Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Homemade Fruit Snacks, Toddler Safe and Tesa Approved!

Usually I use this blog as a place to share cute stories about my little family, but today it's going to serve a more domestic, housewife-y purpose. It's actually kind of selfish, but I'm writing this entry for me. Let me explain: today I made some toddler-safe homemade fruit snacks for Tesa, but I combined several recipes I found on Pinterest (because I didn't have or didn't want to use some of the ingredients any one of the recipes had by themselves), and added my own twist, and they turned out AHH-MAZING, and I don't want to ever forget what I did, so I'm writing it all down and posting it here, because as everyone knows, once it's published on the Internet, it's out there forever. So yes, this blog post is just for me, but if you ever get a hankering to make your own fruit snacks, you can use it too! ;)

Please forgive my poor photography skills!

Homemade, Toddler-Safe Fruit Snacks (Steph's Version)

You'll need:

  • 2/3 c fresh or frozen fruit (I used frozen blueberries my great aunt picked last summer in Illinois)
  • 2/3 c fruit juice (I used no sugar added cranberry juice. I suggest using something citrus if you want a more traditional sour-ish taste)
  • 2 T honey (I used wildberry honey)
  • 4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin

*Note: These fruit snacks are NOT super sweet. I made these for my toddler, so I didn't want them to be sugary. If you don't care that they are a little more unhealthy, you could add a little bit of sugar, but I wouldn't use more than a tablespoon. Just my opinion.

Here's what you do:

  • Combine fruit and fruit juice over medium heat until fruit is soft and turning mushy. Be sure to stir frequently during this process.
  • Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes, then puree the mixture in a blender until it becomes a smooth, even consistency.
  • Return to saucepan over medium-low heat and add honey. Stir until completely combined.
  • Add gelatin slowly, making sure to whisk as you add so the mixture doesn't clump. I added one envelope at a time and whisked until all the powder was completely dissolved until moving on to the next envelope.
  • Pour mixture into molds until you are out. If you don't have molds, you could use a 13" x 9" pan and cut into squares later. I had a few molds, but I still had some left over, so I used a small shallow bowl for the remainder and cut it into small cubes once it was set.
  • Put it all in the refrigerator to set for 1-2 hours. I waited the whole two hours for mine, but I don't think it will take quite that long.

That's it. How simple is that?! Super easy, right? And way better for kids than store-bought fruit snacks. This recipe yields enough for what I would consider about 6 servings. As far as how long they keep, I can't really attest to that yet, but just in case, I plan on keeping them in the fridge to maximize how long they stay fresh. These are toddler tested and approved by my 16 month old daughter, and I plan on buying more molds and adding these to the regular rotation of snack foods.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Favorite Things List

As the mother of a small being who has only been around for sixteen short months, I am constantly amazed at how complex Tesa's personality already is. It's weird to think of her as her own whole person, apart from me, who has her own ideas and thoughts and quirks. The more mobile and independent she gets, the more I realize that she is developing into her own self, becoming more "her" than just a product of Tyson and I. It's bittersweet to watch; on the one hand I miss the days when I could hold her in one arm and she had no choice but to lay there and cuddle with me all day if that's what I chose to do, but on the other, I am so, so proud/happy/entertained to watch her grow and evolve and learn and react to everything that happens around her. I never want to forget the experiences and moments and little things that make my sweet daughter who she is, so I've created My Favorite Things List, The Tesa Edition. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

My Favorite Things List, The Tesa Edition
  1. She uses her toy golf clubs more as swords or drumsticks.
  2. She's the ultimate priss. She loves to be outside, but won’t touch grass, sand, or snow. In fact, if she sees other people touching it, chances are she will come try to knock it out of your hand.
  3. She ALWAYS looks mischievous when she's doing something she knows she shouldn’t.
  4. When she picks up something she’s not supposed to and you tell her no, she acts like it was her intention to hand it to you all along. "But Mom, I was just bringing it to you because I'm know I'm not supposed to have it, duh!"
  5. She crawls from one end of the couch to the other, and when she reaches the end opposite of you, she looks back, grins, and crawls on back.
  6. She absolutely won’t cuddle unless she's tired AND Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is on. Then it's ok to sit back with you on the couch. But only then. Really, don't try at any other time.
  7. She likes to help empty the dishwasher, and groups the silverware together when she's handing it to you. She takes out all her small spoons, then all of the regular utensils, then large serving spoons, etc.
  8. Every button or light switch passed has to be pushed or flipped.
  9. She throws her pacifiers out of her crib when she’s ready to get up from her nap, then when we go get her out, she patiently puts them all back in, one by one, by dropping them in between the bars.
  10. She dances to all kinds of music.
  11. She gets so excited about bath time she runs around the bathroom screaming, “ba! ba!” while the water fills up the tub.
  12. She gets frustrated when her hair gets in her eyes and impatiently pushes it away.
  13. She has to have at least 10 pacifiers in her crib with her when going to sleep. One for her mouth, one for each hand, and a plethora of extras in case she needs to let you know she's awake. (See #9.)
  14. She can’t be bothered to give anyone a real kiss. Instead, when asked for one, she just leans her face in your direction.
  15. She loves to “jump" (a.k.a., bend her knees and stand up straight very quickly in succession; her feet never leave the floor).
  16. She lets you know she’s done eating by pulling off her bib and promptly dropping her cup of milk on the floor.
  17. She steadfastly believes the throw pillows do not belong on the couch - they belong in the floor.
  18. When she gets sleepy, she rubs her eyes and then gives me a critical look, like it’s my fault she’s tired.
  19. She makes “grabby hands” every time she passes the cookie jar.
  20. She likes to help load the washing machine; and by help, I mean take things out one by one as you are trying to put them all in.
  21. She sees every opportunity to go upstairs as the chance to race.
  22. When she's trying to figure out how to make something work (turn on a toy, get the screen on the phone to come on, get her shoe on her foot) and she just can't do it herself, she makes a disdainful face and a noise of frustration and hands off the item, as if to say, "Here, handle this."
  23. She sticks her feet out, one at a time, to help you put her socks on.
  24. She tries to share her pacifier with you.
  25. She likes to sleep face down with her little butt sticking up in the air.
These are just a few of the crazy adorable things that make up the ever-growing, ever-changing personality of my Tesa. I can't wait to add to this list over the years, and be able to look back and laugh at the memory of all these little quirks!

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    New Year, New Post (Long Overdue)

    I think it’s been over a year since I've posted anything to this blog, so needless to say I’ve been a huge slacker. One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to write more, whether on here, my other blog, or just for myself and not for the world to see. Writing has always been an outlet for me, one that helps me talk myself through my own experiences in life, gets things off my chest, and lets me express what I’m feeling and thinking better than I am able to say it out loud. I love writing, and if I could make a living simply reading and writing about whatever I wanted from my couch, I would probably be a millionaire by now. Or at least a six-digit salary earner. Anyway…

    There are probably a thousand things I should write about to get this blog up to speed since the last post, but that sounds really boring and monotonous to me, so I’m just going to give a quick rundown and pick up where I want to.

    Long story short, we had our baby, yay! It was (IS) a girl, yay! Her name is Tesa, and she is the cutest, perkiest, funniest, smartest baby in the world. Here’s proof:

    Tesa Kitchen
    Making dinner for Mommy and Daddy in her new kitchen!
    She turned ONE in October, and I can’t believe I already have a toddler. There are days when it seems like I should still be pregnant and nervously preparing for her arrival. But in reality I have a walking (or running), talking (almost) little person with a big personality that consumes my life everyday, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    In June, we took her on her first big vacation, a cruise to the Caribbean. Everyone thought we were crazy, but our group had over 20 members of our closest family and friends, so we had lots of help. As you can see, she had a really rough time!

    Tesa Cruise
    She was the star of the ship!

    In December, we flew her across the country for a ski trip in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She was not a huge fan of the snow, but she LOVED hanging out in the Baby Bjorn with Daddy and seeing all the pretty lights!

    Tesa Colorado
    Could there even be a cuter face than that?!

    In Tesa’s fifteen months, she has been in ten states, and flown over several others. She is quite a traveled baby, and lucky for us, she does so well in virtually any situation. She is seriously the easiest, most well-behaved child in the world. (Knock on wood!)

    As good as Tesa is while traveling, it is HARD to cart a toddler and her massive amount of necessities with us everywhere we go. This year, we returned from our week long ski trip, and the very next weekend we turned around and drove to Atlanta, spent two days with Tyson’s family, drove back, spent a day with my parents, drove to my grandparents, and spent another day there. I love being so close to both families so that we can make those trips in a day, but it was a lot of traveling for such short visits! I can only imagine what it will be like when Tesa has a little brother or sister and we have TWICE the amount of clothes/food/diapers/gear/toys to lug around with us!

    Despite the chaos and confusion of getting from one place to the next when we were supposed to, the Patrick family had a fantastic holiday. I see a lot of my family anyway, but it’s nice to have the whole crew together at once. And I love when we get to see Tyson’s family and they get to see all of Tesa’s new tricks and sweet faces. She is truly my pride and joy, and I love to see other people getting so much enjoyment out of her laughs and cuddles too!

    Tesa’s Second Christmas will always be one for the books. It will be the one I always remember as the year we lost our dining room and Tesa gained a playroom. Seriously, there were JUST THAT MANY toys. To say that little girl is loved and spoiled would be the understatement of the century. Here are some pics of our adorable “dining room,” before and after:

    Tesa Playroom
    I mean, even I'M kinda jealous of this playroom...

    So now everything is returning to normal, some things more slowly than others (i.e., Tesa’s regular sleep schedule...), and though I’m sad to see the holiday magic fading away, I’m also kinda glad to be getting my old routine back, and doubly thankful for some much needed time at home. Tyson and I were talking about our plans earlier this week, and when we realized at the same time that we had no real obligations or any place we had to be this weekend, you should have seen the joy on our faces. It was like Christmas all over for us! All the traveling and visiting and jet-setting is great, but sometimes there’s just no better place than home sweet home!