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Simple Natural Living: Making Your Own Baby Food (Part 1)

When I first learned that I would be having a baby there were a lot of questions running through my mind. Okay, that's an understatement. I immediately began compiling lists of things to research, gather and prepare. That's me, Miss Over-Analyze Everything. It's an issue, I'm working on it (sooorta.) But, there was one thing that I didn't fret over, and not because it was unimportant, but because I made up my mind years ago. I already knew that I wanted to make my baby's food at home with my own two hands. 

My mother made my food, her mother made her food and my great grandmother made my grandmother's food. I couldn't possibly go the store bought route with those standards to live up to. But aside from wanting to make my predecessors proud, there were quite a few other reasons why making my own baby food just made sense.

Most baby food manufacturers use water and starch to add 'bulk' to their products. This starch is typically some sort of refined corn, wheat or rice. Refined more often than not means two things: preservatives and bleach. You see a photograph of carrots on the jar, but what you're really getting is carrots, lots of water and lots of filler. Now, there are organic options out there that avoid using fillers and preservatives and they can be found on just about any supermarket shelf these days. However, premade foods, organic or not, just don't have the same amount of nutrients as the homemade stuff. Organic store bought baby food is cooked at incredibly high temperatures in an attempt to kill off bacteria to extend it's shelf life. But, in doing so, a lot of the food's vitamins and nutrients are removed. 

When you buy something premade, you're paying for a lot more than just food. You're also paying for processing, packaging, transportation and advertising. And you better believe that the manufacturers are making a significant profit too. Making your own food is just so much more affordable. There's the initial investment of a food processor (I got mine for under $40) and some freezing trays, but the money you'll save avoiding those jars of food will quickly make up for it. I think I maybe spent $50 ($60 at most) a month feeding Lily up until she weaned at a year and a half. To see a great breakdown of the savings per ounce you can check out this chart from wholesomebabyfood. 

Buying store bought food restricts you to selecting from the ingredients that the manufacturers choose to use and how they choose to combine them. There are no such limitations when you're making the food at home. When you are the one controlling what and how your baby eats, it allows you to be more deeply involved in their nutritional needs and actually makes feeding more fun. And the best part is that you can feed your baby the same thing that everyone else in the family is eating, just in pureed form. I truly believe that doing this makes a huge difference during those picky-eater toddler years. 

Over the next few weeks I'll share a few really easy how-to-make-your-own-baby-food posts! If you have any specific questions you'd like answered, please feel free to leave them in a comment below. Making your own food may not be for everyone and I'm certainly not suggesting that you should never buy store bought. I definitely grabbed some organic 
pouches and snacks on the go on more than one occasion. But, I hope you'll give it a try! 

Author & Illustrations by Emily De Nicolais exclusively for ohdeardrea. To see more of Emily's work, click HERE
Visit Emily's shop HERE!

From drea:
I don't think I ever bought even a jar of babyfood--- like Em said, it's pretty easy to just take food you eat and modify it. I did however buy "squishy packs" from time to time as a special treat--- and a lot of times (not all the time) marlowe didn't even like them--- so it felt like a big expensive waste. I feel like this will come up later, but you can fill your own reusable squishy packs at home too. Oh! And making your own at home saves waste! Less packaging, less garbage, better for the earth! And as a total side note: speaking of baby food and feeding: THESE feeding tethers were AMAZING for us. PS. No, neither one of us is pregnant or having a baby ;) 

Brighten Up Your Life: Colorful Accessories to Make Life Fun!

I feel like I'm slowly starting to come into the tech world--- oh so very slowly. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've had a laptop and iPhone for years-- but I'm actually starting to become aware of phone updates, general tech updates, and (oh SO slowly) learning iCloud haha. Admittedly, I do use my computer a whole lot, but I'm not on my phone almost ever--- and I'm currently trying to figure out the purpose of an iPad for my life (besides for playing plant vs. zombies)--- but my favorite part of all of it? Organizing it all and spicing it up with COLOR (duh). Adding color and personalization to things adds a whole other level of fun to just about anything and if you don't wholeheartedly agree with that statement--- then I don't know man, I just don't know! I love it. 

So, while I'm figuring out iCloud and slowly, nervously preparing for my wisdom teeth extractions, I figured I could put together some colorful iPhone 6 cases for those of you who were adventurous to make the upgrade. And for those of you who are still in iPhone 4 or 5 land (hi, me!), don't worry, zazzle offers options for you too. And if they're thousands of colorful case options aren't enough, you can do what I do: spend hours procrastinating life and designing your own ;) hooray! 

sustainably harvested natural wood bumper cases:
one  //  two // three 

hard durable cases:
four // five

Oh and in case you guys wanted my dog on an iPhone case, you can buy that one HERE, haha. Or Marlowes fruit drawing or even my color wall. Hooray! &&check out all iPhone 6 cases HERE.  Shop and customize all of zazzle HERE :) Oh and how fun is this pop-up shop? THIS case is AMAZING.

ps. Thanks SO much for all the awesome mouth tips you guys emailed (or commented) my way.  I'm still nervous as can be-- I have major paranoia when it comes to all things dental--- but still, aftercare advice is VERY much appreciated!

Learning How To Sunday

Over a year ago, I shared our (lack of) family and weekend time struggles quite a bit on this space. Luckily, over the past year, we've been slowly gaining, for the first time ever, some proper family time together (you've probably noticed!). Unfortunately in the waves of our busy schedules, we sort of lost our ability to 'just chill' somewhere along the way. Luckily, I think we're finally getting that back. (One can dream!) I'm making a real effort to slow the F down--- and well, I think I'm doing pretty good, this month anyway ;)  But we'll see how the next few weeks go before I confirm or deny that I've been able to actually to keep up with a slower pace.

Long before Marlowe, when there was only Alex and I (and Jerry), our days between work (for me) and school (for Alex) consisted mostly of sleeping, eating, farms and markets. Almost like now I guess, but with a lot less sleeping and a lot more work ;) I walked to work, opened shop, closed it down, and returned back for lazy afternoons/evenings. And on the days of no work, I spent my mornings wondering what markets I should actually get up for. I know--- a truly awful and difficult life, right? ;)  Laying in bed for an extra few hours or even an extra few moments feels strange now and mostly impossible (especially now that we've thrown a puppy in the mix!). In general, we don't have sundays or any weekends together--- and this reality, well, it makes things a bit tricky. It makes the time Alex has off different from our friends or other families. And without friends to distract us during our time off we often end up just busting our butts around here for another day. On the rare occasion that Alex does have a weekend off, well we're learning how to chill out again. It'll be decades before we're back to possible endless hours of sleep or relaxation--- but even these few and far between slow days make me remember and look back on the quiet time we once had. I appreciated it, but didn't at the same time, if that makes any sense. Admittedly, we spent most of our time in bed and the rest of our life revolved around food in some way or another. I'd like to share photos at some point in time of our previous, early together lives--- we look *awesome* ha. But for now, you can imagine me with mostly the same clothes I'm in now--- and with a giant top knot on my head and giant rayban prescription lens on my face (bangs for part of it too!) with lots of fruit and vegetables in my hand---- and a dog in one arm. So basically, not much has changed, I just lost the glasses and gained an adorable, fruit hungry child. And Alex? Well, he had more of an afro ;) Flashback friday, anyone? Looks aside (actually looks too) I am so very happy to be where we are now, and while, I don't necessarily want to go back to those days, I do from time to time miss our easy, sleep filled miami life and hope to find more ways to incorporate that ease into our months and years.

We had a really incredible sunday last week---the first sunday we both had off together with absolutely no set plans and responsibilities in a long time. We headed down to Miami to visit our friends at Little River Cooperative (you can see *some of my favorite* farm photos HERE) and then headed to my friend Claudia's house--- where we day drank in the sun while the girls entertained themselves with tadpoles, art, and dress up. Later that evening we headed off to our friend Steph's for her daughters birthday party before all of us crashed hard at home. It was a perfectly-not-overwhelmingly packed with fun day. And while sundays together might be a norm for some people--- for us, well, were learning how to sunday once again. But if last sunday (and this one too) is any indication of how our future with Marlowe can be (less sleep and all) when we make more time to turn off our overwork mode, then I think we're going to be okay. I appreciated it before parenthood and I sure as hell appreciate it turning off now.

well worth posting: an alex selfie ;)

The week following that last sunday was perfect--- I exceeded my own expectations in keeping up with my "this will be my weekend week!"--- so forgive me for my jumbled thoughts and my sentences that make less sense than normal ;)  I'm extra foggy this evening--- and I'm happy to blame it on a very good, very slow paced, not over overworked week. 

Happy sunday evening and happy new week, friends. Hope it's a good one! 

Marlowe & The Puppy

You know, my four year old is an interesting little human. I don't know much about kids or babies, but she's always seemed a bit different than other kids we've met. She a smart kid, she's a sweet kid, and with the exception of this slightly more challenging past week, she's a really, really good kid. But like anyone else, she has her quirks.

So, about a year or so ago (maybe less) I really started thinking that it would be nice to get a miniature pig in this home. I still think so actually, but the idea is on hold now (of course). We have the space and we're home most, if not almost all, the time. But Alex was a straight away 'NO' with that thought though. And my four year old (then three year old)? She was a 'no way' too. I'm not sure what child says no to a pig, but she did. About two or three months ago, I started itching for a trip to the dog shelter to look for a new dog to bring into our lives. Alex didn't turn this idea down, but his more worried self kept asking "are you sure? you're not too busy? will it be a problem?" etc etc. I was pretty sure. My kid on the other hand--- my funny little kid? Didn't want any part of it. She's very particular about things, and prefers the well known and often hates change in our home and in her space. She was very clear in her "I don't want a dog. We have a dog, Jerry." And she's right. We don't need a dog--- just like we don't need another human--- or really anything else, but sometimes it's just nice to make a little change, or this case, more like an addition. Puppies don't excite Marlowe. And for someone like myself who begged my parents, every single day, for any and every kind of pet imaginable, it's a bit hard for me to understand why a child would not want a new pet (puppy or not).
But then again, Marlowe in general, is like this. She's a very happy child, and very content with what she has. And whether it's nurture or nature, or both, I don't know--- but I do know that even though it can kind of bum me out when my kid isn't excited about a new puppy (or a new bike or new anythings), at the end of the day, it's a very good thing. She's not a jerk. She's not uncaring. She just knows that she has everything she needs to be happy.

In a way, it's been a reality check for myself. I mean, it's something I've known about myself for years, but I've never really completely understood what it would be like for someone on the outside. I like objects because they're thoughtful, not because they are new things and presents. Shiny new things don't stay shiny for long, so it's nice to have things that I really love that add to my life. And it seems as if Marlowe feels the same. I'm sure I've touched on it, but for things like Christmas and birthdays, she's typically unimpressed by a lot of presents--- or even a few really good presents, she's mostly content with what is already in her space. And with something like a pet, it is no different. 

Alex and I joke (in slight fear) that our ocd tendencies will multiply on her--- not only because it's genetically embedded in her, but also because I have intense serious wants when it comes to organization and Alex does too. Lucky for all of us, she does too-- so she gets it. A puppy for Marlowe? Meant someone to eat her toys. Someone to knock down her towers. Someone to bother her dog that she already loves SO much. Jerry isn't a dogs-dog. He's a human lover. And every time the conversation of a new dog came up, she worried for him. 

I'm not sure why I never made the drive to the shelter. Maybe it's just because each day I asked Marlowe, she said no... and I was okay with it, but still entertaining the idea. And I knew, whenever it would happen, be it that day or next year, it would be a rescue. There are so many loving dogs out there that need homes--- like Jerry, he's the perfect example. And yes, even at 7 years old, he needed a bit of training, but he's a good dog with a lot of love to give. And 7 years later, he's still got his shelter dog issues, but he's a good dog. Finding a puppy has never been on top of my list--- but when we met this little puppy-face's brother, I fell in love. And when I found out his litter of brothers and sisters were needing homes, I gave in to the puppy face idea and wanted him. I tried to show my enthusiasm with Marlowe--- but she wouldn't give. Cute puppy or not, she couldn't care less. But I cared enough (a whole lot) and wanted that dog and planned to pick him up soon. 

I called my mom to tell her the news and I told her I just didn't understand my funny little kid not wanting a puppy. And she agreed and said, it does sound funny, but it also sounds like you. None of the regular things I thought you would love or be excited for, you cared for." And it's true. That was me. I didn't want a lot of things, but the things I wanted, I really wanted. I had a deep passion for a few things in life--- just like Marlowe. She has a big love for her fair share of things, but a puppy isn't one of them. And that's okay. She'll be indifferent sometimes, it's in her nature, but she'll have a love for other things and adventures too. 

I'd like to talk about responsible puppy and pet ownership sometime in the future--- cause it is a bigger decision than it can sometimes seem. But as for us, we're a week or so into this puppy owning thing now. We're happy with our worm-filled (quickly getting better) finally de-flea-ed rescued puppy face--- even when he has bad days where my floor becomes his bathroom ;) Lots of pee, little sleep, lots of cuddles, but we're all adjusting to this change. For Alex and I, we agree, it's like the puppy has been here forever and he fits in the sometimes madness. For Jerry, our 14 year old dog-man, he's adjusting and he seems both younger and older due to the new pup. For Marlowe--- she does like him. And she sometimes asks if she can sit next to him. She's still very protective over Jerry and learning patience with her toys, but she asks to help as often as she can. It's been a good week.
Oh, and the other thing Marlowe loves to do? She loves to tell me, "I think Waylon wants to watch project runway... can we watch it together?" haha. 

Essential Oil Essentials For Everyday On Casey Leigh

Hey guys! I've shared my story about Casey Wiegand a long time ago (you can here it here)---- she's still one of the sweetest people I know and well, I'm excited to be posting over on Casey's blog today!--- writing a little bit about how to use essential oils in your everyday life. There are so many oils out there--- and they do SO many different things! I mean, it can be rather intimidating, right? So I put together a simple and straightforward post that I hope and think will be quite helpful! No crazy potions and mixtures-- no magic tricks, just straight forward ways to use them to add to your daily life :) 

Check it out: HERE
Oh and you can find her amazing essential oils site HERE and where to buy them HERE
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