{reviewed: big bad bubble}

You know what happens to monsters when they see bubbles? They shriek in fear. Or at least that’s how it works in La La Land.

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After taking Big Bad Bubble to some wise young critics, I can tell you that the book is a hit. And that isn’t a huge surprise because the book comes from Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri.

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Miles and Diego seemed to most enjoy the doughnut trees. The older kids (3 to 5 years) found the story hilarious and loved the illustrations. So we would highly recommend this book for your little library. It’s a fun one.

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blogging: from double to quadruple digits

So y’all know I post here daily and you may wonder why I go to the trouble. I know some of you do because some of you have asked me IRL. 😉

It’s amazing what daily posting can do!

I think the numbers speak for themselves. The middle row shows the views I got in 2011 with my sporadic (to say the least) posts. The bottom row shows the big jump I’ve gotten in 2012 since I began participating in Project #icandoit365. The project officially launched in August, but I jumped the gun and started daily posts in July.

It’s a great idea to plan, write and edit posts ahead of time. I would love to say I always do that, but the truth is I prepare ahead about as often as I don’t. Sometimes, I’m scrambling to throw together my posts at 11:30 p.m. But I’m always happy I went to the trouble. Whether a post reaches 10 people or 150 people, I love the sense of connection and community I’ve found in the blogging world.

Is daily blogging for everyone? No, of course not. But regular blogging is doable for anyone. Maybe that means once a week for you. Or maybe it means a couple times each month. Whatever works for you. I strongly encourage you to try it out, if it’s something you’ve ever considered. And consider joining us in Project #icandoit365. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve had a random flurry of ideas strike all at once. Each time that happens, I quickly grab my notebook and furiously write down the ideas before they disappear. So I’ve always got a resource of post ideas for those days when I just can’t think of what to post.

photo blogging for November

For the month of November, my posts will be dedicated to the November photo a day project from Fat Mum Slim. If you don’t know Chantelle’s blog already, you should check it out! It’s going to be awesome. Feel free to join in the fun! I’ll get back to my regular blogging as I can.

Many of you know, Zach and I are expecting our son any day now. Posting even just a photo a day may prove challenging once the sleep deprivation begins. I hope you will stay with me, dear reader, while I adjust to my exciting new adventure as a mom.

weekend reads #10

Today I’m sharing my food allergy story. First of all I want to share a few resources for some yummy recipes for my fellow food allergy people …

Enjoy Life – This company makes products free of the eight most common allergens. They have loads of recipes on their site. Love!

Milk Allergy Mom – Jamie’s blog is a great resource for those with milk allergies. Her oldest son, Miles, has a severe milk allergy so she takes avoiding dairy seriously. Her simple list of substitutions is helpful when you need to know what replaces your old habits. And her post on a dairy-free Thanksgiving may come as a relief if you’re just approaching your first round of holidays with a dairy allergy.

The Food Allergy Mama – Kelly’s blog is another great resource for people (and parents) dealing with food allergies. Her son, John, has a few food allergies and asthma, which increases the danger of allergic reactions. She has written a book of recipes for baking with food allergies. Some of the food she posts about looks seriously delicious. It will make you want to start baking.

Earlier this year I found out I’m allergic to dairy. And there’s a good chance I have been allergic to dairy my whole life but didn’t know it. There’s no test for a dairy allergy and my symptoms weren’t obvious.

If you’re rolling your eyes, I don’t blame you. A year ago, I would have been skeptical too. Here’s what I know: I got repeated infections throughout my first pregnancy. The infections would show up in urine cultures but never had any symptoms I could feel or see. I took antibiotics for each infection, but they kept returning, even after I started a daily low dose antibiotic.

When I got pregnant this time, here came cultures showing infections again. I started doing research. My doctors were all doing the same. I had been through several uncomfortable (to say the least) tests to try to find a physical reason for the infections. My doctors were mystified.

Then one day I stumbled upon a few articles describing women who suffered the same infections because of a dairy allergy. My mom found the same in her searches. We were in the middle of emailing back and forth about our findings when my doctor called to say she wanted me to try eliminating dairy from my diet. I told her I was all over it. I would do anything to protect this baby. Giving up dairy seemed a small sacrifice to make.

That’s not to say I wasn’t concerned. I love pizza, macaroni and cheese, cupcakes, cereal, coffee – all things that typically involve dairy. And then there’s butter. I mean, how was I going to cook things?

So began my adventures in dairy-free eating. I quit cold turkey and it was easier than I expected it to be. Thank the foodie gods for Whole Foods and the many, many nondairy options available. Now I’ve found plenty of replacements for the foods I thought were gone forever. I love Tofurky pizza. So Delicious coconut milk ice cream is amazing. And Enjoy Life makes some of the yummiest cookies (with or without dairy) in the history of cookies. And I drink Silk PureAlmond dark chocolate milk daily. I’m hooked on the stuff.

A few things happened when I cut out dairy. The infections stopped. My eczema went away and hasn’t returned. I slept better and felt better. The dietician I started seeing after I found out about the allergy told me she thinks dairy allergies are probably far more common than anyone realizes because they can be so hard to diagnose.

A friend of mine who quit dairy after her doctor suggested it had many of the same results. And her doctor mentioned that people who have dairy allergies sometimes notice a decrease in seasonal allergies when they quit dairy. She mentioned that to me just a couple months ago. That’s when I realized I never got the allergies that typically pounce in the spring. And so far the same is true for the fall.

People keep asking me whether I’ll go back to eating dairy. I don’t think I will. Why would I eat something I know irritates my body? I do hope my son and our future children will not inherit my dairy allergy. But if they do, I know they will have plenty of great alternatives so that they won’t feel left out.

Weekend reads is a regular roundup of bloggers and their awesome sites. I sometimes get overwhelmed with all the new blogs I want to check out. This is a series of weekly posts, which features blogs I already follow as well as ones I’m just discovering.

If you write a blog I should know about or have a favorite you would like to recommend, contact me. If you’re interested in writing about three of your favorite blogs, let me know and we can talk about setting up a guest post.

weekend reads #9

Photo by Zach Callaway

This week, rather than focusing on specific blogs, I want to talk about how you can start/add to/supplement your blog. It doesn’t have to be particularly time consuming or complicated. A post can be a photo with little or no words.

A few things I love about photo posts:

  • Photo posts allow me to marry two things I heart (taking pictures and collecting quotes).
  • Photo posts are quick.
  • Photo posts are inherently Pinable and shareable. Let’s face it, the Internet is highly visual.

You’ve probably seen some photo posts on this blog too. I use Pixlr for my photo posts because it’s awesome and user friendly (and free). I would never claim to be an expert, so I’ve found a few articles worth checking out.

Photo by Rori Harrington

Check out the collection of 30 photoblogs by 10,000 Words for inspiration. (Be sure to check out the link for the Pro Blog Design article too.) Mashable has a great article on how to get started.

Do you have a favorite photo blog? Do you have a photography hobby the world hasn’t seen? Share!

Weekend reads is a regular roundup of bloggers and their awesome sites. I sometimes get overwhelmed with all the new blogs I want to check out. This is a series of weekly posts, which features blogs I already follow as well as ones I’m just discovering.

If you write a blog I should know about or have a favorite you would like to recommend, contact me. If you’re interested in writing about three of your favorite blogs, let me know and we can talk about setting up a guest post.

weekend reads #8

Weekend reads is a regular roundup of bloggers and their awesome sites. I sometimes get overwhelmed with all the new blogs I want to check out. This is a series of weekly posts, which features blogs I already follow as well as ones I’m just discovering. Let’s get started!

Dear Baby is Melissa’s super sweet blog. She and her husband have a daughter and a son. The posts are all about their adorable family. If you don’t blog already, you will probably want to after seeing the posts.

The posts read like love letters to her children with special notes on how tall they are and funny things they recently said. There are family recipes provided for them. Someday these kids will be all grown up and have this amazing digital scrapbook of memories from their parents.

I would provide specific links here, but the posts are individually linkable. There are special links on the right of the main page, though. Look for the Letters to Everly link for posts for their daughter. And Letters to Arlo for posts for their son.

I dare you to get through a few of these posts without crying. I read one aloud to Zach and he nearly cried too. It has inspired us to do the same for son. More to come on that, I’m sure. 🙂

On to Baby is a style blog edited by Susie who welcomed her daughter, Gracie, in 2011. The site was created by the team at The Wedding Chicks.

There are some really useful posts for expecting parents and those with little ones already here. I could spend hours browsing their Real Nurseries. Sooooo many beautiful baby spaces! And the Parties posts are adorable. How cute is that blue and orange party? So much cute!

If you’re a Pinterest addict like me, you may very well recognize lots of their images. I know I’ve repinned lots of their lovely finds. Oh, and a little warning: You may run out of ink fast if you spend too much time browsing their free printables.

Grey Likes Baby is a beautiful blog curated by Summer. Her posts are filled with photos that will inspire you to get creative. There are stunning family photos, adorable Halloween costume ideas and plenty more.

This site is highly visual. I really love the post on frame walls. This is something I’m hoping to add to our nursery, as we take photos of our little guy. I’ve got spray paint ready to coordinate frames, which I plan to get second-hand. I like when the frame styles vary. There are simple and adorable DIY projects too!

If you write a blog I should know about or have a favorite you would like to recommend, contact me. If you’re interested in writing about three of your favorite blogs, let me know and we can talk about setting up a guest post.

weekend reads #7

Weekend reads is a regular roundup of bloggers and their awesome sites. I sometimes get overwhelmed with all the new blogs I want to check out. This is a series of weekly posts, which features blogs I already follow as well as ones I’m just discovering. Let’s get started!

I doubled up on weekend reads this week, as promised. Check out yesterday’s post for three more. All six for this weekend are focused on living green and frugal. As someone who knows all about living on a limited budget, I find it helpful to learn from fellow budget-conscious bloggers. Now that we have a little one on the way, I’m especially interested in blogs with a focus on women and families.

The Green Mom Review is perfect for parents who are concerned about the products and toys they buy for their children. We all want to avoid toxins and most of us like to be green too, right?

Don’t let the name fool you. The women behind TGMR do not do reviews. They write about products and services they like and only share the ones they would recommend. And they don’t collaborate with companies, so you don’t have to worry about greenwashing. Oh, and they keep the posts short and simple.

There’s more to the site than stuff. If you’re a bookworm, like me, check out their green book nook for earth-friendly recommendations. It can be hard to know what to add to a baby registry or what to buy for a mom-to-be. Some of the products on this site seem great. Their posts on the grass drying rack, the glassen travel mug, and the divided platter kind of make me want to buy them all!

Heather left a career in engineering to be a stay-at-home mom, and started her blog – Freebies4Mom – to share her experience.

She shares coupons, codes and tips for those looking to get the best deal. Her site is a great resource for everything from special discount codes on diapers to warnings about free trials.

I heart her post on making a DIY Lego kit. What kid wouldn’t love that? And it keeps one more container from heading to the landfills. I also really appreciated her post about the value of time for bloggers. I think her four bits of blogging wisdom probably apply for most of us beyond the keyboard.

Crystal grew up in a big family and is now a mother of three. Her site – Money Saving Mom – came to be after she shared stories of her savvy shopping skills. Now the site has grown to include a whole team of experts.

The post on simplifying birthday parties makes some excellent points. It’s so easy to want to go overboard for any party, when keeping it simple can often go so much further. The free download links provided on the site are great. Getting organized is easy when you have so many resources a click away.

If you’re a bargain hunter, you can save a lot of time and effort by browsing Money Saving Mom. Be sure to check out the freebies and giveaways link too! Free online knitting classes? Yes, please! There are also lots of posts for free foods too, even stuff for those who have food allergies. Be sure to check out the deals and steals link for more savings on everything from diapers to cookbooks.

If you write a blog I should know about or have a favorite you would like to recommend, contact me. If you’re interested in writing about three of your favorite blogs, let me know and we can talk about setting up a guest post.

weekend reads #6

Weekend reads is a regular roundup of bloggers and their awesome sites. I sometimes get overwhelmed with all the new blogs I want to check out. This is a series of weekly posts, which features blogs I already follow as well as ones I’m just discovering. Let’s get started!

I’m doubling up on weekend reads this week, as promised. There will be three more posted tomorrow in addition to today’s three. All six for this weekend are focused on living frugal. As someone who knows all about living on a limited budget, I find it helpful to learn from fellow budget-conscious bloggers. Now that we have a little one on the way, I’m especially interested in blogs with a focus on women and families.

I really love Frugal Babe. It features years of posts by a wife and mom working to pay down business debt as well as a mortgage. Over the years she has become a mother of two and she never claims to be some financial guru. She simply shares her own experiences.

I really enjoyed her post on gift giving on a budget. Giving her kids experiences rather than toys sounds like a fun idea. Adventures are much more fun than things, in my opinion.

I also like her post on a pantry overhaul. I’m currently on the hunt for a door rack for our pantry. And as a jar saver, I love her use of them for storing bulk foods. I think I’ll start using them for our bird food. We’ve been using plastic containers, but the static makes them a bit of a pain.

Stacy is the budget-conscious, crafty mother of four behind Not Just a Housewife. On the blog, she says she likes to work within a budget because it forces one to think outside the box. I love that way of looking at it!

Her tutorials are awesome and easy to follow. I really liked the polka-dot solar lamp tutorial. She also has some fun family projects. How adorable are the cardboard cars for an indoor drive-in movie night with the family? What kid wouldn’t love that? Fun (and frugal)!

Her blog is lovely too. She has giveaways and writes about life stuff too. This is not a stuffy blog, which is nice. And she doesn’t constantly pitch products. Also nice. I really enjoyed her post about decorating with meaning. Let’s face it, the things we love most in our homes are almost always the ones with special significance, right? All the more reason not to constantly buy new tchotchkes.

The Frugalista is a website and a blog. There’s a little bit of everything frugal and fabulous on this site. Natalie P. McNeal is the journalist and personal finance smarty behind the site.

I think Natalie and I are kindred spirits. She took a vow of frugality after going a month without any hair appointments, meals out or mani/pedi time. I haven’t had a manicure or pedicure in more than a year, and just had my first haircut in more than 10 months. As for meals out, I would much rather spend the money on groceries and eat at home.

I love Natalie’s blog. It’s smart and savvy without being dry. And she has some great tips. Her post on frugal entertainment is great. Am I the only one who didn’t know about Bulktix? (Be sure to click through to her guest post for more goodness!) I also heart her Q&A with Edward Humes. Can you believe how much trash the average American makes in a day?

If you write a blog I should know about or have a favorite you would like to recommend, contact me. If you’re interested in writing about three of your favorite blogs, let me know and we can talk about setting up a guest post.