A Pearl For My Pearl

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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}.

Gabrielle

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.

bread

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
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2 pans

Ingredients
  • 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

Instructions
  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!

Gabrielle

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?

Gabrielle

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

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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!

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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!!

Gabrielle

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!

Gabrielle

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Celebrating Father’s Day In Style This Year

Is anyone else as stumped about what to buy Dad for Father’s Day this year as I am?  My husband really does have everything he needs, so this year, I’m trying to find him something he wants, but doesn’t necessarily KNOW he wants.

I’m leaning towards clothes.

000387471Like many, my husband has a habit of gearing his clothing purchases towards things that he can use at work. This results in his entire wardrobe being covered in everything from paint to sealing putty. Finding something nice to wear out on special occasions has become a ridiculously tedious task that takes its toll on both Daddy and myself.  I think a working man like Daddy could use some new clothes that will put a little pep in his step this Father’s Day, don’t you?

One place I’ve been scoping out for Father’s Day gifts this year is John Lewis.  His line of g-star jeans, jackets, and tops for men and women are both affordable and stylish. I love that there are clothes for all occasions, so whether we’re going to a fine dining restaurant or just out for family day at the park, Daddy can look great and be comfortable. I’m sure that’s something any Dad would enjoy for Father’s Day.

Maybe after I choose some new clothes for Daddy’s wardrobe, I can surprise him with a visit to a local shoe shop and we can get him some new shoes that will finish off his new look!  I know he’ll appreciate some shoes he can wear proudly and not just wear at work or around the yard.

What are you getting your husband or father this year for Father’s Day?  I’m still looking for ideas and would love to know what others plan on purchasing the father in their life that seems to have it all!

Gabrielle

How To Make Money With Your Unwanted DVDs

Music Magpie Logo

Be honest – how many DVD’s in your home haven’t been touched in over a year?  If you’re anything like me, there are quite a handful of old movies that will probably never get watched again. Why not sell them online for cash?

I recently found this new website, Music Magpie, where you can sell your unwanted DVD’s for cash!  Music Magpie is a FREE service to safely and securely sell dvds online without ever leaving your home.  Just enter the barcode of the dvd you want to sell and receive an instant offer.  If you accept the offer, Music Magpie will pay for you to ship them the dvd.  After they receive the dvd, you’ll receive payment via Bank Transfer, Cheques, e-Vouchers, or you can donate the money to charity!  How easy is that?!

One of my favorite things about Music Magpie is that they don’t just buy your unwanted dvds, but also cds, Blu-rays, games and consoles, laptops, iPods, cell phones, and now even your clothes!  When you’re strapped for cash or just have a disc or device laying around you no longer want, Music Magpie is an awesome site to sell your unwanted goods.

Some fun features of Music Magpie include the ability to turn your computer’s web cam into a barcode scanner and an app you can download to use on your phone or ipod that makes selling your unwanted items even easier!  You’ll be amazed at how quickly and easily you can sell your unwanted dvds, cds, Blu-rays, games, electronics, and even clothes without ever leaving your home!  No more embarassing trips to the pawn shop.  No more hassle of listing your product online and waiting for the right person to respond and send payment.  Sell your stuff to Music Magpie and save the headache!

Gabrielle

How Much Sleep Does Your Child REALLY Need?

Guest Post

Nicole Yontz is a stay at home mom in Arizona and a personal blogger at TheBetterHalfBlogs.com.

toddler-sleep

As the mother of a three year old, I spend my days worrying about pretty much anything under the sun. From picking up bad habits at school to eating dirt, I worry about it all. But one thing I don’t worry about is her sleep. See, she comes from a long line of sleepers. I myself would rather get a gift card for a nap than a massage. And as a child, when the rest of the family was waking I was quietly sneaking into my parents bed where my dad was snoring away knowing nobody was going to bother him (therefore me as well).

I am proud to admit that from the get-go she was a great sleeper. In fact, I had problems keeping her awake in order to feed her since she slept though the night a full 8 hours by nine weeks old. (Feel free to send your hate mail this way.) However, I know not all children are blessed in this area and, rest assured, I am fully aware that our next child will be a night owl with severe separation anxiety because that’s just how mom karma works.

So how much sleep does your toddler really need? The answer to this is between 10-14 hours over a 24-hour period, depending on your child. But if your child is having trouble in this area, there are things you can do to help your child get a better, more restful, night sleep. We as parents, often make the mistake of keeping our kids up thinking they will be more tired, therefore sleep better. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. It actually makes kids over tired, which makes it hard for them to sleep.

Here are some tips and for more ideas, check out WhatToExpect.com for more sleep training strategies.

First, in helping your child sleep better create a good sleep schedule that works realistically for your family. We all know things happen and life is not always predictable but having a set bed and nap time for your child will make the transition much smoother as your child will know, and expect, what is coming. Keep in mind when setting your nap time that the closer it is to bed time, the harder your child will have getting to sleep.

Next, develop your own bedtime routine. From bath time to bedtime stories, your bedtime routine can consist of whatever you want as long as it ends with your little one tucked snuggly in bed. In our house, we have bath time followed by 30 minutes of quiet TV time, then a book or two, prayers and finally me snuggling her in with her “woobie.” It happens the same way every night so there are no surprises and no fights.

Lastly, stay away from the long goodbye. We all know this one, it starts with a kiss and a hug, then one more kiss, one more hug, a glass of water, a trip to the bathroom, searching the house for a particular toy and the next thing you know you’re been trying to tuck your little one in for an hour. Don’t do this! Set limits on what you will allow. If your little one uses the same excuses to keep you close, head them off at the pass. For example, when you’re changing him into his PJs, have him potty and take a drink then. On the way to the bedroom, grab all stuffed animals he would need on the way, saying goodnight to the rest.

Sweet dreams!

FREE First Aid Kit

Free First Aid KitFor a limited time, Florida Hospital is offering a FREE first aid kit that includes an emergency medical card and a magnet featuring the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and stroke!

Gabrielle

Thanks, Free Stuff Hut!

Updated List of Restaurants & Menu Options for Six Flags Season Dining Pass

Six Flags Food Options

As I was leaving Six Flags today, I found an updated list of participating restaurants and their menu options for the Six Flags Season Dining Pass.  These are valid at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and are subject to change without notice.

Paradise Snacks

  • Hot Meatball Sub with Fries
  • Flags Famous Chicken Strips with Fries

Totally Kickin’ Chicken

  • Flags Famous Chicken Strips with Fries
  • Buffalo Strips with Fries
  • Teriyaki Strips with Fries

Primo’s Pizzeria Market

  • Slice of Pepperoni Pizza and Salad or Fries {I’m pretty sure this is an error – I think it’s a side of cheesy bread, not fries}
  • Slice of Cheese Pizza and Salad or Fries {I’m pretty sure this is an error – I think it’s a side of cheesy bread, not fries}

Macho Nacho

  • Macho Nacho Chicken Burrito
  • Macho Nacho Chicken Supreme Nachos

Paddle Handle Corndog’s

  • Hand Dipped Corn Dog with Fries
  • Foot Long Hot Dog with Fries
  • Flags Famous Chicken Strips with Fries
  • Chili Cheese Hot Dog Combo
  • Hot Dog Combo

JB’s Smokehouse

  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Fries {This may have changed back, but when I tried to get this a month ago, they said they weren’t offering the grilled chicken anymore, only the pulled BBQ sandwiches.}

Seamore Cott’s Fish and Fries

  • Flags Famous Chicken Strips with Fries
  • Fish and Fries Combo

Sky High Fries

  • Chili Cheese Hot Dog
  • Hot Dog Combo

Johnny Rocket’s Original

  • Chicken Strips with Fries

 

For those of you who plan on going to Six Flags multiple times this summer, the Season Dining Pass is COMPLETELY worth the $69.99!  I bought 2 of them this year so we could all share when we go and we’ve already made our money back in just the few trips we’ve taken. Any meal you buy {which doesn’t include a drink, so make sure you grab a souvenir cup… only $9.99 with your Dining Pass} is OVER $10.  With the ability to buy 2 meals per pass per day, you’ll make your money back quickly.

Gabrielle

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