Friday, November 27, 2015

wishlist : Christmas 2015 mini-man edition

Christmas is just super hard to pick things out for Myles because it is just so close to his birthday.  I think most people have already decided what they are getting him, but I still wanted to do a little wishlist on here for him.

1 :  Kidkraft Play Kitchen.  I believe Santa may be bringing this big item, but he could still use a little bit of play food for it.  How cute is this felt breakfast set?!

2 : Hape Coffee Maker Play Set.  The one big thing in the kitchen Myles always loves "helping" me with is making the coffee.  I think he would LOVE to have his own coffee maker to play with!

3 : Melissa&Doug Locks and Latches Board.  These skills boards are pretty neat, especially this one that has different locks!  He is obsessed with trying to get my keys into the door lock so I imagine he would like figuring these out.

4 : A new pair of sneakers.  When I originally picked out these Pumas, they were a fraction of the current price.  He is just going to need size 8 or larger toddler tennis shoes before too long.

5 : Toddler bedding.  Rumor has it that a toddler bed has been purchased, but we will need sheets!  Especially with the thought of potty training soon, we will definitely need a second mattress pad, and some toddler size sheets, plus his first little pillow!.  I'm still trying to work up the courage to make him a quilt.

What is your toddler getting this year?  Anything I should think about?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

wishlist : Christmas 2015 mommy edition

Its that time of year again.  I have a lot of fun making these little wish lists.  Maybe its helpful for family, or maybe its just helpful for you to think of things you may have forgotten about! 

1 : for the feet I recently realized that my tennis shoes aren't in as good of shape as I thought they were.  And I also realized that I bought them when I was pregnant with Myles.  It is time for replacements.  These at Off Broadway are just too cute and could go with any outfit during any season!  I usually wear an 8.

2 : for the crafting there were several times I really wished I had one of these Fiskars Paper Trimmers for various paper crafts this year.  Other paper crafting things that would be nice, like larger letter and number stamps like these (and ink!), or corner cutters to add a little polish to little projects similar to this.

3 : for the nails I mentioned wanting to try one of these gel manicure systems out, and I still do.  I'm not sure what I'm going to think about the lengthy removal process of gel polish, but this is still something I am very interested in.

4 : for cold weather My friend Lyndsey got this shirt for her birthday a few weeks ago.  It seems to only be sold at our mall in Palmetto Moon, but they do have a website!  I don't have any long sleeve t-shirts but this Sweetly Southern SC one would be a welcome addition to the closet.  They are currently out of my size in the navy, but seem to have a red one in Small.

5 : for the back I am at a point of coming to terms with the fact that most of my back and neck pain is because I have terrible posture at all times; especially when I am on the computer or doing crafts on the couch.  A small adjustable angle and height desk like this one would really help bring things out of my lap to alleviate some of the pain.  

6 : for the cook You may have noticed I have really tried more stir fry dishes this year.  Every single time, I have wished I had a wok.  I used to have a wok but had made the mistake of buying a non-stick one.  You aren't supposed to use non-stick at the hot levels stir fry is meant to be on, and so mine started to tear up.  So a nice carbon steel one like this would be awesome!

Fan of gift cards?  Starbucks, The Jones Market, Dunkin, Old Navy, or Target are all great ideas!

What is on your list this year?  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

two : the big party

I was a little nervous about doing a party at dinner time.  Kyle was on call Saturday night so would sleep for a while Sunday afternoon, and the next weekend begins vacation, so we had to have it this past Sunday evening.  It worked out for the best though!  With the party starting at 5:00, all the toddlers were well napped and ready to go.  

Once everyone started arriving, Myles let it be known he wanted to play outside, so we went with it and the kids enjoyed the leaves while there was still some light out.

Then it was time to move in for dinner and dessert.  We did sing Happy Birthday, but lesson learned... you can't put a regular birthday candle into a rice krispy treat.

Myles has loved looking for all of the paper airplanes as I added to our decorations through the week (Mommy! Airduh!), but he definitely loved all of the additional planes around the house the day of the party.  Our friend Jen made him his awesome birthday shirt (Yellow Door Stitches).

The rest of the time, everyone just hung out and played.  The chalkboard coffee table was the main event for the kids other than the new toys.  There may have been some candy corn thievery in Kyle's lap at one point.  And plenty of sweet moments between friends.

Myles had a lot of fun with his friends! It was a really good birthday.  I think the adults had fun too!  It was nice getting families from our different groups of friends all in one place.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Flight 002 ready for takeoff!

I'm all for cute parties, but I'm even more about doing it on a dime.  This little airplane party fit that bill just fine.  

I started out making the invitations myself on Photoshop, and cut them to shape.  A $1 pack of envelopes were decorated with watercolor to look like little airmail envelopes.

I used about $5 of scrapbook paper cut into fourths to fold a massive quantity of paper airplanes during a week's worth of nap times.  A little string and hot glue finished those up.  The airplane garland was hanging everywhere.  I am generally anti-party favors but I couldn't have an airplane themed party without airplane food... the little grab-bags were filled with snack size pretzels and "peanuts" (Nutter Butter cookies!).  

We had 5 families in addition to ourselves to feed so I went for simple and did a big pot of chili and some hotdogs.  I threw the chili together the day before so that it just needed to slowcook on low all day before the party.  I ended up tossing all of our drinks in the sink with the glasses next to it for easy access.  Fruit and Veggie Capri-Suns for the kids.

Since the birthday-boy is allergic to eggs, we made two versions of Rice Krispy treats for the party.  Brown-butter vanilla bean, and Funfetti were super simple, cheap, and a big hit with everyone that came. 

The last of the decorations was my little runway table runner made out of brown wrapping paper and acrylic paint that I already owned.  Everything else was little airplanes we have collected for Myles.  Thanks to Dollar Tree and Aldi, this party was done for next to nothing with great food and fun for the kiddos.  And extra big thanks to my friends Karina and Brittany for helping me clean the house, and make the desserts.  I could not have done this without their help! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

myles oliver : 2 years

So many changes since your 18 month update.  You are pretty solidly in 2T clothes... And just graduated to an 8 in shoes!  You currently weigh a little over 29 pounds and are just shy of 34.5 inches tall. 

While you have definitely started into the terrible 2s phase, you are still such a sweet little boy.  You want to help with all of the chores (I recently caught you properly dumping small trashcans into the big kitchen one the other day while I was folding clothes!), and love kissing boo-boos.  You are obsessed with our friends' new babies, and always try to make sure your friends don't lose their cups or toys.

Your vocabulary is starting to take off.  Favorite phrases include : bye bye, thank you, daddy home, Remi down!, wow cool!, uh oh mommy, oh no! (so dramatic!) You are getting better at frequently used words (back ( want things where they should be), ice, milk, snack, cookie, chips, dirty, bath, shoe, cheese, sit, oops...), but still have a few made up versions we have had to learn to make life a little easier.  You are getting really good at possessives; pointing out "mine" or "mommy's" or "daddy's".  You can point to most body parts, and say a few of them correctly.  You really like pointing at eyes on other people or objects we see.  You also have gotten really good at recognizing faces in photographs, especially loving our wall-of-frames.

You have a big obsession with airplanes ("airduh!!!").  You point at every one that flies overhead and love the couple of toy ones I let you pick out.  You also really love shoes, and desperately keep trying to figure out belts (someone please find one in his size!).  Food-wise, you want avocado, cheese and yogurt at all times, love eating whole apples, pizza (any toppings are fine!) and cheeseburgers are a hit.  You have a major love for cooked broccoli, onions, bell peppers, all stew beans (not green beans!), carrots, and virtually all "soups".  Frustratingly though, you do have your toddler moments where you want nothing that I fix you.

At the moment, you would much rather play on the kindle or run around outside than dare to pick up a book.  You are obsessed with Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, enjoy Thomas the Train, Little Einsteins, and Dora the Explorer.  You are getting really good at puzzles, and will sit for a few minutes at a time to play with blocks.  I am able to mostly get out of the house with you without major meltdowns as long as we get out before noon, and except for a few nap-strikes, you have been napping 2-3 hours at some point after 1pm.  At home, you love pulling the pots and pans out to "cook", "organizing" things, plugging in our electronics, getting into the fridge every few minutes (we are going to have to get a lock for that), turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, and buckling every buckle you can see.  Basically, you are into everything and childproofing is a joke.

Myles Oliver, you know how to push all of my buttons, but you are also really getting good at showing us genuine love.  I can't wait to see what this next year entails!

Friday, November 6, 2015

the super long foodie friday post about Aldis

This is a post I have been itching to write for a long time.  I used to have really odd negative feelings about Aldis, you know... when I had never been in one.  And then I went to the one a mile from our house and while I thought "yeah that's neat", I was honestly a little stressed out because of the nearly uni-directional set up of the small store.  You go in one way, snake through, and come out after checkout, and I felt like it was a huge no-no if you forgot something and needed to go back (I do frequently).  But after some encouragement from my friend Jen, I kept giving it a shot.  Soon enough, I have the location of all typical items memorized and know my problem areas to slow down in so I don't have to backtrack later on.  But it is totally ok if I do!  And if you get there and think "crap! I forgot my bags, guess I will have to go somewhere else... I really don't want to have to buy some!  Just do what I do... load the groceries straight into your car...or grab the free empty boxes at the front (or along the way while you are shopping).

I won't give a history lesson on Aldi being like the wiser older brother to Trader Joe's (yes they are related) but if you want to know more, go read this Slate write up of their history HERE.  It truly is fascinating.  In fact, Aldi seems to be upping their game a lot lately so I have pretty much stopped going to the more expensive TJ's unless I am just super bored.  And if you aren't convinced that Aldis is cheaper than your favorite big-box stores, the Passionate Penny Pincher has done extensive cost comparisons that are free to download (Aldi v Costco v Sams) (Aldi v Walmart v Target) spoiler alert: Aldi wins a lot.  Generally, I will go to Aldi first, buy everything that I can (usually about 75% of my list), and then hop across the street to Walmart for those specific brand named things we like (like Lays and Dr Pepper), or random items Aldis doesn't carry (especially toiletry items).  So here is a long list of the things I regularly buy (and love!) at Aldis.  I will just have to tell you about some of the seasonal items and random staple items because I was tired of being the crazy person taking pictures of everything in the store.

Their crackers are all great, cheaper than normal brands, and sometimes just better.  These are my all time favorite tortilla chips, and a giant bag for cheaper than a small bag at other stores.  I do not like their Veggie straws, not impressed with their Kettle chips flavors compared to Lays, but absolutely do love the Organic Simply Nature Sweet Potato chips.

The baking item prices blow other stores out of the water, and are great.  I am not an aficionado on how one brand of flour or sugar compares to others, but I love the prices and they all work well for my uses.  The cookie selection so far has been great as well.  The Fig Bars are just like a Fig Newton at the fraction of their price, and the Bentons Caramel Coconut Fudge cookies are amazing.  Other snacks I get every week include the dried fruits, apple sauce pouches, and fruit cups for great prices.  We have also had no issues with the Boulder brand of household items.  I use the paper towels, trash bags, zip-lock bags, paper plates and napkins with no complaint.  They are much cheaper and very comparable to Name-Brands we used to buy.  I have not tried their brand of toilet paper, but they carry the Charmin we like at the same price as Walmart so I don't mind grabbing it there.

Their milk is the cheapest in town and tastes just fine, as is the milk products like greek yogurt cups. The uncured bacon is now my all time favorite (when on sale...otherwise I really enjoy the Specially Selected center cut bacon).  I used to not be very impressed with the meat selection, but in the past few months I feel like everything has changed.  You can't beat the lean ground beef price very easily,  their pre-cut beef stew chunks turn out more tender in the crockpot than Walmart's, and they made me even happier when they started carrying chuck roast recently.  I regularly buy their chicken thighs and legs at $.99/lb.  I have learned to only grab the center cut pork chops.  Don't take your chances with the random cuts of chops at a discounted price.  Their pork tenderloins are also really good.

I was blown away when I first noticed the price on their BIG bag of Jasmine Rice (always available), am obsessed with the seasonal item of Sparkling Pumpkin Cider (non-alcoholic), and Myles and I have been downing the mini butter croissants like they are our last meal.  In the bread aisle, if you are looking to pay next to nothing for sandwich bread, this is your place.  The white bread is $.85 per loaf and has better texture than the cheapest loaf at Walmart.  

I feel like the produce department has gotten a little better as well recently.  I have loved buying up avocados each week, ranging from $.49 each in the summer to $.79 each the rest of the year.  They are hard as a rock so not to be used in a hurry, but given a couple days on the counter are perfectly fine.  Bananas ($.44/lb) and bell peppers are pretty awesome as well.  The most I have ever paid for the tri-colored peppers at Aldi is $2.99 for 3, and this week the green ones were $.99 for a pack of 3.  Grape quality is hit or miss, but are generally $1.98 for a 2 lb bag.  I think I just paid over $2 per pound at Walmart on Monday.   They have also been increasing the amount of organic produce and other organic grocery items in the store...if that kind of thing is important to you.  Same goes for Gluten Free.

The Deutsche Kuche products are generally excellent.  I look every week for the Beer Brats and buy as many as I can when they are available.  The photo is actually from when I bought out the section for  my parents who love them, but can never get to their nearest Aldi in time to buy them before they run out... (y'all still haven't paid me back!)  They are phenomenal, I won't buy any others.  The DK Sauerkraut is also amazing, but too large of a jar for me to eat alone, so I heat up half and freeze the other in a freezer bag for later.  I can not rave about the Moser Roth chili chocolate enough.  I have not had the other flavors, but really enjoy that one.  I do not like the Choceur brand of chocolate  at all though. 

Items not included in photos:  
I haven't had a ton of luck with their wine selection and have not tried any of the beer (if you have, let me know what you think!).  I am a major fan of their summer-only Sangriano Sangria, a large bottle for $5.99.  I am tempted to try their version of different Baileys liqueurs as well (O'Donnells $8.99/750ml), especially the holiday flavors they have in store right now.

I think it is the summer time that their take-and-bake specialty pizza is their 16" thin crust Mexican Pizza in the cheese area.  This is amazing.  Myles and I eat one per week as long as they are available.  I have not tried their other pizzas yet.  Also in this area, their cheeses are great; especially the white aged cheddar, the hummus is really good, and sometimes they have a great chipotle cheese spread on special.  I regularly buy the shredded mexican and mozzarella cheese here for less than $3 per 4cup bag.  I'm still kicking myself for not trying the soft pretzels in a can during Oktoberfest season.

I always check out the weekly-changing home goods area.  I have so far bought a pie carrier, tomato cages, and who knows what else.  This week they are selling memory foam folding cots for $89... and I'm tempted to get one for those times my brother comes with my parents.

Their canned vegetables are super cheap and all good.  I especially love when they have their pitted green olives available.  Broths are also amazingly cheap and taste great in a variety of health levels (I used to be a Swanson snob).  I have been buying the 32oz boxed SimplyNature organic free range chicken broth a lot lately ($1.79/box).   I do wait to buy Campbells cream of ___ soups when I get to Walmart though.

I will pretty much try anything there that is the Deutsche Kuche or Specially Selected brands with usual success.  I have recently been trying out the Fusia brand, and we LOVE the pork egg rolls (freezer section $2.49 for 4pack) and the microwaveable noodle bowls (specialty item).

And as I mentioned on Instagram/Facebook 2 weeks ago... they had a special buy of never-before-available whole bean-single origin-organic-coffee, and it was AMAZING.  I bought about 6 extra bags because I don't know when they will carry it again.  I really hope that was just them feeling out whether to carry it permanently.  Resounding yes.  It was $4.29 per bag.

If you have never given Aldis a chance:  Do it.  You won't regret it.  Give it a couple of chances.  I'm glad I did. 

Just don't forget your quarter.

image source
This post is purely spawned from my love for Aldi.  It is not sponsored, I did not receive anything for it, everything I have written is my experience and opinion.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


cooking  :  soups.  Lots of soups are in our future.  Last week was my first and very successful attempt at Chicken Tortilla, this week is copycat Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden.  One of Kyle's favorites, there are a million recipes online, this is pretty much what I do.

planning  :  the 2nd birthday party.  I made the invitations this year, but that is about as cute as its going to get.  After some meltdowns about making it "perfect", I am reevaluating my priorities and going for cute and simple but not Pinterest Perfect.  Apparently stress does some interesting things to my body and I am not going to make a 2nd birthday party be a source of stress.  So we are having a simple airplane theme with a couple of simple craft decorations mixed with planes from Myles' room, and having some families over for chili and dessert one evening and just let all of the kiddos play.

smelling  :  I rarely buy candles, but when I do, I go for the fall scents in Walmart for super cheap.  This year it is the Mainstays Apple Pumpkin scent.  I was SO happy when I grabbed this new one for the year.  Such a perfect sweet and spicy combination.

appreciating  :  Every minute with this guy.  I just need my husband right now, and thankfully we have a full week of not having to run around to any priorities or events M-F (a rarity), so even if he comes home late from work, we get to just chill out together.  Thanks to his parents, we were able to have any epic date night on Halloween to the wedding of one of his Chiefs.  Such a sweet sweet time with my man.

anticipating  :  #scarfament!  I wasn't going to sign up this year because of other obligations, but Kyle encouraged me to do it anyway because it would be a source of joy for me in this season.  And I am so excited that I am doing it again!  I hope some friends signed up too, because all spots have been filled! But of course, I am also anticipating Thanksgiving.  We get to go home to family as a family this year.  Our first year here, a few came to us since Myles had just been born; last year my dad picked up Myles and I and took us to KY while Kyle was on an away rotation alone.  This year, we get to drive home together and rest with our families.

What are you currently up to?

Of course I am linking up with the lovely Anne and Jenna once again!