10 Unique Muddy Buddy Recipes

As much as I love making things for holidays that are “on-theme”, I haven’t been able to find anything for Easter that really spoke to me.  I suppose Easter is my favorite holiday for store-bought goodies like jelly beans, so a lot of the recipes I kept coming across didn’t compare.  That being said, I love muddy buddies (or puppy chow… Is that a regional thing?) all the time, whether it’s a holiday or not.  I remember the joy I felt as a kid if I caught my mom in the middle of making a batch.  Until recently, I had no idea there were so many different varieties you could make.  I’m here to share the recipes of some more creative people than myself who have come up with delicious-looking variations on the traditional chocolate and peanut butter muddy buddy.

If you’re looking for something a little different to bring to an Easter celebration this weekend, here you go!  These are simple, delicious, and easy to serve to a crowd.  I think I’m most intrigued by the Nutella muddy buddies. Yum. I’ll have to send the Hubs out for some Chex!

10 Muddy Buddy Recipes

  1. Lemon Muddy Buddies featured at A Few Short Cuts
  2. Cupcake Puppy Chow featured at Sally’s Baking Addiction
  3. Andes Muddy Buddies featured at What’s Cooking, Love?
  4. Root Beer Float Muddy Buddies featured at Tasty Kitchen
  5. Fluffernutter Puppy Chow featured at Homemade Hooplah
  6. Butterfinger Muddy Buddies featured at Family Fresh Meals
  7. Apple Pie Muddy Buddies featured at A Pumpkin and a Princess
  8. Cookie Butter Muddy Buddies featured at Eazy Peazy Mealz
  9. Nutella Muddy Buddies featured at Motherhood Defined
  10. Chocolate Brownie Muddy Buddies featured at Your Cup of Cake

As always, if you make any of these I’d love to know! Feel free to post how it turned out in the comments below.

6 Ways To Stay Fit With A Baby

Obviously, it can be a challenge to exercise once you’re a mom.  So many things get in the way. I’ve had the additional challenge of being married to a man in law enforcement.  At one time, it meant every other week, I pretty much wouldn’t see my husband because of 12 hour overnight shifts.  His current schedule isn’t quite as crazy, but is still all over the place because he works where security is needed.  Once he’s back on with a department, it’ll only be worse because he’ll be the low man on the totem pole again.  Needless to say, I can’t often rely on his help.

In the past, I’ve been able to use a gym with childcare included, but since we’ve moved and been on a tighter budget, I’ve had to be more creative.  Obviously, if you have a gym with a childcare option, I’m going to recommend using it, because it was amazing! Granted, even with that there are some downsides: you can’t use it when your child is sick, and gyms usually only have childcare during certain hours of the day.  You may still find that this list is helpful even if you can take advantage of a childcare program!

Jogging/Walking with a Stroller

squish in stroller

This is mostly what I do.  The Squish loves being outside, so it’s great for both of us!  Before he was six months old, I would go for a walk with him in his travel system stroller, or let him play in the grass at the park while I ran circles around him.  Once he was six months old and I could use the jogging stroller, I mostly switched to that.  At first, I wasn’t sure about spending the money on a jogging stroller but it was totally worth it.  I use it all the time.  It even helped when it was snowy around here and we would walk to the library, because where we walk often wasn’t plowed.  The big wheels of the jogging stroller were able to go through the snow with no problem.  You can buy a new one, of course, but there always seems to be a few floating around Craigslist for around $50.

I use Runkeeper to track my distance.  It’s fun to challenge myself to get more miles than I did the previous month.  They offer a paid version with more features, but the free one works just fine for me.  My goal is less about being the best runner and more about getting a moderate amount of exercise to stay healthy.

Walking with a Baby Carrier

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Boba Baby Wrap, Grey (affiliate link)

Of course, The Squish has gone through periods where he’s wanted nothing to do with the stroller.  He also didn’t want to play in the grass while I did a workout near him.  It put a wrench in my plans at times, but I learned that if your baby is needy, that’s no need to stop exercising.  It just means you need to try something a little different.  Here’s where a baby carrier comes in handy.  You can use whatever kind you like; structured, soft, whatever.  It actually makes for a harder workout even if you have to slow down a bit because of the extra weight from baby!  I can hardly use one now that he’s gotten so big, but when he was younger it was essential.  Exercise aside, my Boba wrap is sometimes the only reason I was able to eat during the day.

Fitness Videos

There are so many different free fitness videos on Youtube.  There’s yoga, kickboxing, body weight exercises.. seriously, anything you could want.  One of my favorites is Willitary.  He has short videos that kick my butt every time I try to do them.

Dark Horse – Willitary Style This is the first one I tried from him and holy crap, it made my thighs hurt so bad.  It’s only 3 minutes long but it hurts.

Though I don’t have it anymore, I noticed that the Livestrong app offers free workout routines that are as short as five minutes long.  I didn’t try any, but they looked promising, and it mostly just goes to show that there are seriously so many options for new, free workouts!

HIIT Workouts

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These are great, short, high-intensity workouts for naptime.  You can burn a lot of calories in just 15 minutes or so doing these, and you can do them pretty much anywhere, even if you don’t have fancy exercise equipment.  You can get creative and use whatever you can find around the house for weights: a milk jug, a watermelon, a toolbox, whatever.  This is another thing I’ve done while the Squish plays in the grass at the park, and it’s especially great when you incorporate “needy baby workouts” (see below).

If you’ve never done one before, this is another place where YouTube can come in handy, or you can check out Pinterest (which is where I found the one above, which is from Hairspray and High Heels) for a bunch of ideas. Seriously, there are tons.

 

Fit workouts into your chores

http://violetsageblog.com/tag/lazy-girl-fitness/

I’m not talking anything elaborate.  But you can bust out a few squats while you’re cooking on the stove, right?  There’s a great article I found a while back from the Violet Sage Blog on “lazy girl workouts”, or simple routines you can incorporate while you’re doing mundane things like brushing your teeth. 

“Needy Baby Workouts”

needy baby exercise

If all else fails, these usually work.  You can take just about any exercise and turn it into a needy baby workout.

Push-ups? Lay baby under you, kiss and play with him while you do push-ups. You can also do planks this way.

Crunches? Hold baby directly above you.

Squats? Hold baby out and squat.

Lunges? Same as squats, or hold baby as usual.

The best (worst?) part about these is that they never fail to make the Squish laugh.

There are some great ideas at Skinny Mom, where I found the picture above.

 

I’ll have to adjust my workout routine when we have more kids, but for now, these things work well!

What’s your favorite way to stay fit?

Great ideas.. it can be super hard to get a workout in with my 6 month old. I'll have to try a couple of these!

How to Dress Up Boring Ikea Crib Sheets (And Other Textiles!)

In my post about my favorite baby stuff at Ikea, I mentioned that Ikea crib mattresses only fit Ikea sheets, and that there isn’t a big selection: just white, light pink, and light blue.  That’s kind of a bummer, but luckily, there are so many options if you want to change it up!  I spent a few hours on Pinterest trying to get ideas to dress up the packs of plain white sheets we have, especially now that the weather is warming up and we can do projects outside.  Here are some of my favorites.

The great thing about these techniques is that you can use them on anything you want.  I might have to try a few with some older clothes of mine or hit up the thrift store.

Rit Dye Tutorial from Rookie Mag

Rit Dye

This is just a basic tutorial for using Rit dye to dye an entire garment.  Of course, sheets would take a much bigger pot and more dye, but it’s a great introduction if you’re a beginning dye-er!  I was also intrigued by all the things she dyed: I’d never considered that you could dye a purse or shoes.

 

Ombre Dyeing Tutorial from Jenna Burger Design

ombre dye

If you want to do something fancier than an all-over color change, try ombre! This is such a great and simple idea to make textiles fun and different.  I think this would be especially cute in pink for a little girl’s room.

 

Tie Dyeing Tutorial from By Stephanie Lynn

Tie Dyeing

Naturally, the next step here is tie-dyeing.  This is so helpful if you’ve never tie-dyed before, or if you just want to learn different techniques.  She has pictures of different folding techniques and their results.  I love the crumple dye technique for its subtlety; it makes such a pretty fabric that’s just a little mottled-looking.

 

Shibori Tutorial from Design Sponge

diy_shibori_designs

I don’t really know the difference between tie-dye and Shibori.  It could be the indigo dye that’s used.  I honestly don’t know.  What I do know, though, is that I absolutely love the results of these tying techniques.  The indigo dye is really pretty, too!  One thing I love about this tutorial is the use of GIFs to help you know exactly what you’re doing.  I do better with videos than pictures to learn new things, and I’m sure a lot of people are the same way.

 

Potato Stamping Tutorial at Cosas Bonitas

stamps

Not interested in the mess or hassle of dyeing?  Try stamping a simple pattern all over! For full disclosure, this tutorial is in Spanish, but all the pictures make it simple enough to follow.I love the idea of making the stamp from a potato so you can make whatever you’d like.

 

DIY Fabric Stamping Tutorial from Family, Food, and Traveldiy-fabric-stamping I love the previous idea of making the stamp from a potato so you can make whatever you’d like, but you can also use pre-made stamps from the craft store.  Look how cute this moose-stamped fabric is!

 

Crib Sheet Tutorial from Pretty Prudent

diy sheets

If you’re really feeling inclined, you can always ditch buying the sheets at Ikea altogether and make your own!  I love the fabric she used for hers, and it seems like a very simple project, even for beginners.  I’d wager the hardest part of it would be threading the elastic, and even that is more time-consuming than anything!

 

After writing all that, I’m itching to get to work on the Squish’s sheets.

 

Let’s hear from you: What textiles in your home need jazzing up?

Where to Find Ideas for Art Journaling Pages

This is the third installment of my art journaling series.  If you’re just tuning in, here’s where to start and why.

So you’ve been art journaling for a few weeks, and suddenly you’ve hit a wall.  You’re in a rut.  You’re having a hard time thinking of new ideas for your pages.

Let me just tell you: I’ve been there too. You can tell, too, because there will be weeks after weeks of bubble letters and random color washes.  It happens; don’t give up!  Especially after art journaling for a while, it can be hard to think of new ideas.

So to keep things exciting and limiting the aforementioned bubble letters/color washes, here are a few sources of inspiration I use when I’m having trouble.

How To Write A Meal Plan (When You Hate Meal Planning)

It took me a long time to start meal planning. It sounded so painfully dull, and I hated the idea of being obligated to make a particular meal for dinner. I mean, what if it didn’t sound good that day? No, I wanted to decide each day what sounded best to me and make it. Who needs a meal plan?

Then, I realized we had a few problems.

  1. We were spending way too much on groceries.
  2. We constantly felt like there was “nothing to eat” even with a full pantry.

The problem was, when we bought food, we had no idea how we were going to use it. We’d buy stuff and say, “Oh that sounds good!” or “I’m sure we can find a use for that.” So we’d just have a mishmash of different items that might or might not go together.  As a result, we went to the grocery store far more than necessary and thus spent way more than we needed to.  Or, we would give up and get fast food, which, of course, would completely blow our budget.

I realized I needed to suck it up, put on my big-girl pants, and embrace meal planning.

15 Delicious St. Patrick’s Day Treats

I love St. Patrick’s Day.  Well, I love holidays in general, but a holiday where the Irish are celebrated is important in our home due to our Irish heritage and, of course, the fact that the Hubs is a big Notre Dame fan.  I suppose I should edit that and claim we’re ALL big Notre Dame fans, but…  I haven’t been completely indoctrinated yet. Sorry Hubs (and in-laws)!

Anyway, one of the best things about holidays is the excuse to make tasty treats you might not make otherwise.  I rounded up 13 of the best St. Patrick’s Day treats I found via Pinterest to share!

13 Delicious St. Patrick's Day Treats

  1. St. Patrick’s Day Puppy Chow featured at Gal on a Mission
  2. Homemade Gum Drops featured at A Mitten Full of Savings
  3. Fruit Parfaits featured at Thirty Handmade Days
  4. Shamrock Punch featured at Passion for Savings
  5. Leprechaun Hat S’mores featured at The Cake Blog
  6. Thin Mint Truffles featured at The Recipe Critic
  7. Mint Chip Sugar Cookies featured at Little Dairy on the Prairie
  8. Pistachio Kiss Pudding Cookies featured at Yesterfood
  9. Lime Cheesecake Bars featured at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
  10. St. Patrick’s Day Muddy Buddies featured at Frugal Mom Eh!
  11. Chocolate Rainbow Cake featured at The Melrose Family
  12. St. Patricks Day Rice Krispie Treats with Lucky Charm Marshmallows featured at Classy Clutter
  13. St. Patrick’s Day Cake Pops featured at We Heart It (not instructions, but the designs seem easy enough to replicate.)

Mess-Free Baby Painting

There’s something about doing art projects that’s so soothing.  I wanted to find something I could do with the Squish, but I was a little hesitant to give him straight-up finger paints, even in the bathtub.  I’ve tried crayons, but he usually just eats them, and Heaven forbid I try to help him put it on a piece of paper to color. He yanks his hand away and screams like he’s saying, “Stop coloring with my snack!”  This is the perfect art project for babies and young toddlers.  It doesn’t make a mess and (usually) keeps their attention.  It’s one of my favorites because it’s simple, fun, easy to clean up, and the resulting picture is actually really cool.  I think even younger babies could do this as a tummy time activity.

A Letter to my Son On His First Birthday

Squish,

Wow.  Are you really a year old already? I can’t believe it.  Just yesterday, you were a tiny, squirmy newborn who I was mildly terrified of.  Now, you’re on the verge of walking and, well, I’m still terrified, but in a different way.  We’ve come such a long way together.

I’m already so proud to be your mom.  I see you growing and developing so quickly.  I can already see that you’re going to be smart like your dad and stubborn and independent like your mom.  You already have a sense of humor that makes me laugh all the time, like when you’re trying to distract me from putting you to bed.  When I start singing, you cry, but then realize you have to change tactics, so you wave your arms like a bird.  When that doesn’t work, you start smacking me in the face and laughing.  When I laugh too, you laugh even harder.  I can’t wait to see how that sense of humor develops as you grow.

I’m always going to treasure the way you come to me in an unsure situation and cling because you know I won’t let anything hurt you.  I want to always remember the way you sink into me when you’re tired because I’m a safe place for you to land.  I hope you’ll always remember that and know that, no matter what, I’m behind you, bud.  So is Daddy.  We’ll always love you, and you can always count on us.

I’m sorry for the mistakes I’ve made over the past year, like the time I didn’t realize how close you were to rolling over. You surprised both of us and did it all by yourself… Right off the couch.  Oops!  For what it’s worth, I think it scared me more than it did you. I hope that you’ll always see my love for you and forgive my shortcomings. I’m also going to apologize in advance for all the mistakes I’m sure I’ll make while you’re growing up.  All I can promise is that I’ll do my best, and try to apologize when I’m wrong.

I love you.  Have the happiest of all birthdays.

Love,

Mom

Oven-Baked Buffalo Cauliflower

So, we’ve tried this combination in the past.  The recipe I used back then was messy and labor intensive.  It was tasty, but we never made it again.  That was a few years ago.  When I came across this easier-looking, oven-baked version, I knew I had to give it one more try.

Wow, am I glad I did.

It’s SO GOOD.  I mean… I look at the picture and drool.  It’s just wrong to feel that way about cauliflower. And yet, it’s that good.

We’ve made this recipe twice so far.  The second time, we only did half the batch in buffalo sauce.  For the other half, we used Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce so that the Squish could enjoy some.  It was still good, but I think a more tangy, less sweet barbecue sauce would work better.  Nonetheless, Arthur devoured his portion.

I think there are a lot of other variations you could make.  Here are a few the Hubs and I discussed while eating:

  • Garlic butter “wings”
  • Any other pre-bottled wing sauce.
  • Meatless sweet-and-sour, orange, kung pao, etc. chicken
  • Roll in parmesan and dip in marinara sauce for “cauliflower parmesan”
  • Add seasonings to the breading for meatless fried chicken/chicken nuggets.
  • Use on top of salad or in a wrap in place of grilled or fried chicken.

It seems like a great starting point for a lot of different recipes.

In addition to how tasty it was, this meal was also easy to put together.  I think active cooking time was around 15 minutes, possibly less.

While we’d never give up meat entirely, I would like to start incorporating more meatless meals into our diets, for both health and budgetary reasons.  Meat is expensive!  With that in mind, this is a pretty frugal recipe.  I didn’t do a complete cost breakdown, but I would estimate we spent around $4 to feed all three of us.

The Hubs and I have agreed that this needs to be a regular menu item for us.  We had it last night and I already want to make it again. Mmmm.

Seriously: however you choose to make this… I highly recommend it. Give it a shot, and be sure to come back and tell me how you liked it!

Click here to see the full recipe at Spend With Pennies.

The Best Baby Stuff From Ikea

I love Ikea.  It’s affordable, it’s attractive, and it’s (sometimes) fun to put together.  Every time I go I have to watch myself because there are so many things I want, especially now that the Squish is in the picture.  All his furniture came from there, aside from hand-me-downs, and in perusing the kid’s section of the store, I’m always finding new things I want to get for him.

It’s kind of a problem.

Anyway, maybe you’re a first-time mom still planning out a nursery or you’re just new to Ikea, and you need a little help getting started with their fantastic home stuff.  That’s where I come in.  I’m here to tell you the best things we’ve found at Ikea for A.