Archive | February 2013

Chicken Fried Rice

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What do you make when you have leftover chicken?  Fried rice!  It’s fast, relatively easy, and cheap if you’re using food you already have. The beauty of fried rice is that you can add almost whatever you want to it.  Change the vegetables, and you have a different meal.  It also reheats well for lunch the next day (put a damp paper towel over it when reheating).

Get out your wok or stir-fry pan and have fun creating dinner!

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(Ingredients and amounts vary based on what you have on-hand and your taste preferences.)

Ingredients I used:

3-4C Cooked rice

1 1/2C Cooked chicken in bite-size pieces

1/3 Onion, chopped

1/2C Carrots

3/4C Frozen green peas

Garlic powder

Sesame seeds

2T Coconut oil (not pictured)

Soy sauce, low-sodium (to taste; I use at least 1/2 cup)

Sesame oil (just a bit since a little goes a long way)

Mirin, rice cooking wine (a couple of splashes)

2 Eggs, scrambled

What to do:

Heat your wok to medium / medium-high and add coconut oil.  Saute onion.  Add rice and stir.  Add chicken.  Season.  Add everything else, except the eggs.  Keep stirring (frying) it all.  Make sure to get anything off the bottom that may start to stick. When almost ready to serve, add the eggs and stir a few times.

Serve in bowls with chopsticks if you’re adventurous. 😉

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Must-have Baby Items

Since we have “been there, done that” with an infant, people often ask me what would we recommend for a nursery. With so many choices out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the basics, much less wade through all of the recommendations and navigate the store (ahem, Babies R Us).  When I’m asked for one thing, it’s hard to answer. Honestly it depends on what age, so here are things that were useful for us during D’s first months.

The List:
–High-quality video monitor by Summer (costly but worth every penny since you can see and hear the baby without disruption)
–Medela breast pump (electric with double action)
–Diaper Genie 2 (Amazon has good prices on refills through subscribe & save) It really does keep out most of the stink.
–Bouncy seat with vibration option (used almost daily when he was tiny during my shower)
–Boppy pillow with 2 covers (I’ve heard my Breast Friend pillow offers more support for nursing.)
–Glider rocker with ottoman and/or comfy recliner. You may spend many nights sleeping in the recliner or on the sofa with little one on your chest.
–Muslin 36″ blankets (great for swaddling, putting over stroller, light layer in warmer months)
–Halo sleep blanket, when we weren’t swaddling anymore
–Baby Trend infant car seat (lightest weight and good carrying handle, triangle shape)
–Snap & Go stroller frame for car seat (Consignment store!)
–If nursing, Bella B nipple butter (from Amazon) and Lansinoh lanolin for shower time
–Digital camera
–Pack & Play with changing table (if you’re tall, make sure the changing table is higher)
–Changing table for nursery
–Mattress covers with waterproof backing (buy 2)
–Gas drops
–Bottles: Playtex drop-ins worked best for us, producing the least amount of air in little man. I tried about 5 different products before choosing.
–Hooded towels
–Baby bath where one side is reclined and the other sits up
–Aveeno or Aquaphor baby wash and lotions. (Johnson dries out his skin too much.)
–Many baby washcloths
–Breathable baby crib liner instead of bumper pads (bought at Target)
–Diapers: Target brand are good, but we can only use Pampers b/c D is so sensitive. Pampers work better for boys and Huggies for girls, in general. The Wal-Mart brand leaked every time I tried. (If you plan to cloth diaper, check out my friend’s business Earthy Baby)
–Protect the bottom with A&D ointment, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, Desitin, or Aquaphor.
–Bumkins brand bibs when little one starts eating food. They wash right up in the sink or washing machine. The velcro is sturdy, and the pocket really catches stuff. :)
–Detergent: buy something free & clear. Don’t think you have to use Dreft. We’ve used All and been happy. Also, get some good stain remover. Dreft stain remover spray and Oxy Clean spray have worked well here.

A few other things:

Don’t waste your money on a wipe warmer. We haven’t needed one, and many said it was a waste. I bought Swaddlers, but they didn’t work since D liked his arms more free. Using a blanket to swaddle worked better for us. Also, we highly recommend taking classes for childbirth, breast-feeding, and newborn care.

What is your must-have item for little ones?

Banana Bread

We buy a lot of bananas, and we never eat them all before they’re too ripe.  (Seriously, why do they go from green to overly ripe in 4 days????) If I’m not ready to bake right then, or only have one too-ripe banana, I peel it and freeze it.  When I have 3-4 bananas to use, I bake banana bread.  This is a recipe I found a year or two ago, and it serves me well.  Hope you enjoy it!

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Banana Bread Recipe  (doubles well)

Ingredients:

3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 C butter, melted

3/4 C sugar (OR 2/3 C honey)

1 egg

1 t. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

1 1/2 C flour (all-purpose)

pinch of salt

Directions:

Mix butter and bananas.  Add sugar (or honey), egg, and vanilla.  Mix.

Sprinkle baking soda and salt.  Mix.  Add flour. Mix.

Pour into a buttered or non-stick bread pan (4×8 inches).  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Cool on cooling rack.  Slice and enjoy.

Non-candy Gifts for Valentine’s Day

You may disagree, but personally I think Valentine’s Day has become too commercialized.  I like to recognize it, but going all-out is not on my list of priorities for this single day.

Inevitably, the question “What do I buy so-and-so?” arises.  Candy tends to be the automatic answer.  Really, though, how much candy or chocolate does someone need?  How much do you actually want to pay for your dentist’s next vacation?

What are some different gifts for Valentine’s Day? If you’re struggling, here are a few ideas.  They’re basically in order from least to most personal and a variety of prices:

Magnets

Pens, pencils, and erasers

Cute puzzle

Popcorn or favorite snack with a sweet note put around it

Bookmarks

Stickers

Keychain

Stationery or personalized notecards

Stuffed animal

Mug & favorite coffee, tea, or hot cocoa mix

Make your own card

Flowers

Gift Certificate for a massage

Something related to the recipient’s favorite hobby

Coupon book (you create and choose the topics)

Nice dinner out

Tickets to a movie, play, or concert

Pajamas or other clothing

Jewelry

Happy (early) Hearts Day!  What gift would you add to this list?

It’s my birthday, another “first”

My birthday is February 2nd (today!).  It’s fun having it on Groundhog’s Day.  Most people remember it, and it’s a quirky holiday.  I joke about seeing my shadow and just enjoy it.

Birthdays have always been special, but this year it’s also bittersweet. This is my first birthday without my Mom (at least in person).  I have many wonderful memories of her, of us, and of traditions she created.  One tradition was calling the day (or two) before my birthday and singing, “Happy birthday to you, tomorrow!”   Sometimes she surprised me a day or two earlier, but I looked forward to that phone call.  There were years she’d call a few times throughout the day and sing just because she could.

It saddens me that my phone isn’t ringing with her on the line.  I miss her a lot, especially with these “firsts.”  My “little man” and I got to have breakfast with my Dad yesterday, and he kept up the tradition — sweet Daddy.

Now it’s time to plan a small celebration (as in, out for a meal) since this writer isn’t cooking on her birthday.  Oh, and for those who may be wondering:  Yes, I saw my shadow.  It’s a beautiful, sunny morning in Georgia. 😉