Sep 21 13
by cara
at 4:42 PM

My First Video Blog

Hey everyone (or at least the few of you who are still reading after my extended absence from blogging)! I decided it was high time to get back in the game, and what better way to start things off than with a little video blog?! In this video, you will hear some of my ideas for upcoming blog posts, see my favorite home paint color, hear my kids real names, hear about some places in my house that desperately need organizing, and see me use way too may air quotes. I got all excited to make a video post for y’all, and I even wrote about it on Facebook. Now that it’s time to actually post said video, I am so tempted to chicken out. But, I promised a video post (the power of accountability!) so here it is.

But, not without a few disclaimers first, and oh my, the disclaimers and editorial comments I could give about this little gem of a video:

1) It’s my first video, guys, so remember that. Filmed by my iPad propped up with books. I like to keep things super professional around here.
2) The video is unscripted, as will soon be blatantly obvious as I ramble on down various rabbit trails for approximately 9 minutes.
3) I was inspired to do the video while taking a shower, so I hurried through the shower, threw on minimal makeup, dried my hair but didn’t style it (do I ever? Or maybe I DID style it because you are seeing me with clean hair that’s not in a ponytail), and an old baggy shirt that was clean because I am long overdue to wash clothes.
4) Since I was feeling so, um, inspired to do this video, I forgot to put on a necklace and more importantly, my wedding rings. I’m still happily married. Just thought you should know, since you’ll see my ring-less hands waving around quite a bit. Gotta stop the rumors in their tracks.
5) I am clearly a big fan of air quotes all of a sudden. (?)
6) I am not an eloquent speaker. I prefer to hide behind my computer.
7) I play with my hair way too much….yet another reason I wear it in a ponytail 99.9% of the time.

I’ve really sold you on this VLOG haven’t I? Well, before I chicken out completely, here it is:

How awkward was that? Now I’m going back to hiding behind my computer.

What blog topics would you like to see more of here at The Picky Apple? Feel free to leave a comment on this post, on the YouTube video, or email me at Talk to you soon!

May 29 12
by cara
at 8:56 PM

Chocolate PB Banana Bites and Chocolate Covered Bananas

At least once a week, I let The Little Apple pick a snack to make.  All of the “experts” say that getting kids to help in the kitchen will help get them interested in food.  That doesn’t necessarily hold true for The Little Apple, but I keep on trying.

We usually check out my Kids Snacks board on Pinterest for ideas.  This week, The Little Apple picked these Chocolate PB Banana Bites from nom!nom!nom!.  I also thought he would enjoy making some chocolate covered banana “popsicles” covered in sprinkles, so we did that too.  This isn’t my first go ’round with frozen bananas…remember my Banana Ice Cream?  These Banana Bites and Popsicles are so fun and easy to make.

There’s not much of a recipe for either of these….

To make the Chocolate PB Banana Bites:  Place banana slices on a sheet of wax paper.  Top each banana slice with about a teaspoon of peanut butter (or almond butter!).  Then melt some chocolate (I used chocolate chips with a teaspoon of coconut oil added), and drizzle the chocolate over the banana bites (this step not pictured).  Freeze for a few hours, then enjoy!

To make Chocolate Covered Bananas: Place a popsicles stick in several bananas.  Melt some chocolate (with a teaspoon of coconut oil added).  Use a spoon to coat all sides of the banana.  Then apply sprinkles.  Freeze for a few hours, then enjoy!



May 27 12
by cara
at 9:22 PM

Staying Sane This Summer, Part 2: Weekly Summer Routines and The Importance of Being Flexible

This is Part 2 in my mini-series on Staying Sane This Summer.  You can find Part 1 here.

I don’t know about you, but for me, the days all start to run together during the summer.  It’s easy for that to happen when you don’t have any regularly recurring events to anchor your days.  I think our children feel the same way.  Just like us, our children rely on routines and repetition.  They need to know what to expect each day.  When preschool is in session, The Little Apple knows that he has school on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, and that Friday is his short day at school.

So I created a simple weekly routine to anchor our days.  And I don’t have super-fancy graphic for you, but hopefully you’ll get the idea…

Weekly Summer Routines

Monday: Movie Day.  Watch ONE movie (not a whole day of movies, so this is a bit of a misnomer).  Some Mondays it will be The Little Apple’s pick, some weeks I will select a movie.

Tuesday: Grandparents Day-This is not just for summer time!  The Little Apple spends the day with grandparents.  Both sets of grandparents live nearby, so they trade off weeks.  It’s a nice little break for me.  I get to spend some quality time with Slingshot and attempt to get some extra stuff done around the house (depending on how fussy Slingshot is and whether or not he decides to take naps).  And The Little Apple gets to spend some quality time with his grandparents.  It’s a WIN for everyone!

Wednesday: Friends Day.  We invite a friend or two over for a playdate.  Since Slingshot was born, we haven’t had many playdates.  (I miss our Art Playgroup!)  This summer we’ll get back to seeing our friends on a regular basis.

Thursday: Field Trip Day.  We’ll make an effort to get out of the house to do something fun!  Mini-golf, bowling, Chuck E. Cheese, Moody Gardens, zoo, museum, paddleboats, the park, etc.  I’m going to try to alternate between free activities and those that cost….this could get expensive otherwise!  Sometimes we’ll invite a friend or the grandparents along!

Friday: Water Day.  On Fridays we’ll head to one of our many neighborhood pools or splashpads.  (This will probably happen more often than once a week, but on Fridays for sure!)  We also have the option of playing in our backyard inflatable pool or breaking out the water balloons and water guns.  This is another great one for friends!

I can already tell that this Weekly Routine is going to be a lifesaver for us this summer.  I have our Routine written out on the chalkboard in our kitchen, and The Little Apple starts his day by asking “What do we do today?”  “What’s on the board for today?” and “What day is it?”  He’s already got most of the Weekly Routine memorized after only one week and he was a little confused and disappointed when I didn’t have a “planned” activity for Saturday.

The Importance of Being Flexible

And now for a little dose of reality:  Last week was our first week of summer, and The Little Apple had strep throat.  He was out of commission Monday through Thursday.  Playdates and field trips were cancelled.  Basically our Weekly Routines went out the window the very first week!!  Sometimes, things like this will happen.  Kids (or mom) will get sick.  You’ll go on vacation.  Summer storms crop up when you planned to spend the day at the pool or have a playdate at the park.  That’s why it’s crucial to be flexible!  The Weekly Routine is not set in stone, but more of a loose framework for your week.  Try not to get so caught up in The Routine that you forget what this is all about: having a FUN summer and staying sane.  So what if your friends aren’t available for a playdate on Wednesday?  See if they can join you at the pool on Friday or at the park on Thursday.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series on our Summer Bucket List and our Daily Summer Routines.


May 23 12
by cara
at 10:23 AM

Staying Sane This Summer, Part 1: The “I’m Bored” Bucket

Summer is here!  The Littlest Apple’s last day of preschool was last Friday.

This is my first summer as a mother of TWO children and since I’m still learning how to juggle the needs of 2 kids, I thought it best to have a game plan for the summer.  I’m going to spend several blog posts talking about my plan for Staying Sane This Summer.

Up first, the “I’m Bored” Bucket.  The Little Apple has an amazing imagination, and he spends lots of time pretending.  But there are also plenty of times (particularly those times when I’m paying attention to Slingshot) when he whines and complains about being bored.

Enter the “I’m Bored” Bucket.

I’ve seen variations of this project on several blogs, including Shaydes of Light and Teach Mama.  Now when The Littlest Apple complains about being bored, he has to draw a stick from the bucket and do the activity written on the stick.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Some of them might be fun, like “play in your sandbox” and some might be chores, like “dust.”  I tried to pick things that he wouldn’t need much help with, but there are a few that might need some assistance from Mommy.  My hope is that this will put an end to the whining and complaining about being bored all summer long.

This was very much a “use what you’ve got project”.  I had all of the supplies on hand.  I wrote out a whole bunch of things for The Little Apple to do on wide popsicle sticks and stuck them in a bucket.  I decorated the bucket with cardstock, chipboard letters, and leftover ribbon scraps.

Here are the activities in our “I’m Bored” Bucket:

  • Sort through old clothes
  • Pull weeds in garden
  • Clean out toy cabinet downstairs
  • Straighten toy shelf in playroom
  • Dust
  • Start a load of laundry
  • Play 1 2 3 Flip (what we call the Cars and Trucks Card Game)
  • Play Leap Pad for 10 Minutes
  • Handwriting Practice-4 times
  • Coloring practice
  • Cutting practice
  • Lava Floor-don’t touch the floor!!
  • Sandbox
  • Pick up 5 toys and put them away
  • Hole punch paper
  • Call grandparents
  • Build with blocks
  • Sing a song
  • Read a book to Slingshot
  • Play with playdough
  • Count to 100
  • Read 2 books
  • Sweep the floor
  • Go up and down the stairs 5 times
  • Line up your cars and trucks
  • Stack cups
  • Make a video on your LeapPad
  • Chalkboard
  • Printables
  • Catch a bug
  • Tape art book

Next up, I’ll share our Weekly Summer Routines and the importance of staying flexible.   

How do YOU combat summer boredom?

May 9 12
by cara
at 8:45 PM

Hacking Our Way Through the Brambles…Again

I have attempted to write this post about 5 times in the past week or so, but all of my attempted posts just sounded whiny.  So I deleted them and had my little pity party in private.  But maybe now I’m ready to share with you what’s been going on.

First, the good news:  My sweet baby boy is now 4 months old and meeting all his developmental milestones.  Yay!  And have you SEEN how cute Slingshot is?!  Here are a few reminders…




Husband's hairy leg, not mine....

Now that you’ve had your fill of the cuteness, here’s the sucky news: Slingshot’s not even in the 1st percentile for weight (10 pounds, 15 ounces), battling some pretty yucky eczema, acting more and more colicky, and still spitting up so much we’re changing clothes about 4 times a day.  I’ve given up dairy and eggs (in addition to gluten, if you’re keeping track) to combat the eczema and reflux.  Today, the pediatrician suggested we go ahead and see a pediatric Gi.  So basically it’s deja vu all over again, because this is exactly what happened with The Little Apple.

Excuse me while I go bang my head against the wall….

We really don’t want to go down this path again.  We are familiar with this particular path through the brambles.  It’s full of thorns.  You really have to hack your way through.  Its dark and scary in there.  Cuts and snags are to be expected.  If you wind up there, I hope you packed a bottle of water and a dairy-free egg-free-gluten-free snack or two, because you’re going to be in there for a while, wandering around lost and alone. Well, at least you’ve got your husband with you, but his sense of direction doesn’t seem to be any better than yours!  And you can just forget about GPS or a map of any sort.  This is uncharted territory.   You keep hoping to find that beautiful park on the other side- the one you’ve heard so much about.  The one full of flowers and butterflies and sunny skies and all things wonderful. You’ll get there eventually, but wouldn’t you rather just stay on the nice, well-worn concrete path that (almost) everyone else takes?  I know I would.

Unfortunately, I think we’re headed for the brambles again.  We’re hopeful we can hack our way out a little faster this time since we’ve been there, done that already.  But last time, we were just stumbling around blindly…and not expecting to ever have to retrace our path, so we’ll see how much our previous “experience” actually helps.

Ok, enough of the metaphor.

Here are some of the questions and thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for the last week or so (welcome to my crazy mind)…

  • Should we supplement with formula?  Have we reached the point where supplementation is necessary?  Is it avoidable?  I had every intention of breast-feeding exclusively this time around (we supplemented with The Little Apple from about 6 months).  I know formula isn’t the end of the world.  I also know this is a controversial topic.
  • Will formula even help?  It didn’t help The Little Apple gain weight…would it help Slingshot?
  • Is a feeding tube in Slingshot’s future too?!
  • Am I producing enough milk?  Should I be taking fenugreek (mmm….eau de syrup!) or talk to my doctor about some prescription galactagogues?
  • Should I be waking Slingshot at night every 3 or 4 hours to nurse?  (we’re waking up a couple times already, so that wouldn’t be a huge change…)
  • Should I be nursing more frequently during the day?  We’re at 2-3 hours now.  Not sure I can handle going more frequently than that (again).
  • Would it be possible to supplement with breast milk from a milk bank?  Would we even meet the qualifications (he’s not a preemie, not “sick,” etc).  Would I even WANT to do that?
  • What about that homemade formula I read about somewhere (Sally Fallon/ Weston A. Price Foundation or GAPS)?  Is that a good option for us?
  • What does The Picky Apple think we should do?
  • And most of all, what on the world is causing this in BOTH of my boys, and who can get to the bottom of this mystery?!

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down in all of this.  I’m trying my best not to let that happen because I’m well aware that things could be so much worse!   We have so much to be thankful for!

That being said, I’m stomping my feet and pouting a bit as we gear up for another trek through the brambles.

Stupid brambles.

Apr 28 12
by cara
at 9:12 PM

Something To Do With All My Free Time

Some beautiful new fabric I just ordered from Hawthorne Threads

For a new quilt.

Because I have so much free time these days.

And because I didn’t have enough unfinished projects around here…

Can’t wait to get started!!

Apr 24 12
by cara
at 8:42 PM

Garlic Ginger Pork Chops

For the last 6 months or so, we’ve been ordering about 80-90% of our meat from Yonderway Farm, located in Brenham, Texas.  We pick up our order once a month and fill our freezer with beef, chicken, and pork, all fresh from the farm.  “Meat delivery day” is always exciting for me (especially when we can snag some fresh eggs, too!).

When we order a produce share from Rawfully Organic the same week?  Well, those Thursday evenings are like Christmas morning for me.  Love it!!

The Yonderway Farm pork chops in particular have been delicious lately, and this preparation (created on the fly by me) is definitely a keeper.  I baked them this time around (pouring the extra marinade in the pan), but next time we’ll grill them.  Everything is better grilled, don’t you think?!  As you can see, I served our pork chops with acorn squash and roasted broccoli and red peppers for a colorful, tasty, and healthy dinner.


Ginger Garlic Pork Chops

recipe by Cara at The Picky Apple


  • 2 bone-in pork chops
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of chili paste
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients except pork in a small bowl.  Pour over pork in a ziplock bag or glass bowl  and marinate for at least one hour.

To bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place pork in a glass baking dish and pour extra marinade over the top.  Bake for 30 minutes or until pork is cooked through (depending on thickness of your pork chops).

To grill: Preheat grill to 500 degrees F.  Grill pork for 8 to 9 minutes on each side.

Apr 22 12
by cara
at 8:07 PM

Top Ten Messages You Want Your Kids To Get


Last Monday at my moms’ group, we had a guest speaker: Linda Anderson, founder of Mom to Mom Ministries.  Our group uses the Mom to Mom curriculum, and I think Linda Anderson is one amazing lady.  She is full of wonderful words of wisdom and encouragement for young mothers, and last week’s presentation was chock full of good stuff.  I wanted to share my notes with you.  The main text is from the handout, and the italics are my own notes.

Top Ten Messages You Want Your Kids To Get

Message #1: I love you unconditionally.

The foundation on which everything else is based.  We can be conduits for God’s love.

  • Learn how your kids can feel your love. (Ross Campbell, How To Really Love Your Child).  A child can BE loved without FEELING loved.  1) Eye contact. 2) Physical contact.  3) Focused attention.
  • Learn your kids’ love languages. (Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages of Children)
  • Explore ways to “send love” in their language.  Your love is not withdrawn because of their behavior.

Message #2: I like you for who you are–just as you are.

Don’t miss who your child IS because you only see who your child ISN’T.

  • Become a student of your children–find something you can like about them.
  • Take an interest in what interests them.
  • Listen–really listen–to them.
  • Show up for their games, show, concerts, etc.  Kids often spell love T-I-M-E.

Message #3: I believe in you.

Instill realistic (not inflated) self confidence in your child.

  • Help them experience small successes.
  • Help them compete (keep up in the world) and compensate (help them see their areas of strength).  (James Dobson principles.)
  • Give realistic–and genuine–affirmation.
  • Always balance constructive criticism with at least twice as much praise.

Message #4: I love you too much to let you…”

  • Let your kids know God is in charge, and He gave you this job.
  • Basic message: There is a God, and He’s not you!  Child needs to know: “I’m not the boss!”
  • Set the right tone: discipline is at least 90% atmosphere (expectation, “the look,” the tone of voice) over specific set of actions.
  • Don’t exasperate your kids (Ephesians 6).  Do set realistic expectations, live what you preach, follow through consistently.

Message #5: God loves you even more than I do.

  • Live a Deuteronomy 6 lifestyle.  Get God’s words inside of you-and them!
  • Transfer God’s tender love to them through your touch.  (and tone!)
  • Welcome questions (Deuteronomy 6).  Be a good listener–God is!  Tell them what God has done in your life.  It’s okay to not have all the answers.  Our homes can be a mirror, a window, and a skylight.

Message #6: Choices have consequences.

God always gives people choices.  We want our children to learn about delayed gratification and advanced decision-making.

  • Allow kids to experience small consequences to avoid bigger consequences.
  • Resist the temptation to rescue them regularly.
  • Beware the helicopter-mom syndrome.
  • Help them learn–and practice–self-control.

 Message #7: You–and I–will both blow it sometimes.  But God will always forgive if we ask Him.

  • Model apology and forgiveness.
  • Teach kids to say “I’m sorry.”  You say it, too.
  • Allow for open window moments of tender conversation and fresh starts.

Message #8: God will never leave you or forsake you.

This message is particularly important for times when you aren’t with your kids: school, the mean girl or bully situation, peer pressure, etc.

  • Read Bible stories that reinforce these truths.  Talk about them.  Act them out.
  • Share you own personal stories of times and ways God has been with you.
  • Encourage kids to talk with you about their fears.
  • Pray with them regularly, and encourage them to bring their fears to God.
  • Look for children’s books that reinforce discussion about both fears and God’s presence in real-life situations.

Message #9: It’s all grace.  Living in God’s grace makes life fun.

It’s all about what God has done for us.  It’s not about what we do or what our kids do.

  • Make learning about God fun.
  • Remember kids watch more than they listen.  Make grace contagious.
  • Keep your sense of humor, learn to laugh at yourself, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Remember laughter can build relationships.

Message #10: I will always pray for you.

Prayers are deathless.  They outlive the lives of those who utter them.

  • Practice prayer as a lifestyle.  Let your kids see/hear you praying.
  • Let your kids know you pray for them (cards, notes, text).  Include “how can I pray for you?” into your daily questions.
  • Pray with your kids for others–starting with their father.
  • Watch prayer become reciprocal–One day they will pray for you!

 Note to Moms:  Amidst all the noise out there, amidst all the voices calling to your kids, the voice your kids will hear the loudest… is yours!  You will—and do—make a difference!

Cara here:  So much to learn from this, don’t you think?!  Did any of these messages resonate with you?  I feel like I need to work on ALL of them, but right now I’m focusing on #2 and #4 with The Little Apple.



Apr 19 12
by cara
at 3:19 PM

Orange Strawberry Salad with Orange Dressing

Is it too late to post about Easter?  Let’s pretend it’s not.  We hosted our Fourth Annual Easter Brunch this year.  Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, what with a 3 month old and all.  But as usual, we had tons of delicious food and a fun egg hunt for the kids.  Here’s a look back at our menu….

Easter Brunch 2012

Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit Muffins
Southwest Scramble
Hash Browns
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Muffins
Buttermilk Blueberry Cake
Orange Strawberry Salad with Orange Dressing and Grilled Chicken
Mediterranean Dip
Apple Spice Cake

What I really want to talk about is that salad.  I made this Orange Strawberry Salad for the first time at Easter, and I made it again this week for our Salad of The Week.  The dressing…oh that dressing!!  It’s so good you’ll want to lick your plate clean just to get every last drop.  This time around, I used some of the dressing as a marinade for the chicken before I grilled it.  It was pure genius on my part, because the chicken had great flavor!  Also, this method for sugared almonds is also the best one I’ve ever used.  They are amazing (and no, not paleo at all).  Combined with some fresh strawberries, spinach and juicy Cuties, and you’ve got yourself a delicious salad.  So delicious that I forgot to take a picture until after I’d already dug in to my lunch the other day…

Orange Strawberry Salad

adapted from See Jane In The Kitchen


  • 1 package of spring mix greens (I used a combo of spinach, lettuce, and baby kale)
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 large orange, cut into small pieces (I used 2 or 3 Cuties)
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 recipe of Sugared Almonds (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe of Orange Dressing
  • 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

Make dressing.  Marinate chicken in 1/2-2/3 cup of dressing for at least 1 hour.  Grill chicken until cooked through, allow to cool, then slice.  Make sugared almonds.  Combine greens, strawberries, Cutie segments, green onions, sugared almonds, and grilled chicken.  Top with remaining salad dressing and serve.

Sugared Almonds: Combine 1 cup sliced almonds, 4 tablespoons butter, and 4 tablespoons sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the the butter and sugar turn to a toffee color, stir constantly.

Orange Dressing:

  • ½ tsp grated orange peel, or orange zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice ( 1 to 2 oranges )
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup olive oil oil
  • 1 Tablespoon “Good Seasons Dry Italian” dressing mix. It is about ½ a package.  (Next time I’m making my own Italian Dressing Mix)

Put all ingredients in a container and shake- serve.

Apr 6 12
by cara
at 2:05 PM




These guys sure are keeping me busy!

And Slingshot is 3 months old (yesterday)..can you believe it?!

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