Because dessert doesn't have to bust the calorie-meter

06/14/2012 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Bloggy, mangia! | Leave a comment
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We are a dessert family.

Marc and I both have a sweet tooth, and it seems that Lily has inherited it. I simply can’t finish a meal without something sweet. My usual line-up used to include cookies, ice cream or cupcakes. Since we’ve radically changed our lifestyle, we had to re-think dessert.

Notice I didn’t say “desserts had to go.” Because I don’t believe in depriving myself, and sweets are something I really enjoy. We just had to get creative. And you know what? It wasn’t that difficult.

One of our new favorite desserts is really quite simple. We call it “fruit parfait” to make it exciting for Lily, and it’s basically fruit layered with Lite COOL WHIP Whipped Topping (which has only 20 calories per serving!). Lily’s version also includes a smattering of rainbow sprinkles. She especially loves banana parfait. My favorite parfait is made with fresh local peaches or berries. I like crunchies in my desserts, so I’ll occasionally top my parfait with granola or almonds.

This spring we also made strawberry shortcakes with angel food cake (which is surprisingly low in calories and fat), fresh local berries and Lite COOL WHIP. Yum.

So, we’ve essentially been eating a lot more fruit. And dressing it up a bit. Dessert doesn’t have to be fancy or reserved for special occasions. We’ve learned that it is possible to enjoy dessert most every day and maintain our new lifestyle.

Even chocolate. Really!


Lily and I had a blast making Chocolate Chunk and Marshmallow Sundaes from our Food & Family magazine. I loved that the recipe was kid-friendly; Lily loved licking the spoon. And it also proved to be a neat science experiment, as the pudding thickened when stirred together with the cold milk.

We cut calories and fat by using skim milk and Lite COOL WHIP. And, unbeknownst to Lily, I reduced the amount of marshmallows and chocolate chips the recipe calls for.

This dessert was delicious, easy to make, and one batch lasted a while in the freezer. Lily loved “making ice cream,” and we plan to do it often this summer, switching up the pudding flavors and add-ins.

Dessert is a treat. But it doesn’t have to break the bank (or your waistband). We’re having the best fun coming up with low-cal options for everyday desserts that make everyone happy. Even Sophie is getting in on the action. Baby loooooves anything sweet.

What are some of your favorite summer desserts? We’d especially love more ideas for our low-cal recipe box!

Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content. I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own. #FMcoolwhipmoms #spon

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On the occasion I get gussied up

03/13/2012 at 8:22 pm | Posted in me | 2 Comments
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Thanks to Walgreens for underwriting this post. I was paid as a member of the Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all mine. Visit http://www.discoverbeautywithin.com/ #CleverBeauty #spon

nail polish bottles

my favorite part of getting pretty

I am a very low-maintenance kind of girl.

I’ve never been much into makeup, and I hate having to curl or style my hair. I leave my house some days in a condition that would make most women cringe (wet head, no makeup). But I have dark features and no time, so I just go with it.

After I became a mom, I came to realize the importance of putting some effort into my appearance. Look good feel good, right? In Sophie’s early weeks, nothing felt better than taking a shower and shaving my legs. And now, whenever I have a chance to go out, I relish the getting-ready routine.

I’m learning how to choose and apply makeup. Besides some unfortunate sparkly blue eyeshadow I tried to pull off at BlogHer ’10, I’ve gotten pretty good at fixing my face (as we say in the South). I love getting to shed my mom uniform and put on pretty clothes. A simple blow-out does wonders for my confidence, and don’t even get me started on the joy of having painted toenails.

As my ever-so-wise eyebrow guy/magician once said, “Yes honey, you’re a mom. But you need to remember that you’re a woman. Look the part.”

Ahem.

We have a bunch of fun events coming up this spring, including a very special wedding. To “look the part,” as Christopher instructed, I’m going to lean on my dream-team of beauty products and a trick or two I’ve learned along the way:

– I use hairspray to keep my eyebrows in place. There, I said it. And no, I don’t aim the bottle at my face. I spray it on an old tooth-brush and swipe it over my brows. The glamour!

– I live by Burt’s Bees Radiance eye cream. And I always apply a coat of Burt’s Bees lip balm underneath my lip color.

– For years, Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails has kept my hands looking pretty. My nails are incredibly soft and tear easily, so a coat or two of this stuff really helps. And keeps them looking shiny and clean.

– When the occasion calls for open-toed shoes or sandals, I always apply color to my toes. This is my absolute favorite part of the getting-ready ritual.

– To keep my face clean, I use Aveeno foaming cleanser (it smells soooo good) and Biore pore strips. Those suckers hurt, but they work like a boss.

– And my all-time favorite drugstore beauty product? Maybelline Great Lash mascara. That pink and green tube has been in my makeup bag for years. Not the same one. I think.

What are your go-to products? Any tips on a fun nail color I should try for a May wedding? My toes can’t wait to see the sun.

Girls' night in, with my number one girl

12/12/2011 at 8:40 am | Posted in Bloggy, Small Fry, snap happy | 1 Comment
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rainbow sprinkles

Thanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring my writing. There’s no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On! www.duncanhines.com

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Lily is getting to be such a big girl. Four years old in just a couple of months. And there are all sorts of new things that we get to do together as she grows.

Special little dates. Just the two of us.

The other night while Marc was out for some much-needed guy time and Sophie was sleeping, Lily and I made cupcakes and snuggled on the couch for a Christmas cartoon. Total bliss.

making cupcakes

She especially enjoyed getting to frost her own cupcakes, which quickly turned into frost-lick-frost-lick. Rather than spread it around, she preferred to tower it high. And it’s safe to say that more sprinkles ended up on the floor than on her little creations. But aren’t they beautiful?

cupcakes

There is something so special about preparing food together. I’m not exactly a master chef (or baker) but I feel such a strong pull to teach her everything I know in the kitchen.

Collapsed later on the couch in a sugary haze, we snuggled tight and watched Yes, Virginia (which always brings tears to my eyes). I can’t get enough of squeezing this kid. I’ll probably be one of those embarrassing moms trying to snuggle her or hold her hand when she’s 16. Wait. I definitely will be.

In the meantime, I’m going to be sure that we continue this little holiday tradition, perhaps next year with a toddler licking the spoon too.

sock feet

mother and daughter snuggling

What sorts of special holiday traditions do you and your family have? What do you like to bake?

Remember to check out Duncan Hines’ website www.duncanhines.com to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. #CleverDessert #spon

The second time around: Tips for baby feeding magic

11/14/2011 at 3:45 pm | Posted in baby sunshine, Bloggy | 1 Comment
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Thanks to Plum Organics for sponsoring my post about tips for baby feeding magic. What if you let baby choose what’s for dinner? Check out their cute “Quest for Yum!” video and see what happens!

This is one of my favorite times of baby-hood.

We had a blast introducing new foods to Lily, and I imagine the same will be true for Sophie. This baby loves to eat.

We started a couple of weeks ago with oatmeal, pears and prunes. Since then, we’ve added sweet potatoes, carrots and peaches. Mangoes and green beans are next.

One of the things that’s so fun about this age is her little sense of adventure. We can’t shove the food into her mouth fast enough, and she’s always up for something new. Of course, I might be singing a different tune when we start the green stuff.

Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way:

Don’t be afraid. Once Sophie was ready for solids (five months old, sitting with support, tongue thrust reflex fading), we started introducing something new every few days. With Lily, I was hesitant. Fearful of allergies. Fearful in general. This time, though, we’re offering the baby all sorts of stuff. And I’m going to be braver about “exotic” foods like avocado and mango. So far, so good.

Try and try again. If baby spits out her peas (which I anticipate), give them to her again. And again. Sometimes, it takes lots of tries to nail down a new food.

All systems go. We learned the hard way (no pun intended) that rice cereal constipated Lily. Once we switched to oatmeal and introduced some “freeing” foods, her little tummy responded much better. So this time, it’s oatmeal only. And for what it’s worth, I like the idea of feeding my baby oats better than giving her white rice. And if the poo pellets return, we amp up stuff like prunes and pears. Okay. Poo talk over.

Relish the mess. There is no such thing as keeping a baby clean while feeding. Even when you’re in control of the spoon. Sophie stuffs her dirty bib in her mouth, grabs the spoon, smears food into her hair. Depending on the stain potential of the food, we might strip her down to her diaper. But mostly we just laugh. Letting her explore new foods with all her senses is an important part of her growth and independence.

Have fun. Once Lily became a picky-eating toddler, I really missed the baby-feeding days when she’d eat most anything and tantrums weren’t part of her mindset yet. This is the fun part. Enjoy it!

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about Plum Organics, visit their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/PlumOrganics. #feedingmagic #spon

How to stay sane (or at least appear to be) with two kids under 4

10/26/2011 at 9:46 am | Posted in Motherhood | 5 Comments
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Thanks to Tervis for sponsoring my writing. Visit their website http://www.tervis.com to learn more about the world’s first smart cup.

Dr. Brown's baby bottles

A time-saving trick that looks like chaos? These things work in our world.

We’re almost six months in to this newfangled life with two kids.

We’ve switched from zone to man-to-man defense. We’ve adjusted our routines. We’ve embraced a new “normal.” And we’re surviving.

::exhales::

People ask me all the time how I maintain balance in my life, with a 30-hour-a-week job, two kids, volunteer commitments and my blog. After I finish laughing and wipe away the tears from my eyes, I answer: there is no balance. It’s more like a well-maintained juggling act. One that both Marc and I work very hard at, so that one day (soon, we hope) we will achieve that holy grail of parenthood.

We’re learning every day (and making up stuff as we go, complete with high-fives when a new trick works). Here are a few things that make our life more organized, healthier, easier:

The defcon 3 toddler warning system. Simply stated: tell your child over and over and over again what to expect and when. For example, Lily is playing in the living room. I holler at her to wash up for dinner. She screams in protest, face-plants on the floor and thrashes around dramatically. In scenario #2, I give her a 10-minute warning, a 5-minute warning, a 1-minute warning, then ever so gently, when the time has come, tell her to wash her hands for dinner. She gets up from her coloring, walks into the bathroom without complaint and washes her hands. Drama averted. Mommy is still one of the good guys.

Let them eat veggies. Mealtime with a little one can be so very stressful. Even when we serve a plate full of her favorite foods, she’s been known to leave the table without touching a bite. So when she’s hungry, we capitalize. On occasion, I’ll give her a little Lily-sized bowl of raw carrots and “dippy” (reduced-fat ranch dressing) while I cook. She quits begging for a snack, and we knock out vegetables before the meal has even begun.

Get moving in the mornings. This is probably the most difficult hurdle we face each day. How to get two kids out the door in under six hours? We’re still figuring it out. But one thing that’s really helped: prepping bottles and lunch boxes the night before (see photo above). We lay everything out, label it a zillion times, and boom. We’ve saved at least 20 minutes the following morning. I also picked up a trick from one of the other moms at Sophie’s school: because each bottle has to be dated twice (body and lid), we use masking tape and regular pens. When washing the bottles, the ink rubs right off, but the tape stays put. So we can just write the new date the next day (instead of re-sticking a bajillion little pieces of tape). Genius.

Multi-tasking in a healthy way. When Lily was a baby, if we needed a couple of things from the grocery store, I’d plop her into the stroller and walk there. She loved the scenery, I loved getting exercise and knocking out an errand. I’m currently in the market for a double-stroller so I can start doing this with both girls.

Space for me. I am STILL working on Lily’s first year scrapbook (yes, she’s turning four this winter). The supplies have been gathering dust in a corner of our bedroom. So, just last week, I cleared off my desk (which had become the holding space for everything from Halloween costumes to receipts) and set up a scrapbooking station. Now, when I have a few minutes to myself, I can sit down and knock out a page or two. The added bonus? It gives me peace not only to have that time to myself, but also to be finishing a project that’s been sitting on my shoulders forever.

Get and give. Just after Christmas and birthdays, we help Lily gather a big box of toys she no longer plays with to donate to kids in need. She doesn’t love this exercise yet, but I know she will. An interesting byproduct? She completely forgets she ever had those toys to begin with.

What are some of the tips and tricks your family uses to make life easier? Does it also take you fifteen years to get out the door in the mornings?

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I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about Tervis, visit their website http://www.tervis.com. #clevertervis #spon

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