Sunday, August 18, 2013

Organic Homemade Baby Food Recipes & Big Worm Update: 6 months Old

It's Official.

Carlin (aka Big Worm) is eating homemade baby food now! 

As earth conscious, GMO loathing, generally hippie minded parents, it is only natural (pun intended!) for us to only offer our infant organic varieties when it comes to the food we make for him or even the juice he drinks. 

Finding food items that are organic is not a difficult feat, as most believe, and it is not necessarily too expensive, especially when it comes to feeding a 6 month old. 

For example, we went out and bought Big Worm a grocery bag full of all organic produce

The single Avocado alone was $2.00.  This is pricey for one avocado, but it goes a long way! 

Hear me out...  

We completely removed all veins from the Organic Collard Greens and then steamed them  { note of worth: steaming, rather than boiling, retains the most nutrients }. We diced the Organic Avocado and blended them together until they became a puree, creating a perfect melody of flavor.  

This took a few minutes of prep work, 10 minutes of steaming in our rice cooker and less than a minute of blending in our Baby Bullet, all to create.... Are you ready for this?  

  18 MEALS!!!  


Why BUY Baby Food?!

He only eats a couple tablespoons at a time for now, so this will change eventually, but we will relish in the bounty of our glory by knowing the entirety of what's in his food, while also saving ourselves some dolla's! 

Think about it.... 

The total cost of the meal was around $5.00.    Let's break that down, shall we? 

$5.00 divided by 18 meals =   $0.28 cents per meal

Here are a few Organic Homemade Baby Food Recipes that we've come up with from one Hippie Momma to another:

***Plum& Kiwi: {breakfast time; snack time}
Thoughts:  Sour and sweet! Big Worm says "num num num num!". I'm thinking his sour taste buds are not yet fully developed. :) Yeilds about 12 baby meals at 2 tablespoons per meal.

  • 1 Organic Plum (ours was a bit small)
  • 1 Organic Kiwi
  • Blender or Baby Food Making Bullet/Blender
Plums are not easy to peel but the peel will just fall right off of a nice ripe one! Cut the plum in half, remove the pit and gently peel away the peel from the fruit while holding the plum over the blender to be sure not to lose any valuable goodness! The think peel should come right off.  Peel the kiwi, dice and add to the blender. Blend until completely pureed. Pour mixture into ice trays in appropriate portions, place in freezer to freeze. Once frozen, pop out the baby meals you made into freezer bags, label them with the ingredients, time and date and stick back in the freezer in a designated area for baby food to be sure it doesn't get crushed.  

***Collards & Avocado: {lunch time; dinner time}
Thoughts: Slightly sweet and "green" tasting, but still pleasant. Big Worm approves. 
Yeilds a little over 18 baby meals at 2 tablespoons per meal.
  • 1 bundle of Organic Collard Greens
  • 1 Organic Avocado
  • Blender or Baby Food Making Bullet/Blender
  • Rice Cooker or Steamer (you can make a steamer with a pot and colander too)
Completely de-vein the collards. The veins won't do well when pureeing. Steam collards for 10 minutes and then add to blender. Cut avocado, remove pit, cut into slices while still in shell and then spoon into blender. Compost the shell! Blend until smooth. This is a thick mixture, so stopping the blender to stir a few times will be needed. Pour mixture into ice trays or other storage device in appropriate portions (about only 2 tablespoons for Big Worm right now), place in freezer to freeze. Once frozen, pop out the baby meals you made into freezer bags (I reuse my breast pump storage bags!), label them with the ingredients, time and date and stick back in the freezer in a 'designated baby food area' to be sure it doesn't get crushed. 

***Watermelon, Strawberry & Boobie-milk Smoothies!  {Anytime!}
Thoughts:  The smell is delish. The taste is soft. The texture is airy. Mommy loves it and Big Worm can't get enough of it! 

  • 1 Seedless personal watermelon (we used MOST of it, but our teenager swiped the last few bites available)
  • 2 Organic Strawberries
  • Blender or Baby Food Making Bullet/Blender
Cut watermelon in half and spoon out the juicy fruit into blender. Cut leaves off of strawberries, cut them in half and add them to the blender.  Finally, add 1 oz of breast milk to blender and blend until smooth.  Pour some into a sealable container and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Feed fresh to baby with a spoon! Pour remaining mixture into ice trays in appropriate portions, place in freezer to freeze. Once frozen, pop out the baby meals you made into freezer bags, label them with the ingredients, time and date and stick back in the freezer in a designated area for baby food to be sure it doesn't get crushed. 

This is just the beginning of my baby food adventures! I can't wait to make more!! But all of this made so much, we have a month's worth of food almost! 

How to Feed Your Baby: 

THAT'S something you thought you'd never ask I bet! But this is something that comes up after you've managed to MAKE the food. NOW WHAT DO I DO?! I can answer that for you too. :) 

You can do this any way you feel most comfortable, but this is what we do. 

We grab one portion of the desired meal, place in a shot glass ( LOL they gotta get used for something these days!and then place the shot glass  in a shallow coffee cup full of hot water, being sure the water does not go over the glass and into the baby food. 

I place the coffee cup in the sink and let steady, hot water trickle just over the side of the cup to defrost the food, stirring every now and then to help speed it along. You can just set the coffee cup full of hot water on the counter, but it may take longer to heat the baby food. 

The goal is not to heat the food up until it is hot, but to bring it to more of a luke-warm temp. From my own mothering experiences, I've found that the food is easier on the baby's tummy in the beginning years of eating food when it is not ice cold going down. 

Another way to defrost/heat up the food is to put it in a smaller freezer bag by itself and run hot water over it until it melts and is not cold anymore. The only reason I do not do this is because I would feel wasteful of using too many of those damned plastic bags!  

You don't have to be a tree hugging Hippie Momma like me to enjoy the simpler, more economical ways of eating, buying or simply living! 

My hope is that, even if you do not consider yourself a "hippie" per se, that you will at least be inspired { and not afraid } to venture into making your baby's food right at home. It is best for baby, great for the bank and makes you feel all warm & fuzzy inside because you know what went in it! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Volunteer Squash Garden from Compost Pile + Help Us Identify Mystery Squash Growing!

This Summer we had all kinds of goals, but it turned out that we were a lot busier than expected!
One of our goals was to plant raised bed gardens throughout the yard and try to become mostly self sustainable, as far as produce goes.
This didn't happen.
We did, however, have a volunteer garden, which I lovingly refer to as our
Free Spirited Garden. :)
{this is also what I call our flower bed in front of the house that runs wild & free with weeds galore... mainly because I have no time to bother with it!}


As you can see, it has grown up the fence and over the other side into the easement next to our home. We plan to donate all that grows on that side to the neighborhood once they are ripe & ready to be picked.

Just a couple of months ago we were excited to notice a sprig or two of something sprouting out of our compost pile in the corner of our yard.
At first we thought it could be a potato plant, and then we were sure it was a pumpkin...
Every day we would go out back to see if we could tell for sure what it could be.
The anticipation was exciting and it quickly became a sort of a daily hobby! 
It soon became clear that we have ourselves, not one, but a few different kinds of squash plants growing, among other volunteers that sprouted in the center of the plant.

There's Tomatillos, Potatoes & who knows what else growing in the very center.
We've enjoyed a squash or two here and there already, but it was just a couple days ago when we harvested our first FULL basket.

Abigail loves to run outside and help Daddy!

We know for sure we have some Acorn Squash, which is simply divine straight out of the oven... 
Buttery-like, creamy, goodness.
There's probably some Butternut in there as well, and at least a couple of other volunteers too.

But we are not sure about one of them....
Perhaps you can help name this one??

We figure it is a cross between two or more squash, because we have no memory of eating something of this nature!

It's "knotty" and a bit ugly! LOL
I'd think we would remember purchasing and eating something like this.

Can you identify it by chance? 

We would like to know what it is so that we know when to harvest it. 
We did pick one of them, but it was way too soon.

The ones over the fence are turning a bit green now, so we're thinking they have a little while to go before they are ripe. 

Your thoughts are welcome! :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Milk.Mom.Baby. Breast Milk Keepsake Locket Kit...... Product Review

This is the Dublin Style locket. I chose this over the Sterling Silver selections because I felt it best fit my style. The chain is long, so I double wrap it around my neck. I like to wear it close to my heart.

You know those times in life when you come across something amazing {yet so simple} that someone else thought of, and the first thing that goes through your mind is ... 

"WHY didn't I think of that?!" 

This is the feeling I got when I received an email from Brooke, the founder of Milk.Mom.Baby., asking if I would be interested in doing a review. 

My Thoughts -

Milk.Mom.Baby. is Brooke's epiphany turned brilliant business where she has created the concept of not only being able to save something so dear to us nursing mothers, but also coming up with a way to carry something so precious close to our heart

She has given us a way to preserve our Breast Milk, taking it from milk form, to putty form, to a sort of clay-like form and ending with a finished product that has the essence of a pearl

As a mother who nursed our first baby, and is now nursing our last baby, it is painfully real to me now of ALL of the lasts that come with having no more children after this one. 

There are many precious moments with a baby... Moments between baby and daddy, baby and siblings, baby with caretakers, and especially baby with mommy. 

But there is no other moment that could compare to that of the unique, quiet times between baby and mommy during a feeding. 

Silent communication with his eyes and sweet smiles as milk trickles out of the corners of his mouth ... The way pulls the breast to him with both of his hands in the most gentle way ... The sound of his swallow ... How he tucks his little fist into the side of the breast to give extra support, like a pro ... His little foot that always creeps up to rest on my chest or shoulder now that he is bigger ... The pure harmony in which we work together by way of this bond that only we can share...

These moments are often unnoticed by everyone else, making them all the more precious. 

But something else came from this entire experience of preserving some of my milk in a locket, giving even more sentiment to this whole thing. 

Now, when he is nursing, he lovingly and ever so gently plays with the heart shaped locket around my neck that holds a significant piece of what bonds us as Mother and Son. 

This necklace has become so much more than just a way to preserve Carlin's breast milk. 

It has become a forever-tangible piece of what keeps him alive every single day in these precious and fleeting years of his life that has created all of these tiny little memories that only he and I share, and it can all be kept tucked away, in a locket, safe around my neck, where I can grab it, close my eyes and feel closer to these times anytime I please. 

Differing Reactions -

I've received various reactions from people over this past month when I excitedly show them my precious locket. 

My husband did kind of find it weird at first, but has since come around and realizes it is not as gross as it seems. 

Others make a sort of funny face, asking what I'm going to do with it... "You're going to WEAR your breast milk.....", as if not to even ask the question, but more to just make the statement as if saying it aloud to me will let me see the error of my ways, or something. 

I do have one friend, the one I lovingly call my Earth Sister who never batted an eye and was immediately in love with my heartfelt locket when I first got the shipment in and showed her my adorable little kit that Brooke sent me from her Etsy Shop

The point I'm trying to make is this...... 

Just like with anything in life, everyone sees things differently, and you can't deny yourself something simply because other's do not "approve" or think it is "normal".

I think it is about damn time we put down our iPads (don't own one) and laptops every now and then and remember to, not only cherish these tender moments, but to also create little memories of them, whether being sure to jot down milestones in the baby book, or something cute your baby did that you want to remember, or by preserving something that you'll never be able to share with your little one again; breast milk.

When it comes to YOU and YOUR baby, don't you ever think TWICE about anything that has to do with saving a little piece of their existence from the short years of babyhood that brings back the precious memories of such a time, no matter WHAT other's reactions are. 

The Process -

First of all, you can visit her website, choose your locket and pay extra for your milk to be preserved for you, but from one nursing mommy to another, I highly recommend you do the entire process on your own

It is so easy to do and you'll feel more connected to your little treasure than you could have imagined by the time you are wearing your one-of-a-kind finished product. 

Brooke sells these Breast Milk Keepsake Locket Kits for you to do just that at her Milk.Mom.Baby. Esty Shop.

Included in her kit is the necklace of your choice, thoughtfully attached to a stiff/glossy piece of paper, perfect for holding everything in place while you prepare your keepsake. 

Also included are a set of directions, a paint brush, a tiny spatula, a vile of gloss, and two viles of what smells like vinegar to be used in the cooking process of the breast milk. 

Here are the steps in my own words, along with my own words-of-advice ...... 
{ You will need 2oz of fresh breast milk, or 2.5oz of frozen breast milk }

  • Take your time. When you start this process, know that it will take you several days to complete, but also know that because of the time it takes, you will form a special bond with your little treasure. 
  • My locket came attached to a strong piece of paper, secured with a piece of tape, so I decided to leave it in place to make things easier during the glazing process. 
  • Dip your paint brush in the glaze and evenly glaze the entire inner parts of your locket. Every area on the inside must be well glazed to avoid tarnish or rust over time. Let dry completely (I waited 2 hours).
  • Glaze again once it dries completely. I repeated this step, glazing the entire inside probably 3 or 4 times. It is important to be sure to rinse the brush thoroughly after each use so that it is soft and usable the next time you need it. 
  • To ensure it dries completely, wait a full 24 hours before beginning the process of cooking down the breast milk.
  • Be sure you have about 15 minutes of no interruptions with this step! Grab a small pot, put over low/medium heat, dump your breast milk and one vile of the vinegar smelling fluid into the pot. Each vile is color coated and she instructs on which to pour first in the actual directions. To me, they both smell exactly the same. I imagine adding them a separate times effects the chemical/dehydration process that's needed to preserve the milk.
  • Bring to a boil and then add the other vile of fluid. Gently stir continuously and slowly once it has the appearance of sweetened condensed milk. 
  • In the instructions, she says to wait until it has the texture of clay and mentions rolling it between your fingers into a ball to be able to insert it and mold it into your locket. I gently guided the mixture onto a napkin and spooned it into my locket with the tiny spatula she provided while it was slightly thicker than sweetened condensed milk, before it ever got thick enough to roll in my hands like clay. I'm only telling you this so that you do not worry over the end result if things are not going verbatim to the instructions! :)
  • Get your milk into your locket soon! There is NO time to waste! 
  • Smooth it over as best as you can with your little spatula, being sure to come back every now and then to smooth it over some more. When it was getting dry and starting to have tiny cracks, I simply ran hot water over the spatula and smoothed it back out again. 
  • I spent an entire day slowly molding and perfecting the shape of mine, feeling my attachment to it growing stronger as the hours went on. It looked different and better every time I came back to it! { don't worry if it looks a bit yellow; it will eventually turn more of an off-white }
  • Wait 48 hours before this next step to be sure your milk is completely dry. If not, your milk could go rancid and your entire project could be ruined.  :'
  • Dip your brush into the glaze and evenly coat the dried milk, not being shy about giving another light coat to the areas of the locket immediately surrounding the milk. 
  • Repeat this step every couple of hours, 2 or 3 or 4 times if you'd like! 
  • I coated mine 3 times one day and 2 more times the next day, and then waited a full 48 hours before messing with it to be sure it dried completely. 
  • Be sure your locket is secure, on a flat, safe surface for drying and remains open.
  • THE BEST PART:  Anxiously running to your new little piece of sentiment to be greeted by a beautiful pearl-like appearance that only you could make. Only YOU! Your body made the milk, you lovingly prepared the locket and ingredients, and carefully molded and glazed your own little priceless treasure that will forever be close to your heart. 

I'm in LOVE with my locket and know that as the years pass, I will be able to hold my locket and be thankful for the gift I gave myself that allows me to hold on to a time with my son that flies by in the blink of a eye. 

And you should do the same. You'll be glad you did.

Modern Hippie Momma highly recommends