Hold Me Close Nursing Cover and Infinity Scarf

*I was given the products mentioned in this post for free in exchange for a review on my blog.   As always, all opinions are 100% honest and my own!

Back when I was coordinating all the the Etsy vendors for my Big Baby Giveaway, I stumbled upon Hold Me Close Nursing Etsy shop.  Sondra makes infinity scarves that double as nursing covers…I was tickled to be able to include one in my April giveaway AND also review one for you now!

She’s got a zillion different colors, in solids, prints and chevrons.  The fabric is long, so there is more than enough to cover you and baby!  For a quick video on how the scarf works, check out the Hold Me Close Website.

Most recently, I took the scarf that Sondra gave me, to Montreat.  It was perfect since the mountain air was a bit cooler than what I was used to.  And for the church services at the retreat, I felt like I needed a bit more coverage over my tank top.  I was able to be stylish, while still practical and discreet while nursing.

Sorry for the selfie in the hotel room, but it was all I could do!  My scarf is the mint chevron, but this model does a much better job of showing you how the scarf works!

The fabric is a stretchy jersey knit, which is a little heavy for the heat of summer, but perfect for fall, winter and spring!  And the colors are bright and cheery (and lots of them coordinate with local teams….hello football season!).  And if you are like me, and like your scarves to be a bit longer, you may want to consider the Extra Long scarves.  And Sondra even has little scarves for your mini-me!

This is a great gift for the new mom {or new Big Sister!} in your life!  Get a jump start on your holiday shopping at the Hold Me Close Etsy Shop with 20% off with the code PIGTAILS20 {until August 27th!}!

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Five Years of of First Days

Yesterday was the first day of school for Jayna.  She started kindergarten this year, at “Big School.”  Also known as the local Elementary school….but we’ve been calling it “Big School” for years now to differentiate it from the preschool she went to for four years.

2010-2011 School Year {18 month class}

She started preschool when she was only 18 months old!  Crazy, I know!  But at the time, we didn’t have many stay-at-home mom friends with kids the same age…so it was more for the socialization aspect than anything.  So she started her school “career” in Ms. Leigh’s class {who is Millie’s teacher this year too!}.

2011-2012 School Year {2 year old class}

Throughout her four years in preschool, she kind of stayed with the same {Tuesday/Thursday} group of friends, until last year…as all of the kids went four days a week.  Needless to say she’s pretty well socialized at this point! =)

2013-2014 School Year {4 year old class}

So four years, four classes, and 8 teachers later….here we are in public school.  Kindergarten.

I thought I’d have more sappy emotion yesterday, dropping my first born off for her first day of school.  But as we were riding to school {we carpooled with neighborhood friends}, I started thinking that although this is a big milestone for her, she’s really a pro at this.  She’s been in school for four years now.  We had already met her teachers, seen her classroom, and established that she had no fewer than three friends that she already knew in her class.  In fact, when we went to “Meet the Teacher,”  she walked right up to her teacher and gave her a huge hug…sight unseen.  Needless to say, she was prepared for school.

First Day of School

So we did all the obligatory photos with friends, in front of the school, and holding her Kindergarten sign.  And when she got to her classroom, she gave me a hug and walked away.  No tears. On either side.

I skipped the “Boo-Hoo Breakfast” that the school puts on for all the teary-eyed moms, and headed home to spend some quality time with my middle child, who proceeded to cry the rest of the morning.  Ironic, huh?

Did you cry when your kid went to kindergarten?

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{From the Archives} School Lunch Ideas

This is an oldie, but goodie!  My school lunch ideas round-up has been one of my most popular posts ever!  So I thought I’d repost it for you with a couple of new ideas at the bottom too!

AND…Don’t forger that I have a giveaway going this week for some Jamberry Nails!     Click here to enter!

It’s that time again!  School starts next week, and this year I’ll need lunches for two kids!   So twice a week for Millie, and 5 days a week for Jayna, I have to come up with fresh, healthy, and portable food to eat.  And their routine lunch of peanut butter and jelly, heated up leftovers, a bunch of grapes, and a fruit snack won’t work at school.  And yes, they really does eat all of that!  And to top it off, I’m just not that creative {or a morning person}….so I can’t be one of these moms.

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

 Source

So I’ve been scouring the internet {aka Pinterest} for some easy, make ahead meals.  Preferably ones I can maybe freeze too.  Here’s what I came up with:

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

I love the idea of smoothies.  Healthy AND yummy.  But they are kind of a pain to make every morning…..but, if I make several and freeze them, by the time Jayna’s lunchtime rolls around, they shold be nice and thawed in her lunchbox!  This site has a bunch of different flavor ideas.

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Meet the Dubiens

And I found a bunch of cute ideas of muffin-tin lunches.  Although the kids won’t have access to a microwave, I’m hoping if I heat them up and wrap them in foil, they’ll stay pretty warm.

Little Potpies stocked with veggies and meat and topped with Bisquick!

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Betty Crocker

Don’t you just love the tiny pepperoni?

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Really From Pinterest

Here’s one I’ve actually made before.  The personalized mac and cheese bites are definitely a crowd pleaser!

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Bites Recipe - A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Palmettos and Pigtails

And the next two are from my friend Jaima….she has tons of great freezer and toddler recipes on her site.

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

 Ring Around the Rosies

And the seven layer dip that we bring to um, every single party? What if I just make them in little individual Tupperware instead?

A round up of peanut-free make ahead school lunch ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

The Girl Who Ate Everything 

I also had a few of my own ideas too! {gasp!}

  • I make these little cream cheese pinwheels for parties using tortillas, cream cheese and dry ranch dressing….I’m thinking of doing those again, but adding more veggies (like peppers, broccoli, carrot strips,etc.) inside before rolling them up and slicing them.
  • We routinely make stuffed crescent rolls for dinner and it has become a favorite quick dinner.  We’ve done pesto, mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes….cheddar, apples and onion vinagrette….and of course string cheese, pizza sauce and pepperoni (I’m sure you can find that on pinterest!!).  What about ham and cheese?  Or bacon and eggs inside?  Super portable and freezer-friendly!
  • I also thought about making little burrito bowls.  Taco meat, cheese and salsa in a Tupperware in the freezer.  Thaw it out and top with sour cream for the lunchbox? Hmmmm…..

I also plan on stocking up on and pre-washing, cutting and bagging various fruit, veggies, cheese cubes, dried fruit and crackers.

How about you?  Got any ideas for me?  Leave me a comment!

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Jamberry Nail Wraps Giveaway

*I was given the products mentioned in this post for free in exchange for a review on my blog.   As always, all opinions are 100% honest and my own!

Be sure to read all the way to the bottom, as I have a sweet Jamberry Nail Wraps $25 Giveaway for you!

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

A couple of weeks ago, Jayna and I attended a Mommy and Me Princess Party hosted by Jamberry Nails.  My good friend Natalie recently started selling the nail wraps and hosting parties.  Jamberry Nail Wraps started in 2010 by three sisters who were tired of paying for expensive manis and pedis, just to have them wear off or chip in a few days.  And so Jamberry Nail Wraps was born!

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

I am the first to admit that I am not really a painted nail kind of person.  Like the sisters, I feel like every time I attempt to paint my fingernails, it chips within minutes of drying!  However… I have some UGLY toes, and so they are never without nail polish!  So I was happy to have some fun designs for my little piggies, and was eager to see how long the wraps lasted on my busy fingers.

First of all, the Jamberry Mommy and Me Princess Party was adorable.  The little girls all dressed like their favorite princesses while playing games and getting their nails “did” by their mommas.

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

Jayna was ecstatic to have an excuse to wear her Elsa dress “out and about.”  And this party happened to be the same evening as my Bi-Lo Kuddles Launch, so Jayna still had her Frozen face paint on too!

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

And let me tell you, I am so glad that I actually went to the party…because as simple as they are, there are instructions to the nail wraps in order to get them to last longer.  As you can see from the first photo in this post, each nail wrap is an oblong wrap, that is temporarily fixed to a piece of clear plastic {and in the photo, taped to a pink piece of paper}.  One sheet of wraps have several widths on them, so you can always find one that is the appropriate width to each of your nails.

So everyone chose their favorite design of wrap…I chose mustaches! =)  After choosing the appropriate width of wrap for each nail, you cut it in half…one half for each hand {you can see them on the table in the photo below}.

But first, use a little nail polish remover or alcohol wipe to clean all the dirt and oils off of your nails.

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

Then peel one of your wrap halves off of the plastic, and heat it up with a hair dryer  for about 3 seconds, until it is floppy.  Then carefully adhere it to your nail, making sure that it does not touch your cuticles.  The rounded part goes up against your cuticle, and the straight cut part will slightly hang over the edge of your nail {you can see this in the photo below}.

Then, use the hair drier on your nail again, pushing down on the wrap to secure it to your nail.

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

Natalie was a genius at the party, knowing that the hair driers might be a little too hot for the little girls…she also had hand warmers and socks filled with rice {waiting in the crock pot} ready to apply to the little ones’  nails.

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

The excess wrap should be hanging over the end of your nail.  Take a nail file and, with a downward motion only, file over the wrap to sever it…then the extra will just peel off.

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

Then I heated the nail up one more time, making sure all of the edges are secure.  And voila! Done!  It took me a little while at the party to get the hang of it, but after doing a few nails, it was easy and fast to apply.

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

I chose to only use the wraps on my thumbs, and just paint the rest of my fingers…so I could compare the wear and tear. Sure enough, the painted nails were chipped and worn within days…and the wrap lasted almost two weeks!  And that included pool time, dirty diapers, and opening coke cans!  Not too shabby! =)

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

However, Jayna’s nails did not last as long.  I keep hers pretty short in general, so she won’t be tempted to bite her nails. But in this case, I think it was to our detriment.  I ordered some of the Junior Nail Wraps for the girls {Berries and Gingham}, and those only lasted a few days.  Buuuut….I think it was because Millie’s nails were so itsy bits {less to adhere to}, and she picked at them constantly.  Jayna’s lasted a bit longer, and I think they would have been fine had the nails been a little longer, so the wrap could fold over the edge.

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

To remove, Natalie recommends a dental floss stick dipped in coconut oil, and slowly work the floss back and forth under the wrap until the whole thing slides off.  Soaking the wrapped nail in polish remover will also help.

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

But overall, we loved them!  The sheets have enough wraps for us to enjoy several uses, and the girls’ Mini Wraps had two different designs as well.  They’ve proved to be the perfect activity for rainy or “bored” days this summer!

Jamberry Nail Wraps Princess Party and Giveaway! Palmettos and Pigtails

Be sure to enter the giveaway below to win a $25 gift certificate* to Jamberry Nail Wraps!

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*Gift certificate must be used on an order from Natalie’s site, http://dixon.jamberrynails.net rel=”nofollow”

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{Guest Post} A Very Little Bookstore

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Shara in person, and I connected with her instantly. I think partly I was a little star struck by her. She seemed to so easily manage her three children, and I’m honestly as terrified at the idea of baby number three as I am excited. I think I spent that first encounter begging her for tips and taking super detailed notes. :)  I’m so happy she asked me to join her today on the blog. I enjoy reading Palmettos and Pigtails, checking out her amazing craft ideas, and pinning her meal planning posts (don’t miss the recent freezer meals). And, I especially love her posts on where to go with children, whether it’s Disney World or closer to home at the Children’s Museum.

Lately, I’ve written a few posts about loving the place we live, which, to be fair, is not hard to do when you live in Charleston. So today, I thought we’d venture a little farther out of town, to quaint, downtown Summerville. On picturesque Main Street sits one of my own favorite places to go with my boys, and I’d love to share it with you.

But first, indulge me in a little reminiscing. I’m the sappy, sentimental type.

My mom read to my brother and me when we were younger, and she really encouraged us to read too. She would let me check out piles of books at the library, and she took me to the bookstore, no matter how tight our budget must have been, especially back then. I can even remember visiting a bookstore as early as 3, maybe 4. We lived in Turkey at the time, and were only there for a couple of years, so I can be confident that I was that young. I remember that this bookstore carried the Mr. Men & Little Miss books, a personal favorite. And, I loved Dr. Seuss at this age.

Naturally, reading is one of my most favorite things to do with my own boys. I want them to remember reading with me, just as I remember doing with my own mother.

So, just as my mother did with my brother and me, I take my boys to the library and let them check out the 25 book maximum. I try to select a few books while we’re here, but for the most part, I let Harrison pick the books that he wants. Sometimes, that means that I have to settle for a series of character books I’d rather pass on, but lately, it’s meant that I’m learning new things about dinosaurs. Did you know that the Brontosaurus is now called Apatosaurus? Or, that there is no such thing as a Pterodactyl? There is a Pterodactylus, but technically, it’s a Pterosaur and not a Dinosaur.

And, again as my mom did with us, we go to the bookstore. Here, I do make an effort to guide their selections, but I always let Harrison make the final decision. I’ve enjoyed slowly curating the boys’ library. Right now, we’re in a wonderful stage of picture story books, of books I loved from Reading Rainbow and books I remember my own librarian reading to us from her rocking chair each week in the school library. In the past, and out of convenience, I’ve picked up books at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon. More recently, though, I’ve discovered a little gem in an independent children’s bookshop.

Last week, Harrison and I made a trip to A Very Little Bookstore. We’ve been several times before, but always with baby Whitt, who has more fun pulling books off the shelf and making a general ruckus than he enjoys reading. I think it’s important to take my little one, but I wanted some one on one time with my oldest.

The Maypop Guest Posts about A Very Little Bookstore over at Palmettos and Pigtails

The owner, Natalie, is  passionate about children’s literature and about children, and her enthusiasm is apparent in every aspect of her shop. She’s incredibly knowledgeable about the various authors and illustrators. So, her recommendations are always exactly what we need. She doesn’t recommend books in a “one size fits all” manner either, meaning she doesn’t simply recommend her own favorites and assume your child will love them too. She gets to know you and your child, and then she suggests books you’ll like. For example, her suggestions for my little boy are always very different than her recommendations for his bestie, Farris, even though they are both four. The more often you venture in, the better her recommendations. And, she hosts a children’s book club for older children. So cool, right?

The Maypop Guest Posts about A Very Little Bookstore over at Palmettos and Pigtails

Not only is Natalie wonderful, but the shop itself is a special, magical place too. The walls are lined with individual and unique book shelves that look collected, rather than matching book cases you typically see in chain stores or libraries. And, her own children are often at the shop, which I love. It feels cozy and homey and very family-friendly. It’s the kind of place one can comfortably grab a book of the shelf and read on the carpet or at one of the low kids tables. It’s truly a place a mom can feel comfortable letting her kids be kids and dive into books (sometimes literally). And, that’s what makes this store so unique. It is truly a children’s bookstore – designed for children.

The Maypop Guest Posts about A Very Little Bookstore over at Palmettos and Pigtails

This store may be little, but it is the gateway to a big, wide world. If you’re local to Summerville and haven’t been, it’s a must. And, if you’re in Charleston or Mt. Pleasant, it’s worth the drive. I promise. While you’re downtown, I suggest you finish your bookish afternoon off with a root beer float from Guerin’s Pharmacy or a hot cocoa from Single Smile Cafe.

The Maypop Guest Posts about A Very Little Bookstore over at Palmettos and Pigtails

The Maypop Guest Posts about A Very Little Bookstore over at Palmettos and Pigtails

Photos by Gray Benko at the quaint A Very Little Bookstore (with the exception of the last two).

Thanks for having me, and come visit me over at The Maypop!

The Maypop Guest Posts about A Very Little Bookstore over at Palmettos and Pigtails

{Baby Files} Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal

Well, the long awaited, much anticipated, nursery reveal is here!  The nursery is finally finished, and I couldn’t be happier with it.  It’s one of the few rooms in our house that is actually painted and the molding and wainscoting done.

You may remember my vintage baby boy nursery idea board?  I wanted kind of a vintage feel in the nursery, with colors revolving around an antique quilt that I have.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

We started out by clearing out Jayna’s stuff from the room {the girls share a room now, and LOVE it!}, and Dave painted a light griege on the walls and added the board and batten all the way around the room.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

I especially love how he handled the multiple outlets and switches that happened to land on some of the boards.  We found this awesome tutorial on Sawdust Girl on how to build around the outlets.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

Dave and I ended up using the quilt as the bedskirt on the crib.  That way it pulled all of the colors together, was a central focus in the room, but was still protected from wear and tear.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

We went for a navy, breathable bumper and the sheets are Sadie & Scout.  We kind of stumbled upon the sheets on an aisle endcap at Babies R Us, and fell in love with the hand-sketched map.  The adorable and oh-so-soft taggie blankie was a baby shower gift from my good friend Emily, from Southern Paisley.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

We have the crib centered in the room, between the two windows, on which we got custom navy black-out shades from blinds{dot}com.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

To the left of the crib, as soon as you walk in the room, is the changing table.  We found an antique Coke crate to serve as a supply holder {we sanded down the insides, and lined it with cardboard to prevent splinters!}.  The changing pad cover is also a Sadie & Scout.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

We took the front off of the dresser top to accommodate the Coke crate, so the liner you see is plain old rubber matting to help the changing pad stay in place.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

Dave built the shelf out of pallet wood.  We distressed it to match the rustic feel of the room, and painted it the same color red as in the quilt.  We keep Lincoln’s burp cloths, a few books and an antique toy tractor that we found, on the shelves.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

On the other side of the room, to the right of the crib, is my nursing corner.  A pale yellow gingham chair coupled with a nightstand.  You may recognize the sock monkey and Raggedy Andy doll from my diaper cake at my baby shower.  The lamp base is from Babies R Us, and the burlap shade is from World Market.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

We found a clock that fits perfectly on the little shelf, so the glow is a perfect nightlight…and it has a built-in sound machine too! We keep a crate full of baby toys in the bottom of the nightstand.

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

On the other side of the chair is a huge armoire that we use for clothes, books, toys and spare diapers.  And although it’s the largest item in the room, I still forgot to take a picture of it!!

We are absolutely thrilled at how the nursery turned out.   It’s just the perfect amount of baby boy, yet he’ll be able to grow up in there without us having to switch out decor every couple of years.

And clearly, Lincoln feels very comfortable there too!

Vintage Baby Boy Nursery Reveal - Palmettos and Pigtails

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August 2014 Cleaning Calendar

It’s hard to believe that the summer is already coming to a close.  I was thinking that since we had a newborn, we would be taking it easy this summer…not exactly the case!  Between weekend trips to Florida and North Carolina, Vacation Bible School, and all sorts of action and giveaways on the blog, we’ve been very busy!

But now, with the school year starting soon and life settling back into a routine, it’s time to clean again.  I’m not gonna lie, I kinda fell off the bandwagon this summer.  So hopefully my August 2014 Cleaning Calendar will get me {and you!} back on track!  Happy cleaning!

August 2014 Cleaning Calendar

Click here to download and print your own copy!

And don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win free baby supplies from Kuddles and Bi-Lo!

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Kuddles Baby Products Giveaway!

*I was compensated and given the products mentioned in this post for free in exchange for a review on my blog.   As always, all opinions are 100% honest and my own!

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that I’ve partnered with Bi-Lo to help launch their new baby line of products, called “Kuddles.”  I wanted to take today to tell you a little bit about my experiences trying out the products, and then give you a chance to WIN a prize pack of my FAVORITE items!

Kuddles Baby Products Giveaway from Bi-Lo and Palmettos and Pigtails

First of all, I just have to say that I was so impressed with the quantity of items offered in the Kuddles baby line.  They had tons of products to choose from, but also variations of each product as well….like various scented wipes, flavors of the baby and toddler food, and different types of formula.  So it’s quite nice to be able to shop for all of your baby AND toddler needs, all in one place!

Kuddles Baby Products Giveaway from Bi-Lo and Palmettos and Pigtails

The first set of items I tried with Lincoln, were the diapering products.  I bought Size 1 diapers, but found that they ran a tad smaller than I was used to {8-12lbs}…and Lincoln is a chunker, and kind of in-between size 1 and 2 diapers in general.  So I had to use size 2 for overnights, in order to hold the “excess.”  The size 1 was great for during the day though.  And Lincoln has terrible diaper rash, so I really appreciated that the diapers are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.

One of my favorite items was the scented baby wipes.  I tried the original fragrance-free, and then the shea butter, berry, and green tea & cucumber.  I loved the refreshing berry and green tea scents.  The wipes were just the right size, and weren’t “slimy” like some of the national brands I’ve used…so they were good at getting all of the “stuff” off of Lincoln, with one swipe!

Kuddles Baby Products Giveaway from Bi-Lo and Palmettos and Pigtails

During and after bath-time, I used the shampoo, baby oil and baby lotion.  All three of which I really liked.  They are much more affordable than some of the national brands, but were just as good…and smelled great too!

Next, we tried the feeding products.  I breast-feed, but also supplement with formula occasionally.  Lincoln has a sensitive belly and throws up a LOT, but he had no problems with the Kuddles Sensitivity or Tender varieties of formula {which can be compared to Similac and Gerber…but for way less moola!}.  I also appreciated that there is a little spot for the scoop in the lid, so you don’t have to dig around in the formula to find it.

Kuddles Baby Products Giveaway from Bi-Lo and Palmettos and Pigtails

I took some of the toddler snacks on the road to Montreat with us last week, and all four girls were obsessed!  They especially love the yogurt bites and the puffs, and Betsy loved them too, since 1 year old RoRo could eat them easily as well.  They proved to be great travel snacks!  And since we packed lunches each day while we were there, I packed the apple-flavor baby food {with it’s resealable plastic lid} as applesauce for the girls…and they loved it {and had no idea they were eating baby food!}

Kuddles Baby Products Giveaway from Bi-Lo and Palmettos and Pigtails

There is no need to spend more money to get the quality baby essentials you need. With Bi-Lo’s new line of Kuddles baby products, you get national brand quality at everyday low prices, all in one convenient store.  And now, I’d love to give you a chance to win your own prizepack of my personal FAVORITE Kuddles products!

Included in my giveaway is:

  • Kuddles diapers (Large pack of selected size)
  • Kuddles Formula (Large container)
  • Kuddles Scented Wipes (Large pack)
  • Kuddles Baby Lotion
  • Kuddles Munchers
  • Kuddles Yogurt Bites

And I’ve made it super easy to enter!  Remember, if you have already done one of the items below, to click on “+1″ to get a free entry!  The contest ends on Friday…spread the word!

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Good Luck!

 

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{From the Archives} Montreat 2012 Trip

It’s that time of year again!  After taking a year off {to have a baby!}, Bets and Jay are off to the mountains of Montreat, NC again!  And, call me crazy…but I’m taking all three kids up to meet them…by myself.  So say a prayer, cross some fingers, and wish me luck!  I’ll be back next week!

Well, we are finally back from Montreat, NC and slowly getting back into the swing of things.  It’s amazing how even four days away can mess with your household!  Unlike last year, it was a beautiful week in the mountains….not too hot and no rain!  We shared my last post with the scrapbook photos with the high schoolers that Bets and Jay brought this year, and they loved it!  They were completely amazed at how I used a disposable camera (no retaking those blurry shots!), and at how cool the three of us were back then! =)

So, to recap…Bets and Jay are our best friends from Maryland.  They are our kids’ godparents, and their little Lulabelle is like our third daughter.  Betsy, Jay and I grew up together in our church, which they are still members of, and now the youth counselors at.  So they are continuing our church’s tradition of taking the youth group to Montreat each summer.  And since Montreat is just a couple of hours from us, the girls and I try to meet up with them for a couple of days while they are up there.  While the youth group stays in the lovely dorms at the college, the girls and I prefer the local Marriott!

And although Jayna did sleep in her own bed at night, this is what I awoke to each morning!

And since this trip was a first for Millie….I decided to bring and break in my brand new stroller.  Can I just say that it is awesome!  It has like 12 different sitting combinations, but the one we used was Millie in the front seat, Lulabelle sitting on the jump seat, and Jayna standing.

And Betsy pushing. Did I mention we were in the mountains?

We finally gave up on pushing all three girls, and put Millie in the front pack and made the big girls walk!

Jayna and Lulabelle were so stinkin’ cute together.  Jayna was all about playing the cool big sister….and although she is great with Amelia, I think she truely enjoyed manipulating helping Lulabelle…from buckling seatbelts for her, to convincing her that she liked pickles, to teaching her how to hula hoop!

And every year, the scenery just takes my breath away.  Lake Susan is like glass, framed by a baby blue sky and mountains.

Jay and some of the boys noticed huge fish sitting on some of the rocks at the bottom of the lake….tadpoles?  Man, they are gonna be some HUGE frogs!

But even the small details had me appreciating the scenery.  All of the buildings are stone, and they have gorgeous hydrangias around every corner.

I even caught this little inchworm hanging {literally} by a thread!

While the big kids were in small groups, we took the opportunity to spend some time with Betsy and Jay.  There is this cute little park at Montreat that has great playground equipment, and then several creeks running through for the kids to play in.

And although they tried hard not to get wet…both girls ended up soaking wet and laughing!

It’s a good thing Jay was willing to get wet too…that mountain water was COLD!

Now we just need to get Dave up here!!

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13 Freezer Meals {with a free printable!}

Since having Lincoln back in May, we have been on the go…non-stop.  Between figuring out life as a family of five, summer camps and vacations, doctors appointments and work commitments, cooking dinner has not even been on my radar.

Luckily, we have a FANTASTIC support system of friends between our neighborhood and church, who graciously provided us meals every other day for about six weeks straight.  Like, hot meals.  Hot meals that my kids would eat.  Hot meals that made great leftovers too.  Hot meals that usually came in disposable containers {aka no clean-up either!}.

Needless to say, we’ve been blessed {and quite spoiled!}

But now we’re back to the real world.  We’re settling in and the kids are actually expecting me to start cooking again.  Too bad I’m not really ready yet!  So, it was a good thing that I prepared for this day ahead of time!  About a week before Lincoln was due, I scoured Pinterest for yummy freezer meals that I could make in bulk, ahead of time.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

I chose 13 of my favorites, and then mapped out how I could prep, and then freeze, all of them for after Lincoln arrived.  Here’s a list of the recipes I made, and where I got them from:

1. Healthy Mama Barbecue Chicken    (www.mamaandbabylove.com)
2. Stephanie’s Goulash (www.mamaandbabylove.com)
3. Enchilada Casserole (www.joyfulmommaskitchen.com)
4. Chicken Curry  (www.mamaandbabylove.com)
5. Quesadilla Casserole (www.joyfulmommaskitchen.com)
6. Sausage & Peppers (www.bakedinthesouth.com)
7. Stromboli (http://joelandkitty.com)
8. Stuffed Shells (http://joelandkitty.com)
9. Chicken Tacos (http://joelandkitty.com)
10. BBQ Chicken and Veggies (www.allthingskatiemarie.blogspot.com)
11. Baked Oatmeal Cupcakes to Go (http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com)
12. Café Rio Chicken (www.mandysrecipebox.blogspot.com)
13. Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken (www.ringaroundtherosies.net)

Here’s an example of what the spreadsheet I made looks like.  It lists the meal number and name {and source}, the ingredients and prep work for each ingredient, how to assemble and store the completed meal, and then what you’ll need to do to thaw and cook.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

It took Dave and me about 4 hours total to prep and assemble everything…which was well worth it so we could have more time to stare at this cute little guy now!

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

 The first worksheet you’ll need is the one labeled “Steps.”  This is an overview of everything you’ll need to do to prepare all of the meals.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

Next is a more detailed list of the most efficient order of prepping all the food, and what meal {and bag} they go with.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

I highly recommend labeling all of your ziplock bags with your meal number, name, thawing directions, cooking directions, and garnish/side dish list.  Then line up your bags in order and fill them as you prep!

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

And for Number 15 on the “Steps” worksheet, I made a list of all the other ingredients that you don’t need to prep, and which bags they will need to go into as well.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

 

For the couple of meals that aren’t slow cooker meals, I recommend getting disposable foil pans from the dollar store.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Here’s an example of the list of ingredients and storage materials you will need, listed by aisle in the grocery store {very handy to print out and take to the store with you!}:

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

Click here to download the complete freezer meal plan

And I didn’t list it on the materials list, but I stacked all of my completed bags on jelly roll pans and cookie sheets, so they would freeze flat for optimal freezer storage.

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

13 Freezer Meals and the Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making them in One Afternoon! Palmettos and Pigtails

If you’d like to download and print your own copy of the 13 meal plans and prep worksheet, click here.

We’ve only tried a handful of the meals, but so far, Meal #3 Enchilada Casserole has been our favorite!  I can’t wait to try the rest!  And if you try any of these meals, I’d love feedback {I didn’t create any of them, so I won’t take it personally!}.  And leave a comment if you have a tip or recipe alteration that you’d like to share…be sure to specify which meal # it’s for!  Thanks and enjoy!

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