Giveaway: New Ergobaby Omni 360 Baby Carrier

I am beyond excited. First, we giving away a brand new Ergobaby Omni 360 baby carrier. Second, I get to share these beautiful pictures by our friend and photographer, Alysha Rainwaters.

Ergobaby Onmi 360

Recently, Ergobaby asked if I wanted to review their newest baby carrier, just released last month. The Omni 360 combines the best of the 360 with the Adapt, which converts from newborn on up. The Ergo 360 (which you might remember from my video review with Baby Bird and from this guest article) is seriously the best forward facing baby carrier. Until now.

Compare Ergobaby Omni, Adapt and 360

The major improvement with these new, flexible baby carriers (the Omni and Adapt) is that they can be worn without an infant insert – even with brand new little bitties. Infant inserts are great but can be hot. We love this simplicity in hot San Diego.

Not sure how to wear them? Ergobaby has great videos on YouTube showing how to wear the different styles, like this one. For help in person, I always recommend finding a local Babywearing International group, too.

Ergobaby Omni 360

Reviewing the new Ergobaby Omni 360

I’m a fan of everything Ergo does. So I was thrilled by the offer to review the Omni. Only problem? My littlest Baby Bird is almost four! Luckily our friends Alysha and Matt Rainwaters have two beautiful girls, including the adorable Coco. Sadly they are in the midst of moving away from us in San Diego back to Austin, Texas. Alysha said that her cutie has been super clingy and she hadn’t been able to put her down to pack.

best front facing baby carrier

When I brought the carrier over to their house, little Coco intuitively gravitated towards it. She wanted her mom to wear her immediately! Her little smile once she was up was priceless.

favorite forward facing baby carrier

Here’s Alysha’s review of the Omni 360:

I had given up on wearing Coco and hadn’t put her in a carrier in a couple of months because she couldn’t get comfortable forward-facing in our previous carrier. I was so so excited to try the Ergo because I missed feeling close to her and kissing and smelling her little head. Sure enough, she loves the Ergobaby and actually sits still, which frees my hands to wrangle my older daughter. I’ve also noticed that my back never hurts while wearing her and I can hold her for longer! Yay!

Ergobaby Omni 360 Forward Facing

Babywearing is Good for Parents’ Mental Health

Obviously, I’m a big fan of babywearing. In my private practice, Burd Psychotherapy, specializing in postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, I often recommend babywearing to ease mom’s anxieties. You can multitask. More importantly, babywearing increases bonding, attachment, and attunement. In fact, I wrote a blog for Ergo on How to Prevent Postpartum Depression, which includes wearing baby close.

Ergobaby Omni 360

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Kid-Made Almond Pulp Granola

Any time you cook with kids expect a mess. Multiple your prep time by three. Your results may not be as pretty or as perfect. Then again, kids cooking means kids more likely to try new food, having fun/bonding, and absorbing math and science!

Almond Pulp Granola with Mixed Nuts and Cinnamon

Would you like to see our last project? We made homemade almond milk. And with the unanticipated byproduct of leftover almond pulp, the kids made the most delicious almond granola — too tasty not to share.

Homemade Almond Milk Adventures

When the girls and I decided to try making almond milk at home, we picked up raw almonds at Specialty Produce. After soaking for a day, we ground the almonds in a Vitamix and strained it through cheesecloth leftover from my cheese-making days. If you are serious, you can buy a nut milk bag. If you just want to experiment, you can even use an old pillowcase or dishtowel to strain. It tastes really grainy if you don’t strain. But if you would like to try a nut milk that doesn’t need to be strained, I recommend cashews, like this raw cashew “horchata” recipe.

Vanilla Honey Almond Milk and Dark Chocolate Milk

We made a batch of vanilla bean honey almond milk (sweetened with the vanilla bean honey from San Diego Honey Company) and a dark chocolate almond milk. The basic vanilla recipe I found here and would make again. The chocolate recipe used melted chocolate, and wasn’t as smooth as I would’ve liked. Next time I’ll try raw cacao instead.

Watch this video of me milking nuts, lol…

 

Straining the almond milk through the cheesecloth reminded me so much of making cheese back in the day! It’s been nearly five years since I posted this step-by-step pictures guide to making fresh goat cheese (chèvre) – one of my most comprehensive posts ever. Little Bird used to help add the chèvre culture and roll the logs before she was even two.

Except when you make cheese, the liquid, or whey, is the waste, and the solid is the good stuff you are going for. Making almond milk, the reverse was true. In fact, the leftover almond pulp – which could’ve been just discarded, reminded me in texture of fresh ricotta. Which got me thinking…

Leftover Almond Pulp Makes Great Granola!

We ate a bunch of the almond pulp – which really needs salt – as a snack. I thought it could be interesting as a vegan stuffed pasta filling. Not to mention, it’s a fresher version of the almond meal I buy for baking. However our winning idea was granola!

Almond Pulp Granola with Mixed Nuts and Cinnamon

Drying Out the Almond Meal – Edible Kinetic Sand

Almond pulp leftover from making almond milk makes great granola

The girls had fun spreading out the almond pulp on a baking sheet to dry it out. Use your hands! Such good sensory fun and… it totally feels like kinetic sand! Seriously, you have to try it.

You dry out the pulp in a 200° oven for a few hours, checking it and stirring and breaking it up once an hour. You want the moisture mostly gone. A little browning is fine, but don’t burn any of it.

The result is “healthy looking” aka kind of a bland, crunchy thing. But once you add all the good stuff, it blends right into the granola, giving it extra body.

Making Almond Pulp Granola

Almond pulp granola

Please improvise with your favorite ingredients. We threw in whatever nuts we had in the freezer! Have fun with it.

Kid-Made Almond Pulp Granola
 
Author:
Recipe type: Easy
Cuisine: Vegan, gluten-free
 
Don't throw away the leftover almond pulp when you make homemade almond milk! It gives body to the most delicious granola. Not to mention, the granola and homemade almond milk taste amazeballs served together!
Ingredients
  • Approx 1 cup of pulp from making almond milk from raw almonds
  • 1 cup of rolled oats or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup to 2 cups of raw nuts and seeds (we used a mix of walnuts, pistachios, pepitas, slivered almonds and chia seeds)
  • ¼ cup of unsweetened, shredded coconut (optional)
  • ¼ cup of melted coconut oil
  • 3 Tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
Instructions
  1. First, if using leftover almond pulp from making almond milk, spread out the pulp in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Bake in a 200* oven. Check it after two hours, breaking up, stirring and flipping the pulp. Bake for another 1 to 2 hours, checking and stirring periodically, until mostly dried.
  2. Next, allow the almond meal to cool, then add it and all of the rest of the ingredients to a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir.
  3. Finally, spread the mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. This time bake at 275* for 15-25 minutes, or until lightly brown and toasted. Let cool.
  4. IMPORTANT: Don't mess with it or break apart the giant granola bar until it has cooled for one hour. Then break it up into big chunks and store in an air-tight container.

Have you ever made homemade almond milk or granola?

Our Family Vacation to Catalina (Plus 7 Travel Hacks) and My New Bag

We just got back from vacation on Santa Catalina Island! We love how close the island is. For us, a short ferry ride, and an even shorter drive from my sister’s house near Long Beach, delivers us to Avalon.

Golf Carting around Catalina

And once you get there, you feel transported to another country. The cobblestone streets remind me of Europe and cars are few and far between. Many streets in the main town, Avalon, are entirely blocked off for pedestrians.

Santa Catalina Bubbles

Most places are close enough to walk. Or if you do want a quick ride, hop on a golf cart!

Golf Carting around Catalina

Beach Bums

Catalina FloatiesIn fact, my sister’s family and ours were mostly beach bums for four days straight. We lounged in the sand, ordered food and drinks from the Descanso Beach Club –brought to our towel, danced to live reggae, and floated in the ocean for hours. You can see golden Garibaldi swim right under you in the clear, turquoise water.

Santa Catalina Island

Mama’s New Bag

Thanks to a cute online baby store, The Baby Cubby, my new bag had enough room to carry snacks, sunscreen, water bottles for everyone, wipes, UV sun protection shirts, and more. The Baby Cubby had the MZ Wallace Parker Tote in their curated selection of “diaper bags,” and given the room, I could see why. Yet other high-end retailers, such as Bloomingdales and Nordstrom’s, sell it simply as a purse. (Unsolicited advice to new parents: if you are going to buy a diaper bag, don’t get something that looks like one! Get something you can use for years after.)

MZ Wallace Parker Hobo

Full Disclosure: Baby Cubby sponsored this post by providing me a gift certificate, which I used on the bag. No one sponsored our vacation – but just putting it out there – email me at mama@babybirdsfarm.com if you want to sponsor our next trip!

MZ Wallace Parker Hobo

Additionally, I liked that the hobo bag offered three different options for straps, including cross-body, and one that looks dressy-enough for a night out. Another thing that sets Baby Cubby apart from other baby boutiques is that they always price match, even Amazon. (How often do you shop at the cute boutiques for ideas and then go online to find the lowest price? I know I do. One of their selling points is saving you time – they research the latest and greatest products AND ensure it’s the lowest price possible.) In my particular case, Baby Cubby marked the bag I wanted to such a deep discount that they couldn’t even offer it online. I ended up calling the store to place the order and after calling on a Friday, I had it in hands by Tuesday.

Mama Bird’s Catalina Travel Hacks

  • MZ Wallace Parker HoboChange into jammies at a restaurant after dinner, hop on the ferry, and let the kids get sleepy on the way home. (I had room for their change of clothes, long pants for me, toothbrushes, an iPad…)
  • Restaurants don’t give away free glasses of water. When you order “just water,” waiters bring plastic bottles. Put any leftover in your purse, water is precious on the island!
  • If you are fair, or just don’t want the sun 24/7, bring a UV sunscreen shirt.
  • Bring PBJs and snacks to the beach and let the kids splurge on ice cream or a virgin piña colada instead of buying every meal.
  • Baby wipes help clean sandy hands before eating.
  • Pack empty plastic bags to bring home wet suits — you will want to swim until the last moment.
  • To prevent seasickness on the ferry, dose up with Bonine (for those over 12), Dramamine (any age) or brush up on my favorite morning sickness remedies.

Until Next Time, Catalina!

Catalina Express

 

 

 

Restaurant Feature: Red O in La Jolla, CA

“The best Mexican food I’ve had came from a white guy in Chicago.” –My sister, Claire, after eating at Frontera Grill

Red O Restaurant - Mariscos Chile Relleno

If you have seen the recipe posts for Cajeta and Tres Leches with Strawberries, then you know I have been a fan of Rick Bayless for most of my life. Papa Bird and I had a fantastic meal at the Red O Restaurant in Newport Beach two years ago.

Red O Restaurant - Guacamole, plantain chips and shrimp ceviche

Back then, I posted a picture of the light as air corn and goat cheese tamales from Red O on Twitter, and Rick Bayless (or whoever does his Twitter) ACTUALLY responded. I was starstruck. And upon hearing that La Jolla was tapped for the next location, I knew I wanted to do a feature on this blog. I’ve been bugging them since!

Red O Restaurant - Moscow Mule

We may live in San Diego with an abundance of excellent, authentic Mexican food… but it’s not Portland. There is no need to stone anyone for cultural appropriation. Not when they study a cuisine with the attention of a professor, scholar, and master. And not when the food is delicious!

Red O Restaurant - Combination Plates

During our first visit, I was struck with the attention to ingredients… heirloom beans and the freshest of produce. The same holds true in the San Diego/La Jolla location. The shrimp in the ceviche was plump and perfect, the flavor refreshing and addicting, served with plantain chips.

Red O Restaurant - Sun Burn Margarita

The management at both Red O’s corporate office and locally in San Diego where super accommodating and helped me organize a lunch for the San Diego Food Blogger crew. Disclaimer: they treated us to the lunch. Photos, descriptions, and opinions are mine.

Red O Restaurant, La Jolla, CA

Highlights at Red O La Jolla

The Sauces 

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Meet Fuzzy Feather: Our New Incubator-Hatched Baby Bird

We have a new addition to our backyard chickens! “Fuzzy Feather” is here! (You can see more adorable baby birds here and here.) We have seen the birth of lots of chicks, but Fuzzy Feather is our first incubator hatched chick.

incubator hatched baby bird

Out of our dozens of hens, there is usually at least one broody hen able to sit on fertilized eggs when we come by them. “Broody” means the chicken is wanting to sit on eggs to keep them warm and hatch. Before we got our hens in 2010, I though all hens did that, but apparently, it is bred out of most egg-layers. When they are broody, hens lay few eggs, because they are focused on hatching the ones already laid. Heritage breeds, such as Auracana (who lay pretty blue eggs), are more likely to get broody, and most of our broody girls have been Auracanas or Easter Eggers.

incubator hatched baby bird

If you live in an area, like San Diego, that allows for backyard hens but forbids roosters, you can still hatch chickens! Sometimes a friend gives us fertile eggs. This time City Farmers gave us a few for free. (Smart — for the cost of a few eggs, they gain customers to buy chicken feed!) I have even heard of people hatching the “fertile eggs” from Trader Joes and other grocery stores. I plead the Fifth Amendment as to whether there has ever been an illegal rooster on our property.

Our First Time Using an Incubator to Hatch chicks

incubator hatched baby birdAs I mentioned, we have hatched chicks many times, but have always had a momma, or adopted momma, hen do the work. This time none of the girls were in the mood, so when Papa Bird brought home some fertile eggs, we ordered an incubator.

Can you see Fuzzy Feather’s cute face though the condensation? I put a video of the freshly hatched chick on my Instagram story, but it’s disappeared. (I love me some IG, but I still don’t really like stories.)

Chicken Incubators and Supplies

Disclaimer: I’m an Amazon affiliate, meaning some purchases made through links on this site may result in us being paid a small percentage. That being said, here are some supplies we like and you might find useful:

Since hatching was just for fun, we ordered a relatively cheap incubator. You do get what you pay for. Out of three fertile eggs, only one has hatched. Papa Bird explains that temperature is relatively easy to regulate, but humidity is harder. If you get more serious about hatching, or want to have better results, check out this incubator. We haven’t used it, but it has better reviews. You can also add a separate humidity monitor, which is what Papa Bird did.

Have You Ever Hatched Chicks in an Incubator?

What was your experience? Did you get a Fluffy Feather Butter Butt Cotton Tail of your own?

incubator hatched baby bird