Category Archives: shopping

Summer Plans




We’re well into summer now, and somehow a routine still hasn’t emerged! We’ve had Ara’s cousins’ Joey and Kt spending time with us during the week (separately so far). Ara even had her first sleep over with Kt! They didn’t sleep much, are you surprised? I made the little diagram above when I found out I would be entertaining more than one short person, mostly to calm my fears. It has helped, a little!

Goof ball girls! We’ve already baked teeny tiny cakes in their Easy Bake Ovens, swam, made mud pies, watched movies, done crafts, driven me crazy… I’m happy that Ara has a friend to fill her days though. And the upside is a day like today, when it was just Ara and me, is suddenly special instead of tiresome and boring! I love not being boring!


On our special “Mama & Ara” day we had lunch at Panda and got mysterious fortunes.


We also visited the library. Which we did a few days ago with her cousin but she seemed shy to choose books that she really likes. Like all these dino books and the bag full of easy readers.


Then we fed Placo, our friends giant fish. The friends who left a Birthday card and present for Ara on the table! After that we hit up Petsmart to take advantage of the last days of the $1 fish sale. Ara chose 3 “Creamcicle” Moly fish and with her shoe fairy money she bought her naked fish tank some plants haha! She keeps looking longingly at the tank decorations that are huge and pricey. One of her favorites is a T-rex with a mechanical jaw that opens and closes with some sort of air pump. She keeps thinking that it will scare her fish though! Ironically when we went to put the moly fish into the tank we found one of the formerly healthy guppy girls was dying. She was apparently healthy when Ara fed them in the morning, so it was strange. She was dead before bedtime. Sad. We really liked her.


I forgot to mention that we watched the transit of Venus (like a week ago?) with cool glasses thanks to my Sister! I had to hid the glasses though, because Ara has been trying to watch the sun for other things ever since. She also seems to think the glasses give her telescope vision because she yells out that she sees other planets. I see Jupiter!


Our aquaponics fish are doing really well. I like them so much! They are so curious and lively. The pump has started to be obnoxiously noisy so the other day I took it out to clean it. When I put it back in, it didn’t work! So I had my arms in their tank quite a bit and the fish were fearless! They were checking out my hands and arms and what I was doing. Super cute. I did get the pump going again, but it’s still SO LOUD. You can almost feel the vibrations anywhere on the deck. I was thinking of putting a foam flip flop under it or something. The pump suction cups to the plastic of the barrel and it’s vibrating and amplifying the sound! Honestly I don’t know how the fish can stand it lol. They seem perfectly happy though. So now that the fish part of the aquaponics is going well I’m starting to wonder why the plant part isn’t taking off.

IMG_2768The few plants I have in the grow bed continue to just kind of.. be alive. They are growing significantly slower than similar plants in dirt. I’m pretty sure they aren’t getting enough sunlight.. but it seems like there is something else stunting them as well. I might try seeds this week, to see how that goes. If not, it might be the timing on my flood and drain cycle.


Boy, I tell you, this stuff is far more complicated than I thought it would be. The extra complications are also fun in a way, like a puzzle to figure out. It’s a cool hobby though!

More Mythbuster Shopping


I’m still trying to answer the question, “does it have to cost more to eat healthy”?

The items I choose to compare are regulars on our grocery list and favorites of ours. I’m comparing price and ingredients’ to come up with my conclusions.  When I shop I look for products that are additive free (no colors or nasty preservatives), no high fructose corn syrup, and organic ingredient’s. Oh, and it has to be yummy!


T.J’s 8 for 2.79
SW 8 for 1.99
GoGurt 8 for 2.89

In the yogurt-in-a-tube category Safeway brand has a lower price but with flavors like cotton candy you can clearly see the artificial ingredients’ and the HFCS. They also don’t have an organic option. I used to love Yoplait and I would feel so good about the healthy choice I was making.. until I read the label. They pack that stuff full of sugars and colors. Yuk. I’ll stick with the reasonably priced, organic Trader Joe’s for my girl.

P.S. we freeze these so they are like delicious frozen yogurt pops.

grocery comparison1

T.J.’s 16 OZ at 2.99
SW 16 OZ at 3.99 (on sale for 2.50)

I always buy staples like butter and eggs at Trader Joe’s, most people assume it’s more expensive. Of course with sales, you can sometimes grab another store brand for less but TJ’s is one price all the time.

grocery comparison

T.J’s 6 at 1.99
SW 8 at 2.49

The cheapest option for granola bars at Safeway is slightly more than TJ’s and you will be munching a dose of artificial additives while you’re at it. Mmmm, chemicals for snack anyone? A win for TJ’s.


grocery comparison2

T.J’s 12.8 OZ for 2.99
SW 9 OZ for 2.99

Same price, but slightly more for your money at TJ’s.


The myth: Shopping for healthy food at places like Trader Joe’s will cost you more.



Trader Joe’s doesn’t pay me to shop or write, but I wish they would!

This post has been a draft on my computer for about 4 months so prices have probably changed a little.

Strawberry Heart and Reading Update


Do you see the heart? Just two sweet strawberries to continue the theme. The rest of the lunch had ww pita pizzas’, baby carrots, and seaweed.

Ara has suddenly been volunteering to read books to us at night time. I love it! It was her idea, she just decided to bring two books for story time. One for her to read to us and one for us to read to her. It’s nice to hear her reading, the teachers always tell us that she reads well but she has rarely wanted to read to us. I’ve been waiting for her love of books to merge with a love a reading! Watching her discover books on her own is an awesome thing.

We’ve taken a break from reading the Chamber of Secrets lately. She was getting stressed out that the kids would be expelled from school! Of all the things to be scared of, she’s so silly. I read a passage where Hermione closes her text book to talk about making an illegal potion and Ara says in alarm, “they should open the books back up!”. It’s not the parts where they talk about a monster stalking the castle and living in a secret chamber, or the death day party, it’s the parts where they break the school rules that scare her. I don’t want to force the book, so we’ll pick it back up when she asks me too. We made it half way through. I won’t lie, I’m DYING to read more with her and watch the movies! It’s ok though, I’m sure I’ll get my chance.

We recently had a January Birthday dinner at the Cheesecake Factory with Alex’s family and Ara brought her camera! I wanted to share some of her artful (low light and blurry) shots;


This was my first experience at Cheesecake Factory and my food was excellent. Ironically the chocolate cake we ordered to share afterwards was terrible. It was dry and stale. Even being the chocolate lover I am, I had to toss the cake in the trash when we brought it home. I guess it serves us right for ordering cake in a factory of cheesecake! 

Ara also brought her camera to Sunflower on our last shopping trip. I asked her to take pictures of her favorite foods and here is the result;


I might have taken this last picture… Smile what a sweetie!

Watermelon for the Graduate


Watermelon and whole wheat blueberry waffle PB&J.  A quick and refreshing 2-days-until-summer-starts bento! 


After school we took a trip to the mall.  We probably go to the mall twice a year, if that, so Ara thought it was some kind of treat!  I just wanted to get some flip flops at Old Navy since my trusty old Chaco sandals broke!  DSC08390

We walked right by the Disney Store and it drew us in like a princess covered magnet!  Ara Ooooooed and Ahhhhhhed as she walked through the door, and we were in there long enough that I was able to observe every little girl who walks in does some kind of squeal.  I went straight for the bento boxes because 3 out of my 5 bento boxes came from this store.  Surprisingly Disney makes a nice quality box that holds liquids and has dividers.  They also sell them for $5.50 or 3 for $12 which is reasonable.  Well I’ve had and used my boxes for maybe a year and a half now and our 2 favorites need to be replaced.  I was sad to find that the little rectangle boxes I love weren’t there.  I found only one box that seemed water tight and it was shaped  like a fish, which seems like a design challenge!  Ara liked it though, because it was a Little Mermaid design so we got it and the 2 sets of flip flops the sales person talked me into!  Darn mall!  I’ll make a fish shaped bento tomorrow to post a pic.. and it will be Ara’s last day of school bento as well! 

Today was kind of her last day of regular school, tomorrow the parents are invited to come from 10-noon to be served fresh orange juice and cheese sandwiches made by the kids.  Alex is working so I’ll be solo and I will also be NOT crying.  Thank you very much.  A Kindergarten graduate, what a day!  I think that’s what prompted the princess flip-flop and bento box buying.  I just want to show her I’m proud!  I actually REALLY want to buy a real quality box like this one (thanks for the link Megan) but I am hesitating because I can’t really see if the lid seals with the box.  Of course there are TONS of bento box options out there now and I have 3 months to shop, so I will hunt around for some reviews.  I kind of want a magical round box so that all my bentos will be as beautiful as this one.  They also need to be easy to open and close for kid hands and high quality-BPA free plastic or stainless steel. 

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