What I learned from being robbed and how to protect and prepare.

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Being robbed sucks! Like really, really SUCKS! It’s probably pretty high on our “things that blow” list. Not only does it come with horrible feelings of fear, violation and all around ickyness, it also is a HUGE time suck! Police reports, taking inventory, working with insurance, re buying EVERYTHING and oh yeah… cleaning up the mess. Let’s just say I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy!

As we’ve been picking up the pieces and getting our lives back in order there were so many things we learned. Things we noticed that we did right and of course things things we wish we had done better before the unthinkable happened. I had never met a person who had their home ransacked like ours and all of a sudden we became experts on it. We were as prepared as ignorant bystanders could be. Ignorance was certainty bliss. But now knowing what we know we just have to pass on the tid bits of knowledge that might protect the next unknowing victim…

As far as Facebook goes…

Some speculated that FB was to blame for our home robbery. That maybe we over shared and posted about vacation plans for all the bad guys to see. The truth is I’m super paranoid about over sharing on FB so we never once mentioned about our upcoming travel plans. No one knew when we were leaving or coming back or that we were gone for that matter. I did share photos while I was gone but nothing that really screamed “ON VACATION!!! GO NUTS IN MY HOUSE!!” Unfortunately there were over 50 home robberies over the holiday vacation period in our Valley so there was nothing tying ours to a Facebook connection. As far as tips for helping Facebook NOT be a contributor to something like this, here are a few tips…

-NEVER announce when you are going to be on vacation! Sounds pretty simple and it is! Talk about it after the fact and resist the urge to count down your trip to Mexico publicly via FB.

-Don’t be afraid to ask your friends once in a while to refrain from spilling the beans. Friends and family tend to get excited when they know they are about to see you. Sometimes they even write on your wall for all to see and say something super complimentary but also very telling ” Can’t wait to see you next week! This is going to be the best Spring Break ever! We soooo need this week long vacation!” Little did they know that they just shared with all of FB your travel plans! “When can I see you while you’re in town?” ” How long will you be in San Fransisco?” etc. All innocent comments but telling non the less. Don’t be afraid to erase comments like this. Even ask nicely publicly on FB for friends to be sensitive when sharing such info.

-Return the favor! DON’T oust someone else! Private message friends if you know they re coming to town to see if you can meet up. Never make someone elses travel plans public knowledge.

-Do a “Friends Cleanse.” Take a look at your total number of friends on FB. If you are like me I bet a large portion of those “friends” aren’t really people you know well or interact with in real life. The fewer amount of people that are privilege to your going ons, the less likely something will slip and get into the wrong hands unknowingly so trim the fat! Go through your list and unfriend those who you just don’t need hanging around online. If you don’t care what they are up to, they probably don’t need to know what’s going on with you. Just because you were introduced to your neighbors sister in law once at a 4th of July BBQ doesn’t mean she needs to know your plans!

Protect your photos and videos:

This is were our biggest heartbreaks stem from. 10 years of home videos were stolen and the first 8 months of my baby’s life on photo were taken as well.(moment of silence as I shake my fist in the air!!!) We did this half right! We had backed up all our photos up until last April when I had our 4th child. Oh what I wouldn’t give to have these irreplaceable back!

-Back up and back up often! Once a year is not nearly enough! Try to make this a regular habit. Maybe on the first Sunday of every month or another time when you can make it routine! Just think how devastated you’d be if you didn’t have photos from HUGE life changing moments!

-Upload your photos to the cloud or other online photo storage sites. Places like picaso, drop box and zip cloud. Here are a list of the top 10 online storage sites. Some do have a monthly charge and some are free.

-Upload to an external hard drive. This is what we had done and my husband kept our external hard drive “off site!” Somewhere safe and away from home in case of robbery or fire. Thankfully we had every other photo we have ever taken up until April of 2013.

Appraise and document your jewelry and collectables:

I bet if you had to right this second that you couldn’t list all your valuable jewelry. Of course you might think of your engagement and wedding ring but do you have a complete list of your valuable accessories. I could not list my entire collection and add stress, anxiety and fear on top of it all I bet your memory will be clouded as well.

-Take photos of all your jewelry next to a ruler to help gauge size. Email yourself these photos along with a full detailed description: White gold, size 5 wedding band with 24 small diamonds covering the entire ring.”  Make a file in your email that holds emails like this. Trust me… there is more to email yourself.

-Get appraisals. Have your jewelry appraised. This will be a valuable document that has exact measurements and value. Insurance companies often need proof of ownership and this will be your golden ticket. Scan copies of your appraisals and email them to yourself and add them to that file!

Antiques and collectables are also hard to remember. If you have a large collection of ” fill in the blank” you’d be wise to create a very detailed itemized list. Photograph it and email it to the file!

Do a video walk through:

You would be hard pressed to be able to remember everything that is in your home. Insurance needs proof so either a receipt (ours were all stolen), a photo of everything or some sort of other proof. Walk through room to room and slowly capture on video your homes contents. Say things out load “45″ Sony flat screen, Samsung blue ray player…” This will all help you prove what you had or at least jog your memory of what to look for to see if it’s still there! We are still finding things missing 4 months later because we simply forgot we owned it in the first place. This is something that needs to be done often or when new items of value are added.

Don’t forget your garage, sheds, storage rooms and inside closets! Clothes, and lots of them were taken from our closets and drawers. Open ‘em up and document your clothing collection.

We did this but again our home videos were stolen so it did us no good. Upload and email yourself this video. Add it to the file!

Speaking of Clothing…

Like I just mentioned, a ton of my husbands clothes were taken and since we had no receipts and not a clear idea of how much exactly was gone we had to guess. If you have a large wardrobe of nice work clothes, denim, designer clothes, outer wear,  you might want to make a list and keep it up to date! Again, email it to yourself! Even if you forget 1 or 2 items, if their value was of any significant,  it could be a big loss.

Your computer:

I could care less that our computers were taken. What was on those computers that I’ll never get back is the sad part. Our last years of photos of course was the biggest loss but also were tons of short stories and journal writing.

-Save important writings to google doc so they can be accessed from anywhere!

-Password protect your computer. We had valuable info from past tax returns. All our social security numbers and other sensitive info for my husband and my kids was just a click away. That’s not to say they could never hack it but it’s one more thing to keep them from that info. We have since had to deal with all three credit bureaus putting alerts on all our credit. Lets just say this is a big time suck!!!

-Invest in an external hard drive. Back up videos, your music, photos, documents. Keep it off site.

Important documents:

We were SHOCKED to find that the robbers took our collection of receipts and important records. We still have no clue why but years of receipts were gone. If there is any valuable paperwork that you’d be up a creek without invest in a scanner and or keep these documents off site. Lets just say we are the new proud owners of a safe deposit box!

Check your policy:

Luckily we had fantastic home owners insurance but we fell short in a lot of areas on coverage. Very few of us know what is really covered. On standard policies only $200 of your cash and precious metals is covered. And jewelry is only covered up to a $5,000 value (at least that was our policy). Take an inventory of your stuff. Does it add up and far surpass what you’d be reimbursed? What we surpassed on our policy added up to well over $6,000. This is money we will never see again and could have been avoided had we adjusted our policy.

Master bedroom gold mind!

Our master bedroom was hit the hardest. Every drawer dumped or rifled through, every nook and cranny searched. Moral of the story… DON’T hide stuff in the master bedroom. Bad guys are on to us! Like many of you, we had the majority of our valuables in our master bedroom. Jewelry, a small safe, cash, valuables. If they found it, it was gone! I don’t exactly know the very best place to hide or keep your valuables because these guys were pro’s. They also cleaned out our freezer and took frozen foods thinking we froze valuables.  They broke our toilet looking in the tank for stuff. We have since found places to keep things but of course I won’t share;) Get creative.

Tell your neighbors, stop your mail and be in contact:

We did everything right before we left. We put a hold on our mail, we told 4 neighbors to keep an eye out for us and we kept in contact. The night before our robbery I texted a neighbor who had been checking our porch for packages and neighbor gifts because it was the holidays. She had been clearing our porch for 10 days and she was the only one who knew we extended our trip by a week. A few of our neighbors had shoveled our driveway and our sidewalk. We were doing everything right. That’s not to say it wasn’t worth it! Who knows how many other times we might have avoided such a situation because we had neighbors taking care of us while we were gone!

If you plan to travel do all you can to make it look like things are “business as usual!”

-Put a hold on newspaper and mail delivery.

-Let your neighbors know how long you’ll be gone. We’ve always joked between neighbors that if service or moving trucks are parked in your driveway to call the cops! Ha! Just ask them to be on the look out for strange things. Have them pick up packages or anything accumulating on your porch.

Prep the house:

-Invest in a few light timers. Have a few lights come on at night. Nothing more then your porch and a light here and there. I have to be honest. A neighbor was recently out of town for a long time and they had what looked like EVERY light on at night. Well that’s as much of a giveaway as no lights on while you are away that no ones home. If a bad guy was casing the neighborhood they might catch on that your “tell” for being out of town is EVERY LIGHT ON!

-I have heard of also having radios set to a talk radio station on a timer.  The chatter might be a good decoy. I like that idea.

-Arrange a shoveling or lawn care service if you will be gone for a longer length of time or if the weather calls for snow.

-Lights in the back yard! They got it by breaking in through the back door. We never have lights on in the back. Maybe that would have prevented them.

 

I’m pretty sure that this list isn’t anything new that you’ve heard but I also bet that most of us haven’t done many of them either. It wasn’t until it was too late that we wished we would have done these simple things. You can’t protect yourselves from everything but you can be more prepared. I know that had we done a few more of these things before hand that a lot of heartbreak could have been prevented. If you do just one thing be sure to back up your photos and videos! Stuff is just stuff but memories like that are the real losses!

 

When this happened to us EVERYONE was so kind and wanted to know how to help us. This isn’t your everyday trial so it’s hard to know how to help a friend who has had this happen to them. Here are a few do’s and don’t that I promise will be helpful if you ever find yourself wanting to help someone in this situation…

Do:

-Offer to watch kids while the parents clean up the mess so the little ones don’t have to see their home turned upside down. This is beyond helpful! Making a scary situation less scary is always good.

-Don’t talk about or ask questions about the robbery or investigation in front of the kids. This just brings up more fear, revisits old fear and you never know what the kids have shared with the kids.

-Bring by fresh flowers and or scented candles to help liven up the home. For a long time the home doesn’t feel normal and feels pretty creepy. The empty places where tv’s, electronics and other missing items are all constant reminders of the invasion. It took us over 6 weeks to start replacing items due to insurance so anything that can help brighten up the home is hugely welcomed. Something pretty to look at and fresh new scent help ward off the heebie jeebies!

-Over announce yourself!!! I can’t stress this enough! Don’t just pop in! The unsettled feeling is at an ultimate high! Every knock on the door, every door bell ring would send chills down my spine and make me hold my breath. I told all my friends to text or call me first if they were going to come by. If I knew someone was coming I was much more relaxed when the door bell rang.  It was about at the 6 week mark that I noticed I didn’t get a sinking feeling when the someone was at my door.

-Keep them in your prayers! I can honestly say that the only reason we were able to return to our home so soon after the robbery was because of all the prayers we had offered up on our behalf. Prayers of comfort and peace do wonders…especially at night!

-It was silly at first to think that my neighbors and friends were willing and offering up meals to us. We weren’t sick. We could cook but man alive was it a blessing to have a few nights off of having to prepare a meal. For a while our days were filled with taking inventory, trying to come up with proof of ownership and trying to get the house back in order. It was beyond wonderful to not have to worry about what was for dinner! Prepare and drop off a meal! It will do wonders for a tense family who could really use the break from that daily chore.

We were surrounded by amazing friends! We were blown away by their love and generosity. One night a basket of love was delivered to us that was over flowing with kindness and thoughtfulness. A friend organized a way for others to drop of gifts that would cheer us up. Gift cards and gifts for the kids. A frozen lasagna to replace the one stolen brought a huge laugh! A wallet filled with cash to replace the one my daughter had taken. We could tell that these gifts were thought threw and purposefully chosen. We were overwhelmed and it brought us to tears! It meant so much and still does as I think about the sacrifice it was all to make us smile and feel better!

Any and all gestures of love are always well received!

Don’t:

-This will feel hard to resist but don’t share stories of the time you were robbed. Don’t talk about the one time your friend was robbed, or how your Aunt had her purse stolen. I know it’s a reflex to share stories like this but I’ll tell you what…Nearly every conversation where someone was checking in on us, trying to comfort us or asking for details, they had a story to share. It was counter productive. It was anything but comforting to hear about everyone elses robbery be it small or big. I remember telling my husband that if we ever had a friend that this happened to all we would say was “I’m so so sorry. If you have any questions about how the insurance process went for us please let us know.” We got stuck listening to detail after detail and it was like we were reliving our violation every time. That only makes sense to me now. Sharing like experience feels like the right thing to do but having been on the receiving end of them I know that it can be more harmful then helpful.

 

Hopefully these tips will help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our home robbery. Not the way we wanted to start 2014!

On January 2, while we were still on vacation in California we got a call from a neighbor reporting that our garage was open, my husbands car was gone and that our house had been ransacked. News like this is never anything you can prepare for and the reaction is probably exactly what you’d expect! We were in shock, shaken and felt farther away from home then ever before. The initial news was like getting cold water thrown on you! We just couldn’t believe it.

The police were called and we were only feed bits and pieces of details from neighbors who were keeping us informed while the house and crime scene were being processed. For hours we were kept in the dark. Naturally we hastily packed, threw our belongings in our car and headed home terrified at what we’d come home to.

The drive home gave us two things…1. A chance to freak out! After the police left a few neighbors went inside and their reports were not good. Some described it like a scene from a movie! Everything that was in a drawer was now on the floor. Heaps of mess. Chaos and emptiness all at the same time. The 10 hour drive only played into the uncertainty of the situation so we expected the absolute worst. 2. One last chance of normalcy before everything changed.  It’s funny how calm and safe I felt in a rundown motel in Ceder City on our drive home. I remember thinking that this was going to be the last night I felt “safe” before arriving home. I held my kids close that night and was glad we were all together.

The next morning as we got closer to home the sick feeling got stronger and stronger. My husband and I were as prepared as we could be but the feeling of violation was so heavy. We dropped off the kids with friends and headed in.

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I will say this… the pictures our imaginations painted was far worse then the reality of what we saw. Don’t get me wrong! It was super bad but the time we had to imagine the worse was a blessing in disguise.  When you expect a 10 on the “worse case scenario” scale and only come home to a 7 or 8, that’s a good feeling… sort of! Hard to explain but you get the picture.  We were told over the phone by the police what obvious things were gone already. Things like our tv’s, electronics, and a few valuables that my husband asked to look for. We had a good idea that pretty much anything of value was gone. We still held out hope that some items that really meant a lot to use were still there. Sadly as the cleanup process got underway we discovered more things gone and the severity of the loss was hard to handle. Our biggest loss was 10 years of home videos, gone. This one hurt the most and still to this day if I think about it I break down. What had absolutely no values to them and as something they took by mistake in their haste, truly left the biggest sting. Those first few days were a roller coaster of emotions. Highs when we would discover something they didn’t find and lows when we’d realize family heirlooms were gone.

With the help of amazing friends and a combined 40 plus hours of cleaning, organizing, washing and de-hebbiejeebbing the place our home was put back together. Our kids never had to see their home in shambles. Only with the help of dear dear friends were they able to come home that first night and sleep.

Sleeping there right away was probably the hardest decision we made. We had offers from friends to bunk with them and hotel room offers for as long as we needed it. I just knew that if I didn’t sleep there the first night that it would get harder and harder to go back. We wanted it to be as normal for our kids as possible and making our home a scary and unsafe place by not being there wasn’t going to help. That’s not to say that it wasn’t hard. I don’t think I slept more  then 2 interrupted hours night 1 and for the first 2 weeks it was touch and go for sure! Our kids on the other hand did great and I can only attribute that to the amount of prayers that were being offered up on our behalf. We felt comforted and protected. A million thanks!

12 days after the robbery Mikes car was found abandoned. We were greeted with a door bell ring at 1:30am and a police officer telling us we had 20 minutes to go get it before it was impounded at our expense! His car was unharmed but the feeling of violation was once again brought back up to the surface when we had it back. Still all this time later the car was the only thing we have gotten back. No leads, no information. It’s as if nothing happened. Our home, our mail, our credit cards, our car. All of that was used and still we know nothing.

I realized just a few weeks ago that the doorbell can ring without it causing me to hold my breath. Time has been the best healer. It was a rough first month and now as we deal with replacing items from our over 200 missing things list we are finding it challenging and annoying. This is going to take us forever. Still we are seeing the tender mercies through all of this. We have our family, are cared for and loved beyond measure by neighbors and friends and were protected. These are blessings we don’t take lightly. We consider ourselves so so blessed. So many lessons learned. So much perspective gained.

Thanks to everyone who rallied around us and helped with cleaning, meals, babysitting, prayers, temporary transportation, loaned us a tv, let me nap on your couch and cry on your shoulder. You were all the good in this world that will always trump the bad in the world! Always!

(My next post will be lessons learned and how to protect yourself from home robbery! Let’s just say we did a lot of things right and would do a lot of things differently! Lot’s to glean from my next post! Look for it soon!)

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Minted Holiday cards

It’s that time of year again when we are all scrambling to get out Christmas cards ordered! I had to share my love for Minted with you guys and tell you how much I adore my recent order!

I had the chance to order this years Christmas cards from Minted, a site that features different independent artists and their designs. I loved that there were 100′s of designs to choose from and with a multitude of artists, you are sure to find a style that speaks to you!

All of the designs are customizable. Pick colors and fonts and put your own personalizes message on it…

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The hard part was narrowing down just one! One of my all time favorite features about this site is the “Find it Fast” feature.

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This feature allows you to upload your photo and take it for a test drive in all of the designs! Totally helped me find the perfect card for this years greeting.

Minted makes ordering easy and always sends you a proof to approve before shipping out anything. I loved that. When my cards arrived I knew exactly what to expect and I wasn’t holding my breath and crossing my fingers that it would be what I thought it would be!

Check Minted out for yourself and get your cards ordered!

 

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Pic Couture

Oh my gosh, you guys! I’m embarrassed to admit this but it has been FOUR YEARS since I last took my kids into a studio to get their photos taken! I know! I know! It’s not like I haven’t taken pictures or had others take their shots but for reals it has been that long! Oops!

Pic Couture in South Jordan and in Draper, Utah are amazing studios that made going back indoors for photos so easy! This place has incredible backdrops, amazing photographers and ordering is easy and affordable at only $5 a sheet!

With my Mr. Wonderful turning 6 months old I knew I needed to get him in to capture this fun stage and OH MY HECK…

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Is my little guy adorable or what! EEEK!!! I can not get enough of him.  Daniel at Pic Couture totally captured his sly personality and sweet demeanor. Can you see his sweet knuckle dimples in the last photo of him above!!! Oh how I love that I will always have that sweet knuckle dimple photo!

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I also got some adorable updated shots of my girls! These pictures melt my heart! I forgot how special it is to have photos like these. My girls just loved having their photos taken. Daniel knew just how to find each of their natural looks and worked so well with my kids.

 

Pic Couture not only has amazing talent behind the lens but also when it comes to editing, cropping, face swapping and adding cool color effects. I love how the photos below were given a little tweak with cool color effects with their PicArt options…

 

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A big fat thanks to all the amazing staff at Pic Couture for making me one proud mama! I am in love with our results and will always have these and a ton additional photos to remember this most favorite time in my life! Being a mom to these 4 beautiful kids brings me more joy then I feel like I deserve and I have these photos to remember them always! 20 years from now when I’m wishing for these moments again at least I’ll have these tender reminders. Love! Love! Love!

 

Pic Couture has two locations in Draper and South Jordan, Utah! Each photo session results in endless images ready for you to swoon over! I left with a flash drive to take home and some amazing prints that only cost $5 each! Sessions are booking fast with the holidays creeping up on us! Book your sessions now!

Find Pic Couture on Facebook and be sure to follow! They are ALWAYS giving away free sessions, having fun contests and just having too much fun really!

And one more thing….

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Can you pretty please jump over to this link HERE to “Like” Gunners sweet pic! Every “Like” it gets= $1 I get to use on more Pic Couture products like prints and canvases! How cool is that! It’s called PicPayoff and everyone who has a photo session will also have this same fun option! So go give me a thumbs up!!!! Thanks, friends!

 

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Homemade baby food

Why on earth have I not made baby food before? This is my 4th kid and HELLO!!!! I’m just now whipping up yummy veggie puree! There is something so wrong about my tardiness to the homemade food goodness! It sounds like something only super moms do but let me debunk that theory ASAP cause I’m no super mom and it totally plays more to my CHEAP side then anything else!

Making homemade food for your little is super cheap and super fast and yes SUPER HEALTHY! Anyone can do it! A super rad blender helps but it can be done with a standard blender as well but my Blendtec is Gunners favorite appliance. It’s official!

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Check out all that fresh produce! $10 is all this batch cost and it created 60 servings! Yep 60! I feed Gun 2 solid food servings a day so this will last us an entire month until his appetite grows! $10 and 1 hour of my time is all it takes for 1 month of food.

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There’s no rocket science behind cooking up your veggies. I use a cheap metal steaming basket and a pot! Certain veggies only need to be warmed but others need to be sliced and diced, steamed and peeled!

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Steamed veggies with a little water is all it takes to create a meal for your little one. My Blendtec whips up steamed veggies and can put Gerber to shame! The consistency is so smooth and creamy! Different veggies call for different amounts of liquid so you will quickly see when adding more water is needed to create the consistency you are looking for.

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 HELLO smooth and creamy!

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After trying a handful of different storage techniques I found I liked snack sized freezer bags best. These are great 2 portion bags that hold about 6oz each. I pour the food straight from the blender into the bags and seal it making sure there is no air left in the bag. And they are cheap! The only draw back is they aren’t great for on the go food so you will want to transfer the food into a sturdier container if you are going to feed on the go.

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The other advantage to using these BPA free bags is that they store flat making freezing ideal. I stacked them on my quarter cookie sheet and popped them into the freezer! Once they are frozen you can store them upright, in your freezer door or tuck them into other vacant corners of your freezer.

When you are ready to use, just grab a few to defrost in your fridge.

hintsFrozen Peas: Frozen peas do not need to be steamed! You can simply defrost and or cook in the microwave to make them soft enough to blend. Peas will need about 1 cup water to 2 cups peas. Peas are also a very mild tasting veggie so they are great to blend with more powerful tastes like cauliflower and carrots.

Butternut Squash: This veggie is the most time consuming one to prep. You’ll need to chop your squash with the skin still on, scoop out the seeds and steam. The photo of chopped orange segments in the pot above are my squash. Once they are done steaming let them cool and then use your knife to cut the skins off. Squash has more liquid in it them you think so you’ll need less water in your blender for this one. The squash takes on a different consistency once frozen and then defrosted, think jello-ish. You can stir it up to regain it’s creaminess.

Sweet Potatoes: This one is a little guy favorite! It’s sweetness is very agreeable to most baby pallets! Peel, chop into 1 in. segments and steam. 1 part water to 2 parts veggie.

Cauliflower: Odd you think? Well oddly enough this veggie is a dream once steamed and it won’t lead to a gassy baby like I once thought. This vitamin packed veggie is easy to blend and needs less water then you’d think. Chop of the flower heads and steam for about 15 min before blending. I do like to use cauliflower as a great combo start! I’ve had really strong batched and mild so it really depends on each head. Frozen works great too.

Green beans: I’ve only used frozen green beans but they steam up great! Green beans also have more water in them so add water sparingly. I found that I needed to blend green beans a little longer then other veggies because there was a string like vein that was tricky to blend and they are a waxier, firmer veggie. I kept seeing my little guy struggle with a tiny string on his tongue.

Carrots: Full sized carrots have way more flavor then baby carrots so I prefer to use full sized! I scrub them well and leave the peels on to maximize the nutrition. Chop them in 1″ pieces and steam. 1 part water to 2 parts carrots. Sometimes carrots are strong and bitter so mix them with sweet potatoes and other veggies. My carrots stained my blender so be for warned!!!

Add ins: Canned fruit in natural juices make great sweeteners. I am still focused on mainly veggies but have added pears and peaches to a few combos.

Make it a party! I had two other neighborhood moms over for a baby food making night! We all brought over our hauls of veggies, some from our gardens and grocery store! It was a great way to maximize the variety and have a fun girls night!

 

My little guy is in heaven with each and every meal! I will warn you…if you’re baby takes a liking to homemade food they might become picky! My little guy won’t eat store bought now without putting up a fight! Oops!

I hope this gives you the confidence to give it a try! You will not regret it!

 

 

*** When introducing solid foods to your little ones it is recommended to serve the same veggie for 5-7 days without adding a new one. This way you can pin point any food allergies and or unagreeably food that they just don’t enjoy! Once you can be sure they are in the clear you can move onto combos and new flavors.

 

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FREE 8×10 printables

Just fooling around and created a few printables. I created them as 8×10′s. Enjoy!

Let them be little

Anchors away

Bloom, blossom, grow 2

Bloom, blossom, grow

Designs

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From Drab to Fab eBook Bundle Sale!

 

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From improving your hairstyle, wardrobe, or marriage, to releasing weight and eating healthier for YOU to wowing the holiday company with delicious food and gifts and improving your family life with family dinner, delicious cookies, a more organized home, and fun journaling time with your kids… this ebook bundle is for you!

The Drab to Fab Ebook Bundle: Letting the Fabulous In You Shine Through this Fall includes 15 ebooks for just $15!!!! That’s a steal! With individual prices ranging from $2.99 to $37, this is one deal you just can’t pass up.

This collection is only available from 8 a.m. PST on October 15th to 8 a.m. PST on October 20th. There will be no late sales offered.

  1. The A to Z Guide: 26 Ways in 26 Days to a Happier Healthier Marriage by The Dating Divas {$9.97} This ebook shared the heart and soul of the Dating Divas and all our best tips for having a healthy and happy marriage. Real women sharing real success stories and advice, put it to use and it could change your marriage forever!

  2. Cookie Cravings: 30 All Time Favorite Recipes by Maria of Two Peas and Their Pod and Heidi of Foodie Crush {$7.99} DROOL! You will never have a need to go in search of a cookie recipe again. This recipe book has every cookie recipe you could possibly need!

  3. Discovering Your Style: In 7 Days or Less by Ashley of Flats to Flip Flops {$6.99} Unless you are a total fashionista, your life may be too busy to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Enter in: Ashley and her ebook! Fashion isn’t always about the latest trends at it is more about YOU – your wardrobe is a reflection of you! Discover your style in this ebook!

  4. The Family Dinner Project by Stephanie of Somewhat Simple and Becca of Blue Cricket Design {$9.95} Looking for a way to have some quality family time? Get your family excited to be around the dinner table together with all of Stephanie and Becca’s fun ideas!

  5. Family Favorites Cookbook by Ruthie of What’s Cooking with Ruthie {$5.99} Ever wish you could cook like the best cook in your family that everyone talks about? Now you can! This book contains the best tried and true family favorites!

  6. Healthy Eating the Happy Gal Way by Jenny of The Happy Gal {$29.97} Tired of diets that don’t last? Try Healthy Eating The Happy Gal Way. More than a collection of recipes, this is a how-to guide for eating healthy, losing weight, and feeling great. The Happy Gal makes it easy!

  7. How to Be a Super Hero Family: The Roadmap by Mom It Forward {$2.99} This eBook provides tips for creating a family mission statement, setting family goals, and information on holding family meetings, identifying roles and responsibilities, and having the right balance of family activities on your monthly calendar.

  8. Life According to Me by Steph of Somewhat Simple {$9.97} Maybe you aren’t the best at capturing your kid’s cute personalities through blog posts and photos, or maybe you just want their life shared through their own eyes. This is the CUTEST journal you could buy and your kids will have a BLAST with it!

  9. No Brainer Wardrobe by Hayley of The Tiny Twig {$7.99} The No Brainer Wardrobe is a book to help women learn to love the clothes they have, lose the clothes they hate, and shop for items to fill the gaps. The book contains over 80 pages of content, including images outlining outfit selections, how to shop, and how to build a lookbook.

  10. Organized in 20 Days by Sarah of Organized Mom {$6.99} The name says it all and we’re even including her “tasks and habits” to do lists!

  11. The Ultimate Date Night Book by The Dating Divas {$37.00} Dating your spouse doesn’t get easier than this! The Dating Divas compiled their TOP Date ideas in one beautiful ebook to help you and your spouse have more FUN on date night.

  12. Reuse-Refresh, Repurpose: 20 Ways to Breathe New Life into Old Clothes by Kristen of The Frugal Girl {$3.99} 57-page ebook, is filled with 20 useful, practical, manageable ideas that will help you get the most out of your clothes.

  13. The Ultimate Hairstyle Handbook: Everyday Hairstyles for the EveryDay Girl by Abby of Twist me Pretty {$10.00} You’ve probably pinned Abby’s hairstyles on Pinterest but haven’t taken the time yet to look at the steps and do it – here you have it all in one place and her beautiful photos show you exactly how to create the cutest hairstyles!

  14. 15 Minute Marriage Makeover by Dustin of Engaged Marriage {$7.99} Explore the Four Pillars of a happy marriage, spending one week on each: Communication that Counts, Real Romance for Real Busy Couples, Better Sex & Deeper Intimacy, Control Your Finances…Together. Watch your marriage improve with these extra 15 minutes a day spent on it!

  15. 20 Gifts Under $5 by Kristyn of Lil’ Luna & Jamielyn of I Heart Naptime {$9.97} Easy and fabulous gift idea for anyone on your list, for any occasion. This E-book will save you so much time and every single project looks like so fun to make. Includes all the printables needed for each project!

Click here to buy NOW!!!!

**Remember, this deal only lasts FIVE DAY!**

Hurry & grab your bundle today!

 

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The Paisley Emporium

I am so excited to introduce you to a darling site that offers amazing photo backdrops! I was love at first sight when I was first introduced to The Paisley Emporium and it’s easy to see why once you see these beautiful backdrops! Read all about this amazing product and enter to win a back drop of your very own!

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Want photos that pop! Looking for a way to spice up your pictures and make them unforgettable? The Paisley Emporium is just  what your photos are looking for! This huge selection of adorable backdrops are perfect for professional photographers and for all of you at home photography hobbyist! So many fun ways to make your adorable subjects smiling for the camera look even better…

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We all deserve beautiful photos and with a Paisley Emporium backdrop your goal of show stopping pictures is just a click away! Endless designs that include tile, wood, trendy patterns, stripes, scenery and so many more!

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The Paisley Emporium offers cotton and polyester backdrops that come in sizes ranging from 5×5′ all the way up to 5×10′. With over 100 designs to choose from the hardest part will be narrowing down which ones you LOVE most! Take your photos to the next level and create a memory that is as bright and bold as you!

Who’s ready for a GIVEAWAY!!

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One lucky reader will win a 5×5′ Polyester backdrop of their choice! Enter to win below and don’t forget to follow The Paisley Emporium on Facebook to get special offers, enter giveaways and see the latest backdrops being added to the shop!

Winner will be announced on the Blue Cricket Design facebook page on Sept.12.

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Albion Fit Giveaway and EVENT

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I was recently given the chance to try out Albion Fit and their fitness line.Talk about perfect timing. After having a baby the the last thing I wanted to do was put back on my old work out clothes! I have been in desperate need of new fitness ware because all my old stuff was either stretched out from me trying to wear while pregnant or still too tight because I saved my “good” stuff the embarrassment of trying to fit over my growing belly.

Albion Fit to the rescue! This amazing line of fitness clothing is perfect for any body, any fitness level and for anyone who is looking for the motivation to get active! It’s so much easier to get moving when you look totally cute doing it!

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I am in love with my Optimum Capri pant in graphite and my Love Racer top in Neon Pink. The pants are my new favorite! They hold you in and make your butt look fantastic! I can say that right? I love how they fit and the top white band was the perfect touch and helps hold in your tummy. The top had fun details like structured stitching and  a ruching detail on the sides that are flattering and adds a bit of style. The top is also long so you’re not always having to tug at it while you’re working out!

These clothes in action are amazing! I wore them to my workout and after lots of bending over, lifting, running, and anything else I’d do in a normal workout they rose to the occasion. They aren’t just pretty, they can get the job done!

albionThe hardest part for me was narrowing down what I wanted! It is all so cute! Shorts, jackets, tanks, crops, full length pants, skirts and more! I was beyond impressed with their selection and lucky for me their store was down town so I even had the chance to go in and hand pick what I wanted to try out. The online selection is just as great so if you aren’t in the Salt Lake area no worries! Jump online and take advantage of their amazing selection.

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Albion Fit also has a huge selection of beautiful vintage inspired swim wear! So many beautiful style!

Now it’s your turn to give Albion a try!

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Albion Fit is going to give one lucky reader a $100 gift card to online! To enter use the rafflecopter below! This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residence. Winner will be announced on the Blue Cricket Design facebook page on Sept. 8th.

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AND… if you are in the Salt Lake City area join Albion Fit for an awesome event! I’ll be there too and would love to meet you! The event is taking place Friday September 13th from 10 am to 2pm. It will feature one-on-one makeovers from professional hair stylist and makeup artist Christie Somers (her clients include Rachael Ray and Ann Romney), beauty DIY’s, and a pretty prize package with gifts from Albion (including a Gift Card to use in store that day) and goodies to help you get even more gorgeous! Send them a message on Facebook to reserve your spot!

*** I was given product to review by Albion Fit but the opinions shared are my own.

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“Back to School” dinner

My kids just went back to school yesterday but with many of you still soaking up the very last bit of summer I thought I’d still share this fun “Back to school” themed dinner idea. By combining a creative meal with a little back to school shopping you and your family will spend an evening together that will soon become a new family favorite tradition.

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“Back to School” is the theme for the night! A cafeteria inspired meal and fun school themed decorations will help set the mood for a night to remember!

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Create a fun center piece by displaying school items. Things like books, a map or globe, rulers… The skies the limit! Don’t you just love my President Washington busk! Happy to put him to good use in this school themed vignette!

Once the table is set it’s time to move on to the menu and a few more table details…

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For dinner it’s all about creating a cafeteria style meal! Set up a buffet station to simulate walking through the cafeteria and filling your tray with a variety of food.

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Pizza, fresh veggies, fruit cups, an apple, cookies and a juice box or milk carton all fill your styrofoam trays for the perfect school meal! I found the fun trays at my local dollar store.

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And don’t forget to add a place card! These desk name cards are the perfect touch to make your table ready for any soon to be student!

Dinner conversation can be a fun one on a night like tonight! Talk about your past first days of school or what you looked forward to as a kid when it came to returning to school! Share past school memories with your family as you dine cafeteria style!

title3After dinner it’s time to cross some back to school shopping off your “to do” list! Grab a pen and make a list of what school supplies your kids are in need of! Pens, paper, note books, back packs. It’s time to hit the store to stock up on supplies! This family outing is fun together time!

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This FREE printalble makes your shopping even easier! Each kid has a list in hand and is eager to shop along side you. If you’ve got the supplies already covered take the time to shop for that always exciting “First day of school” outfit!

I am convinced that “Family Date Nights” are worth the effort! Just like investing in dating your spouse, investing in creative special time as a family is just as important! You are setting the stage for a healthy relationship with your kids. They will feel your enthusiasm and feel loved and important and what more could we want for our kids!

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For more fun dinner ideas like this one that include a theme, menu, activity and FREE printable be sure to check out our “The Family Dinner Project” eBook! This eBook has 12 dinner ideas that you and your family are sure to love!

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