First Birthday Celebration

Happy 1st birthday to Zach & Lucy today! Due to a stomach bug that’s attacked Lucy, posts are delayed this week. I’m taking us back to Saturday when we had the pleasure that afternoon to gather with close friends at our house to celebrate Zach & Lucy.

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Due to {unrelated to us} sicknesses & life’s busyness, our small party was smaller than expected, but Lucy & Zach didn’t mind. They loved the cuddles, attention, decorations & friends.

I went with a monkey theme & kept things fairly simple. Invites, cupcake decorations & food tents were ordered off etsy & printed by Walmart & by my Dad. We found monkey boy & girl balloons at Party City & monkey paper goods at Walmart.

monkey party decor

For food, I had help last weekend with my parents & Friday night from my aunt & friend Kelly. Mom & I baked mini banana bread loaves for adult goodie bags {kids also received monkey stickers & bubbles}.

Kelly & I made ‘monkey tails’ aka pretzel rods dipped in milk chocolate & green sprinkles. Sue used my mom’s idea of ‘monkey caps’ – toothpick sized kabobs of tomato, basil & mozzarella which I drizzled with balsamic glaze minutes before guests arrived. Friday night, we also created a mix of kiddo puffs, melts & Cheerios for the littles.

monkey food

I made my favorite banana pudding in cups for easy serving & enjoying. I picked up a tropical trail mix at Walmart. I sat out ‘monkey crunches’ {chips, carrots & tomatoes with ranch dip} too. And we had my {& now Zach’s beloved} Gigi’s cupcakes for dessert. I ordered mini cupcakes for us & two regular ones for Lucy & Zach.

monkey food 2

So I expected Lucy to love her cupcake because she loves fruit & sweet pouches. I wasn’t sure about Zach. Y’all! They drove in before we even had time to sing or think of putting in the ‘1’ candle. Zach made a mess! It was awesome. Lucy took a little encouragement from me but she ended up liking it too.

lucy cupcake

Zach birthday cake
After cleaning up Lucy & giving Zach a quick bath & outfit changes, it was time to bring out their gift from us {a coupe that their friend Reagan also enjoyed}.

Zach & Lucy birthday party giftsThen we opened gifts from our sweet friends. Lucy & Zach received wiggly giggly balls, birthday books & boon snack/bowls. The books are our current favorites on rotation!

Two babies means cause for two celebrations! Up this weekend is the family birthday/baptism beach weekend party!

PackIt Love {giveaway}

I discovered PackIt through a friend a little of a year ago. I won a blog giveaway for their original Personal Cooler. When they heard I was expecting two babies, they graciously also included two of their smaller sized mini coolers too.

I use the Personal Cooler as a lunch bag for myself or as the bag to take Zach & Lucy’s 6 daycare bottles & food in. At 8″ x 10″ x 5″, it’s big enough while still fitting in our {giant} diaper bag along with their cloth diaper wet bags.

The Mini Cooler has become my go to so much that I asked for {& received!} a third as a Christmas gift. I take one every day to bring home my pumped bottles. Three 9oz tall Gerber bottles fit perfectly in the 8″ x 8″ x 3″ bag. I store the bag & bottles in my work mini fridge door through out the day then know my milk will stay cold while running errands & on the drive home in my PackIt. The mini will also hold three daycare bottles & a couple small baby food containers, so when we don’t use another PackIt cooler for daycare, we use two minis. I pack the Packits the night before so I rotate between the different sized bags.

I chatted again recently with PackIt as they just launched a couple new bags. My babies big bottles & ever increasing solids containers for daycare means we’ve started almost outgrowing our smaller PackIts. Just in time, PackIt sent me the Social Cooler. This bag is like my others that its gel lined so the bag itself goes right in the freezer then keeps bottles {or whatever you want} cool for up to 10 hours. But the social cooler is big! It’s a roomie 12″ x 13″ x 5″. Perfect for six bottles, four containers of baby food & room to spare. It’d also be great for a day at the beach or a family picnic lunch.

PackIt

My PackIt freezer shelf, the social cooler: front, back & all ready for daycare.

PackIt is willing to generously offer you, my awesome readers, a PackIt bag of your choice. Do you want a wine bag {or two!} for your BYOB girls’ nights? Or is a double baby bottle bag more your speed right now? Check out the different bags & leave a comment letting me know what you’d choose & why as your giveaway entry.

As a second entry, follow me {@suzstreats} & PackIt {@packitcool} on twitter & tweet something like “Enter to win a @packitcool cooler #giveaway of your choice with @suzstreats http://suzstreats.com/packit-love-giveaway/”. Leave a link to your tweet in another comment, please.

Feel free to also like PackIt on facebook & instagram.

I’ll leave the giveaway open until next Friday May 24th at midnight. I’ll draw a winner using random.org & let the winner know by Memorial Day Monday May 27th. Good luck!

I won three PackIts in a long ago giveaway. I was sent the social cooler for purpose of this review but I was not compensated in any other way. Nor did their generosity sway my honest opinion on their awesome product. 

Cooking for the Babies

With our ‘getting Lucy & Zach to eat’ struggles behind us, a new challenge has emerged: having enough on hand to satisfy them.

I’ve made it a goal to attempt to give them healthy, wholesome food. Preferably organic & homemade when possible. That’s not to say that they don’t eat their weight in puffs & yogurt melts out of plastic cans. And for busy weeks & traveling & dining out, I’ve purchased organic baby food pouches {I like the Happy Baby ones}.

Even though I’ve mentioned on LWM what they’re eating, I thought I’d share that again & include a few recipes.

Thankfully, as they are edging closer & closer to 12 months, the list of ‘no no’ foods is almost gone. To be honest, that’s been a little hard to keep track of.

Lucy & Zach have yet to try nuts {including peanut butter}, honey, & beef. I gave them strawberries last weekend for the first time. They’ve had all fruit including blueberries & melons for a while. We’ve stayed pretty clear of desserts & sweets, but they have tried bites of froyo & baby arrowroot cookies.

Way before Lucy & Zach arrived, I won a Fresh Baby So Easy baby food making kit. Included in the kit was a DVD on making baby foods {which I never had time to watch}, two baby food trays, & a baby food recipe book that I use all the time. I was gifted the Baby Bullet system at a shower along with an extra tray of storage containers.

Between the Baby Bullet & Fresh Baby recipe books, I haven’t really looked further. I stuck with single food purees until the last month. I microwave steam peas, green beans, sweet potatoes, spinach, califlower, brocoli, blueberries, pineapple, mango, pears with a little water until soft. {Already soft foods like avocado & bananas just get tossed straight in.} I puree whichever food in the Bullet with a little milk or formula added before freezing in trays or putting aside in the bullet storage tubes in the fridge.

Foods they love together I’ve started combining in the Bullet to make my life easier. I mix warm blueberries with ripe bananas {& mix that combo in plain yogurt!}. When I added too much milk to peas recently, I steamed frozen chopped brocoli & pureed those together.

Tuesday night I saved myself a step & pureed steamed spinach & sweet potatoes together as well as spinach & avocado. They babies loved the spinach/sweet potatoes with a little applesauce mixed it.

Weekend breakast for L & Z often is waffles {either homemade or Eggos}, shared between the two of them & served with sliced fruit. They like Cheerios too which is what they often get around 8a at daycare.

My mom arrived Sunday to drop off my dad {who’s staying with me while J’s working in CA for 2 weeks}. Mom had been given a recipe for munchkin meatballs from a coworker. Harris Teeter had organic ground chicken $2 off, so we used chicken instead of turkey & baby carrots vs one big one. Zach & even Lucy love these meatballs! Zach ate 2.5 Tuesday night! I have to admit I tried one & they are awesome. These might be a new munchkin staple at our house.

She also brought leftovers from a couples shower Saturday night including a twist on baked beans. We offered those to the babies & they adored them. Perfect for tiny hands to grab a bean & also for us & daycare to spoon feed.

As you can guess from above, we still mostly give Zach & Lucy separate foods from us. That’s my next goal: to have us all eating most of the same things. I don’t think they’re quite ready yet, but they will be soon. As I find with most things kiddo, as soon as I get used to & feel like I’m “getting it”, they’re close to being ready to move on & leave purees behind.

None of my links are affiliated. Just linked to make it easy on you.

Homemade With Love

I had the pleasure last Friday to run away from the office for a few hours & enjoy lunch with local bloggers & Jennie Perillo. In case you aren’t super familiar with her, Jennie, the writer behind In Jennie’s Kitchen, just became a published author! Her beautifully written cookbook Homemade With Love came out very recently & she was in town for a few local book signings.

Homemade with Love sampling

Jennie’s ricotta, chickpea, parmesan & fennel salad, strawberry lemonade & slow roasted tomatoes

I was honored to be included among the lovely bloggers there. It was great to meet new faces & catch up with old blogging buddies.

All the recipes Jennie made for us are from her cookbook. We watched as she put final touches on some of the dishes like the panzanella. I’ve honestly never had anything like many of the dishes I sampled Friday. So I took small portions.

Homemade with Love

Jennie at work, another view of the salad, the panzanella, her chocolate cupcakes & the lentil meatballs that had me swooning.

Jennie’s food was out of this world delicious. I might or might not have gone back for seconds. On everything. Then made room for a dark chocolate cupcake somehow.

Homemade with Love get together

My plate full of deliciousness, ladies chatting, at home Friday evening diving into reading & Jennie’s generous sponsors {Glad & KitchenAid} who helped bring her to Raleigh & give us one of her books.

If you’re looking for a great cookbook with easy to follow recipes, check out Homemade with Love. I love that she’s a big fan of eating whole foods locally grown while being cost efficient & sharing tips for making items ahead knowing her readers are often busy working moms like myself. I’m looking forward to making her pancakes & waffles soon as I’ve heard nothing but great things about her version of one of my favorite foods!

While I received a copy of Homemade with Love, some Gladware & a spoonula from KitchenAid, I was not told to write this review nor was I otherwise compensated. I’m gushing over my love for Jennie’s food & recipes all on my own.

{no longer} Struggling with Solids

My not-so-great eaters have changed! I did an update on our take of solids on Liberating Working Moms yesterday. Thought I’d share a bit of it here.

Somehow in
the last four months, Lucy & Zach went from struggling so much with solids that I wrote a post on it, spoke with our PA & pediatrician & was on the verge of sending Lucy & Zach to a specialist to BOOM good eaters. I’d say I don’t know how this happened, but I kinda do.

Jump over to LWM to read the rest. And I’d love to hear your favorite to-go foods for ‘toddlers’. OMG I almost have toddlers!!

{Make Ahead Meals} Shrimp & Wild Rice Casserole

This is another great recipe courtesy of friends of my Mom’s. She’s even more social than me & lucky to have friends willing to share when they make an awesome casserole. The original recipe is for chicken & wild rice casserole but included how to do it with shrimp. Since we were at the beach {for Easter}, we made it the shrimp way & the casserole was delicious. We halved the recipe & it was plenty for 6 adults.

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole 

1 (2.25 oz)  pkg sliced almonds {skipped}
2 (6.2 oz) boxes fast cooking long grain and wild rice mix
1/4 c butter
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 lb medium sized raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 (8 oz) can chopped water chestnuts
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
1 c dry white wine
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 c shredded parmesan cheese, divided
2 C shredded monteray jack cheese, divided

Preheat over to 350. Bake almonds in single layer 4-6 minutes, until toasted, stirring half way through.

Prepare rice mix according to package directions.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat, add celery & onions. Saute 10 minutes or until tender. Add the shrimp. Stir in soup, water chestnuts, sour cream, wine, salt & pepper, rice and 3 cups of the cheese. Spoon mixuture into lightly greased 15 x 10 dish or two 11 x 7 dishes.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Sprinkle w/remaining 1 C of cheese and almonds. Bake another 5 minutes.

You can also do this recipe with chicken {5 c chopped & cooked}. Change 4 c cheddar for the monterey jack & parmesan & sub milk for the white wine.