FAQ: What to Wear at a Photo Shoot

You want answers; we get it! One of your FAQs has been: Any ideas on how I should dress my family for a photo shoot? What if I’m a pregnant? Sacramento mom and professional photographer, Jillian Gorman, has heard you and has some tips.

There are a ton of things that go into the process of planning a photo shoot: Finding the right photographer, scouting locations, checking the weather, etc. But the question I get asked the most is, “So what do we wear?”

FAMILY PORTRAITS
Unless clients have some crazy, fun, and colorful inspiration already lined up, I usually start by telling my clients to choose one or two colors to incorporate into everyone’s outfit. From there, go neutral. Grays, blacks, navy, denim, creams, and whites perfectly pair with any color. For example, Mom wears the chosen color on top, Dad wears neutral. Kids can go neutral with pops of color in accessories, like hairbands, scarves, ties, shoes, or whatever! Or wear a patterned top. Have fun with it!
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Going all-neutral ain’t a bad idea either. I love the boys in black leather and Mama all glammed-up in her creamy sweater and light-peach tulle skirt.
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Most importantly, dress comfortably and have options. Put a couple different looks together and decide as a family! If you have little ones, just keep in mind that the more comfortable they feel in their clothing and accessories, the better your chances of them cooperating. There also may be a long walk or uneven ground involved, so putting them in those ridiculously fancy shoes could make for a bad time.

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MATERNITY PORTRAITS
Styling pregnant women has to be the highlight of shooting maternity photos. Stick mama in an amazing unique location and bam! Perfection! Most mamas go straight for the maxi-dress, and I’m not complaining. It’s a genius way to show off the bump and it’s easy for wardrobe decisions. Also, a lot of maternity clothing can be pricey and you probably won’t wear most of it after baby comes. Thus, maxi-dresses are a definite go-to in my book! Both mamas pictured below got their dresses at Forever 21 and can wear them again post-baby.

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Don’t be afraid of getting a little creative accessory-wise! Throwing in a cute hat or a bouquet makes your photos stand out from the rest.

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If you’re not feeling the dress, that’s alright. Although finding an outfit may be a bit more of a task, it’s definitely doable. This mama did a great job of choosing a cute floral and flowy top for her spring pregnancy.

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Above all, dress as your best “you” and you won’t go wrong. I hope this helps you busy parents achieve stress-free decision-making when it comes to styling your wardrobe at your next photo shoot!

Jillian and her husband live in Sacramento with their three daughters. For more information about her work visit:  jilliangormanphotography.com or on instagram: jilliangormanphotography.

Creative Inspiration: Please Do Not Knock

I hope this gives you a creative muse for your home! Hey, isn’t that why we flock to Pintrest? I have had a lot of requests from you, and I hear you loud and clear! You want one of these. Here is the back story on this gem of a sign. Ordering information is at the bottom of this article if you want to skip to the nitty gritty.

I am a podcast-aholic. I love hearing people’s stories and my sister turned me on to The Longest Shortest Time; all about being a parent. Moms and dads are heroes! They have a FB forum for the mamas and I am one of 10K. These people have been my companions on some crazy long nights with my little sleep-fighting monster.

Yesterday this picture was posted:
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Moms got excited. Then came a knock-off:
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Then came another inspired piece:
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Then I had to post the original pic on my personal page because it was genius. I wish I could have a sign like this. My chihuahua and child are in cahoots to make sure all sleep around here stops, but we all know Mama always wins. Well, mostly wins.

Then came a gift from one of my dear friends:
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I hope you are inspired to have fun telling people to shut-it in adorable ways.I mean, how many creative ideas do you have brewing for your own sign right now? A few, right?! You could paint wood with chalkboard paint and do it up.

BUT, if you are like me and you don’t make cute things very well and would rather just buy it, the link is below.

Mrs. Darby Gates was once a Sacramento mom, but now lives in the great Salt Lake City, UT. She will always be Sacramento at heart. Her and her hubs make all sorts of stuff from reclaimed wood. This particular sign is only $25 (plus shipping). You want to customize it? She will do that for you! You need a cupcake recipe? She has tons. She is mom you want to be connected with. Enjoy!

Written by Mariah Cook. Her and her husband live in Sacramento with their son who happens to have a wicked cold and needs some serious sleep. So don’t knock, just come in.

Hidden Falls Family Hike

Just in time for Father’s Day comes a Mother’s Day story to inspire your weekend as you plan for the dads in your life. A day trip to Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn.

I have an 8 year old. Wait, he’s 8 and a half. That half is very important. He’s in training to become a Beastie Boy. All ragers, pranks, loud music and fighting for one’s right to party. I have no idea where he gets this from.

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So for my 9th year as a mother, I requested a pretty simple itinerary to celebrate. I wanted to start the day with a little breakfast, a bloody mary (or two), a nature walk with my little family and dogs, then finish the day with an afternoon nap. No biggie right? Well everything was going to go as planned, but the week leading up to Mother’s Day, sickness struck our household like lightening! My son came down with a very vague illness whose primary symptoms were a low-grade fever, cough and the intense need to play hours of Minecraft. Then my husband got a stomach bug where all he could do was lay in bed and read the entire internet on his phone. It was a dire time in our house and our Mother’s Day plans were touch and go there for a bit. Fortunately by Sunday, the fog of sickness lifted just enough for my guys to pull themselves together and treat me to a lovely day.

On Mother’s Day morning, my son gifted me with flowers and a decoupaged plate with an adorable poem on it. It was enough to swell the heart with love. If this is what he thinks of when he thinks of mom, I’m very happy.

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Then we had the aforementioned breakfast at home and then hit the road for our nature walk. One of our favorite spots to wander around on nicely groomed trails is Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn. I think it’s maybe everyone’s favorite spot now because weekends draw out Disneyland sized crowds on the trails there.

It’s California-beautiful with rolling yellow hills and green, green oaks and fluffy Ponderosa pines.

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Golden poppies for days.

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And they allow leashed dogs. Even cute little hellions like this one. I’m joking, this dog is very well behaved. She is the only living thing in our home that actually does what I tell her to. [There may or may not have been random animal droppings under that pink paw icon.]

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There’s a newly refurbished overlook deck for the Hidden Falls waterfall. It’s very pretty.There are a ton of different trail loops of varying length and difficulty. Our 8 year old with his boundless energy and enthusiasm for nature can do about 4 or 5 miles so long as we keep him topped off with the right balance of snacks, water and distraction. Otherwise I’m carrying a kid 10 inches shorter than me on my back which looks about as ridiculous (and kind of precious) as you can imagine. Lol. I’m kidding! Dad carries him. It’s still precious. Thanks babe.

After the hike I was feeling positively parched! So my loves took me to Knee Deep Brewing Company just down the highway.  Knee Deep allows dogs in their tasting room, so we brought in our two, snorty old Boston Terriers who lazed about the cool concrete floors. I just looked at that snoozy heap of Bostons and suddenly a nap seemed like the greatest idea ever, so we headed home. Falling asleep is the best feeling in the world and my Mother’s Day nap was just glorious.

I’m a lucky lady to have this husband and son! They did a great job in making it a fun and mellow Mother’s Day for me. Good job guys. This effort will be duly noted with Father’s Day and somebody’s 9th birthday approaching in the coming months.

Written by Niki Ortiz Levy. She has some pretty funny stories and thoughts on her life as a parent, which you can find on her blog (CLICK HERE).

Day Tripping to Napa With a Kid. It Can Be Done!

I had one last three-day weekend before summer started and I wanted (needed) to get out of dodge for one day. My mission? To plan and execute a day trip to Napa, CA with a 1 yr old and a husband who likes wine, food, and fun.

People in Sacramento don’t really think about it, but Napa is only about an hour away. If there is traffic, it’s still only a couple of hours away at the most. We should really go there more often.

We planned our driving around naps, because we don’t hate ourselves that much.

8AM – Hit the road

9AM – Breakfast in Napa

We chose to go to the Boon Fly Cafe. Besides being popular with both locals and visitors, this place is very kid-friendly. Yes, there will be a wait. Yes, they offer free coffee while you wait or you can order a Mimosa or Bloody Mary. In addition, they have porch swings to sit in while you wait on the porch too. My kid loved this. I loved the kids’ menu, their attitude towards my kid, and the free crayons. You probably won’t even be the only one with kids; which is saying a lot for Napa.

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10:30AM – Walk and Shop

Go to the Oxbow Public Market, you will thank me later. There are lots of families there and it gets crowded. I personally love that about this place. It is a treasure trove of goodies, specialty items, and more food. Nothing says “Napa,” quite like this place. Locals love it.

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After about 30 minutes you will be asking, “What now?” Well, since you are already parked at the market, take a walk up 1st Street to downtown Napa. Across the river bridge you will see a little park, but it’s not much. From here, you have the opportunity to take yourselves on a walking tour of the city and scout out where you might want to have dinner.

12:00PM – My kid needs to play and eat before his nap

Grab your car and head to Fuller Park. It’s just your standard park and jungle gym, but it gets the job done.

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1:00PM – Nap Time/ Scenic Drive

Go to Google Maps. If you find the Best Western at The Vines, you will also find the start of Silverado Trail Road (on the corner of Soscol Avenue and Silverado Trail Road). Take Silverado Trail Road all the way to St. Helena! It’s a beautiful drive and is the path less taken, so you won’t deal with bumper to bumper traffic.

P.S. I love stopping at Mumm

1:45PM – Pit Stop for Napa Valley Olive Oil Mfg Company in St. Helena

From Silverado Trail Road, turn left on Pope Street. Then left on Allison Avenue. Park in the shade. Leave one adult in the car if the kids are still sleeping. No need to wake them up for this. The owners will let you sample the oil, vinegar and cheese. Over 100 years in this location and they still only accept cash and personal checks. If you bring your kids into the shop, just know the owners love kids and will talk very sweetly to them in Italian accents. Adorable!

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2:30PM – Picnic at a Park

After a nap, your kid(s) will need some snacks and some play time. Very close to the Olive Oil place is Jacob Meily Park. Here is the cool description from their website:
Located on Pope Street, the four-acre park is named after General Jacob Meily who, in 1880, established his vineyards on the park site and winery in the adjacent barn across Sulphur Creek from the park. The park amenities include parking, restrooms, turf area, picnic tables, playground, and a paved walking trail along Sulphur Creek.

3:30PM – Drive down Main Street back to Napa

Endless wineries, eateries and shops to stop along the way. If you are having a hard time finding Main Street, put Dean & DeLuca into your GPS and you will be on your way. I love stopping there on my way out of town. Their food is scrumptious and there is an outside fountain and grassy area for additional romping.

6:00PM – Drive on home!

Written by Mariah Cook. She and little family live in Sacramento, obviously.

Mason Jar Terrarium. Make it. Love it. Watch it Grow!

Nothing says, “Mini Garden,” quite like a terrarium. Terrariums are a great gift and fun craft to make with kids. Personally, watching them grow is an equally magical part of having one as each plant grows differently in whatever container you use. Succulents are a favorite these days because they are low maintenance and require very little water, which is a good thing because water is pretty rare these days in lovely Sacramento, California. Here is my step-by-step succulent terrarium using a mason jar, plants from my own garden, and tools from my kitchen.

What You Need:
Mason jar
Tiny succulents
Tiny helper hand (optional)
Potting soil (you gan get at Dollar Tree)
Small rocks (Dollar Tree)
Floral moss (Dollar Tree)
Chop stick
Tweezers
Toothpick
Spoon
Spray bottle with water
Miniature action figure (optional)

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One thing to note about terrariums is that they need drainage to prevent the roots of the plants from rotting.  There will come a day when you over-water this by accident. Drainage will give you the grace you need. It also gives you the opportunity to create great layers of colors in your jar. I am creating a jungle theme with this one, so I chose earth tones.

First, place a layer of small rocks at the base of your jar. You can choose any color rock you want! I went with river rock colors. At minimum, make sure your layer of rock covers the entire surface of the bottom of the container. The more rocks you add beyond that will add height to the overall garden inside.

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Then, add a layer of moss. Moss comes in all sorts of fun colors too! The purpose of the moss is to create a barrier between the soil and the rocks. If your moss is dry, you can lightly mist it with a spray bottle to get it to pack down. If you want a thin layer of moss, be sure the layer is still dense enough to prevent soil from slipping down into the rocks. This will create the drainage for your garden and add a layered look.

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Take a moment to choose your mini plants.  I have a small succulent garden that is slowly growing already. I decided to just pick a few of my own guys. The key: The smaller the better because it will GROW over time. I chose a small Hen and Chicks and a couple types of Sedum.

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No need to get crazy on a million plants. If the terrarium looks a little sparse don’t panic. Plan based the fact that they will grow.

Put in a layer of soil in your jar. You can spritz the dirt to moisten if it seems too dry. You only need enough soil to cover the roots of the plants, but added soil will lift your garden higher. Maybe you like that. Do what you want! You can spoon in extra soil as needed once you have them in place. I use long tweezers, a chopstick, and a toothpick to get the job done. This is the hardest part, but is fun. Tiny kid hands work great too. If you have a plant that seems to lean to one side and you can’t get it placed ‘just right,’ you can use a rock to aid in your efforts.

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Add decoration like small rocks, sand, twigs, or miniature fun stuff. I chose rocks, an army man, and a small can of beer (don’t judge me).

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Spray down the inside of the jar to rid the sides of dirt, clean the plants, and moisten the soil. Then use a tissue to, ever so GENTLY, wipe down the inside of the terrarium.

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For a mason jar, put the rim on the jar but not the lid portion. You do not want to cover the top of this container or it will mold and die. I tied some kitchen twine at the top too! Cute, but not obnoxious.

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Enjoy! With Father’s Day around the corner, this might be right up your ally! These do great in offices, in kitchens, in kid’s rooms, and you only need to lightly water them when you actually remember. And let’s face it, as parents, there is no way we will remember. But hey, your kid(s) might remind you.

Here are a few other terrariums I have done in the past to help inspire you:

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Here are some links to a few great terrarium books I use as references:
Tiny World Terrariums
Terrariums Reimagined
Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing, and Crafting With 100 Easy-Care Varieties

Written by Mariah Cook. She and her husband live in Sacramento with their one minion.

Trendy Wall Art You Can Repurpose Later

Trendy Wall Art

I originally started this idea for my cousin’s bridal shower. The theme we decided on was a black and white striped print with accents of pink flowers and gold glitter. I wanted to do a few wall decorations for the shower that matched the theme and would give the room a little sparkle. I’m all about finding a bargain. I have champagne dreams with an apple cider budget. So, I searched for the cheapest prices I could find.

I started to keep my eyes open for small deals and I just so happened to go to Michael’s one day and found a pretty nice sized canvas that was 50% off. I believe it was about 7 bucks! I also picked up some painters tape, a tube of black acrylic paint and a few shades of pink flowers that were also 50% off. Score!

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After about 2 weeks, I finally found a small pocket of time to start this project. I started by taping off the stripes on my canvas. I originally began to spray paint the black stripes but I didn’t like the way it was looking so I went ahead and painted the black stripes. While it dried, I hot glued the first pink flowers down.

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I slowly pulled off the tape after it dried and Voila! 

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I glued the second set of pink flowers on the canvas.

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I was torn about exactly what I wanted to do in the middle. I knew I wanted “LOVE” to be represented but I didn’t know if I wanted the word or a symbol. So, I prepared for both.

I found these letters at Michael’s for $1.49 each. I also found a wooden heart for $3.00 in the clearance section. I picked up some gold glitter, Mod Podge and one of those spongy brushes.

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I spray painted the letters and the wooden heart with Rust-oleum Metallic Finish gold spray paint first.

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I allowed the pieces to dry and then I prepped my wooden heart for the sparkle! I coated it with Mod Podge and then immediately covered it in glitter.

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After all the pieces dried, I placed them on the canvas using glue dots. I used glue dots because I’m afraid of commitment. Not really! I loved the stripes so much that I thought I might want to use the background for different seasons. Now, I can just pop off the letters and the heart and replace them with something else. How cool!? 

Trendy Wall Art

Written by Ricketa Bluford. She lives in Sacramento and is married to Sacramento local musician, Kenny, and their three kid (all under 3yrs).

Modern Baby Gate DIY

 

Sacramento is home to some unique neighborhoods, each with distinct architectural styles. We live in one of the Mid-Century Modern clusters in South Land Park. What is interesting about our home is that it is an Eichler and that it has a second story addition. Once my child found those stairs leading up to the second story, it became imperative that we put up a gate at the top and bottom of the stairs. As a Mid-Century home owner, we were determined to have a gate that was both functional and complimented the era of our home.

We searched for a modern, but simple baby gate online and couldn’t find one that fit our needs. Most gates are in a doorway, which is easier for installation because you can fasten your latch on the other side. Most DIYers with the same issue chose to mount a 2×4 to the wall and then add an exterior gate latch you’d see on a fence; an ugly but convenient choice.

We were not working with a doorway, but a hallway at the top of the stairs so making a custom gate was the best choice over all. For the top we chose to make a horizontal slat gate, but for the bottom of the stairs we bought this bad boy due to space issues.

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For the slat gate:
MATERIALS
6 – 1×2 Pine (http://www.homedepot.com/s/1×2?NCNI-5) Note: could have bought less if we got longer than 8′ 1x2s
Spackle
EQUPMENT 
Chop saw
Brad nailer and nails
Screw gun
Putty knife
Paint w/ primer – Benjamin Moore – Revere Pewter (HC-172)
Paint Brush
WHAT WE DID:
First we measured the space. That’s always a good way to start, right? We knew the slats would need to extend to the edge of the frame of the gate. This meant that building our frame would be our first step.
Some considerations had to be made:
  • How high do I want this gate to be in comparison to the kid’s current size and how big he will grow before the gate is no longer needed?
  • How many slats do you want? We wanted 1 inch between each slat and allowed that to dictate how the height.
  • How high off the floor should the gate sit since it needs to swing open? Is it small enough to prohibit a head or foot from getting stuck? We determined 1 1/2 inch was the the best for us. Your measurements may vary.
Start by determining the best vertical height of the frame for your gate. Cut those two pieces and lay them on a sturdy work surface. The horizontal top and bottom of the frame need to be the exact length of your gate. These horizontal pieces need to extend to the far edge of the vertical part of the frame.
Determine the length horizontally as well. We made sure there was a 1/2″ gap on either side of the gate to allow for the hinges and for the swing. We didn’t want the gate to scrape against the wall when closing or opening. We also took into account our baseboards. Ours are thin, but your measurement may be different if you have thicker styles.
To assemble the frame, use a square (measuring tool) to ensure a perfect 90 degree angle and then clamp before nailing.
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Each horizontal slat will be the same length as the top and bottom slat. Once you have made your frame, take it to the spot you want it installed and test it. Is it a good size? Yes? Then you are ready to install the rest of the slats. Again, the distance between your slats is determined by how tall your gate is and how much distance between each slat prohibits little hands from getting stuck and how many slats you want to put on there for your personal taste. We decided on 1 inch spacing between each slat.
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We then cut our slats. As stated, we made them long enough to meet the outside edges of the frame so we could make sure we nailed them securely into the frame. We used a square and clamps each time.
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We lightly sanded the wood to make it splinter free and to slightly round the corner, AKA kid friendly. Then we spackled the nail areas to cover and create a smooth surface before painting. After that, we lightly sanded after spackling and again to remove any high spots after painting.
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We added the surface bolt on the outside so our child couldn’t open, shut easily or just Eff with it, in general.
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Originally we wanted to stain the gate to add a rustic feel and to offset the clean open space to match our black walnut wet bar counter top. However, pine is a soft wood and after seeing a sample stained, we decided we either needed to build the baby gate out of black walnut or paint it instead to match our walls. Our cheap asses chose the latter.
Lastly, we added a magnet latch for when we want it open, but not dangling away from the wall.
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Written by Mariah Cook. She is happily married in Sacramento and has one little monster.

Quinoa Baby Cereal

As a mother of a 1 year old, and in the full swing of solid foods, if there was one thing I wish was easier to find on the internet when my son was 6 months old it has to be quinoa baby cereal.

Every kid is different. All moms and dads agree on that. For my kid, rice cereal and oatmeal gave my son a devilish combination of gas and constipation. Yuck and ouch! I was desperate to find a recipe for a cereal that would change everything. I needed protein, fiber, and carbs. Quinoa was the golden ticket.

What you need:

1/4 c. Quinoa; dry

I get this giant bag at Costco! The price is right!

I get this giant bag at Costco! The price is right!

2 c . Water

Magic Bullet or food processor to grind and puree

This bad boy will multi-task all your baby food needs.

This bad boy will multi-task all your baby food needs.

Ice cube tray

I use different sized silicone ones like this. P.S. They make perfect squares for the cutest ice cubes for cocktails after this baby food phase is over and done!

I use different sized silicone ones like this. P.S. They make perfect squares for the cutest ice cubes for cocktails after this baby food phase is over and done!

Here is what you do:
Put water on stove and bring to a boil.

Put quinoa in the grinder. Grind until it is a powder (about 1 min). Add to boiling water and cover. Turn heat down to low. Walk away for 12 minutes and do some dishes because we all know they are staring at you in the sink.

After 12 minutes, remove from heat. The cereal will be goopy looking. That’s a good thing! Feed your kid a couple tbsp mixed with any type of milk he/she is consuming (breast or formula). You can also mix with fruit.

Pour extra mixture into ice tray and freeze overnight. Pop out cubes and place in an airtight container to store in your freezer for easy use. When you heat up the cubes for use, I recommend only heating for 10 seconds at a time until warmed to your standards.

Here are links to find the Bullet and the ice cube trays:
Magic Bullet Mini
Silicone Ice Trays