Thursday, February 27, 2014

This whole week, I've felt like it was supposed to be the next day (when it was Tuesday, it felt like Wednesday and so on), so I am extra glad to see Friday tomorrow.

One fantastic part of this week was this video... as I've mentioned, Juliette is not much of a TV or movie watcher, but she does love music videos. This is a gem her daddy introduced to her -- I emerged from putting Molly to sleep one night this week, and she did her version of the choreography for me. Classic. It's been forever since I'd seen the Three Amigos, but this is funny even if you don't remember the movie. Envision a two-year-old trying to do these moves ...uh, yeah.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I may be the only one, but I've enjoyed this cold winter.

Winter has been this apt and weird parallel for this season of life we're in right now...waiting.

(If unfamiliar, you can read more about our journey of my husband's schooling here.)

We're on the month countdown to Match Day, that springy, sunny-in-my-mind, vibrant, giddy day (that maybe includes some sort of sundress, because in my mind it's warm and lovely?), where everyone opens their envelope and finds out where they'll be for residency. This winter has brought lots of evenings at home in front of a fire, dreaming and scheming with my dear husband and life partner about what waits for us after graduation.

March 21st - that date that's been on our minds for months now, is now drawing near. Right now is that weird stretch of time right before you find out big news... you can't help your own ignorance, but you know the time of Knowing is drawing near. Like in the weeks when you're pregnant but you don't know yet if it's a girl or a boy... and when you find out it's a girl (in our case), you mentally look back at your unenlightened self and think, how could I ever thought this baby was anything but a girl? (Taking it a step further--then you meet your baby, and you think about how you pictured that baby while she was in utero, and realize that your wildest imaginings, in their ignorance, fell quite short of the real thing. You do this twice.)

So we wait. Less than four weeks until we find out where we'll be living for the next three years. Just like that, we'll open the envelope, and we'll KNOW! Even if we stay here, things will change, which is exciting. Jonathan will change from student to resident (most notably from negative income to positive income). Another step of our journey completed.

Anytime in life I'm asked to wait on something, I think about one of my favorite scriptures--which never really made sense to me until I was an adult going through not only times of waiting expectantly, but also loss.

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have also been fully known" (1 Cor. 13:12, NASB).

My eyes always sting with tears whenever I read this passage, thinking of how we work so hard at living our lives in this world, which is really but a poor, dingy reflection of the glorious time that awaits us with God. (And then I think, with some longing, of all of my loved ones who have gone before me to that place where they see "face to face.")

Please don't misunderstand my serious tone with this--we've really been enjoying life despite these months of waiting/uncertainty. The sweetness of watching our girls grow, time together as a family, deepening in our friendships and learning more about the world and ourselves--it's been a good season. God has really shown kindness in removing a lot of anxiety from this last part of the process for me, for which I am very thankful.

Stay tuned!

2nd Baby : some gear we've liked this time around

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I love reading posts like this, so I'll just fling this one into the universe hoping that some of you people enjoy them too. 

For months, I've been meaning to make a list of a few things we've enjoyed with our second baby that we didn't necessarily use with our first, and Molly's fast approach to her first birthday (!!) was just the kick-in-the-pants I needed to do it.

I did a big "baby gear" post back when Juliette was 6 months old, and a lot of those same things have been favorites again this time around (Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat, BOB stroller, aden + anais swaddle blanketsDr. Brown's glass bottles  etc). We still endorse all of those items and use them on a daily basis.

But here are a few things we've enjoyed just with Molly. 

1. The lotion I just found out about a few weeks ago from my sister-in-law. They sell it at Target and it smells SO good! I love lathering Molls up after her bath and then getting her hair combed. Nothing like a freshly bathed and jammied baby.

2. Several months ago (more than several), I'd had enough of our bleak sock situation, and hauled myself to Old Navy to right things. Without doing any research, I picked up a pack of these socks, and they have turned out to be my favorites (and since then, I've noticed others on the internet saying the same thing)! Hmm, writing this reminds me that I'd like to get some more. They stay on great and feel thick. Molly will not keep shoes on her feet, so her socks act as shoes at this point. I've doubled these up on extra cold days, and they [seem to] stay on really really well.

3. Molly girl was a big spitter-upper in her early days. Epic, even. My mom picked up this pack of white bibs for me at Babies R Us, and we absolutely loved them! Great size, really strong velcro, and this may sound weird, but the plain white didn't distract from whatever cute outfit she was wearing. You know, the important things. They also washed really well.

4. These have been a sleeper (PUN INTENDED) favorite of mine! My friend Kate texted me last summer from a closeout store where she lives, asking if I wanted her to pick me up two of these Halo fleece sleepsacks they had on closeout for like $7/each. I told her of course! One of them is this color brown, which I wouldn't normally pick, but let me tell you, it is cute. It makes Molly look like my own living teddy bear, and it's my favorite to get her out of her bed in the morning wearing this little brown teddy bear suit and then snuggle. I've loved knowing Molly was warm at night this winter with the extra cold nighttime temperatures we've been having.

Mostly what I've enjoyed about the "gear" aspect of having another baby has been that you realize you really just  need less of it. As long as you have diapers, a way to feed them (Mommy, in this case) and clean clothes, you are really good to go. 

Any baby items that you particularly evangelize not make any of these lists?

Chicken Soup (without noodles)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We've been running into some resistance dressing our toddler lately. Juliette has developed her own opinions about clothing and accessories and they are strong. One thing we do to try to alleviate some of this is to pick out clothes the night before, to help her mentally prepare.

The other night, we picked out some purple leggings together, and when I asked if she wanted to wear a particular shirt with it, she replied, "yeah, that would be cool."

Oh me. A teenager of a toddler.

In other news, Jonathan and I are giving up bread this week (and other similar carbs like rice, pasta, corn, etc). I am not the best at meal-planning (as I've mentioned 23902394 times), so when I was thinking of a dinner to start the week off, this is what came to mind since I just made it week before last.

The first time I didn't use kale (because we were out), but tonight when I made it again, I added kale since we had some on hand for a little boost, and it was a wonderful addition.

I found this recipe from one of my favorite blogs of late, Lesley Graham. In it, she uses a rotisserie chicken for a bit of a shortcut (yea, shortcuts!). Queen of shortcuts, allow me to take this one a step further.

Over the holidays, my sisters-in-law and I were making ourselves dinner of leftovers one night--leftovers including some barbecue pulled chicken from my favorite local barbecue restaurant, Central BBQ. We ended up making a fantastic salad with the chicken, some leftover "Texas caviar," fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, I can't remember what else. But anyway, that experience gave me the idea of just ordering just a pound of Central's pulled chicken to use in a regular recipe at home. This soup is the perfect occasion for such an order.

This recipe is easy to put together after I get home from work, though I can't get it ready in time for Molly (I only have about 20-25 minutes), though she did like munching on some of the chicken. Jules enjoyed a little bowl after their bath (full disclosure, she handed Jonathan her carrots).

Simple No-Noodle Chicken Soup
adapted from here

you need:

2-ish cups chicken (I used not quite 1 lb chopped pulled chicken from our local bbq restaurant)
olive oil or butter
1 chopped onion (I used my favorite frozen chopped onions, no judgment here)
1 T minced garlic
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/4 t dried thyme
1/2 c dry white wine (or chicken broth/stock if you're out)
6-8 cups chicken stock
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup chopped kale
salt and pepper

Cook onions and garlic in about 1 T olive oil or butter. Stir in the thyme and cook about 5-7 minutes. Add the wine and cook another few minutes. Then add the stock, bouillon cube, chicken, celery, and carrots. Simmer until veggies are soft, about 25 minutes. Throw in the kale about halfway through, and add freshly ground pepper and a little salt before serving.

So simple, healthy, and SO delicious! Maybe I will have time someday to roast garlic bulbs like the original recipe calls for (sounds so good!), but it is perfectly yummy without it if you don't have time. Depending on how fast you can chop, this is easy to get on the stove and have on the table within an hour, easy! If you wanted to make it a little more filling, brown rice would be a good addition.

PS - If you have any great carb-free dinner ideas, feel free to send them our way!

Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 14, 2014

from my little cherubs

I didn't get into Valentine's much this year. Advanced prep and decorating kept getting pushed to the bottom of the list. Maybe next year we will do more.

I did make pink pancakes for the gals this morning, and they each got a book as a little treat (The Day the Crayons Quit for Jules, and Caps for Sale
 for Molls). We bought a box of Valentines for Juliette to take to school today (those scratch n sniff ones from Target that I bought last year and forgot how much they stink, literally).

Guess who DID get into Valentine's this year? My dearest love. Not only did I have a dozen roses and two gifts waiting for me yesterday after work, but I got a TUBA VALENTINE SERENADE at work on Wednesday. Yes, you read that right. It was unbelievable.

"A Whole New World"
Valentine's Tuba Serenade from Leslie Jerkins on Vimeo.

This was followed by a rendition of "My Girl."

I love you too, my dear. Today and every day of the year!

Our usual Valentine's beat is to get crab cakes from the meat counter at the grocery store, and eat them on our china. Buuut my parents offered to babysit tonight so we're definitely going to hit that. We'll see where we end up! Happy Friday and happy vday to you and yours.

Pumping at Work // FAQs

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WARNING!!! This is a post about breast-feeding. If you're not interested in this subject, feel free to skip!

My hope is that this post would be helpful or encouraging to some new mom somewhere, who is about to embark upon the very scary Return to Work and the mechanics that come with doing so while breast-feeding. This is not a philosophical post, but a mechanical one. And, remember (as with all things parenting), this is one person's take on it. There are a million ways to do everything, and I do not expect to have figured out the way to do this.

Despite a bumpy start (in different ways) with both girls, and a two week nursing hiatus/pumping extravaganza while Juliette was sick in the hospital, I've been able to have such a sweet 21 months of nursing. I did the math, and figured that between two babies, I've been pumping twice/day at work, five days/week for about 17 months to date. Add in my "bedtime session" (will explain below) and me and my pump...we friends. 

When I got an email from a longtime friend asking some nuts-and-bolts type questions about pumping at work, I thought this might be a helpful topic to other new moms returning to work for the first time after baby. I certainly do not consider myself the end-all-be-all of experts, and if there are other/better ways of doing things outlined below, PLEASE, by all means, please comment and tell us all! 

Here are my friend's questions...if you have more, feel free to ask in the comments, or email me directly! Without further ado...

1. How does one decide what pump to use, when one cannot exactly try these things out pre-birth? 

Medela pump in style is what I use. I have the backpack version and it's great (my BFF, you might call her). This is a portable hospital-grade double pump, meaning this brand/type is what you would use at a hospital if your baby was in the NICU (or PICU, where Juliette was when she was sick). I definitely love the double electric for maximum efficiency. I actually got a pretty good deal on this one through Target's website, and was able to get reimbursed with flex spend dollars. But I think now with the Affordable Care Act, everyone is eligible for a free pump of some kind (exactly what kind may depend on your insurance though. Definitely check with your insurance on this because I've had several friends who got reimbursed 100% for this Medela pump or something similar).

2. Double [electric pump]?

Like I said above, definitely the double. If you're interested in efficiency, don't really consider anything else. You also need to get this bustier. It's a game-changer!!! Totally serious. Giggle if you want to at that product photo (I know, it's quite a sight), but really. Game-changer. I didn't have one the first time around and was just kicking myself when I finally got one and found out how awesome they are this go-round. I can sit at my desk (in my office with the door closed), and continue to work and type away at my computer, hands-free/no problem. Email me if you want more specifics on using this thing. I promise you it's worth it once you get down your own system of putting it on and off (it's a little awkward at first to maneuver).

3. How long do you pump?

I was told the minimum time you should shoot for is 15 minutes. I usually pump closer to 20. 

4. What's the best/safest/work-appropriate way to pump and store?  

I have my own office with a door that locks and window blinds I can close. I realize this is completely ideal and maybe atypical. Twice a day, I close the blinds and shut/lock my door for 30 minutes and everyone leaves me alone. They know what I'm doing in there and just want to leave it at that. And now with my bustier, I can keep working and typing hands-free. I believe it is the law that your employer provide you a private place other than a restroom in which to pump (aha, see the first paragraph at this link).

Re: storage...this is the part where people probably do things differently: breast milk is safe at room temperature for up to 8 hours (the antibodies are that good!); therefore, I have never worried about putting my milk in a refrigerator during work hours since I have a cooler/ice pack (that fits in my backpack). My first pumping session is at 10 AM and I get home between 5:30-6 PM everyday, so even if it were sitting out, it would be fine. I figure the cooler buys me several hours (24, according to kellymom), and then when I get home and put it in the fridge it's no harm no foul. 

As for cleaning the pump parts...this is where I'm probably on the fringes of cleanliness or whatever (I don't know that for sure, just guessing)...buuut I just wipe the parts off with a tissue and wrap them in a burp cloth or hand towel and put them back in the backpack in between sessions. It's cold inside the bag because of the cooler ice pack, so I figure the antibodies from the milk and the coldness from the cooler keep the bacteria out between sessions if I've missed anything. If I were hauling pump parts to the break room to wash them twice a day it would eat up a bunch more time and possibly make me hate/resent the whole endeavor a little bit. I'm trying to be realistic about what I can keep up with to make this whole thing bearable. When I get home, I give them a good cleaning, either with soap/water plus a round in the microsteam bags, or run them through the dishwasher in some sort of basketI feel weird putting all of that on the internet, but there you go.

5. What's your system for pumping, freezing, thawing, and using? What about for infants who eat more frequently?  

Depends on how old your baby is when you go back, I would think. Usually, by the time you go back to work at 2-3 months old, you will likely be missing 2-3 feedings while you're apart. Just pump whenever you would've fed your baby. The baby will probably be eating every 3-4 hours by that point, so it will be fine to do that. I have sort of a crazy supply of milk, and was able to get away with pumping twice/day, no matter how young my baby was. My schedule has been to pump around 10 AM and 2-3 PM. It's worked fine. 

People differ on the opinion of when to introduce a bottle. Our pediatrician recommended introducing it around 2 weeks, which we did (if you wait too long, the baby might develop a resistance to them). Be sure to keep this up while you're at home so he or she doesn't forget how it works (not a joke, definitely happens!), and for a few weeks before you go back to work, try to give your baby a bottle every day to practice. It's not quite as easy as all that, because to maintain your supply, you'll need to pump whenever she has a bottle, which can be a bit tricky. So where you build up extra supply is by pumping before you go to bed. 

Hopefully your baby will be sleeping a longer stretch at night by the time you return to work, and she will go down around 7-9 PM, let's say. My schedule was to still pump around 10-10:30, no matter how much comes out, so I could start building up my stash that way. Then, when you go back to work (and no matter how much your baby wakes up in the night to nurse or whatever) keep the pumping session at your bedtime to make sure you're not solely depending on your daytime sessions to keep up with bottles for daycare. This way, if you pump less than he/she requires while you're apart, you can be sure you will have enough for the next day's bottles. It also allows you to bank extra on the weekend nights. Usually I have had so much extra that once/week I have to freeze a whole batch of several bags. Breast milk can last in the fridge up to a week before it needs to be consumed or frozen. So, I rarely have to thaw milk to make bottles for school. But it's nice to have the frozen milk in case something happens (idk what) or in case you go out of town. 

6. Do you cart your pump to work and back every day? 

Yes. And everywhere else I'm going to be that the baby isn't. :)  But mainly so I can pump at bedtime and wash everything thoroughly. It's a backpack and not difficult to carry around.

7. Do those plastic freezer bags seal like Ziplocs

Yes. It's best to freeze them lying flat so they stack/store better (see this image for a visual). I tried that milk storage/filing thing on amazon, but found that it just takes up more room (unless you have an extra freezer or a giant freezer or something, in which case go for it).

8. How do you get the milk into the bottle from a plastic bag?

I use a regular plastic kitchen funnel we already had. Although now I have done it so many times that I can do it without the funnel. But...a plastic funnel. 

9. How do you thaw it? Do you warm it?

I microwave a mug of water and let it thaw in the mug, usually sitting in the sink. It takes a few minutes, so don't wait to do it while you're in a hurry. If there is no rush, the best way is to let it thaw in the refrigerator, which takes over 12 hours. Just remember that after you thaw frozen breast milk you have 24-48 hours to use it before you need to throw it out. Just be wise whenever you thaw it (like I'd have to remind a mother of that when it comes to her liquid gold).

10. Glass? Or is that silly? How many bottles do you need?

We actually have these glass bottles and these sleeves, and they've been great! After two kids and daily daycare use, the bottles look good as new. I love glass for this reason--cleans so well. And you can replace the nipples easily (in fact, for some reason, Molly has always preferred size 3 nipples, whereas Jules was always fine with size 1s they come with.) Be sure to get these discs so they don't spill in transport (can't remember if the discs come with the bottles or not). 

As for how many you need, I think a good number is at least 6 of each size. (Any other moms want to chime in on this one?) That is just my own opinion. We actually have 8 of the larger size (my babies have both bumped up to the larger size after a relatively short period of time). You also need the dishwasher basket (or two, maybe) that goes with them. 

11. How many bottles do you need for pumping? Do they all screw into the pump? How can you tell which bottles are made for formula and which for breast milk (or does that exist)?

For bottles that you use for pumping, I would say you need AT LEAST 8. I have more, and I'm glad (I may even have 10-12). This way you don't have to burn through the storage bags just to store the milk in the fridge. You will always need 4 clean ones EVERY day at work. Say you have extra milk from your bedtime pumping sessions sitting'll go through the bottles fast if there are a few in the dishwasher or whatever. I think the pump comes with 4, but you can buy an extra set and I think it's worth every penny. You can actually buy nipples for the Medela bottles, which Molly liked when she was little, so we would use them somewhat interchangeably w/the Dr. Browns at first. You don't need special bottles for formula (at least not with these). Just be sure to measure the water first before adding the formula and shaking it up.

12. Anything else?

Water! Drink lots of water! I always have it with me.

If you're not yet a mother and would like to be someday, and plan to return to work after a leave, please do not let this post discourage you in any way! Yes, it's a lot to keep up with. But for me, it has been totally worth it. The time I do get to be with my babies and nourish/bond with them has been absolutely precious to me. Being away from them so much during the week, nursing has been a wonderful way to reconnect and bond in the evenings.

I do hope you give it a go. It can be really challenging to get started and comfortable with breast feeding in the beginning (sore nipples, bad latches, supply issues), but I really encourage you to try and maybe shoot for 6 weeks? That's when life starts to normalize a little, in general.

I would love to answer any questions, or hear any of your own ideas/feedback on this topic!

And, as always, Kellymom is a fantastic resource on any topic related to BF.

p.s. thanks to Hannah for posting this link on facebook (where I got the above historical photos). Love it!!!


Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014  //  JULIETTE TAYLOR at 2 years, 6 months

This girl! Oh my. She loves to DANCE! Just about her favorite thing to do is to watch Feist's 1234 video and do her interpretation of the dance moves. It is hilarious. She doesn't love to watch TV, but she does love watching music videos, which ties into her next love--singing! She is constantly coming out with bits of songs she learns at school that we had no idea she knew, one of them being "snowman, snowman, wears a funny hat" (see above). Ha! I realize I am her mother and biased, but the girl seems to be able to carry a tune pretty well.

Besides dancing and singing, she loves to "play blocks." She loves any activity that includes amassing collections of items to move around from basket to bag to bucket. She likes to color and she loves loves loves reading and "reading" books. But she doesn't like to start reading books until she's collected a large stack of them. "Reading" involves the exact same gibberish sentence over and over, I wish I could transcribe it accurately, but it goes something like "and whoa-wuh and wa-wuh." As soon as she gets home or arrives at either grandparents' house, she immediately removes her socks and shoes, no matter how cold it is. (She got that from her dad, who likes being barefoot. Her mother, on the other hand...never.) Another big hit in life is her "makeups" (chapstick tubes) -- her greatest trophies.

Juliette looooves her little sister. And we have made great strides in the gentle department over the past 6 months. She still defaults to a choke hold-type hug, but has overall been lots gentler with Molly. (Thank goodness!) They have the sweetest greeting first thing in the morning, which includes a little light wrestling, giggling, and leg kicking (from excitement). Jules also loves to play peekaboo with Molly while M is sitting in her high chair during breakfast.

For being so active and gregarious, she gets spooked easily. There's a puppet show at church on Sunday mornings that we have had some trouble with (right now we're in a good patch). She's not crazy about costumes or random things like that either. Example: Uncle T showed her the "peanut butter jelly time" video thinking she would like it, and it terrified her and gave her bad dreams that night. ???? I don't know.

Her favorite foods are hummus, animal crackers, smoothies, turkey bacon, egg-in-a-hole, macaroni and cheese, and she loves to drink almond milk. She is mostly potty-trained at this point (!).

2.5 can be exasperating sometimes (stubbornness is in her gene pool, ha). But it can also be so awesome! Bedtime stall tactic yes, but when your little girl puts her arm around your neck and says, "Mommy, can I keep you?" ...your heart just melts. I love my firstborn something fierce.

Old Navy Gem: Quilted Jacket

Friday, February 07, 2014

I worked at Banana Republic in some form or fashion (pun intended) for over 4 years right out of college/when we were first married, and I'd say our family's loyalty to the Gap brands is pretty strong as a result. I love finding winners at Old Navy like the next gal (especially for my kids!).

Look how cute this jacket is! I first saw it in our local store, and then went back and purchased it in navy that same week for 50% off. I have loved it.

Through random/unfortunate circumstances, I lost my favorite winter coat (pictured in this reallllly old post) before Christmas. Blerg with a side of heartbreak. I've been on a search to find a replacement, and no dice (yet).

While I definitely wouldn't classify this as a "winter coat," it's been perfect for wearing over thick sweaters/blazers plus heavy scarf and being protected from cold rain and wind. And the hood is detachable! They're having 20% off online right now, not sure about in-store. But the great thing about Old Navy/Gap/BR is that there are always deals to be had if you hit it at the right time.

Other recent favorites: these zipper pants, these workout leggings, this chambray shirt (in tall for extra length).

Bon weekend! I'm hoping for snow.

*The winner of our Whoa, wait. Walmart? giveaway is Elena! Thanks so much for entering, if you did!

What I Love at Aldi

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Luckily, I know lots of people who are smarter than me (see: sticker charts). One of them is my dear old friend Jesse (old as in, how long we've been friends).

Sure, I'd heard of Aldi over the years. But it was never in my regular rotation of places to go--it seemed like an extra trip you had to make for groceries that I wasn't familiar with. Plus, the stores were small and seemed like they might be confusing.

Jesse started shopping there after their Dave Ramsey overhaul, and kept telling me how much money she was saving. About 9 months later, I finally made my maiden voyage to the one that's practically down the street from my house.

Things I already knew about Aldi: it's a sister (brother?) company to Trader Joe's. Since I knew this, I used my razor sharp deductive reasoning skills (aided by casual/overheard conversation from other friends) to conclude that most of the items in the store were their own brand. Besides Heinz ketchup (why is this?), I am not particularly brand loyal when it comes to groceries. Give me the Kroger brand, Up & Up, I don't really care.

So the first time I walked in an Aldi, it was like confetti in my head...or something. Their brand! Low prices! Yee-haw!

My first trip, I stuck to some basic pantry items, as well as the cheeses (I'd heard they have great cheese, and it's true!). But now, there's pretty much nothing I won't buy there.

Before I show my hand here, let me make a disclaimer: we have not fully-formed any sort of "food philosophy" that governs what I must or mustn't buy at the grocery store. What I mean is, I don't buy all organic/"clean" stuff all the time. I guess I just want to proceed without judgment--you know, food stuff can be personal. The below items are just some everyday-type items that we like. I'm a little intidmiated to be showing the internet my grocery habits, but for the sake of the Aldi gospel, here we go. Onward!

That photo above is what it looks like inside, if you haven't been. Much like Trader Joe's, savings are passed down by doing things like keeping the items in their boxes instead of merchandising them on shelves. You also have to "rent" a grocery cart (insert a quarter you'll get back when you return your cart), which keeps carts out of the parking lot (it totally works!), as well as bring your own bags or purchase them there. You also have to bag your own groceries on their long "bagging shelf" after you check out. Bring it on I say, if the groceries are going to have such great prices (and maintain their quality).

Their pantry stuff is great! Flour, sugar, brown sugar, etc....all of the baking I did at Christmas was made with these items. This trip I bought a big container of old fashioned oats for $2.29. They also have steel-cut oats that are pretty good.

Dairy... the milk is hormone free, and we've bought it a few times. It is less than $3 for a gallon, so much cheaper than any other milk. Milk is one of the things I do like to buy organic. My eyes sort of get crossed if I read too much about milk, but it seems like organic is a good idea. Hormone-free sounds reasonable though, but I'm not educated enough to say anything else on the subject.

BUT, we do love the unsweetened almond milk from Aldi (Juliette in particular)! sorry no pic.

The butter is great (and a great price!). We also buy the plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese.

The organic frozen fruit was new to me on my last visit, so that's fun. (I usually buy frozen fruit at Costco, non-organic at this point).

Like I mentioned earlier, the cheese section is one of the superstars of Aldi. They have Brie, fresh mozzarella, and other soft cheeses for fantastic prices. And look at these prices for blocks of cheese and parmesan! I bought some of that Asiago cheese to grate over our stovetop popcorn sometime.

This turkey was new to me on this last visit--no nitrates, raised without antibiotics, it says. I usually like to buy turkey from the deli, but I figured we'd give this a whirl. Oh, I also bought some of their thick maple bacon one time for crock pot black-eyed peas (bought dried there also) and it was WONDERFUL!

Prices: shredded cheese (4 cups) $2.99, deli sliced cheese $1.99, sour cream $1.29, turkey $2.99, asiago cheese $3.49.

Next is produce. Oh, produce! I love these prices and got some great-looking things for the week.

Prices: organic baby spinach $2.49 (love using in smoothies and with fried eggs), organic grape tomatoes $1.69, garlic 99 cents, celery 69 cents, 3 zucchini $1.99, grapefruit 49 cents each, bag of collard greens $1.99 (my friend Laura gave me a great recipe for this!), two broccoli heads 99 cents, bag of carrots 99 cents, blackberries $1.49. Not pictured is a bag of lemons for $1.99.

Just like any grocery, produce is an area for discernment. Sure, it may be super on sale, but be sure to take a look and see how everything looks and make your best guess for its shelf life. 

Snacks: this section (besides the cheese), is usually what gets me in the door. One of the things we've done in an effort to snack better is to keep a jar of trail mix around. I first found this concoction at Target from Archer Farms--their container is $9.99. From Aldi, I mix my own. It ends up being about the same price, but I think you get a little larger quantity. And, this concoction has less salt.

I bought that Anchor jar from Target (smaller version of this) a few months ago to keep it looking a little cuter out on our counter.

Prices: whole cashews $3.99, dried cranberries $1.19, unsalted whole almonds $4.99 (the most expensive item on my receipt every trip!)

Onto more snacks.

I buy these organic cheerios for Molly to munch on. The veggie chips are good, they were new to me, as were the organic animal crackers (Juliette loves animal crackers). Side note: their "regular" animal crackers are really really good also. Saltines I like to have on-hand in case of illness, and these sweet potato chips are my FAVES! So simple and delicious (though the bag be small...not a bad thing, I guess). And raisins, well...toddlers.

Prices: organic cheerios $1.99, triscuits $1.25, organic veggie chips $2.99, organic animal crackers $1.79, sweet potato chips $1.99, saltines 95 cents, raisins $1.19. 

I didn't buy any this trip, but I've bought the ground turkey before, as well as frozen tilapia and frozen pizza. All great. I had a recommendation today from my friend Melissa (hi, Melissa!) to check out their cornish game hens. Sounds interesting and yummy! 

Melissa is also a lot smarter than me and checks out the Aldi "Special Buy" paper that comes in the mail on Wednesdays, and told me there were fresh-caught lobster tails on sale last week, 2 for $12.99, and that they're delicious and sell out quickly. Mmm.

Lastly (and this describes the sort of random/wonderful things Aldi has from time-to-time) but we bought a kettle bell set for $24.99, which included a 15 lb, 10 lb, and 5 lb kettle bell. This is $5 LESS than we paid for our SINGLE 30 lb kettle bell on Amazon! Go figure!

Other miscellany:

organic agave nectar // those kettle chips are SO good. 

Some organic cereal (they carry that Nature's Path brand at Costco too). And there's organic chicken broth for $1.99/box.

Coffee pods, good prices, haven't tried yet (they don't have decaf that I've seen, and I drink decaf)...

To those of you with an Aldi nearby...I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know. I bet yall are all like, duh girl, please.

I've just really really enjoyed shopping at Aldi over the past several months, and love the products and the savings so I thought I would pass along in case you hadn't ventured inside yet. I've probably just hit the tip of the Aldi awesomeness iceberg, actually.

Here's an article I enjoyed from Slate about Aldi and their brother TJ's.

Any big items I missed that you love? Please let me know!!!

I'll take you out with a reminder to enter my Whoa, wait. Walmart? giveaway! You still have a couple of days!

Real Quick - Planners on Sale

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Our Whoa, wait. Walmart? Giveaway is still going on! Be sure to enter before Thursday night at midnight sharp!

In the meantime, we've marked down the 2014 day planners if you're interested in snagging one! $16 shipped, or $14 if you're local. We only have about 10 left.

Whoa, wait. Walmart? // Giveaway

Monday, February 03, 2014

Full disclosure here: Walmart is not in my regular rotation. I don't know if it's just Memphis, or most large(r) cities, but I don't live in the suburbs and there ain't no Walmart close by. There's a Target about six minutes from my house, so it wins out on the regular.

However, when we visit my in-laws' Arkansas lake house, I always love visiting their small-town store. (That's where we bought our beloved iron skillet when we were first married!) I just don't have many opportunities on my errands to stop by usually.

So when my sis-in-law Amanda and her/my friend Bethany started their Whoa, wait. Walmart? page last summer, I was really excited to see all of their finds. I love looking at all of their treasure-hunting spoils through my instagram feed every day! Legitimately, their page has made me stop into Walmart more often than I would normally. (The Walmart "Garanimals" jeggings for les babies have become some of my faves.)

Bottom line: I like cute things. I like deals. But I'm not always the best at digging for them. That's what's so awesome about WWW--Amanda & Bethany do the digging on this one.

In honor of what they're doing over there, plus new year/new blog design and all, I thought we'd do a giveaway just for fun!

Three great and girly items for you to win:

ridic awesome Not Your Mother's Hair Powder / adorable striped top by Faded Glory / Flower Beauty Lip Tint Crayon

Follow Amanda and Bethany "on the hunt," as they say!
Instagram / Facebook / Tumblr / Twitter

This is my first time using Rafflecopter! Hope it makes sense/works. To enter, leave a comment telling us if you shop at Walmart regularly. You get additional entries for following me and @whoawaitwalmart on facebook/instagram, etc.

Giveaway ends on Thursday night at midnight! Winner will be announced Friday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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