuka (an Israeli dish)
  • Falafel (Israeli dish)
  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • Ratatouille
  • Lentil spaghetti
  • Granola and yogurt with fruit
  • Hash-browns and eggs
  • Crepes
  • Potato or zucchini fritters
  • Oven roasted root veggies

Ways to Use the Meat You Have on Hand, Part 2: Pork Roast, Ham, Sausage and Kielbasa

Today we’re continuing with “Ways to use the meat you have on hand, part 2.” If you’ve scrounged in your fridge recently only to realize you’re going to be eating the same leftover meat for the next four days, check out our ideas below. You just might find yourself inspired to whip those leftovers up into a completely new dish!

PORK (roast, loin, chops, etc)

Fajitas/tacos

Enchiladas

Carnitas 

Stir-fry

Pork, potatoes, and onions skillet (think “Steak and potatoes”)

Pulled Pork sandwiches

HAM

Ham and potato soup

Egg scrambler

Monte Cristo sandwiches

Quiche

Ham and pineapple pizza

Stir fried rice

Frittatas

Chef Salad 

Biscuits and Ham Gravy 

Lentil/Split Pea Soup

White Bean and Ham Soup

Sliders

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham Casserole

Loaded potatoes

Breakfast casserole

Ham and Cheese Crescent Roll Ups

Ham Salad

SAUSAGE

Scrambled Eggs

Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast Pizza 

Pizza 

Biscuits and Gravy 

Egg Frittata

Zuppa Toscana Soup

Sausage sandwiches

KIELBASA

Hobo dinners 

Jumbalaya