A Pearl For My Pearl


While I’ve always been fascinated by those stands that allow you to choose your own clam and open it up to find a pearl, it wasn’t until I had Princess in June that I realized just how awesome those little “beads” are!  Not only do pearls come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, but they’re the only birthstone that comes from an animal!

This past weekend during my Mom’s yearly visit, we went to Pier 39 – Fisherman’s Wharf {one of my favorite places in San Francisco} and passed Pearl Factory where I couldn’t resist whipping out my wallet and telling Little Man to pick out a good looking clam!  At only $14.99, it was the perfect way to allow Little Man to choose something special for his sister.

The first part of this adventure began with Little Man choosing the perfect clam from the bucket of fresh water clams {pictured above}. Little Man didn’t know what was coming, so it was fun to watch him question why he was choosing a clam out of the bucket.

Now that we had the perfect clam, it was time to open that puppy up and find out what kind of pearl was inside!!  After making a wish and tapping the clam 3 times, the woman helping us opened the clam and dug out the beautiful pearl inside.  She cleaned it with salt and then made sure that Little Man was the first person to ever touch the pearl {I loved that she did that!}.

We were pleased to see that the pearl that came from the clam Little Man chose was large and cream colored.  According to the chart {pictured below}, this stood for happiness which is quite an accurate description of my little Princess.

Check out the process:

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Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that this is a tourist trap and designed to bring you in to sell you over-priced jewelry displaying your new pearl, but that doesn’t change how much I loved this whole process!  The lady helping us wasn’t pushy at all, either, which was a relief.  It was such a neat experience and for only $15, you can’t beat the memories made with me and my Little Man :)

Have you ever opened a clam to find a pearl?  If so, what color did you get and what did you do with the pearl afterwards?  I chose just to keep the pearl and not buy any jewelry, but I plan on buying a cage necklace soon to wear it around.  It will go perfectly with the Sapphire ring I wear to represent my son {who’s birthday is next month, September}.


This Is What Happens When You’re Born Into A Couponing Family

Princess may only be 6-weeks-old, but she sure is learning to coupon early!  I came home from the grocery store, picked her up out of her car-seat {that she had been in and out of throughout the store}, and found THIS:

Coupon Baby

Oops :P

The empty car-seat seemed like a good place to put that coupon at the time…


Adventures In Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

Little Man Making Bread

Ever since I received a FREE breadmaker from a fellow Freecycler, I’ve been obsessed with making my own breads.  Usually I just make loaves of country bread since they’re easy and simple, but recently I’ve been venturing out into specialty breads like Italian and, you guessed it, cinnamon.


Not only is it much cheaper to make your own bread versus buying bread from a store, but you also get to control the ingredients that go into your bread.  I don’t know about you, but I quite enjoy knowing that there are no preservatives or funky ingredients going into my bread that should only have the basic baking ingredients found in every cook’s kitchen and the only way to know for sure is to bake it yourself.

Being a family of sweet-toothed individuals, it only seemed right that one recipe I try to conquer is homemade cinnamon rolls.  Because I assumed they were too difficult to make, I’ve always bought my cinnamon rolls in one of those tubes you find in the refrigerated isle of your grocery store next to the other cold, processed raw breads.  While it definitely takes more work to make your own cinnamon rolls from scratch at home, it’s worth the effort AND it’s something you can do with the kiddos!

This recipe was adapted from a similar recipe found over at The Enchanting Rose.  I found that, for me at least, the recipe needed more flour than was called for in the original recipe.

Adventures In Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


Fluffy Cinnamon Rolls From Scratch
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2 pans

  • 1 cup warm water
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3½ cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoons yeast
  • CINNAMON FILLING: ¼ cup melted butter, sugar, cinnamon

  1. Put the first 7 ingredients in your bread machine {in the order suggested by your machine’s manufacturer}. Run through the dough setting.
  2. Dust your work space with flour and place the dough on the counter. Split the dough into two loaves. Each loaf will make one pan of cinnamon rolls.
  3. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin and pour the melted butter over the raw dough. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon {no need to measure – just put as little or as much as you want}.
  4. Carefully roll the dough into a log shape and slice with a knife into even chunks {1-1/2 inches wide or so}. Spray lightly with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm area until doubled in size – about an hour.
  5. Place into a greased pan and bake at 350-degrees for about 20-minutes.
  6. Once cinnamon rolls are cooked, drizzle with icing {if you don’t have a favorite recipe, just combine 2 cups of powdered sugar, a few tablespoons of milk, and a tsp of vanilla extract until desired consistency}.
  7. Cool slightly and ENJOY!


Like I said, this recipe does call for quite a bit more work than simply opening a can and baking the dough inside, but it’s worth the effort.  I chose to bake one pan and stick the other pan in the freezer after it rose. If you choose to do the same, just thaw out the frozen rolls before baking.

All-in-all, I probably won’t stop buying those processed pre-packaged cinnamon rolls, but I had fun making homemade cinnamon rolls with Little Man.  Plus, both my husband and son were still talking about our cinnamon rolls the next day!


Welcoming The New Walmart Neighborhood Market

Walmart Neighborhood Market

I admit it… Walmart is one of those stores I love to hate.  I hate that they seem to push small companies out of business, but I love the prices and deals you can find there!  It’s kind of hard to hate a company that allows to you stick to your family’s food budget every month.

That being said, I was so excited to find out that there’s a new Walmart in my town – a Walmart Neighborhood Market, to be exact.  I didn’t find out until after the opening, but the new store is only 3 miles from my house!  The difference between this Walmart and the old Walmart {which is only about 3 miles or so further than this new one} is that this Walmart is a Neighborhood Market and the other is a Supercenter.

How close is your closest Walmart?  Do you shop at it, or do you choose to pay a little extra to shop at a regular grocery store?


Big Changes Are Here!

I know I’ve been absent the past few weeks, but trust me, I have a good excuse for it!


Isn’t she PERFECT?!

K Sleeping

That’s right, folks!  After 41 weeks of the roller coaster we call pregnancy, our precious baby girl has finally made her grand appearance!

She was 8 days late and I had to be induced, but she eventually quit fighting us and arrived on 6/30/2013 at 3:36 pm.  We spent a couple days in the hospital before returning home to start our new lives :)

The Princess is now a week old and I’ve been so amazed at how complete our family feels with her in it. Little Man has adjusted so well and even though his new baby sister cries more than he expected, he’s handling the new addition very well. Whenever she cries and he doesn’t want to be around it, he simply leaves the room.

Little Man Feeding The Princess


Little Man has also been extremely helpful with his new baby sister. He’s always more than happy to grab a diaper, pick out what she’ll wear for the day, and even feed her when I have a bottle of breast milk pumped!


Now that I don’t have that giant basketball weighing me down anymore, I’ve been struck with this new found urge to clean, reorganize, and BLOG.  I have so many ideas rolling around my head and scattered on little pieces of notebook paper across my desk.  I can’t wait to get started and know that you guys are going to love what’s coming here on California Monkey Momma!!


What To Pack For Hospital Delivery {Packing For Labor}

With only a few days until my official due date, I’m feeling very anxious about my upcoming delivery. I’m extremely unprepared and am now finding myself rushing around preparing everything for the arrival of an infant; a sight not seen in this house in over 5-years.

free_67769One of the more important things that I’ve pushed off for far too long is the packing of my hospital stay bag. I’m ashamed to say that while I’ve located  everything I want to go into the bag, I haven’t actually PACKED said bag.  I keep pushing it off for some reason and foolishly telling myself that I still have plenty of time.

Based on my experience from my first pregnancy, here’s a list of stuff you’ll want to make sure is in your bag when you leave for the hospital to delivery your baby:

  • Comfortable Clothing:  This includes your nightgown, your slippers, a nursing bra, some underwear and socks, as well as some loose clothes to wear when leaving the hospital {may I suggest a pair of pajama pants and your husband’s t-shirt?}. It’s less about style and more about what you’ll actually be able to slip on and off after the pain of labor.
  • Toiletries:  You probably won’t be up for shaving your legs after squeezing out your little one, but things like your toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, hair bows, and deodorant should definitely be in your hospital delivery bag.  If you have a preference in things like shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion, you should pack your own.  Otherwise, you can usually find these things standard in the bathroom of your hospital room.
  • Entertainment:  This section of your hospital bag should have whatever helps you relax and pass the time.  Whether it’s your favorite book, your tablet/laptop, or just some pens and paper to help you keep track of the whole experience, you’ll want to have something to help you pass the time for the 2+ days you’ll be in the hospital after you deliver your new bundle of joy.  I also suggest throwing in an extra charger and/or batteries for your all your electronics; including your camera.
  • Miscellaneous:  This is the area for things like snacks your spouse can munch on during the wait.  You might even want to include a change of clothes for your partner as delivery can be rough on them, as well. I also suggest a small bag of change so your partner can hit-up the vending machines.

Feeling overwhelmed yet?   I know I am!  

Please let me know if there’s anything I forgot. I know I’m suffering a little case of Pregnancy Brain and could use some help in remembering exactly what I’ll need!


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Pregnancy Woahs – 3 Weeks Until Due Date

Well, the past 2 weeks have been eventful, to say the least!  At my OBGYN appointment 2 weeks ago, the doctor found something unusual in my urine and put me on some medicine to try and clear it up.  He said it was similar to a urinary tract infection, but since I was showing no signs of having one, he was worried it was my kidneys beginning to fail. Because my blood pressure skyrocketed as well, he told me that I needed to take it easy or he would require I go on bed rest.

A week later I returned to the doctor where I saw a DIFFERENT doctor who refused to even test me for what the first doctor tested me for because he said, “I’m not worried about it.”  REALLY?  Why was the other doctor extremely worried and you won’t even test to see if the medicine he gave me worked?!  Needless to say, I left there feeling very uncomfortable and worried that nothing was being done. When I went to the receptionists’ desk, I made sure to tell them that I did NOT want to see that doctor when I returned.

As it stands, I’m waiting until my appointment tomorrow to talk to my regular doctor and get an ultrasound to make sure the baby is in the right position for birth and everything is going well. I fully plan on discussing my dissatisfaction of the other, nonchalant doctor’s diagnosis with my regular doctor to make sure he checks what he originally put me on the medicine for.

On the bright side, Baby K has been moving around a LOT and I’m getting anxious for her arrival.  I feel completely unprepared, but excited to have this kicking, stretching, hiccuping baby out of my ever-growing stomach. With as little room as she seems to have in there, it’s hard to believe I still have 2+ weeks left until my due date. My hubby keeps reminding me that I said that quite often towards the end of my first pregnancy and I was still a week late.  I REALLY hope that isn’t the case with this one!  I’ve been having Braxton-Hix contractions a lot recently and since I didn’t get them with my first child, I’m hoping that this means Baby K is preparing to come soon and won’t be stubborn like her older brother.

All-in-all, I’m hoping to bang out some posts over the next few days.  My discomfort and exhaustion has kept me from getting on the computer recently, so I’ve gotten behind on my reviews and some personal posts I was hoping to get up.  I’ve received some really neat baby-related items recently to review and can’t wait to share them with all of you!


My Latest Farmer’s Market Find: Mama Mia’s Beef Jerky

Mama Mia's Beef Jerky

First let me say that this is NOT a sponsored post or review in any way. I bought this product with my own mullah and because I love it so much, I’m sharing it with you guys!


On to the matter at hand – JERKY!

In this household, beef jerky is a staple item. We eat it all the time and it’s Daddy’s go-to snack when he’s at work. Even Little Man, the self-proclaimed vegetarian of the group, will eat jerky from time-to-time.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned as a jerky-loving family, it’s that not all jerky is alike. Over the years, we’ve discovered a LOT of jerky that we didn’t like and will never buy again. Any beef jerky that wants a spot in our pantry has to have both good taste and texture or we won’t eat it.

Mama Mia's Beef Jerky packageThat being said, I’m happy to share my latest farmer’s market find – Mama Mia’s Beef Jerky!  Not only does Mama Mia make some amazing beef jerky, but this Mom-driven beef jerky company is a big supporter of the community teaming up with local sports groups and musical arts programs to raise money for the community. She also supports our troops!

Available in a variety of flavors, Mama Mia makes beef and turkey jerky.  Her homemade marinade recipe was handed down to her by her Dad and after one bite, you’ll see why it’s such a big hit.  I think my favorite has got to be the sweet-and-sour beef jerky that I tried at the farmer’s market, but didn’t bring home with me {a stupid decision on my part – I should have stocked up!}.  Surprisingly, I found Mama Mia’s Turkey Jerky to be just as good as the beef!  At less calories than the beef jerky and made with 100% turkey breast, I will be stocking up on turkey jerky next weekend, too.

How do you get  your hands on some Mama Mia’s Beef or Turkey Jerky, you ask?  Simple!  Head over to the Mama Mia’s Beef Jerky web site and order some!  You can have this delicious jerky shipped right to your door or send some to our troops over seas.  If you’re in the area, Mama Mia’s Beef Jerky can be found at a number of Farmer’s Markets {like mine}, which will also give you the chance to sample Mama Mia’s Beef Jerky and meet Mama Mia herself!

For more information on Mama Mia’s Beef Jerky, make sure you’re following her on Facebook or Twitter and let her know California Monkey Momma sent you! :)


Zaycon Foods Chicken Event – What’s In The Box?

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I recently made my first Zaycon Foods purchase and wanted to share with all of you what’s in the box so you can see exactly what you’ll receive when you order one of their 40 lb. boxes of chicken breast.

First of all, when you first open your box of Zaycon Foods chicken breast, you’ll notice that it’s a bunch of bags inside one large bag.  You cut the bag open and this is what you’ll see:

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You’re really going to have to trust me that it really doesn’t look as gross as that picture above makes it seem.  You will notice that there is some “chicken juice” around the edges of the box, this is totally normal.  You’ll also notice that there are random bags of chicken within the large bag.  They aren’t weighed out in any specific amount.

Because I knew I would be freezing my chicken, I made up a bunch of freezer safe gallon-sized baggies before digging into the box of raw chicken.

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I separated my 40 pounds of chicken into numerous sized portions because I wanted to have a variety to choose from when I pulled them from the freezer for dinner.  In some bags, I stuck 4-6 chicken breasts for large meals, and in other bags, I merely stuck 1 or 2 pieces because that’s all that’s needed for a single meal for my family.

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The chicken breasts are MUCH larger than I was anticipating {a VERY good thing} and every meal I’ve made with them since has been met with compliments from both of my boys.  Every time we eat the Zaycon Foods chicken, my husband points out, “That really is some GOOD chicken!”.

So, have you ordered your box of Zaycon Foods?  If so, what did you order and how was the quality?  This chicken order is my first time with Zaycon Foods, but given the high quality of the meat, I can’t wait to order another box!


The Benefits Of Cloth Diapering Your Baby

With Baby #2 on the way and the fears of having an infant in the house again are staring to set in, I’m beginning to realize how many things I need before she gets here and haven’t gotten yet. One of those things is diapers.  I’ve been grabbing diaper and wipe deals since I first found out I was pregnant, but I really don’t want to rely on disposable diapers until my child is potty trained!

Right before Little Man got potty trained, I discovered cloth diapering and immediately regretted not using them from the time he was born.  Not only do you save money with cloth diapers, but they’re all-in-all better for your baby and the environment they’re going to grow up in.


5 Benefits of Cloth Diapering:

1. Better Comfort and No Diaper Rash for the Baby
Cloth diapers are more comfortable for the baby because they are manufactured purely from cotton. Unlike cotton diapers, disposable diapers are manufactured plastic, synthesized materials and added chemicals may be itchy and very uncomfortable for the child. For instance, these diapers contain an absorbent chemical that absorbs the baby’s urine and transforms it into a gel substance which may stick to the baby’s skin causing discomfort. On the other hand, without the use of chemicals, cloth diapers absorb the baby’s urine and allow some evaporation. This prevents skin irritation or diaper rash which is very common with the use of disposable diapers.

2. Quick Toilet Training
A baby wearing a cloth diaper is likely to toilet train faster than those babies used to disposable diapers. With the cloth diapers the baby would need to avoid wetting or messing him/herself and therefore rush into toilet training. On the other hand, since disposable diapers are very absorbent without leaks, the babies would get used to it and see no need for using a toilet.

3. Cost efficient
A child may need at least 70 diaper changes each week. Disposable diapers are very expensive compared to cloth diapers with regard to pricing. On the other hand, cloth diapers may be reused cutting down the expenses for the parents.

4. Eco- Friendly
Cloth diapers are environmental friendly unlike disposable diapers which are not bio-degradable. Disposing the diapers the diapers to the environment would result in degradation of the soil.

5. Prevent your child from contracting asthma
Scientific studies reveal that disposable diapers emit toxins which may cause asthma. Since the disposable diapers contain chemicals, the longer the baby wears the diapers, the longer the exposure to the harmful toxins. If you want to prevent your child from contracting asthma, the best choice would be cloth diapers.


Have you ever cloth diapered any of your children?  What was the motivation behind your decision?  I plan on making my own cloth diapers and suplimenting with disposables when we go out so I’m not stuck carrying around a dirty diaper until we get home.


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