The little miss loves to stand on a stool in the kitchen next to me and “help” me cook. At first this started as her snacking on whatever I was chopping on my cutting board. Over the past several months she’s started to actually help me. I’ve give her little jobs, like ripping kale off of the stalks. On occasion, we bake a sweet treat for a special occasion (we’ve had several of them lately – no complaints here) and I let the little miss top a small batch of cupcakes with sprinkles. I put the sprinkles in a cupcake liner on the counter and let her have creative license with the decorating. She loves the job (what’s not to like?) and takes pride in telling people that she made the cupcakes. I’m not going to lie – several sprinkles were consumed in the process – but I am usually able to get her to wait until she’s finished with the cupcake decorating to indulge in the remaining sprinkles.
It was pretty chilly in SF the other day so we headed to our favorite kiddo store down the street, Sprout, which has an awesome playroom in the back. My little one was obsessed with the Chef Set by Green Toys. It’s made from 100% recycled milk containers and is dishwasher safe (yay!). The set meets FDA food contact standards and is also BPA-free. Of course I bought the little guy his own Chef Set before we left and he hasn’t stopped playing with it since. Fourteen months isn’t too young to get started in the kitchen, right?
I love this idea from Mother Huddle for making paint pops out of the last bits of paint using an ice cube tray and popsicle sticks. The pops are perfect for little toddler hands and give a new twist to painting for those who are bored with traditional brushes. Find the full tutorial for making these cute paint pops here.
I find that if I make anything in the form of a muffin my toddler goes nuts for them. She literally devoured these muffins which are packed with veggies and fiber and no added sugar. They look like a crappy carb (to her), so she was thrilled. In reality, these muffins are a nutritional powerhouse, at least as far as baked goods go. The recipe was inspired by “toddler muffins” I saw on Pinterest, which gave me the idea to use up a stray leftover jar of babyfood by making muffins. I added in leftover steamed veggies (carrots and a bit of chopped cauliflower), substituted flax seed meal and oat flour for the wheat flour that the original recipe called for and used bananas and apple sauce as the “sweeteners” and in place of butter in the recipe. The result is a muffin that is hearty and filling – reminiscent of a whole wheat banana bread with only a hint of sweetness. These are not the type of muffin you would consider a “treat” unless you are a real health nut (like me). But for a kid who doesn’t get much sugar these are a winning snack and very simple to make.
Be sure to either freeze half of the muffins or refrigerate them within a day (or both). Because of the high moisture content from the vegetables they will spoil quickly at room temperature. Also, you can use muffin liners to make these (saves on clean-up), but because they are so moist some of the muffin will stick to paper liners. The muffins take about 30 minutes to make, not include cooling time.
Healthy Toddler Snack Muffins
4 oz jar pureed squash baby food (such as Earth’s Best)
2 medium bananas (I used frozen bananas, defrosted in the microwave and used the resulting “juice” in the recipe)
1/3 cup shredded carrots (or a mixture of shredded steamed carrots and chopped cauliflower)
½ cup apple sauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup oat flour*
½ cup flax seed meal
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Mix squash through vanilla in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Whisk together dry ingredients (oat flour through salt) in a medium bowl. Add mixed dry ingredients to squash mixture and stir just until full incorporated and no dry patches remain.
2. Divide batter among prepared muffin tins and bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Store at room temperature for 1 day, refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze.
*To make homemade oat flour grind old-fashioned oats in a food process until they resemble a coarse flour.
Initial necklaces are such a great gift idea and you can give them without spending a fortune by finding an artisan designer. I adore the tiny initial necklaces made by Sarah Feingold of Feingold Jewelry. Sarah is a multitalented childhood friend who is both a jewelry designer and Etsy’s in-house counsel. Sarah’s handmade vintage brass letters come on a sterling silver chain; the petite letters are simple and modern.
Sarah’s initial necklaces would make a great gift for any mom, grad, bat mitzvah or sweet sixteen. It’s a thoughtful and reasonably priced “push gift” if any of you out there are looking for a hint to pass on to your significant other.
Check out Sarah’s full jewelry line here. Initial necklaces are $18 each.
I know it’s a little early to be thinking about Father’s Day, but men can be hard to shop for. Why not skip the tie for Father’s Day and buy your favorite daddy a custom-made shirt? My husband loves custom shirts and I have been buying them from a British company for years. Then I heard about Ratio Clothing, a company that makes custom-made shirts in the USA for about the same price as a shirt from J.Crew. Ratio Clothing is well-know among the personal shopping crowd, selling directly to customers online. I first heard of them from an acquaintance – a butler in NYC. They sell dress shirts, casual flannels and oxfords.
My husband’s biggest gripe with dress shirts is that they’re cut too wide. He likes a nice slim fit so I ordered several for the holidays. I used the measurements from my husband’s suit jacket and dress shirts (neck, chest, arm, etc.), without taking any actual measurements, and the online ordering was simple. The shirts are beautifully made – the fabric is soft and strong, the fit is amazing (custom – can you believe?) and the fabric choices are both classic and modern. The main gripe I have about the shirts is with how long they take, which is no different from the British company I was ordering from and is par for the course for custom-made shirts. It means planning ahead and ordering at least 6 weeks in advance to guarantee delivery in time for your occasion. For the procrastinators out there, you can print a picture of the shirt and gift wrap it. I’ve had to do that in the past for gifts (tsk, tsk).
Also, I often order shirts for my husband with a monogram and I didn’t like the way the monogram turned out on these shirts. It wasn’t crisp enough and the letters were very small. Ratio was very responsive to my feedback and looked into the monogram issue. Apparently they got a new monogramming machine and that’s the look of the new monograms. They may change the monogramming machine in the future so you should ask before ordering if you want a monogram. I’ll definitely order more shirts in the future, sans the monogram.
You really can’t go wrong with one of the Ratio shirts for daddy; it’s an indulgence that will make him feel appreciated.
Special thanks to Ratio Clothing for providing a sample for review purposes (I purchased 3 shirts after the initial sample and plan to order a few more for Father’s Day).
I have been a member of Goodreads for quite some time. Goodreads is a free website where you can keep track of the books you have read, review books, share book reviews with friends, read other people’s book reviews and keep a list of books you’re interested in reading in the future. Goodreads has other features as well, including discussions with your favorite authors. Recently, I discovered that moms I know use Goodreads not just for their own reading, but also for children’s books. My daughter, a young reader, had grown tired of the series she had been reading for months. So, I took to Goodreads, searched for books I thought fit the criteria of what she would like, and found a selection of books that she is now loving. Goodreads is an amazing resource for books for moms and kids alike.