Monday, December 31, 2012

Living Without An Oven {BONUS} Skillet Lasagna Recipe

Posted by Heather Shields On 8:50 AM | 1 comment
You might remember my post mentioning my dryer and oven dying simultaneously. We already have chosen to go microwave free, so adding no oven to that mix felt disastrous at first! If I had leftovers to reheat I would pop them in the oven. Need to crisp something up? Oven. Baked ziti, lasagna, casserole, cornbread, muffins, french toast sticks. Oven, oven, oven. Needless to say I've had to improvise quite a bit. I actually reheated a slice of pizza on the stove. It worked out pretty well, I must say! Cheese was all melty, and the crust actually crisped back up!

This has also meant that I've had to either eliminate or change-up certain family staples. Take lasagna for example. Can you possibly make a good lasagna with only your stovetop?? Before my oven catastrophe I would have said no, but now... YES! I stumbled across another phenomenal blog, a foodie blog called Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and I fell in love. I've tried a handful of her recipes so far, and the Simple & Meaty Skillet Lasagna is one of our favorites.

Not only is it just as good as lasagna from the oven, but the method in which it is cooked means that it takes no longer than a boxed dinner. But the health benefits of it being homemade, and being able to eliminate all the toxic additives to a boxed dinner, are unsurpassed. So enjoy the recipe! I did tweak it just a little, but that was simply to adjust the consistency to one more close to that of our family lasagna. The dots of ricotta throughout are simply heavenly! Make sure you use good quality ricotta! Bon appetite!

Mel's final product. YUM!

Meaty Skillet Lasagna

  • 3 cans (14.5oz) pureed tomatoes
  • 1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed or minced
  • salt to taste
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • 1/2 Tbs dried oregano
  • 1/2 lb ground italian sausage, mild or sweet
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 12 curly edged lasagna noodles, broken into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 3/4 cup ricotta ( NOT low-fat!)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until the garlic becomes fragrant and pepper tickles your nose... less than a minute. Watch that the garlic doesn't start to brown or burn! Add the meat and stir to combine with the onion, garlic, and pepper. Brown until there is no pink left in the meat.

Add the tomatoes and spices and stir everything to combine. Add the broken lasagna noodles, stir again, and bump the heat up to medium-high. Stir often and cook until the pasta is al dente.

Remove pan from the heat and stir in half the mozzarella and parm, drop dollops of the ricotta all over the pan, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and parm. Serve and enjoy!



Lil Helper Cloth Diaper Review

Posted by Heather Shields On 6:44 AM | 4 comments
After cloth diapering 4 children, it takes something extra special to wow you. You would think that with as many brands are out there, as many different types of diapers that are available, that true innovation would be hard to come by. But Lil Helper has managed to do that!

When I got Lil Helper's one-size charcoal bamboo diaper in the mail I was doing a happy dance. All of my littles have been super heavy wetters, and this makes nighttime diapering a pain in the butt (pun intended). They've leaked through most diapers, even sposies, and even laying them down with a butt that is so fluffy is lifts their tail-end off the bed doesn't always help. On top of the heavy wetting is the issue os ammonia build-up. It happens to all cloth diaper mamas eventually, especially once your stash is built up to the point that you only need to wash your diaper every couple of days. The Lil Helper charcoal bamboo inserts are THE ANSWER! Here's some detailed info on them from their site.



  •  Keep Your Baby Feeling Dry: The charcoal liners can hold more than 180 ml of liquid and the great part is that your child will still feel dry. Keeping your child’s skin dry is the best way to remedy diaper rashes- charcoal bamboo’s wicking ability let’s you do just that. 
  •  Let’s You Air-Out Your Baby: Most pediatricians suggest that it is best to let your baby go commando or without a diaper. This is highly impractical. The leak resistant organic cotton/bamboo cover will let your baby’s skin breath while still providing protection.
  • Rash Creams Not Necessary: Rash prevention creams are supposed to create a water-barrier to keep your baby’s skin dry. But before application if your child is not thoroughly dry you could worsen the rash by trapping moisture on your child’s bum. You do not need any rash cream while using our charcoal bamboo cloth diapers. Our natural materials will keep your baby dry and well ventilated.
  • No Ammonia Smell: The charcoal present in our cloth diaper neutralizes most of the ammonia in your baby’s urine. You will no longer smell the strong odour of ammonia coming out of your baby’s diaper the next time you change them. Ammonia also worsens a child’s diaper rash- thankfully the charcoal takes care of this miscreant as well.
  • Soothing: The organic, hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial qualities of charcoal bamboo are best suited to soothe your baby's nasty diaper rash.

  • Pros The real info, from me? These diapers are AH-mazing! No ammonia smell when you walk into the baby's room in the morning. No leaks. No twisted or bunched inserts because they snap in place at both ends, no having to dig in a pocket for a lost insert, no stains, no bulky diapers that make your baby waddle or impede their ability to learn to walk, definitely trim enough and absorbent enough to wear for a day out and about, and the BEST fitting diaper I think I've ever tried! Seriously, my 16 month old is only on the second set of rise snaps, and there is another one down, and two more up! The waist in snug, and with the overlapping snaps even your littlest one can fit. Officially they range from 7lbs to 35lbs, but that seems to be the standard among most diapers, and I know this one will stretch beyond that size, as well as fit snugger in every growing stage.


    Want more Lil Helper awesomeness? They also carry soft, silky, bamboo wipes (truly luxurious! You wouldn't be amiss to use them as a pampering washcloth for mama instead of a poop swiper for baby's bottom. Not that I would do that or anything. Nope. Not me.), zippered or drawstring wetbags, and mats for the crib or on the go changes. The wetbags hold 3-4 diapers, and the drawstring type that I tried has been great. No leaks, and the bag draws up nice and tight so it keeps odors contained.

    Have I said enough good things yet? Not quite. On top of producing a top-notch diaper, Lil Helper is also extending a helping hand to babies in need. For every 3 Lil Helper diapers that are purchased, another will be donated to a baby in need. The program is called Baby Do Good and these donations happen on a monthly basis. You can read the heart-warming stories on their blog. To read more about why Lil Helper started their program and to have any other questions about it answered you can check out the Baby Do Good page on their website. Thank you for giving back Lil Helper, we applaud you!

    Cons Cons? Hmmmm, I want to give everyone a fair and honest review here, and that really does mean no cons. I haven't found a single thing about the diaper, wipes, or wetbag that I don't like.

    Hands down, Lil Helper has become my favorite new diaper. It's solved so many bothersome problems for us, and there is nothing like the peace of mind knowing you don't have to worry about finding ammonia burns on your baby's bum in the morning. It gives you both a better night's sleep!

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

    We have a winner!

    Posted by Heather Shields On 6:32 PM | No comments
    Thank you to everyone who entered, our sponsors, and Jessica Allen for hosting this series! Minimalist Mama was our winner and she is ecstatic! Stay tuned for more holiday fun and giveaways!

    Friday, December 7, 2012

    Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

    Posted by Heather Shields On 12:12 PM | No comments
    Today I want to share some positivity. In this season of hustle and bustle, finding the perfect sale, gimme's, gotta-get-it's, and keeping up with the Joneses... take a minute and appreciate all that you have and hold dear.

    friday favorite things | finding joy

     Here is my list


    1. My Family You see that header? It's the group of pictures at the top of my blog. Those people make my world go round. Not money. Not things. And if, for some reason, we were unable to wrap presents or trim a tree this year, I know we would all be fine. Because we have each-other.
    2. My Kuerig This one makes me chuckle, and it might make you raise an eyebrow. But the reality is that I'm a slow starter in the morning. Ever tried to start slow with 4 kids and a hubby circling round you with requests and needs before your feet even hit the floor? It's not pretty. My Kuerig makes it bearable.
    3. Our Home My husband and I have been renters for years. His job moved us around, we chose a few moves, and so there was no point in buying our family home. We made that change this year, and at the start of the summer we moved into our first home. It feels amazing knowing that not only is our money not being wasted, but I can do my wife thing and make it FEEL like a home!
    4. Creative Outlets I'm a right brain human through and through. I am left handed, terrible at math, and love to express myself creatively. I write, I sew, I sing, play with makeup and do weird things with my hair, all in the name of creativity. But it's me, and I am so thankful that I have found activities that I connect with that help channel my energy.
    5. 8 Year of Marriage... with a lifetime more to come In a country where the divorce rate is 50%, and most marriages end by the 7th year, I feel like we've accomplished something spectacular having made it to 8. We have definitely grown closer over the last year, and even with our ups and downs I look forward to spending every day of the rest of my life with my husband. With a few girl's nights our thrown in there. ;)
    6. Friends This might look a little far down on my list {and after the Keurig to boot!} but my friends are such an intrinsic part of my life. I talk or text at least 1 of them on a daily basis, they have held me up through some of the hardest times, and stood beside me when I felt like I was on top of the world. Some of them I have never met in person, but if I saw them tomorrow at the grocery store there would be zero weirdness. Sometimes we'll go weeks or months without talking... and then pickup right where we left off. My friends are perfect for me, and I endeavor to be just as well suited for them!
    7. My God "So the last shall be first, and the first shall be last." Matthew 20:16 I leave off with my thankfulness for my God, my faith, not because I thought of it last, and not because I'm more thankful for the rest of these than Him. No, I want this to be last thing you read. I am so thankful that inspite of how badly I screw up on a daily basis I have a God that loves me, forgives me, and constantly gives me new opportunities to challenge myself and grow in Him. 
    What are you thankful for today?

    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Handmade Holidays {Pinterest in pintastic!}

    Posted by Heather Shields On 10:08 PM | 1 comment
    I think 99% of the planet has discovered the awesomeness that is Pinterest. There is such a huge plethora of information from recipes, to health and beauty, to LOL memes, and everything in between.

    In keeping with our Handmade Christmas series, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Pinterest projects. Some of these I plan to use myself, some I only wish I could complete! Enjoy!

    Teacup Candles My mom collects teacups, and so this one immediately caught my attention. Every year the adults in my family throw names into a hat and everyone draws their Secret Santa. I knew if I got my mom's name I would be making this, but alas, I might have to wait until Mother's Day. You could find beautiful cups at a thirft store or garage sales, and even with the cost of the wax, you are spending mere pennies for a beautiful handmade gift!


    Fuzzy Slippers These are just yummy! Whatever fabric your {recipient's} heart desires, coupled with soft, sumptuous insides.. anyone would be delighted to receive these!


    Pajama Pants If you're like me, you buy your kids Christmas PJs every year. This year I'm going to make them myself, save a few $$, and have WAY more cherished memories because of it!


    Cute Bags Have a teen, young adult, or grown woman on your list? Make them a bag. You simply can't go wrong! And my favorite thing about this is you can personalize the style and functionality for the person in mind.



    Trendy Pillows Everyone loves when their home is warm, inviting, and beautiful. Giving your friend or loved one a beautiful handmade pillow that compliments their home is so thoughtful!


    Handmade Bracelets This is a lovely collection of easy to make bracelets. Woman - Jewelry = WIN!


    Fun Fleece Hats Little ones will have so much fun with these easy peasy to make fleece hats! Even if you don't live in a super cold climate, they'll don them and have FUN!


    Coffee Cozy FINALLY! A gift you can give a man! Or woman. Well, maybe some men would dig the fleece hats as much as kids, but this one can go to a may-un. Macho it up with buttons, boy colors, and he can wrap his decaf mocha latte with nonfat whip in testosterone infused style.


    Earbud Case Say you have a Sister. I do. Say she is connected with her ipod like it's her umbilical cord and it's still attached. Mine does. Say she doesn't always keep up with her headphones so well. Mind doesn't. Or that, perhaps, when she comes to visit your kids take her earbuds and rip them, chew them, or jump on them. Mine don't... but yours probably do. This nifty little gift is a way to help your sister keep up with her earbuds, and away from your kids. Yours. Not mine. Because mine don't do that kind of thing.


    There are so many fantastic ideas on Pinterest, and I hope you garner some inspiration from my ideas! Follow me on Pinterest through any of the above links, and keep up with my new pins!

    Saturday, December 1, 2012


    I am pleased to welcome you to the 3rd annual Merry Fluffy Christmas Giveaway Hop hosted by And Then There Were 5. There are over 50 blogs participating, including yours truly,each with sensational prize packages worth $50 or more. Be sure to scroll down and visit each blog and enter their giveaways as well.
    Sneaky Green's prize package is comprised of 3 smashing diapers from amazing companies who go above and beyond in their charity work. You get your choice of color/print/fabric when you win this fluffy prize.
    Our lucky winner will receive our package worth $64.90.
    This package includes...



    Little Bee Co. Cloth Diaper {review posted HERE}
    SRP $23.95
    The Little Bee Co. is all about giving back. For every diaper purchased through their company, another is donated to a baby in need. These purchased culminate in diaper drops delivered round the world. 



    Lil Helper Diaper {review coming SOON!}
    SRP $25.95
    Lil Helper is another fantastic charitable company. For every diaper purchased through their company, another is donated to a baby in need. With unique spec's, like charcoal inserts, you don't want to miss this one!



    Glowbug Diaper {review coming SOON!}
    SRP $15
    Glowbug cloth diapers sells their expertly made diaper in packages ONLY. This saves you money, and you know that each diaper is handcrafted with quality care. 

    {NOTE... please read before attempting to enter! Rafflecopter is having issues with some versions of Internet Explorer properly loading the forms. If you are having an issue with my raffloecopter form, try another browser (if you have one available). If you still are having troubles PLEASE let me know and I will see what I can do!}

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    This giveaway listed at Blog Giveaway Directory

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