August – 2013 – Frugal Novice
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August 2013

Britax Booster – Parkway SGL 2013 • Continuing Car Safety for Kids!

Note: We received the Britax Parkway SGL 2013 to facilitate our review. All opinions in this post are honest and are entirely our own. We are huge Britax fans and have purchased two Britax seats for our kids prior to this review.

Britax_Booster_SeatI have always been very aware of car seat safety for my kids, and J has still been in his five-point harness Britax Marathon seat up until very recently (can I just say that I love that the Britax seats have such a high weight limit? We’ve definitely gotten our money’s worth with the seats). He started kindergarten this week, which I’m still slightly in denial about, and he asked us multiple times about switching to a “big kid” seat. We knew we wanted to get him a booster, but to be honest the switch from a five-point harness made me a little nervous. So, after a lot of research we learned what we already knew – the Britax Parkway SGL 2013 has the features we want that make the booster incredibly safe and functional.

First off, if you’ve looked into booster seats at all you know there are two kinds – those with backs, and those without. We wanted one with a back, which the Parkway has… BUT you can also remove the back and use it as a backless booster. I love this, because that means this can be the seat he’s in until he’s big enough to not need a booster anymore. It’s just another way that Britax shows their value, in my opinion. I’ll talk about the features in a minute, which are what really impress us… but the sheer length of time you’re able to use Britax seats is enough on its own to make these worthwhile.

Now let’s talk about features. This is no ordinary booster – it’s SO well designed for safety and for easy use.

• ISOFLEX Flexible Lower LATCH Connection System secures the booster seat to the vehicle in seconds from either side of the booster seat with two clicks and a pull. ISOFLEX prevents the booster seat from becoming a projectile when not in use, and stabilizes it during a crash. This was SO easy to do. Brian placed the seat in the car, as you can see above, and then he used the two LATCH straps to connect to our anchors in the car:

Britax_LATCH  And then – without having to climb into the seat and awkwardly shove his knee into it – he just easily pulled the strap on each side, heard the clicks, and voila! the seat was securely anchored.
• Base with SafeCell Technology designed to keep your child safe and secure in a crash by compressing and significantly lowering the center of gravity, reducing the forward movement of the car seat.
• SecureGuard works with the vehicle safety belt to prevent the child from sliding under the lap-belt portion of the safety belt (submarining) during impact, thus minimizing the risk of abdominal injury. We love this feature, too – the shoulder guide keeps the top strap where it needs to be, but there’s also the SecureGuard “hook” – for lack of a better term – that slips over the lap-belt and keeps it in place over your child’s legs rather than on  their abdomen, (the soft abdomen is not safe placement in the instance of a crash, so this is really an awesome feature). Of course, since the SecureGuard is between your child’s legs, it also serves to help keep them from slipping down underneath the lap belt.

Britax_ShoulderStrap_Guide

Shoulder Strap Guide

Britax_Strap_Guide

SecureGuard

Some other great Parkway SGL 2013 features include:J_Britax_Booster

  • 120-pound Weight Capacity for safety and comfort as your child grows
  • Quick- Adjust Head Restraint easily adjusts the head restraint from the front of the seat for a more comfortable fit and enhanced safety (this is SO easy to move up and down as needed, just by squeezing a handle on the back of the head restraint)
  • High Density Comfort Foam (under removable cover) provides an extra layer of padding to cushion your child
  • Easy-Remove Cover allows easy cleaning (no more wrangling it off in the inevitable instance of a spill!)
  • Color-Coded Vehicle Belt Guides provide clear indication of the positioning of the vehicle lap and shoulder belt
  • True Side Impact Protection distributes crash forces, shields from vehicle intrusion, contains the head and body, and keeps the head, neck and spine “in true” or aligned, to limit injury
  • Armrests provide a natural and comfortable place to rest arms
  • Retractable Cup Holders are designed to hold children’s cups and snacks (J’s FAVORITE feature of the seat… he also likes to hide toys in the cup holders and then stick them back into the booster)
  • Removable Back allows the booster seat to easily convert to a backless booster while maintaining safety of SecureGuard
  • MSRP (USD) $159.99 – You can buy it on Amazon for $119.99, though!

We weren’t surprised at all to find that we loved this booster. It gives me the peace of mind, and J the sense of independence – a perfect balance. We will always be a Britax family when it comes to car seats for our kiddos.

Shelf Safe Milk is a Must-Have for your Pantry

Note: This post is brought to you by Milk Unleashed and the Motherhood. I was compensated for my time, but all opinions are honest and are my own. 

MilkUnleashed_CartonsYes, that’s right, I said pantry. I have to admit, until recently I had NO CLUE that shelf safe milk existed. I knew there were things like condensed milk, or powdered milk, but I didn’t know you could get regular, normal-tasting milk that can be stored unrefrigerated for months. 

You’ve probably seen shelf-safe milk before, either on your grocery store shelves or even refrigerated in restaurants and coffee shops.  I know I had seen it, but when I saw it in stores I assumed it must be different from regular milk – and when we had the milk refrigerated at a favorite restaurant, I assumed it was “regular” refrigerated milk. Now I know that it IS regular milk, but it’s pasteurized and packaged in a way that makes it extremely functional (and safe!) without refrigeration required.

Shelf safe milk is Grade A fluid milk that requires no refrigeration until the package is open, and it has NO preservatives! It has the exact same nutritional profile as the refrigerated milk you’re used to! The taste of this milk is very similar to “traditional” milk. My kids have had it (cold) and neither of them noticed a difference at all.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got questions as to HOW this milk can be kept unrefrigerated… so here’s a look at the process!

Shelf safe milk is pasteurized at an Ultra High Temperature for a shorter time to preserve taste and nutrition – you can see below how the process works compared to the process for traditional pasteurized milk:

MilkUnleashed_Process

MilkUnleashed_PackagingOnce the shelf safe milk is heated, it is immediately put into a sterile, opaque Tetra Pak shelf-safe carton that keeps out light, air, and harmful contaminants.  Packaging is 70% paper; there’s a layer of aluminum foil to keep out oxygen and prevent spoiling, and there’s a thin layer of BPA-free plastic in the packaging as well. Because of the process and packaging, shelf safe milk lasts up to six months without refrigeration or preservatives! Once you open it, the life of the milk is about the same as “traditional” milk.

As a mom of three kids who feels like we’re always on the go, I can think of a ton of uses for shelf safe milk. It’d be really easy to toss in the diaper bag or to bring along on road trips (did I mention the individual cartons typically come with built-in straws just like juice boxes? SO easy). And just think about staying in hotel rooms – no more worrying about having a fridge in your room to keep the milk cold! I love knowing that I can give my kids a nutritious drink on-the-go, whether it’s just out around town or on longer trips. You can even freeze the milk and stick it in your child’s lunch, and it will be thawed in time to enjoy some nice cold milk for lunchtime. Another benefit to shelf safe milk is that I can keep some on hand in our pantry and never have to be out of milk (like we were this very morning, for instance)! It’d be great to have for recipes, too – or if you live in areas affected by hurricanes, it’d be a perfect addition to your emergency kit.

You can buy shelf safe milk in many grocery stores, and you can even order it online at Amazon.com!

Be sure and check out the Milk Unleashed site for tips, news, downloadable games, snack ideas and cow calendars. “Like” Milk Unleashed on Facebook for all sorts of news & info, including a contest that’s starting up soon! And don’t forget to follow them on Twitter  for news and Pinterest for recipes, projects, family activities and more!

Cucumber “Cupcakes” with Homemade Hummus “Frosting” Recipe

CucumberCupcakesMy good friend Chemese’s birthday was last week, and she requested a little something different from your typical chocolate cake. She asked for me to make a savory snack that would fit with her Vegan lifestyle – cucumber “cupcakes” with hummus “frosting.”

For the cupcake part, I just peeled organic cucumbers and cut the ends off, then cut each cucumber into four even pieces. If I do this again, I’ll hollow out part of the cucumber with a spoon to allow more room for hummus. This worked well enough, though, and was super easy to do. When we ate these, we just cut them up into pieces.

For the hummus, I made it from scratch. It takes some time and prep, but is a fairly easy process overall. Chemese had chickpeas on hand, and she soaked them, then gave them to me. After the soaking, it’s important to boil the chickpeas until they’re tender, which took about an hour. I boiled them the night before, then stuck them in the fridge so they were cold and ready to use the next day. Of course, you could also use canned chickpeas if you don’t have the time to do the soaking and boiling.

Here are the ingredients for the hummus:

  • 4 cups chickpeas, cooked or canned, drained
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • salt
  • tahini
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil

CucumberGraphicYou’ll notice I didn’t list amounts for the salt, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice – that’s because I think it’s crucial that you add these a bit at a time until you get the taste and consistency you’re looking for. I believe I ended up using 4 tablespoons of tahini, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Here’s the process, which is pretty simple:

  1. In a food processor, put in your chickpeas and pulse to get them started blending. Add a little bit of water if you need to loosen things up a bit. Then add your garlic, and blend, adding olive oil in until you get the mixture at your desired consistency. As you can see in the photo, mine was about the consistency of buttercream frosting. 
  2. Next add in your tahini, one tablespoon at a time. It’s important to do this before adding your salt, because tahini has some saltiness to it. Blend between tablespoons, and taste after each one! Next, add your salt, again a little at a time.
  3. Last of all, add the lemon juice. You’ll be amazed at the brightness this adds to the flavor profile, but you want to make sure and not end up with something that’s just plain sour, so again – add a little at a time.
  4. Voila! You’ve got homemade hummus, which is lighter and airier than anything store-bought I’ve tried.

To finish my cupcakes, I just put the hummus in a parchment bag with an icing tip, and then topped the hummus with finely chopped carrots. I love the way they turned out! Our 4-year-old liked them so much that he asked me to make him for his next birthday. :)

Most importantly, though, Chemese liked her birthday treat, and we had a great time celebrating with her!

Chemese_CucumberCupcakes