March 31, 2011

Cereal Killers! The scoop on breakfast cereals

March 31, 2011
With the childhood obesity rate at a staggering high, we need to take a step back and find out what we are feeding our children to cause such a preventable epidemic.

One of the many dietary culprits is breakfast cereal.

 It may taste Grrrrrreat! but it is FILLED with sugary sugar.

This isn't a big surprise. We've tasted the "fun" cereals with the cute cartoon character on the box. You can taste the piles of sugar. Spoon fulls of it. Some have as much or more sugar than a bowl of ice cream!. We wouldn't dream of giving our kids ice cream or cake for breakfast, right?

In fact, Cocoa Puffs and Cap'n Crunch contain 44% sugar by weight, and Honey Smacks contains a whopping 56% sugar by weight!!!

Do you want to see where your favorite cereal stands on the sugar scale? click HERE for an expanded list.

Kellogg's and other top breakfast cereal companies spend loads of money every year on advertisements to convince parents that cereal is a healthy breakfast. Don't listen to them!!!
A diet that is high in sugar is anything but healthy!

No matter how fun and tasty they look, don't add sugar cereals to your shopping cart. Always check the labels to see just how much sugar is in each serving, and how big the servings are.  11 grams of sugars = approx.1 teaspoon.  Try to find cereals that contain less than a teaspoon of sugar per serving, and always check the serving size.

Cocoa Krispies has about 3 Tablespoons of sugar per serving. And that is for a serving of about 3/4 cup. Who eats just 3/4 cup of cereal?

According to Cereal FACTS (Food Advertising to Children and Teens Score), 10 worst breakfast cereals based on nutrition score are:
  1. Kellogg - Corn Pops (or Pops) - Chocolate Peanut Butter
  2. Quaker - Cap'n Crunch - w/ Crunchberries
  3. Kellogg - Special K - Chocolatey Delight
  4. Kellogg - Special K - Blueberry
  5. General Mills - Reese's Puffs
  6. General Mills - Fiber One - Caramel Delight
  7. Kellogg - Cocoa Krispies - Choconilla
  8. General Mills - Golden Grahams
  9. General Mills - Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  10. Kellogg - Corn Pops

I can't believe that two of the so-called "healthy" Special K cereals made it on this list! Shocking!

So your family LOVES cereal. What do you do? How do you choose a cereal that is good for them?
Dr. Sears from "The Doctors" has a list of helpful tips on his site

With this amount of sugar being fed to our children every day, it's no wonder there is a childhood obesity epidemic. And not only are they getting sugar for breakfast but the more sugar they eat the more they want.
It becomes a viscous cycle.

We, as parents, need to intervene and regulate the amount of sugar that our children are eating for their health's sake. High sugar diets have been said to cause type 2 diabetes, obesity, hyperactivity in children, and sugar can suppress your immune system and break down your defenses against infectious diseases.

As a teenager, remember my dad trying convince me that sugar cereals weren't all they were cracked up to be. He told me that even though the box said it was a good source of iron, the iron wasn't in a form our bodies could absorb. He poured a box of some sweet sugar- laden cereal onto a cookie sheet and ran a strong magnet over it. Sure enough, there were iron shavings in our cereal.
I wish I could remember the name of the cereal because it was a total waste of money and I never want to make the mistake of buying it.

Instead of feeding them bowl fulls of processed grains and sugar, choose something healthier for your child's breakfast.

Here are some options:

Eggs. Scrambled or fried, boiled or poached, Eggs are very high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. If you are feeling more adventurous, try a delicious veggie omelet.
Whole Wheat Pancakes: Preferably made with fresh wheat flour . Add some peanut butter on top for a brain boosting dose of protein. Another great pancake topper is low-sugar yogurt and fruit. Your kids will love this healthy option.
Oatmeal. Not the sugary stuff in the little paper packages, (even though my kids love those.) Make it from scratch, using natural sweeteners, like honey or agave nectar,  and fresh or frozen fruit. Oatmeal is full of soluble fiber so it's good for your heart and your digestive system.
Smoothies- We love ours with Soymilk, frozen and fresh fruit and, scoop of low-sugar protein powder, and spinach. This is a great way to get a nutrient boost first thing in the morning.
Fresh Fruit - Fruit is easy on your digestive system and it is full of nutrients. Pair it with protein rich foods like eggs or peanut butter wheat toast to keep your child going strong all morning long.
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March 30, 2011

Cute Packaging Ideas and green burritos

March 30, 2011
Packing is a great way to add some flair and personality to your orders. Of everything I have ordered on Etsy, I would much rather order again from the crafters who add that something extra to make me feel special.  
When you are selling handmade you have to make your products stand out from something that your customer can buy on Amazon or Wal-Mart.

There are so many options to make your packages unique. And it doesn't have to be pricey boxes or bags. HERE are some videos of simple ways to pack your items using things you might have on hand or find at the thrift store.

And how cute are these ideas?
(found here)

(found here)

The possibilities go as far as your imagination can reach!

-Try wrapping your product in old music sheets, kid's book pages, or cringled brown paper. Or make your own boxes (see video below) out of whatever fun paper you have on hand.
-Add a cute tag or tie with some ribbon, rafia, or chunky yarn or packaging string.
-Hand stamped paper also makes fantastic gift wrap.
-Keep scraps of ribbon and use them to tie bows or tie tags on your packages.
-If your products are pretty and colorful, pack them in clear bags!

How to make a paper box:

'round here, one of my favorite sights is this:

Neat little packages (a.k.a. green burritos) all wrapped up and ready to be mailed out.

I love them so.

I put a little extra time into wrapping each t-shirt so my customers get a little gift to open when they get their package in the mail.

I also stick a Cantaloupe Corner Sticker on the back of each envelope so my customers know right away that their shirts have arrived!

How do you spiff up your packages?
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March 29, 2011

My new favorite photography toy!

March 29, 2011
I've had my semi-fancy Canon Rebel XT camera for almost 2 years now and I still have no idea how to unleash all of it's awesome capabilities. I'm a wanna-be photographer who hasn't had the extra time yet to take a good photography class. I have learned a ton from library books, websites, and photography blogs but there is always truck loads more information I want to cram into my brain.

One item that kept popping up all over the web labeled as a great tool and an inexpensive way to amp up your pics is this baby:  a 50mm Canon lens.

It's a small lens that packs a big punch!

After drooling over it for a long time I finally bought mine! At only about $120 it's an investment that won't empty your pockets.
 I just got mine in the mail last week. Holy monkeys! I can't tell you how excited I am to use this lens for my next Cantaloupe Corner photo shoot! It creates that nice blurry background that takes a picture from amatuer to professional in a single click.
My hubby thinks I'm a little crazy. The first time I tried out my lens I got so excited and started spouting out photography vocab like "aperature" and "ISO", words that I barely understand myself. I was seriously excited about the f1.8 aperature!
Here are a few random shots taken with the new lens.

I am sooooo digging the blurry backgrounds. 

This is Zues, he is our loyal mini Schnauzer. He loves to pose for photo ops.

They say that a good camera (or lense) is like an artist's paintbrush. Having a good camera doesn't make you a fantastic photographer but it can definately make a difference.

Now to practice with my new paintbrush!

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March 28, 2011

The Non-Quilter's Baby Quilt.

March 28, 2011
I'm not a quilter.

There. I said it!

I don't really like to quilt, and I probably never will. Any project that takes me longer than a day usually gets set aside and forgotten about. I don't particularly like blistered fingers from tying or hand stitching a quilt. ugh.

But, I do make quilts for each of my babies before they are born. This is my 3rd baby and my quilts are actually improving!
Imagine that!
Practice really does make a difference.

For our baby, who will be here in May, I made a funky owl quilt. (I love all of the cute trendy owl stuff that's out there in craft land right now!)

I call this one the non-quilter's quilt because none of it was done by hand and the hardest part of the whole thing was the edges. No intricate pieces, no hand stitching! That's my kind of quilt.

The quilt top is just some big ol' patchwork squares, orange borders and owl appliques. Easy peasy.

I machine stitched the layers together with some simple outlining.

I wanted to learn how to do the triangle edges because that what my mom and grandma always did on their fancy quilts. It's not as hard as it looks but it does take some time.
If you want to give it a shot, HERE is the tutorial for the triangle edges.

If I can do it, so can you!

The quilt colors even match Mason's lamp and shelves! 

I can't wait till he gets here so I can hold him and wrap him up in his cuddly quilt! Hurry baby!

There are only 9 weeks left until my due date! I am so excited/anxious/nervous.
3 kids is going to be an adventure all it's own.

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March 26, 2011

Cardboard Boxes and Rain Puddles

March 26, 2011
They are cool, fun, and cheap, and much more exciting than whatever was inside when you got home from the store.
They are race cars, rockets, trains, houses, and lemonade stands.

You can't deny the attraction between kids and cardboard boxes.

Contents: Hours of creative entertainment.

Remember being this small and fitting so comfortably into such a cramped little space?

Refrigerator boxes are the best but any big box will do.

It is so fun having kids at this stage. Imaginations run wild around here.

We also love the rain.  Here in AZ rain only comes a few times a year. It makes me giddy to smell the rain in the air.
The kids love to run in the rain and jump in the puddles. The puddles may be (really) small but they are still boy magnets.

Ahh, the simple joys of being a kid.

Happy Saturday!
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March 25, 2011

Frayed Train T-shirt - with Tutorial

March 25, 2011

Here's a great project for your little train lovin' boy.


What do you need?

Train Template - Engine and 6 cars
Fabric Scraps
Fabric marking pen
Wonder Under (iron on fabric adhesive)
Lots of Buttons

1. Trace your patterns onto the Wonder Under iron on adhesive.

2. Cut them out.

3. Iron each piece onto the wrong side of different scraps of fabric. I used canvas and heavy cotton fabrics that fray well.

4. Cut out each piece about 1/4 inch outside of the Wonder Under border.

5. Turn over your freshly cut train pieces and use your pattern to draw the train shape on the right side of the fabric using a washable or disappearing ink. I love my "Mark-B-Gone" marker for these types of projects. For dark fabrics you can use a white colored pencil or chalk.  

6. Arrange your train on the t-shirt and iron it down according to the manufacturer's directions.

Continue onto the back of the t-shirt.

7. With contrasting thread, sew around each train car on the line you marked earlier.  I made the mistake of using matching thread and i had to go back and re-sew the train edges so you could make out the train shape.

8. Fray it. Use your fingers or a nylon brush to gently fray the edges. Be careful not to rough up the t-shirt. Of you can throw it in the washing machine and let it work it's magic.

9. Make your freezer paper stencil. I used my handy-dandy craft cutter to cut this one. Iron it onto your shirt on low heat.

10. PAINT! (the best part!) I used screenprinting ink but you can also find textile paints at your local craft store.

11. Collect your buttons. 15 small buttons and 1 large button.  This is a good way to use up some of those buttons that have sitting around in your craft supplies.

12. Sew on your wheels.

That's it! And now you have a one of a kind Frayed Train tee for your "Trainiac".

We just linked up to the fabulous I Am Momma Hear Me Roar Blog. Cheri is hosting "Let's Hear it for the Boys" shirt contest!
 If you need some crafty ideas you NEED to check it out! There are so many amazing entries already!
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March 24, 2011

Our Favorite Children's Books

March 24, 2011
At our house we are firm believers in reading to our kids everyday. We have an entire bookcase FULL of kids books (most of which live life on the floor, thanks to our mischevious 2-year-old). My boys and I have some favorites that have become tattered with constant page turning.

These are a handful our very favorite books in our home library:

A great alphabet teaching rhyme book that is fun to read and fun to sing!

The Cat in the Hat
Classic Dr. Suess. We are big Dr. Suess fans around here and this story about a mischevious cat is one of his best!

Big Truck Book
The perfect boy book. All about trucks, tractors, and other big trucks! This book has been read at our house so many times the boardbook pages have been taped up again and again. I think it's time for a replacement.

Thomas and the Shooting Star
My boys LOVE trains. So naturally they adore Thomas the Train books. This one is my personal favorite. It is a great bedtime story about Thomas searching for a shooting star that will teach him how to fall asleep.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
With bright colors and a simple storyline, this book is my all time favorite. A caterpillar eating ice cream and pickles! I just love it! It is also a great way to teach your kids simple numbers and counting.
Tikki Tikki Tembo
A tale of 2 Chinese brothers. The first born son was given a great, long, respectable name, and the second son was given a short name. One day the first son falls into the well and his brother struggles to find help to save him all due to his long name.  A cute story that is fun to read aloud.
Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!
I love all of Sadra Boynton's books. My boys memorized these simple opposites in a snap.

Dog's Noisy Day
This book has had a major impact on my kids. I started reading it to both of my son's when they were about 3 months old. The colors and shapes are simple and bright. Perfect for the short attention spans of babies and toddlers. This book was written to read aloud. With "ruffs" and "moos" and dog trying to crow like a rooster, you and your kids will love reading this silly book!

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
The cows stole the typwriter and they are sending messges to the farmer! What do they want? Electric blankets of course. This is another great book to read aloud!

Underwear Dos and Don'ts
I had to add this book in because my 2 year old has gotten attached to it. He doesn't wear underwear yet but he loves the simple pictures and bright colors that are typical of Todd Parr's books. This one is just plain silly!

We are always looking for new books to read. What are your favorite kid's books?
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March 23, 2011

Get them to eat more of the good stuff

March 23, 2011
Fruits and Veggies = Nutritious and Delicious

Sometimes it takes some convincing (ok, a lot of convincing) for your kids and spouse to agree with you on them being "delicious".

I have a few tips that have worked for my family, I hope they work for yours too!

1. Make it easily accessible!
My mother used to keep all of the fruits and veggies in bags in the bottom drawer of the fridge. To find what we wanted we would have to search through the bags and hope to find something good. It was enough work that we would usually skim past the veggie drawer and go straight for the cold cereal and milk. 

Now I keep the fruit out on the counter top where we see them everyday and they disappear 5X faster! 
When we are hungry, a banana, orange, peach, or tomato is the first thing to catch our eye when we walk into the kitchen. And they look so pretty sitting in a basket or on a decorative plate.
Keep your veggies in plain view in the refrigerator,so when you open it up they will be the first things you grab.

2. Prep it!
I find that I often leave my veggies in the fridge for days and days because they aren't ready to be eaten right when I want them. They need to be washed, cut, or peeled.  A few minutes of prep time can make those veggies into a ready-to-eat snack. When you bring your fruits and veggies home, wash them and get them ready to eat.

Cut up your carrots into carrot sticks, peel and slice cucumbers, make some celery sticks to munch on.

Some should be washed right before eating to prevent premature rotting, such as berries and some leafy greens.
Wait to cut up fruits like apples, peaches, pears, bananas, pineapples or any other fruit that will brown. It's best to cut these right before you eat them.

4. Freeze it!
If you are worried that your family won't eat all of the fruits and veggies you buy, freeze them. Many can be easily frozen and used later for dinners or smoothies, or just to snack on.

HERE is a list of veggies that freeze well, and how to freeze them.

I love freezing fresh berries, peaches and mangoes! mmmm. 
Which leads me to my next tip: 

3. Smoooooothies!

Since I have been pregnant I have fallen in love with smoothies. They taste great and you get lots of nutrition out of them. Break out your blender (or your handy dandy Ninja mixer), add your favorite frozen and fresh fruits, some milk, a little bit of juice, and ice. Blend away!
Here's a secret ingredient: spinach. Sounds really gross but if you add 5-10 spinach leaves to your smoothie you won't even be able to taste it. Spinach adds extra nutrition and fiber which will help you feel satisfied longer too.
Even my kids will drink spinach smoothies! (But they thought I was CRAZY the first time I made it.)

4. Keep at it!
Many fruits and veggies have an acquired taste and your child won't like them the first time. Keep trying different foods and re-introduce foods often to see if your child will eat them. Be prepared to hear "I don't like this!" over and over. There will always be some foods that they will never like but give your children a chance to get used to new foods before you completely give up.
I got my oldest to eat carrots this way. After 2 years of trying, he finally will eat carrots! And now he loves them as a healthy snack. VICTORY!

There are also cookbooks filled with recipes about sneaking fruits and veggies. I personally don't try to hide anything in my kids' food. I want them to know that what they are eating is good for them. I think this will help them to choose better options for themselves when they are older.
But if it takes being sneaky to get those healthy foods into your children's mouths then do it! Keep them healthy and happy!
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March 22, 2011

Favorite Things : The best lotion ever!

March 22, 2011
I have so many things that I use everyday that I LUHUV so much I want to share, from things in my home to my favorite products, pretty much anything.

And Today's lucky item is. . .

Burt Bees Milk and Honey Lotion.

I have tried so many lotions and I kinda like some and hate others. I never love any of them.
The ones I kinda like are usually full of extra "stuff" that I know isn't good for my skin.
I love all of the Burt Bee's products I've tried so I didn't hesitate to to try their lotions.

This bottle of goodness is 99% natural, smells yummy, and it works wonders on dry hands and elbows. No greasy,sticky mess. Just pure, natural, skin lovin' moisturizers.  

It smells so good on my boys too. And it quenches my 2-year-old's desert dry, exzema prone skin.

The price is about $8 for a 6 oz bottle. I don't like to pay a lot for lotions and this was near the top of my price range, but I promise you it is worth every one of those dollars!

Natural, non-greasy, good smelling, and it really works!
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March 21, 2011

"Choo Choo" Birthday Boys comin' through!

March 21, 2011
Happy Monday!

Last week I got a fun picture from some of our happy customers in Wisconsin. They are so stinkin' cute I had to share the pic. I made their adorable little boy a "Choo Choo I'm 2" shirt for his birthday. And the best part is that it was his dad's birthday too! Woo! Double the presents and double the celebration!
(And what's even better? That sweet baby girl shares a birthday with her mom too! What great birthday gifts!)

I made his dad a matching "Choo Choo I'm 37!" tee to match.
Don't they look amazing!?

(and check out the TV ad it the backgroud. Great timing. ha ha!)

Happy birthday to both of you! Thanks for letting us be a part of the celebration!

If you have pictures of your little one in their Cantaloupe Corner t-shirt we would LOVE to see it! You can send us pictures through our Etsy shop HERE, or you can email them to me HERE.

Enjoy your Monday!

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March 19, 2011

{ Counting my blessings }

March 19, 2011
Maybe it's just the pregnancy hormones, or the fact that I just pulled out all my teeny-tiny little newborn clothes out of the garage (oh my goodness! they are so cute!), but I am feeling overwhelmed with emotions today.

Above everything else in my life I am so incredibly thankful to be a mother.

My baby is 2 1/2 years old now and I am so amazed at how much change a little time can make. He is so smart, and curious, and mischievous. He jabbers all day long about important things like train cars and sippy cups.

I am so thankful for him.

My oldest is 4 1/2 and he is a know-it-all who always has to be right. It drives him crazy when I have to correct him. He also adores his little brother. He is kind, smart, and about 80% of the time he is really obedient. He cares so much about his friends and family, and he loves helping anyone he can.

I am so thankful for him.

In the past 4 1/2 years I have learned more about myself than at any other time in my life. Motherhood has taught me how little patience I have and how far I can go before I can feel my sanity slipping away. . . . .
or maybe it's already gone.

But far beyond that, Motherhood has taught me how strong I can be and how much love one person can feel.

With each day that passes I see my babies grow and learn and become independent. They are my best friends.

I am so thankful for them.

I am counting my blessings today because we get to welcome another sweet little one into our home in 2 months.  I am afraid, No, I am TERRIFIED of how hard it is going to be. But if I have learned one thing about being a mom it is that the benefits far outweigh all of the hard stuff.

I can't wait to hold him.
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March 18, 2011

New stuff alert!

March 18, 2011
Introducing. . .
 our newest members of Cantaloupe Corner:

 2 new t-shirts that are personalized and unique!

Do to the overwhelming request for name-only custom t-shirts, you can now purchase them through our Etsy shop! This shirt has you child's name down the side in distressed lettering. These tees are different than any other personalized tees out there!

This tee will be a hit at your child's birthday party! You choose the number, color, and size. 

And there's more new fun stuff!
I just added more inked totes to our Etsy Shop. These will be the last ones available for a while. Each one is one-of-a-kind.

The prices on these bags are slashed right now so I can clear some space for our new baby to come! 

Once these totes are gone, they are GONE.

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