#MummyTummy July! Let's Firm Up Together!

No, that is not my pretty tummy on the right. I wish.

Ok, so, I don't know what's gotten into me except I got this idea in my head a few weeks ago and have been brooding on it and started thinking that if I actually DO IT I'll be forced to stick to it and maybe get some good results. I'm about 10 pounds away from my ideal weight but I'm also flabbbby and unhappy with my flabbbbbbiness and most often totally unmotivated to actually kick my own ass (pardon) in gear and actually do something about it. Let me just put it in the grossest, ugliest terms possible, terms that when I hear other people use them it makes me cringe: 

I have a muffin top. Oh my god I said it.

I have a spare tire! It's true, it's true. 

Can I get a "love handles"? Yes you can! 

Wow, that actually feels kinda better. I think I just interventioned myself.   

Yeah, Yeah - So What's #MummyTummy?

Beginning June 28 and ending July 31 I'll be tweeting the hashtag #MummyTummy throughout the day and would love for my Twitter friends to join the party! Please comment below with your Twitter moniker (e.g., I'm @OttosMomBlogs) and I'll send you dedicated tweets 4 times per day with the #MummyTummy reminder. Here's how I picture this working:

- Randomly 4x per day you'll get a tweet directly from me with the #MummyTummy hashtag
- When you see that tweet then the next time you are able, you plop yourself down on the ground and do 20 crunches, situps, or whatever ab workout you are comfortable with
- If you're on Twitter and you spot a #MummyTummy hashtag and it's not for you, that's worth 10 more crunches/situps/whatever
- After you do the deed, tweet me back with the #MummyTummy hashtag

I'm going to San Diego in 2 weeks and I'd love to be just a bit more confident in my skivvies on the beach. I thought by doing this together we could motivate and encourage each other.

And please don't get me wrong, I truly believe that every female body is gorgeous and that anything that your body is doing as a result of having a baby, growing older and wiser, or simply living your life is perfectly beautiful and perfectly natural. I've always been one of those people who judges themself much more harshly than I judge anyone else. That being said, and without taking this too seriously, I'd love to tone up and engage my abs and lose my (shhhh) muffin top. 

Who's in? I think this could be fun!



HandMade by Cole Custom Knit Ball for Littles - Review & Discount!

HandMade by Cole

A couple weeks ago TidbitsParenting hosted our first giveaway (!!! it has since ended but I'm still all keyed up about it !!!) with a generous and freaking cuuuute donation of a custom, handknit ball toy from the freaking coooool Etsy shop HandMade by Cole. I was also given the opportunity to custom order a complimentary toddler ball for Otto in order to do this review, yay! You can custom pick your colors with each order. I chose dark teal, light teal, & yellow.

The HandMade by Cole Etsy shop has a unique aesthetic that is on the hipster side of shabby chic, totally stylish, and geared for mamas and babies. Items include:

- Baby slings
- Nursing covers
- Knit baby booties
- Knit hats for kiddos
- Coupon wallets
- And these cool little custom toddler balls (like you see in the pics)

The Review

It's pretty easy to see from the pics that Otto is loving his one-of-a-kind knit ball! One of our favorite things about this ball is its size and softness. Both attributes make it very easy for Otto to catch and hang onto! The ball maintains its round shape for rolling games but squishes up nicely for wee hands to tote it around.

Catching is one of those skills adults pretty much take for granted (or at least I speak for myself). But the joy that spreads across Otto's face when he tries and succeeds at catching anything really makes my heart sing. Unlike some of his other toys, Otto can totally catch this knit ball and when he does it is a happy thing indeed.

Another notable: the ball is much bigger than I'd pictured in my mind and is very, very cute.

The Discount

 HandMade by Cole is offering a 10% discount on any order. Just mention "TidbitsParenting 10% discount" in a comment with your order and you will be refunded 10% of the total via PayPal.

I want to thank HandMade by Cole for including us in this awesome giveaway, review, and discount promotion! The opinions expressed here are 100% my own.



Here's to Big Boy Beds! Smooth Transitioning From the Crib...

We recently decided to take the plunge and get rid of Elliot’s crib in favor of a toddler bed. Elliot has slept through the night since he was 2 months old, and up until recently had very consistent sleeping patterns. Just before his second birthday in April, he became more reluctant to fall asleep, and night after night he would cry and scream at bedtime. We decided maybe what he needed was a “big boy” bed.

Finding the right bed took some time; I spent a few hours looking at different beds online trying to get one that was cute but practical. We bought one at IKEA and after assembling it realized that you have to buy an IKEA-sized mattress to fit it; the crib mattress was too small, grrrr! Damn you, IKEA and your Swedish measurements! Finally we settled on a bed from good old Babies R Us.

"How do you get a toddler to sleep in a toddler bed?"

I wasn’t sure how to proceed….how do you get a toddler to sleep in a toddler bed? I had my husband assemble the bed and we left it in the living room for a day or two so Elliot could sit, lie, and play on it without feeling that it was a “threat” to his enjoyable crib life. Then I moved it into his room but didn’t insist he sit on it, I just wanted him to get used to it being there. Surprisingly, he took to it happily. He was very proud of his toddler bed and asked to sleep in it. So that day, at nap time, I went about our regular nap-taking routine and simply put him in his toddler bed. He was absolutely tickled about having the freedom to get in and out of it. He came out of his room a few times with the biggest grin on his face! He was so proud of himself! He said, “I’m supposed to be napping mommy!” Trying to hide my laughter I told him he needed to go lie down and take his nap. After two or three times of coming out to show me his cleverness, he finally fell asleep….in his toddler bed…..just like that.

It has been three days now, and we have taken apart the crib and put it in storage. He never asks about his crib or complains about his new sleeping arrangements. It is such a delight to wake up to his little face in mine, asking me to “wake up mommy!” I think that when it’s right for them to transition from a crib to a bed, they’ll let you know in their own special way, which is crying and throwing a fit at bed time; aren’t they little darlings? Our sleeping routine has become a lot less chaotic, and even though it takes a few times of turning him around and putting him back into it, the toddler bed has been a huge success in our family! Here’s to big boy beds!



Stokke Tripp Trapp Highchair Giveaway! CLOSED

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!  
! ! ! WIN ! ! !
a Stokke TRIPP TRAPP high chair from PamperedTot.com
Gah! So excited to host this awesome giveaway from the lovely folks over at PamperedTot.com - a "mom and pop" online retailer, specializing in providing "the world's finest for your most precious". The owners of PamperedTot are parents to a couple of way cute munchkins themselves and they were extra picky when choosing furniture, bedding, feeding supplies, bath supplies, etc. for their own kids - so they set up a shop to offer the best of the best all in one spot.


When Peter Opsvik started to work on the award-winning TRIPP TRAPP, his aim was for children of all sizes to be able to sit in the natural way at the family table with their elbows at table height. The TRIPP TRAPP can actually grow with your child and holds up to 300 lbs!

A research study from Cornell University even found that the TRIPP TRAPP helps improve preschool children's functioning while sitting.

Pronunciation: I found out today that "Stokke" is pronounced "stoke-uh" so there you go.

Here's a pic of my chubby cheeked urchin scarfing down sunbutter waffles and blackberries in his TRIPP TRAPP (please focus on my darling munckin and rad high chair and ignore messy table).

Soooo, we bought our TRIPP TRAPP chair when Otto was 9 months old and we did not get the "Baby Set" attachment which makes the chair perfect for baby-babies, so at 9 months Otto was a little wobbly in it at first. I think if you plan on using this highchair for a baby under 1 year of age the "Baby Set" would be highly suggested otherwise you might want to wait a few more months.

By the time Otto turned 1 he was totally comfy and stable in the TRIPP TRAPP and he loves it! We have two highchairs, an inherited "traditional" chair and then the Stokke, and we totally prefer the Stokke now that Otto is a toddler. He loves it too; especially being able to play with his feet while at the table (sigh) so we always have to make sure to wash his hands AND feet before meals.

We did purchase a supplemental "Chair Cushion" and although that isn't necessary, it does add a nice amount of cushy comfort so I'd say it's worth investing in a cushion to go along with the chair. As you can see in the pics, we got a very stylish cushion in the style "Tales Green" that fits right into our Torkelson-style mishmash of a kitchen. The cushion wipes clean super-easily and we've also machine washed it several times and it still looks like new.

I've known the owners of PamperedTot for a while now and when it came time to get Otto's high chair I was dreammmming of a TRIPP TRAPP the way that some people dream of an Aston Martin or a date with George Clooney. Well, I did not get mine for free, but it was worth every cent and I did get a discount and free shipping (PamperedTot gives free shipping on all orders over $100 delivered in the US).

The Giveaway:

PamperedTot will send one lucky winner their own Stokke TRIPP TRAPP classic collection high chair! Please note that this giveaway is available for residents of the US or Canada only who are 18 years of age or older.

So Easy - Mandatory First Entry:

Kindly note that before you can do any additional entries, you MUST complete this step:

Visit PamperedTot.com, take a look around, then come back here and comment below on another item that you would love to call your own from their selection of fine baby gear, furniture, bedding, decor, feeding, bath, and toys.

Additional Entries:

- Tweet about this giveaway with a link to this page in your tweet. In your comment below make sure to put a link to your tweet (up to 3 bonus entries per day - 1 per tweet - 30 mins apart or more please)

- Blog about this giveaway and in your comment leave a link to your blog post (4 bonus entries)

 Please Note:

Just remember to leave a comment for EACH entry. If you follow us on Facebook since that's worth 2 bonus entries make sure you leave 2 comments for that.

Make sure that I can reach you if you win - via email or Twitter. We will contact the winner on July 2 and they will have 48 hours to claim the prize or we will choose a different winner.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm Pacific Time on July 5th. We will use Random.org to choose a winner and will verify that the winning entrant has played by the rules so it only makes sense to be honest!

The opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Many thanks to PamperedTot for providing giveaway prize!



The Mini-Time Machine (A Tucson Review)

If you live in Tucson, maybe you've heard about the Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. My husband and I, with our 2 year old son in tow, decided to check it out a few weeks ago. After all, a place that describes itself as, "a miniature time machine, by which the visitor sets off on a self-guided tour through different lands and times both real and imagined" is hard to resist, no?

After paying the $14 entry fee for both me and my husband ($7 each), we were off to the first of three rooms which was called, The Enchanted Realm. This room was pretty impressive; dimly lit with sparkly, magical lights and a gigantic fabricated tree right in the middle of the room. The tree was by far the best feature of the entire museum. It was built for little tykes to crawl around on and is spotted with tiny viewing windows wherein you can spy on a little mouse family that lives inside. Behind each window is a quaintly decorated room where little fake mice are going about their business, so cute.

Our son Elliot immediately zoned in on this darkened hole where a little holographic fairy lived. She would hover in the darkness for 30 seconds or so and then disappear, on to return about 2 minutes later. We must've stodd there for twenty five minutes just watching and waiting for the fairy to appear and disappear.

In the meantime my husband and I took turns examining the rest of the rooms, as Elliot count not be torn away from the Enchanted Realm. The museum definitely has an interesting collection of intricately and charmingly decorated little houses. After closely examining 5 or 6 of them however, I was bored.

Elliot didn't want to see anything but the tree and the fairy and all-in-all our visit lasted about 30 minutes, not quite worth the $14 to get in.

Not to mention that by that time I was nauseated by the amount of old lady perfume that was permeating every room of that place. Seriously, old ladies galore.

Highlight: Magical tree with mice and fairy

Planning a return trip: No

Appeal: Unless you're an 80 year old woman, pretty minimal

Overall rating: YYY (3 out of 6 hearts)



Different Doughs - some recipes for you to try

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

sand dough 013
We have been branching out lately with the play dough, so that besides making the awesome home made play dough we typically make - we are making some bizarre and wonderful stuff.
misc 007
I think our favorite, by far, is the flubber. Unfortunately, I don't have the best pics at the moment, but we highly recommend trying this. It is surprising. We can play for a solid 3 hours straight with this stuff, so it is worth the expense in glue. It also lasts for at least 2 weeks if air tight.
Here is the recipe we like:
Flubber Recipe

Another new favorite is called Sand Dough. There are 2 variations, and currently we have only tried one...but look forward to the other one soon.
This sand dough recipe is really just like homemade playdough with sand in it. Dirty Dough, I suppose. I think one cool thing about it is that we can drop it on the ground, and it doesn't really get dirty, does it?
When molded it is smooth and when broken apart it has that neat wet sand texture.
sand dough 022
sand dough 021
This one is:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
several drops veg oil
mix that together first and then add sand until it is what you want (1/2 to 3/4 cups).
I think we did 3/4 cups from our sand box.

The other recipe, which we have not tried yet, is:
2 cups sand
1 cup corn starch
1 cup water
1 tsp cream of tartar

mix it together and cook it over low heat until it is difficult to stir, let cool and play!

Fun stuff. I will post more recipes as we find them



Me and Matilda - an Etsy Shop

10% Discount through August 31, 2010 (see below)

Because I am awesome I decided it was important that Rob and Otto had matching bowties for Christmas this past December. (Side note: because he is less awesome, Rob won't let me show a picture of him in a bowtie on this blog.)

I went online and all of the commercial sites that offer these sets were just not doing it for me - boring, boring, boring. So I turned to Etsy and found the wonderful shop Me and Matilda. They quick-created a matching bowtie set for my guys, were so accomodating, and had a huge huge selection of the cutest neckties and bowties I had ever seen (99% of which are not holiday-inspired).

As you can guess from the picture above of my soooper-sleepy guy, the matching bowties were the hit of the holiday season!

You will lose yourself in the wide variety of cool neckties and bowties! Styles range from hipster, to cutesy, to classy-classic and they are very reasonably priced (in the $20-$30 range based on materials).

More about Me and Matilda and our exclusive discount:

- Neckties
- Bowties
- Custom orders (so you can get a matching father/son set)
- Ring bearer sets including matching pillow
- Flower girl sashes
- Wedding party sets
- Tie and hanky sets

Sizes range from baby/toddler (with neckstrap) to standard adult.

Exclusive! Just mention "TidbitsParenting 10% Discount" with your purchase. Your paypal account will be refunded 10% of the total price.



Pudding With Green Beans


Well kind of. More like,

This post was supposed to be called "Pudding Like Your Dad Used to Make" because when I was making Otto's dinner tonight I decided to whip up some instant Trader Joe's pudding mix & throw in sliced strawberries & Annie's chocolate chip bunnies (a twist on my dad's classic banana 'Nilla Wafer pudding parfaits).

Gosh dang my dad used to make some freaky deaky pudding! Anyways, mine is good too, and a bit healthier I guess since I use organic rice/soy/or cow milk and organic berries and Annie's bunnies.

Yeah, Yeah, Get to the Green Beans...

Otto's bowl was berry and bunny free (probably tmi but since he's been eating fruit and fig bars all day I thought his diapers could use a break). On a lark, I tried sprinkling raw green been bites from his dinner in the pudding and he gobbled it up!

I always taste these little food experiments of mine when I'm feeding Otto something that sounds totally appalling and disgusting. Well guess what: pudding with green beans is actually kinda sorta yummy.

It's always easy to forget how sweet veggies actually taste. Green beans don't = rainbow sprinkles, but they're a nice sweet little crunchy gift from nature just the same.

Well, whatever, just thought I'd share along w/ the cute pics! No recipe here cause it's pretty much just what it is: PUDDING YUM!



Tilapia to Make You Happy-a!

Super super healthy and easy as anything, even for weenie freaks like me who are completely intimidated by the idea of cooking fish. (I grew up in a house where we never ate fish unless we were scooping it out of a can and into our mac and cheese.) Anyways, this recipe is soooo easy and makes a delicious, citrus-y summer dinner for the whole fam in under 30 minutes. Guaranteed to make you happy-a!

I found this recipe in the June 2010 "Parents" magazine and then tweaked it to meet my needs, which included cooking the fish quite a bit longer than necessary to appease my undercooked-fish-will-give-me-cooties fear. I also added more veggies, used lemons instead of oranges, skipped the salt, and switched out Mrs.Dash for my favorite organic seasoning blend.

Let's get going. Preheat your oven to 400'.

- 4 boneless tilapia filets (2-3 oz. each)
- 24 asparagus spears
- 1 TBSP seasons blend (my favorite organic blend from CostCo is pictured or Mrs.Dash garlic herb)
- 2 liz lemons
- Parchment paper
- Frozen organic brown rice - prepared (aim for 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup frozen organic vegetable blend - steamed

Put it together:
1. Cut the parchment paper into 4 squares, each about 12". Fold each square in half to create a pouch.

2. On each parchment page lay on one side of the fold a tilapia filet. Garnish that guy with 6 asparagus spears, drizzle lightly with EVOO, squeeze almost 1/2 of a lemon onto it, and then sprinkle with the seasoning.

(Note: between the 2 lemons you just want to set aside about 1/2 lemon worth of juice for the brown rice with veggies.)

3. Fold paper over the fish/veggies and roll up the edges of the parchment paper all around so you're creating a "sealed" pouch. Arrange your 4 pouches on a large baking sheet.

4. Bake for 17 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet 1/2 way through. At this point they should be done and you can check by testing the fish to see if it is flakey. Me, though, I keep those bad boys in there for another 5 minutes just to be sure they're d-o-n-e. (Note: "Parents" suggested a 12 minute cooking time, but I found that by almost doubling that there were no negative effects. The fish still comes out moist and lovely.)

5. While the fish is baking, prepare your organic brown rice and veggies separately. Then mix them together and squeeze about 1/2 of a lemon over the top.

6. Plate, dish, eat. Yum! Or, if you're like me, take 1 pretty picture and then throw it all in a bowl and cut it up into a homogenous gruel for your toddler.

Check out Otto scarfing down Yo Yo Baby yogurt after polishing off his tilapia, brown rice and veggies!

See (she says to herself) cooking fish doesn't have to be scary at all. And because this is cooked in parchment paper, cleanup is minimal.



I Want Me Some Sugar Boogers

You know you're a mom when a set of sippy cups ends up on your "Oh my god I would seriously love that" wish list (or when a 2 foot tall person points at your chest and says 'beebas' and you reply 'that's right I have boobies').

That happened to me recently on a rare brunch date with my husband (not the boobies thing, although that would have been a better story to tell since Otto wasn't with us). Hahaha, I crack myself UP. Anyways, we visited a neat little restaurant with a hip little gift shop and I spied with my little eye this Dia de los Muertos sippy cup set.

I turned to Rob and said, "Oh my god I would seriously love that." And he said, "coooool." Which means the opposite of cool.

Made by the company Sugar Booger by O.R.E. these sippy cups aren't just freaking cool looking, they're also non-toxic with a BPA-free lid. The company's website states that all of their melamime and vinyl-related products are non-toxic and lead-free according to US, Euro, and Canadian standards.

You can order these from their website: oreoriginals.com or find a local retailer in your area from their site.

Cool. And that means Fonzie cool.



"HandMade by Cole" Giveaway! (This Contest Has Ended)

TidbitsParenting's first giveaway! Whooha! I'm freaking crazy excited and hope you are too about this AWESOME giveaway from the charming Etsy shop HandMade by Cole!

a Custom, Hand-Knit
Cube Ball Toy for Littles!

Super-Easy to Enter.
We Hope You Win!


You are vying to win a darling CUSTOM toddler toy (example pictured top right), hand knit by Cole. Choose your colors (1 or 3) from light pink, buttercup yellow, light purple, light teal, dark teal, brown, and raspberry. Measures about 2 1/2 inches tall and wide.

As part of this giveaway, Cole will be sending me one to review (review will come in a separate future post) and I'm still trying to decide which colors my 17 month old, Otto, would like best. I'm thinking dark teal, light teal, and yellow... hmmmm... He loves balls of any kind and I think he'll really enjoy the contrasting colors and soft texture.

So Easy - Mandatory Entry:

Kindly note: before you can do any additional entries, you MUST complete this step:

Visit the Handmade by Cole Etsy shop and pick out your favorite handmade creation by Cole. Then, come back here and comment below stating what item you loved the most.

Bonus Entries:

Just remember to comment below each time, if you do any of these bonus entries:

- Blog about this giveaway with links to this giveaway (3 add'l entries)

- Follow @texasgirlcole and @OttosMomBlogs on Twitter, tweet about this giveaway (up to 3 add'l entries each day)

- Follow "A Call to Higher Places" on Facebook

- Like TidbitsParenting on Facebook

- Post/share this giveaway on your Facebook wall

- Follow this blog

- Grab the TidbitsParenting badge (on the right) and comment below with a link to your freshly badged up homepage (3 add'l entries)

- Comment on any other blog posts on TidbitsParenting (real comments please and only if you want to)

Hey Guys:

Anyone who follows here, on Twitter, or FB. If you have a blog or website you'd like me to follow or "like" or whatever it is I will happily do so in return. Same goes for following you on Twitter. Just let me know in your comment.

Contest Ends @ Midnight on Fri, June 11. We'll use Random.Org to pick a winner.

Prize includes shipping in the US. Outside the US you will be asked to pay the difference between standard US shipping and shipping to wherever in the world you might be.


Remember That Time Grandma's House Exploded?

Ok, here it is, I told myself this would be a practical (and definitely never EMO) website/blog/thing and a week goes by and my grandma's house goes and blows up one night and I'm feeling all emo and bloggy. Sorry. I'll try to keep it short.

So that picture on the right is my grandma's house in Council Bluffs, IA. Apparently it spontaneously combusted yesterday. No one was home - no one was hurt - which is good of course and lets me wallow in my sense of loss about never being able to revisit this house (and my childhood). I miss my grandma, who passed away less than a month after Otto was born and who never got to meet him. She would have loved him. She would have sung, "You Are My Sunshine" to him and stroked his eyebrows and eventually asked him to tell her his 'innermost secrets'...

I remember sitting in the living room of grandma's house on Christmas Eves watching the sky for Santa Claus until I fell asleep. I remember backyard bbqs and catching fireflies and making giant dishsoap bubbles. It's where we went for trick-or-treating. I even fondly remember eating my grandma's disgusting salty spaghetti, riddled with onions and stewed tomato chunks, that always made me gag and get accused of fake-gagging, but those gags were real. My aunt taught me how to slurp the noodles so all the disgusting stuff just ended up on your face (thanks Aunt Marcia).

I think with the weird, sudden passing of this house (that will someday probably be something my family kind of laughs about because it's so bizarre: "Remember that time Grandma's house exploded?" ) that it just dawned on me that I don't get to go back to all of those wonderful childhood memories that are so pure. It's gone. And it very suddenly drives home that fact that my grandma's gone too. I didn't really get a chance to say goodbye to her; I had a newborn and was so far away, maybe it didn't seem real until today.

So here's to you, grandma's house, you were the keystone of my childhood. When everything else was crazy and I didn't feel at home at my own house, I always felt at home at grandma's. You were small and had an unfortunately long and narrow living room and way too steep stairs to the basement. I loved you and I'll miss you and I'm really sad that you blew up.



20% Off Every Gorgeous Thing

The day I was introduced to flora and henri for the first time
I think I spent an hour on their website drooling over every little Nantucket-yes-but-probably-not-Tucson-appropriate item in the gorgeous gorgeous online boutique. I did place an order, which I'm kind of ashamed of, as it fell well outside of my usual Lil' Traders and thrift store and sometimes Baby Gap when there's a sale "normal" baby clothes shopping... But when Otto's clothes came did I regret a single purchase? Not at all!

Beautiful baby clothes, finely crafted, fit for a prince or princess. If you're in the mood to indulge or dream of indulging in some to-die-for togs for your lil one, flora and henri is my absolutely favorite online childrens' boutique.

And I got a postcard in the mail yesterday announcing a sale from June 4-11.

20% off everything!

No promo code required.

They are also offering a FREE "Scream for Ice Cream Summer 2010" canvas back pack with any purchase over $25.

Sizing Tip - I found that everything I have purchased from F&H has run on the small side. So order the next size larger than what you want. If your munchkin is currently wearing 6months, I'd say order 18months and you'll get something that's more like 12months size.



Mildred and Dildred - A Locally Owned Tucson Toy Store

My mom and I stumbled upon this great toy store at the La Encantada shopping center in Tucson, AZ. It was filled to the brim with charm both inside and out. Although they had a lot of the usual suspects when it came to their toy selection, they had lots of cute books, wooden toys, puzzles, and trucks made out of recycled plastics. They have free arts and crafts and storytime hour every Tuesday http://mildredanddildred.com/events/. It seemed to be a very "hands-on" environment where they don't discourage your child from trying out a toy or two. There was a play kitchen and train table to keep your kids busy while you shop. Although I don't typically get up to that side of town when shopping, I might make an exception here and there to hit this cute store and maybe pop in for Storytime with Mildred! Maybe I'll see you there!

Charm factor: YYYYYY (6 out of 6 hearts)
Standouts: Curious George tea set
Purchase: Complete set of Frog and Toad books - $14.99
Minuses: Pricey; kind of a hike from central Tucson
Staff: Helpful and friendly
Overall rating: YYYYY (that's actually 4.5 out of 6 hearts)

- Megan

Zora's zucchini muffins

It has always been so fun cooking with Zora. She gets really into it, and says the greatest things while doing it.

For awhile, we made these mini muffins at least once a week, froze them, and then took them along with us on playdates. Big hit!

While making these one morning, I wrote down 4 consecutive statements of hers - these just came out one after another:

"It's all googly" (when stirring the wet ingredients into the dry)

"Yuck! It smells like sugar, but it doesn't TASTE like sugar!" (when I let her try a bit of cinnamon from my fingertip).

"This will take a lot!" (referring to how much stirring is necessary to get it thoroughly mixed).

"Wow, look at the fork, it stands up!"

That is the great thing about cooking with kids - they are really making so many observations, and are just fascinated with the process.

Here is our recipe, if you want to try it yourself!

makes 4 dozen mini muffins or 2 dozen regular sized

3 eggs
1 cup oil or applesauce or a mix (we do 1/2 oil 1/2 applesauce)
1 cup sugar (white or brown or a mix - we do a mix)
2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 large zucchini)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour (we do a mix of whole wheat and unbleached - 2/3 regular and 1/3 wheat)
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp (or less) salt

Preheat oven to 350

line muffin tins or spray HEAVILY with organic pam spray - these will stick to the tin, if not.

Medium bowl - beat the eggs, then mix in oil/applesauce sugar. Combine with grated zucchini and vanilla (all wet ingredients)

Large bowl - combine all dry ingredients

Mix them all together now in the Large bowl

spoon into muffin pans - well greased or lined! (Zora is really good at this part).

Bake for 14 minutes (mini) or 20-24 minutes (regular sized) - you will know they are done when your child says, "wow, those smell good." I frequently bake until that perfect smell hits - that is the true gauge.

Freeze half of them for later - these freeze really well.

Enjoy! Zora has 3 at a time (of the minis).

ps. we have a KinDer Perch, and find that this makes cooking so much fun. We highly recommend it.