Sunday, December 25, 2016

how to avoid freezer burn!

So is anyone else gearing up for the new year? Us too! Raise your hand if one of your resolutions is to eat healthier? Us too! So for us, that means a lot of meal prepping.

We already purchased some meal prep containers from Amazon for Scott's lunches (we love these because they actually fit in his lunch box! Our tupperware didn't...).

best ways to prevent freezer burn for meal prepping, healthy meals, freezer meals

So how are we preparing? Well, every Sunday we pre-make as much as we can. So garlic & herb mashed cauliflower is made in huge batches along with Mexican Cauliflower Rice, and fruits & veggies are washed & diced. We also make as many freezer meals as we can fit in our freezer!

We used to never make freezer meals because everything just tasted awful if it was even slightly freezer burnt & we'd end up tossing the whole thing. BUT I have a lot of freezer meal recipes show up on Pinterest and it made me wonder how everyone else did it. so I did my research and I found the best tips out there for preventing freezer burn! I hope this helps you as much as it's going to help us this year!

best ways to prevent freezer burn for meal prepping, healthy meals, freezer meals

Tips to avoid freezer burn:

1. Use freezer containers! (they are made of thicker plastic or glass)
2. Remove as much air as possible (fill containers full leaving 1/2 inch from top for expansion if it's a liquid)
3. Allow foods to cool before you freeze so you don't get ice crystals from frozen steam.
5. Keep temperatures below freezing. If possible store in a separate freezer than the one you use regularly so that the temperature doesn't rise from being opened and closed all the time.
6. Double wrap it.
     * For breads/baked goods, wrap in foil first then a ziplock freezer bag.
     * For meals in casserole dishes (casseroles, enchiladas, lasagna, etc), cool the meal in the fridge and then cut a sheet of aluminum foil the same size as the casserole dish, spray one side with cooking spray so it won't stick, and then press it on top of your dish, then cover with it's lid. This will keep air from touching your freezer meal and help prevent ice crystals from forming.
7. Freeze in small batches. (The faster the food freezes the less likely it is to have large ice crystals form.)

Did you know?

Freezer burn mainly occurs when the temperature of the freezer is inconsistent and/or the food has not been securely wrapped in air tight packaging. So do your best to make sure your food containers are securely sealed with as little air as possible AND try not to open the freezer too much to keep the temperature from fluctuating!

Good luck and happy meal prepping!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Save money with Groupon Coupons!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

Who else loves payday? Honestly, I love it and I hate it at the same time. It seems like every expense in the world comes up as soon as I get paid. Even if my paycheck is bigger than normal, it's still gone just as fast! It's ridiculous.

For that reason, I try my best to save wherever I can. It's more than just waiting around for sales. I look for coupons now too! I'm not quite at the "extreme couponer" level yet, but I do save a bit with Groupon Coupons.

They've actually got a pretty wide variety of coupons. Anything from food to clothing stores (like Dressbarn and Tommy Hilfiger) and spa packages!

For example they have 16 coupons available for Shari's Berries alone! Haven't heard of Shari's Berries? My mom always sends us their chocolate covered strawberries for birthdays and holidays. They are delicious, the presentation is amazing and they send them in a refrigerated box in the mail.

It's a great gift for the holidays; we look forward to eating them! The last one my mom sent me was actually on a really rough day. David had just spilt the breast milk I had pumped for his sister all over himself so I had to give him a bath fast forward to him running away from me naked & pooping in the corner! Ugh! That mom life! (Ironically this was on Mother's Day!) Shari's Berries will always have a special spot in my heart because it made a rough day better.

TIP: if you receive one of these boxes, hide it right away! Hide it from your kids & spouse! That way you don't have to share ;)

Do yourself a favor & check it out! If there's even the slightest possibility you could save money this holiday season, it's worth it!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Why I love Nature Made and Walmart

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as a part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central

Alright guys, today I just wanted to do a quick talk about vitamins. As you know, we have a busy lifestyle here in our home. With two under the age of two, EVERYTHING is a little bit of a hassle ;) There is no such thing as a quick trip to the store anymore! I joke about it, but it really is something that I miss!

I do my best to time shopping trips for when my husband can watch the kids, but sometimes that is just not possible. Because of this, I have discovered a next to perfect alternative.

What I've found to be the most efficient way to shop is to first off make a list (soo important) and then second, try and shop at as few places as possible. That means trying to get as many items at one store as I can.

For us, the best place to do that is at a Walmart Supercenter! They literally have everything! We can get groceries, diapers, wipes, pet food, even protein powder & vitamins!

Luckily, we have a Walmart Supercenter extremely close by because without it I would be running all over town to make my weekly purchases. Is anyone else thankful for Walmart? or is that just me? lol

naturemade vitamins are my favorite! find them at walmart!

I only get vitamins from Walmart because they carry the brand that I love: Nature Made. Including Nature Made vitamins in our purchases has helped me to feel that I am making my best effort at striving to be as healthy as I can.

And in case you didn't know, Nature Made® is the #1 Pharmacist Recommended brand for many key dietary supplement categories* 

Plus, Walmart always has low prices on vitamins so I really don't even need to wait for a sale. I can just pick them up whenever it is convenient for me.

Quick tip: if you love probiotics, Nature Made has those too, just make sure to stop by a Walmart Supercenter to purchase those!

naturemade vitamins are my favorite! find them at walmart!

Have you ever used Nature Made? Here are some facts about them that you may not know:
Nature Made® Probiotics: Nature Made® Advanced Dual Action Probiotic has been clinically studied and provides dual support to both your small and large intestine for comprehensive coverage to help support digestive balance and healthy gut flora.†

Nature Made® vitamins and supplements: An easy, convenient way to help your body get the nutritional support it needs every day, whether it be to support bone health, immune health or energy metabolism (helping convert food into energy).†

Nature Made® has a variety of vitamins, minerals, and supplements (VMS) to help support nutritional gaps with your health goals in mind ranging from Digestive Support, Heart Health & Function, Energy Metabolism, Women’s Health and much more!†

naturemade vitamins are my favorite! find them at walmart!

If you love Nature Made and Walmart, there is a sweepstakes where you have a chance to win one of SIXTY $50 Walmart gift cards. To enter, visit this site (Walmart Nature Made® Retailer Hub) for the details, no purchase necessary!

*Based on the 2016 U.S. News & World Report – Pharmacy Times Survey.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

How to save money with Groupon!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

Guess what holiday is around the corner? All of them! It's that time of year. Gift-giving season is upon us! Have you started your holiday shopping? Personally, I love using Groupon to browse for deals on different gifts or even just household items that I need.

I still remember when I was first really introduced to Groupon. It was almost exactly 3 years ago. I was at work and one of my co-workers was talking about the Groupon app (yes, they have an app too!). He mentioned how he had already finished his Christmas shopping for his wife and that he couldn't stop buying her things on there because of all the great deals! Well, later that night, I downloaded the same app and have been addicted ever since.

Not only do they have fantastic deals on nights' out (date night anyone?) but they also have deals on goods you'd need anyway. I purchased a knife set 3 years ago and it's still in great shape.

shop groupon for deals on great items

Honestly, head on over to Groupon Goods and just start perusing. You can find deals on anything from bath towels to those super cool rainfall shower heads!

shop groupon for deals on great items

I love Groupon. In fact, we need a new scale for our bathroom, so if you don't mind I'm gonna head on over right now to see what they've got ;)

Happy Holidays & Happy Shopping!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why I don't make my son apologize.

You read that right. I don't make my toddler apologize. Well, what I mean is, I don't make him apologize for accidents. When he runs over to his baby sister and smacks her on the head I do make him apologize (after sitting in time out).

why I dont make my kids apologize

In our culture it is common practice to over-apologize. I have done it my whole life. Oh, we reached for the same thing at the grocery store "oh, sorry." Did we almost bump into each other? "sorry again."

Honestly, I never really thought this was strange until someone pointed it out to me at work almost 5 years ago. He was from Mexico so it's possible it's not common to say this for everything over there? He told me a story about something trivial, like bad traffic and I responded with an "I'm sorry. That sucks." Apparently this was the last straw because he said "You're sorry? Why are you always saying you're sorry?" I didn't know what to say. It's just a habit I guess?

I now try my best to come up with better responses rather than apologizing, because it's really not my fault.

Now when it comes to my two year old, I think it is important for him to understand how to apologize and admit when he is wrong. I do my best to model that behavior. But I learned something very quickly when I tried to make him apologize for an accident--he wouldn't do it! He clearly felt bad that his sister was crying when he wasn't intentionally trying to make her upset, but he refused to apologize. Instead he just sat there silent and in shock. This is when I decided to stop making him apologize.

Here is why:

  1. He clearly felt bad enough. He felt worse for making his sister cry on accident than he ever did when he hurt her on purpose. 
  2. I don't want to rub salt in the wound. Like I said before, he already felt bad, why would I want to make him feel worse? 
  3. He doesn't understand. Right now, for my son, an apology is something we say when we did something wrong, like hitting the cat or taking a toy away from his sister. Forcing him to apologize would just make him think he did something wrong. Accidents are oftentimes, out of our control.

What I do instead:

Alright, so what do I do when he does something accidentally that hurts someone? I give him a hug.

For example, yesterday he was walking and tripped, knocking his sister over. She immediately started crying and he stood there, silent, unsure of what to do, clearly feeling bad, and wondering if he'd get in trouble. Instead, I immediately ran to comfort Farrah & held my arm out signaling for David to come over. I gave them both hugs. I asked David if he was okay, and told him to try and be more careful next time. He hugged me back, smiled, and handed the baby her binky. 

why I dont make my kids apologize

Accidents happen. I'm not saying this is what everyone should do, but this is what works for us in our home. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Potty Training Essentials

This post was sponsored by Charmin as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

Alright you guys, today I wanted to talk to you about Potty Training. As you may know, our son is TWO years old!! I can't believe how fast he is growing up! He turned two in the beginning of July and we think he may finally be ready to take the plunge and start potty training. 

This is a huge deal. I don't recommend potty training unless your toddler seems ready. One clue that helped us is seeing David insist on diaper changes as soon as he dirtied them. He used to fight us on getting a new diaper--not anymore! This is just one thing that really clued us in.

When you decide to start potty training you need to be ready. You need to make sure you've done your research and have a game plan for how you are going to tackle it. This isn't something you just wake up one morning deciding to do.
potty training essentials- charmin now has a bargain priced toilet paper!

Here are some things to think about before getting started:

1. Has my child transitioned to a toddler bed?

  • I definitely recommend this. Think about it. What happens if you kid needs to go in the middle of the night but can't get out of bed? 
  • Transitioning from crib to toddler bed is a whole other obstacle, so make sure you take care of this at a separate time from potty training. Don't attempt too many new things at once.
    • make sure you toddler proof the house before transitioning to a toddler bed! We have chain locks on our doors now because our son can unlock the door. Last thing we'd want is for a jail-break in the middle of the night!

2. Do I need to adjust our bed time routine to take out any last minute drinks?

  • For a while we were giving David some water in a sippy cup to drink in his bed. We had to slowly phase this out to try our best to eliminate needing to use the restroom in the middle of the night.

3. Do you have a potty training seat?

  • Not everyone uses these, but we definitely find them beneficial for those tiny bums.

4. Do you have enough toilet paper??

potty training essentials- charmin now has a bargain priced toilet paper!
  • When kids start wiping for the first time they tend to use wayyy too much toilet paper so we love to go for bargain brands.
  • Even if your kid isn't wiping themselves yet, it is still a new thing for the parent. Learning to wipe someone else on the toilet is a whole lot different from wiping yourself and for me at least, takes a lot of attempts to make sure everything is clean since I can't see it as well as I could during a diaper change.
  • Because we have one more person on the toilet in this house, and the reasons mentioned above, we are going through wayy more toilet paper than we used to so we decided to turn to bargain toilet paper. Unfortunately, the normal bargain brand we used just wasn't doing the trick. But did you know that Charmin just launched a new product that is actually comparable to that bargain brand toilet paper price?? Well, they did. They have the Charmin Essentials Soft and the Charmin Essentials Strong. We prefer the Soft and it is amazing! It is super soft and advertised as being clog-safe which is sooo important during potty training!
  • potty training essentials- charmin now has a bargain priced toilet paper!
    • One more thing. Charmin is actually running a deal right now where you can upgrade your current Angel Soft or Scott 1000 toilet paper to the new Charmin Essentials Soft or Strong. This is a FREE upgrade! All you have to do is tweet your TP swap out request to @Charmin using the hashtag #CharminEssentials and #Promotion and Charmin will send you a FREE roll! (read terms and conditions here)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What you should know about freezing breastmilk!

I like to be pretty transparent here on Lexi Michelle Blog, and so today I want to tell you a little about my experience breastfeeding this time around, specifically about storing breastmilk in the freezer.

I wish I had know this BEFORE i started my breast milk freezer stash! No one ever tells you about this! MUST READ!

So, with my first I did no freezer storage whatsoever & I regretted it. I regretted it when I went back to work shortly after he was born and my milk supply completely DROPPED! It was almost impossible for me to bring it back up. Plus, while my work did have a mother's room for pumping mothers, I felt guilty taking as many pumping "breaks" as I would need to keep it up. No one else in my department was a mom, there were a 1 or 2 fathers, but I just didn't think anyone really understood. It felt like people just thought I was relaxing in the break room & skipping out on work, even though that was not the case at all.

I am a stay at home mom now, and so I probably don't "need" a freezer stash, but I opted for one for emergencies.

I did struggle in the beginning with an initial oversupply of milk right after Farrah was born which led to plugged ducts and eventually mastitis & then an allergic reaction (hives) to the medication they gave me to treat mastitis. This then led to a decrease in my milk supply. So it was tough.

I worked hard to increase it.

I purchased Brewers Yeast, added Ground Flaxseed to everything and even started eating oatmeal & drinking coconut water even though I hate both of those things! And you know what? It worked! After a couple days my milk supply increased. I was pretty prone to plugged ducts after that bout of mastitis, and so occasionally my supply would drop a little, but for the most part I produced a ton of breast milk!

I was happy. I had enough milk where every time I pumped I could give one bottle to Farrah & one would go in a freezer bag & straight into the freezer.

This built up my freezer stash very quickly! But I never touched it! Why? Because fresh breast milk was just so much more convenient for multiple reasons:

  1. It is already the right temperature.
  2. It can stand for up to 6 hours at room temperature before expiring.
  3. I always forgot to pull breast milk out of the freezer to thaw.
breastmilk storage guidelines- what I wish I knew before I started my freezer stash!
Add caption

Okay, so when my freezer started to fill up I decided I should probably start rotating out. When I actually started using this milk I learned a couple of things that I wish I had known ahead of time:

  1. Freezer milk is a lot more temperamental.
    • it is only good for 24 hours in the fridge (and takes almost as long to thaw completely).
    • it is only good for 1 hour standing at room temperature.
  2. The taste changes.
    • Yes, I taste my breast milk. I noticed that anything from the freezer older than about 6 weeks started to taste more iron-y/metallic. Why? I guess this has something to do with the enzymes that digest milk(lipase) breaking down the fats while the milk is stored. The milk is still perfectly fine for baby, but some babies don't like the taste.
  3. It is pretty inconvenient to prevent the metallic taste.
    • I read that you can prevent the metallic taste from happening if you heat the breast milk on the stove (not oven) until the edges start to bubble, then let it cool, & freeze it. This works because it stops the activity of those enzymes.
    • I have never tried it, but honestly, the whole house falls apart when I pump. David turns into a little toddler tornado & I really don't have time to heat milk on the stove & watch it to make sure it doesn't turn into a rolling boil.

So what would I do differently?

I would definitely start rotating out freezer milk every couple weeks. This taste is something I only noticed in my older milk, so instead I recommend rotating it out and not waiting until the milk is already 3 months old to do it. 

I am pretty lucky and Farrah will drink the older, metallic-y tasting milk, but I do feel pretty bad giving it to her and avoid it as much as possible. My sister has had success feeding her son bottles that are half fresh and half frozen breast milk to minimize the taste so that is another option. Otherwise, scald the milk like I mentioned before.

But honestly, this is something NO ONE talks about when mentioning their freezer milk & I really wish I had known about it when I started storing breast milk.

One more thing!

If you are using those Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags (which is what I use) and you are thawing the milk in the fridge, be sure to set those bags in like a tupperware container or a small bowl because I have had a couple leakers! I think it's because the frozen milk can be sharp when frozen & sometimes cuts into the plastic baggies. Nothing's worse than spilt milk!