A Birthday Celebration, Summer Update + Giveaway!

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I can’t believe it’s been a year already! The Homemade Haus officially turns 1 this summer! It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m incredibly thankful for the encouragement and support I’ve received from friends, family and readers. You have helped make this an amazing adventure, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store in for the next year.

Speaking of what's next...

I’m a planner. I like lists and calendars. I get a goal in my head, and half the fun for me is plotting out how to reach it. The only problem? Sometimes I get a little overzealous and overcommitted, resulting in either crappy work or complete burnout. I don’t want that to happen to this site. I’m trying to be more careful, intentional and realistic in my work – and motherhood adds an entirely new set of challenges that I didn’t have to work through in my previous blogging experience. 

Favorite Things Giveaway

So, I’ve decided to take the month of July off from posting new content here for two reasons: to rest and to learn. I will be spending time intentionally resting and unplugging for part of the month as my husband, kids and I go on vacation. In other words, I will be actually reading books – you know, those paper things that don’t require Internet or an outlet to enjoy? No wifi, no Netflix…just family, the woods and a good book. I seriously cannot wait!

The second reason for this month off is to have time to focus on learning. I’ll be participating in a writing workshop, tinkering with the backend of the blog and finishing up some video tutorial classes I started months (some even years) ago. It’ll still be a very full month, but you won’t see the fruits of that labor in the form of new content, at least for now. 

With all that being said, I thought that the first birthday of The Homemade Haus and the kick-off to my month away deserved a giveaway! (After all, we launched this site with a giveaway…why not keep that tradition going?) Thanks to several amazing sponsors that I’ve had the privilege of working with this past year, one winner will enjoy a prize pack (worth about $120!) filled with a few of my favorite things! 

Favorite Things Giveaway

Here’s what’s included:

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below! 

Product for this giveaway was provided in partnership with FreshGround Roasting, K'Tizo Tea, Sonoma Syrup Co. and The Spice House. All opinions are 100% my own. This giveaway is only open to US residents and will start Wednesday, June 29 and close at 12:00am on Wednesday, July 6 (CDT). The winner will be contacted via email or social media and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected. 

Haus Favorites: Bright Eyed Baby State Flash Cards [and a giveaway!]

Bright Eyed Baby US Flash Cards

My mom was a history teacher while I was growing up. Our family outings often involved scouting out potential field trip locations for her eighth grade class. I've been to quite a few battlefields and taken my fair share of photos in front of canon replicas. We drove everywhere for vacations, and whenever we groaned, "How much loooonger?", she'd respond by saying something about how difficult it would have been to travel in a covered wagon. I remember looking at the names of people who came through Ellis Island, learning about the history of flight at the National Air and Space Museum and silently standing in awe at the edge of the Grand Canyon. As I look back, I'm grateful for all those lessons I learned (despite often complaining at the time), and I'm convinced that my appreciation for the history, culture, beauty and diversity of this place has deepened because of what I was taught as a child. 

Bright Eyed Baby US Flash Cards
Bright Eyed Baby US Flash Cards

A couple months ago, I came across Bright Eyed Baby on Instagram and immediately fell in love with their USA-themed flash cards. There's a "50 States" set as well as a few state-specific sets (with more in the works). They're sturdy enough for my toddlers and have beautiful, colorful illustrations that my kiddos love. The cards also feature vocabulary words, making them a great tool for kids learning to read or for teaching various facts about the United States. 

Bright Eyed Baby US Flash Cards
Bright Eyed Baby US Flash Cards

If these were around when I was young, there's no doubt in my mind that my mom would have owned every set. I have to admit, when I flipped through them last week I learned a few new things even as an adult. (Did you know that Connecticut's unofficial nickname is the "Nutmeg State"? I had no idea, and there's actually a fascinating history behind it.) 

Bright Eyed Baby US Flash Cards

I'm excited to use these cards to teach my kids through the years - whether it be colors or animal sounds, how to read or the impact of Abraham Lincoln. And maybe someday, we'll even use them as a springboard for a  "USA themed bucket list."

Bright Eyed Baby US Flash Cards

Now for the giveaway! In partnership with The Homemade Haus, Bright Eyed Baby is giving away a set of flash cards! One winner will receive a "Celebrate our 50 States" set, which includes 50 flash cards with unique illustrations and vocabulary words associated with each state. The giveaway contest is available to U.S. residents and will only run until Friday at 12pm (CST). All the details on how to enter are posted on my Instagram feed, so head over there to learn how to enter!

As a bonus, Bright Eyed Baby is offering 15% off their flash cards to all readers of The Homemade Haus! Just enter coupon code HOMEMADE at checkout! The code is only good through Sunday, April 10, so get shopping!

Products for feature and giveaway were provided by Bright Eyed Baby. All opinions are 100% my own.

Haus Favorites: NurturMe Organic Baby + Toddler Food [and a giveaway!]

OK, mamas. Let's talk baby food. Before my kids starting eating solids, I had grand ambitions to make all their food at home. Generally speaking (aside from the occasional late-night Wendy's run or pizza splurge), my husband and I eat real food, and I wanted to make sure our kids did, too. 

While I have made a decent amount of homemade baby food over the last couple months, I've quickly realized that I can't keep up with their growing bodies! Despite being such small humans, they sure do eat a lot! For my own sanity, I have to have ready-made foods on hand. On those crazy days when there's not much in the fridge they can eat with only two bottom teeth, when we're out and about or when my blender and I just need a break, it's nice to grab something quick from the pantry. I've also found I'm able to add more variety to my kids' diets with store-bought blends that I wouldn't necessarily bother to make at home.

We recently tried the Quinoa Squares, Yum-A-Roo's, blended meals and reusable eco-pouches from NurturMe, and so far, I'm a huge fan! NurturMe baby and toddler foods are certified organic, gluten-free, non-GMO and kosher, with no added preservatives, sugars or salts. It's exactly what I want for my kids - real food. 

At first, I was a little unsure about the dried blended meals, but my kids loved them, and the little packets make it super easy to bring baby food along when you're traveling. Simply mix each packet with enough water to make it the right consistency for your child. Or, you can use breastmilk or formula for added nutrition.

The Quinoa Squares were also a huge hit with my kids, and I definitely want to buy more of those (they're way more nutritious than many other snack alternatives, too.) I've just started giving my kiddos Yum-A-Roo's in the last couple days, because they were a little too young for them until recently. My daughter likes them, but my son seems to get a little frustrated when he attempts to pick up the little pieces. He tries, but definitely drops more than he eats. So, unfortunately, I can't tell yet whether or not those have unanimous kid-approval in my house. 

The last product we tried was the eco-pouch. Eco-pouches are environmentally friendly, dishwasher safe, refillable pouches that you can fill with NurturMe food or your own purees. Most importantly, they're so stinking convenient, especially when I'm out running errands or need to give the kids an easy snack. There are a few points to note on these, though.

First, they work a little better, at least for my kids, if the purees are the consistency of applesauce or thinner. I tried to put thicker purees in there, and my kids had a little trouble getting the food out. Secondly, they're pretty easy to fill, but I had a tendency to over-fill them the first couple times, which made a mess. They hold a decent amount of food (6.5 fluid ounces), and as long as you don't try to stuff way more in there, you'll have no problem. Oh, and put the cap on before you fill them! You'd think that'd be obviously, but I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten to put the cap on and suddenly the food starts leaking out the top! I blame mommy brain. Lastly, one thing I didn't realize at first was that they're only good for 15 uses. I was a little bummed that I couldn't get more use out of them, but even with 15 uses, they still end up being less expensive and way more eco-friendly than many other alternatives. 

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If you want to know more about NurturMe products, head over to nurturme.com. You can view nutritional information, pricing, order online or find a list of stores where you can purchase their products. You can also check them out on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

(My kids look like they're sharing, but they're more likely stealing food from each other.)

Now for the giveaway! If you've made it all the way to the end of this post, you probably either skipped ahead to find the giveaway details, or you're super interested in learning all you can about NurturMe. Either way, here's the info you've been waiting for!

In partnership with The Homemade Haus, NurturMe is giving 1 lucky winner a gift package worth $55! All the goodies in the gift pack are pictured below. All you need to do is follow The Homemade Haus and NurturMe on Instgram AND tag a friend in the comments of the recent Instagram photo I posted of my daughter (it'll be the photo of her eating from the NurturMe eco-pouch). 

The giveaway contest will only run until Friday at 12pm (CST), so what are you waiting for? Head to Instagram to enter!

Products for review and giveaway were provided by NurturMe. All opinions are 100% my own. I only feature companies and products I truly like and strive to be thorough and honest in my reviews.

All images in this post are my own, except the final image of the gift pack, which was provided by NurturMe.  

Haus Favorites: 10 Baby Products I Use and Love

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We found out last summer at our eight week doctor's appointment that we were expecting twins. I had hoped and prayed for two munchkins, but when reality started to sink in after that first appointment, I was overwhelmed. In an effort to process the news and grasp for some semblance of control over the situation (hah!), I spent hours online looking up baby products. Figuring out what "stuff" to get helped me wrap my mind around the concept of having two infants. (Oy. I still can't believe there's two of them!)

It's funny how the tables turn in just a year, because recently a friend of mine who is expecting twins asked me for advice on her registry. I'm no expert, and this is by no means comprehensive, but I shared with her (and now am sharing with you) a few baby items I use and love. Of course, every parent is different and every baby is different, so what works for me may not work for you. With that in mind, though, I hope you'll find the info below helpful.

1. Covered Goods Multi-Use Nursing CoverI recently did a review of these nursing covers, so you can read more about them here

2. Burp Cloths (the old-school, cloth diaper kind). There are all kinds of cute burp cloths out there. I have some of them. I bought some of them. At least the ones I bought don't work nearly as well as the less-expensive, old-school, cloth diapers turned burp cloths. The burp cloth is going to get puked on, so in my opinion, get one that's absorbent and that you can buy in large quantities for little money (especially if you've got a baby with reflux like we did. You go through sooooo many burp cloths!). 

3. Aden + Anais Muslin SwaddleI've been asked if these are really worth the cost. To be honest, I registered for a set, and I'm so glad that I got them. However, because they are more expensive, I'm not sure I would have purchased them with my own money. That being said, they're great quality, breathable and stretch a little so you can wrap your baby tightly. We aren't swaddling our babies anymore, but I use these as a light blanket when it's too warm for our other blankets.

4. Fisher-Price Space Saver High Chair. Especially with twins, I didn't want to have two free-standing high chairs kicking around, so these were perfect for us.

5. Wet BagWe've been doing cloth diapers, so a waterproof bag to throw dirty diapers in is essential. However, even if we weren't doing cloth, I'd still want one or two of these. It's great to throw in your diaper bag to hold used burp cloths or dirty clothes when your kid has a blowout or whatever else mysteriously gets wet and nasty while you're out and about. You can use a plastic bag if you want to forgo the reusable wet bag, but I like the assurance of having a bag that zips completely shut, is totally waterproof and won't rip easily like a plastic bag would.

6. Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack. OK, I'll admit when I was registering, I thought this was going to be kind of superfluous. I was so wrong. This drying rack is awesome for bottles, nipples, breast pump parts, pacifiers, etc. It's so much better than a regular drying rack or just laying everything on a towel. We also have two of the stem accessories which are great.

7. Stroller Hooks. This may not be necessary for all parents, but I just bought these so I can hold more when shopping. When you've got two infants who can't sit in the shopping cart yet, I found it worked best to have the kids in the stroller and my reusable bags hanging from the stroller hooks. I use the bottom storage compartment of the stroller as well as bags hanging from these hooks to hold my groceries and other items. Unfortunately, this system does break down when you have to buy paper towels from Costco (or other large or heavy items).

8. Baby Jogger City Select Stroller (and Second Seat Kit if needed). Worth. Every. Penny. I've never met a Baby Jogger owner who didn't absolutely love their stroller. I could go on and on about this, so if you have questions about it, feel free to ask in the comments. You can often purchase these in used and in good condition at resale events and on sites like Craigslist. They hold up well, so you'll also likely be able to resell yours when your kids are past stroller-using age. (Note: The brand name can confuse people - the CIty Select is not a jogging stroller, but the Baby Jogger company does offer several jogging stroller options.)

9. Baby Jogger Carseat Adapters. These allow our carseats to snap right into the stroller. It's soooo convenient. Some parents swear by the Snap N Go stroller, but we didn't love the idea of having yet another stroller. Plus, we found that our carseats didn't fit in the Snap N Go as well as we would have liked. While the Snap N Go is nice because it's so light, our personal preference was just to use our Baby Jogger with the carseat adapters. 

10. Baby Jogger Parent Console. This perfectly holds all the random items I need easy access to when I'm out. For me, that's always my water bottle, coffee, keys, wallet and phone.

What products would you add to (or leave off) this list? I'd love to hear in the comments!