Duo Ventures

Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday Product Spotlight & GIVEAWAY with JORD Wood Watches!

Thank you to JORD Wood Watches for sponsoring this post!
I don't know about you guys, but picking out gifts can be challenging & stressfull at times....even when it comes to my own husband.  Nearly every year, I struggle to find the perfect gift for Nader.  For quite some time now I knew that he had been wanting a new watch, so it was quite literally perfect timing when JORD Wood Watches offered to send me one of their designer timepieces to gift to my wonderful husband for Christmas this year!

I first heard of JORD Wood Watches over this past summer through Instagram, where I saw several of their women's watch options, but I had not seen their men's watches until now.  All of the JORD Wood Watches are handcrafted from 100% natural wood, and they offer 13 different species of wood & 12 different watch series to choose from.  I love how they incorporate both rustic and modern design elements into their watches - there is really something for everyone.

Nader ended up choosing the Fieldcrest Dark Sandalwood which has a deep rich wood finish, coupled with a sleek black watch face.  Let me just say...it really is beautiful!

Each watch comes in it's own wooden storage box, and inside you'll also find a polishing cloth & some natural finishing oil to help care for your watch.

I was a little nervous to see Nader's reaction when he opened the package, but he loved it!

He not only appreciated the uniqueness of the wood watch itself, but he genuinely liked the overall style & fit of the watch as well.  Most surprising, was how smooth & lightweight the watch felt.

You can make this gift even more special if you'd like, because JORD now has an option to add a custom personalized engraving on select watches or watch boxes.  The coolest part is that you can even have a handwritten note or logo engraved onto your watch box!  JORD can also have your watch pre-fitted for you, saving you a trip to the jeweler.

The BEST news however, is that JORD is allowing me to extend a savings to all of you in the form of a $25.00 e-gift code!  That means that you can instantly get $25 off a JORD watch of your choice.  Simply visit the link below, provide your name & e-mail, and you will be e-mailed a discount code just in time for the holidays!

Please note that this giveaway will close on December 25th at 11:59pm.  If you are considering a JORD watch for a Christmas gift, make sure you order your watch sooner than later, as to allow time for shipping.

As a reminder, once you receive your e-gift card, you will have until February 28th, 2017 before the e-gift code will expire.  This means you don't have to use your $25.00 credit towards a holiday gift - a JORD Wood Watch would also be perfect for a birthday or anniversary present too!

Nader's Fieldcrest Dark Sandalwood Watch

I hope this one-of-a-kind gift idea was helpful & I encourage you to check out JORD Wood Watches if you're looking for a unique & beautifully crafted gift for your loved one too!  As always, please let me know if you have any questions and don't forget to grab your e-gift card & save yourself some moolah!


-$25 e-gift card link
-Giveway closes on December 25th at 11:59pm
-$25 e-gift card expires on February 28th, 2017
-gift card valid on all watches in both the men's shop & women's shop

Thanks again to JORD Wood Watches for sponsoring this post.
All thoughts & opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Spiced Sweet Potato + Apple + Cranberry Mash

Over the summer, we had the pleasure of teaming up with Oxo Tot to try out their new line of Transitions Sippy Cups.  So when they asked us to create a seasonal fall recipe using their Food Masher, Glass Baby Blocks, & Feeding Spoon Set, we were happy to collaborate again with the innovative brand on their "Do The Little Monster Mash with Oxo Tot" campaign!
After brainstorming ideas for a seasonal fall recipe, I eventually settled on a mash of sweet potato, apple, & cranberry.  While this autumnal puree is great on it's own, it can also be combined with some basic old fashioned oats, pumpkin pie spice, dried cranberries, & a touch of maple syrup to create a delicious & nutritious spiced breakfast oatmeal as well!  It couldn't be more simple - here's how to make it....
Spiced Sweet Potato + Apple + Cranberry Mash Ingredients:
-1 sweet potato
-2 apples (I used Gala)
-1 cup cranberries
-sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon (optional)
After thoroughly rinsing the sweet potato, apples, & cranberries, peel & chop the sweet potato & apples into small cubes (I cut the sweet potato into extra small prices so it would cook through more quickly).

Boil or steam the chopped sweet potato, apples, & cranberries until fork tender (about 10 minutes).

Next, I strained the water & then mashed everything together using the Food Masher.  The ridges on the masher & inside the bowl allow you to thoroughly & efficiently mash anything from fruits to veggies, to beans & more.  I also love that it's smartly designed to be compact & portable.  The masher comes apart & conveniently fits inside the bowl so you can take it with you to-go as well.  Smart, right?!

Since this recipe makes about 16 oz total, I mashed it in smaller batches before transferring to a larger mixing bowl.

Depending on your child, you could serve it as is or you could sprinkle in some pumpkin pie spice (or any combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or ginger).  For older kids, you could also add 1-2 tsp. of maple syrup.  It couldn't be easier - it's ready to serve & enjoy!
Afterwards, you can portion out any remaining mash in your Glass Baby Blocks & freeze (my mash ended up filling the four 4 oz blocks almost perfectly).  The Glass Baby Blocks also come with a stackable tray, making it super easy to utilize the vertical storage space in your freezer.

Since the blocks are made from thermal shock resistant borosilicate glass, they can go straight from the freezer to the oven or microwave, with no need to thaw first.  That means you can portion, store, heat, & serve all in one convenient container!  When you're ready to re-heat, simply place a baby block in the oven or microwave to warm.  The SNAP lids are also leak-proof, allowing you to take them on the go without worrying about spillage or leaks.

Don't forget, you can also use this mash to make a fall-inspired Spiced Oatmeal as well!

Spiced Sweet Potato + Apple + Cranberry Oatmeal:
-2 oz. Sweet Potato + Apple + Cranberry Mash
-1/3 cup old fashioned oats
-1/2 cup milk or water (I used coconut milk since Sami has a dairy allergy)
-spices to taste (I used a dash of pumpkin pie spice)
-a sprinkle of dried cranberries (optional)
-1 to 2 tsp. pure maple syrup (optional)

Simply combine the Sweet Potato + Apple + Cranberry Mash, oats, milk, spices, & dried cranberries in a small sauce pot & simmer until cooked through (about 5 minutes).

The oatmeal will be very hot, so allow it to cool before serving.  While it cools down, I also add a little pure maple syrup to sweeten it a touch.  If I was serving this to Sami when he was younger, I wouldn't have needed to add any extra sweetener.  However, as a toddler he is much more picky - no surprise there, right?!

Here is my little test tester giving it a try with his new spoon.  Toddlers can be finicky eaters, but thankfully Sami really liked the Spiced Oatmeal!

On a side note, one of our all time favorite Oxo Tot products are their Roll Up Bibs - they are the best (we have three of them)!  They catch SO much food, and as you can see below, Sami will even eat right out of his bib if he drops something.

This recipe makes a decent amount of oatmeal, so don't be surprised if they can't finish it all.  It's good enough for adults to eat too though - parent & toddler approved!

Hope you have a chance to enjoy this seasonal recipe!  If you'd like more information on any of the Oxo Tot products, you can check out their full line of baby & toddler products @ www.oxo.com.  As always, please let me know if you have any questions!


Disclosure: While I was not compensated for this post, I did receive products in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

DIY Library Card Catalog Coffee Table Makeover

Three years ago, my dad found an old library card catalog on the side of the road up in Wisconsin.  The next time my parents came down to visit us, they brought the cabinet with them so that I could give it a makeover...

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Craftsman & Dutch Door Inspired DIY Baby Gate

When Sami was around 9 months old he started crawling & would immediately make a beeline for the stairs...and so the baby gate scheming began.  Of course, we could have gone to the store & picked up a pre-made baby gate, but I wanted to take the opportunity to design & build a custom gate.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Nursing Chronicles Part 4: Beating Thrush & Gentian Violet Tips

With August being National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I decided to write a series of posts with respect to my breastfeeding experience as a first time mom.  In my first three posts, I detailed our struggle from latching to thrush to Sami's frenulectomy procedure.  If you'd like to catch up, you can check out Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Nursing Chronicles Part 3: Tongue & Lip Tie + Frenulectomy

Over the last two weeks, I've been detailing my breastfeeding experience as part of my Nursing Chronicles series.  I left off last week in Part 2 where it was confirmed by our second lactation consultant that Sami had both a tongue and a lip tie.  Thanks to that at-home lactation visit, we were finally encouraged to book an appointment with an ENT to have his ties revised.  If you'd like to start at the beginning of our journey, you can check out Part 1.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Nursing Chronicles Part 2: Thrush & Tongue Tie

Last week I posted Part 1 of my Nursing Chronicles, where I detailed the first 2 weeks of our breastfeeding experience.  To sum up my last post, Sami had chronic latch problems due to a number of factors.  In addition to our latch issues, I developed mastitis within one week.  After being prescribed a round of antibiotics to treat the infection, I began noticing little white patches in Sami's mouth which I suspected were oral thrush...

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Nursing Chronicles Part 1: The First 2 Weeks

For over a year now, I've had some miscellaneous thoughts regarding my breastfeeding experience scattered in a single blog post that has sat as an unfinished draft.  However, with it being National Breastfeeding Awareness Month & World Breastfeeding Week, I felt like it was the perfect time to share my story & all the challenges we went through to get to where we are today.

Currently, Sami is almost 16 months old & we are still nursing about 3-4 times a day.  I always said I wanted to make it to a year, but somehow that year came & went and here we are still going strong.  I'm so thankful that it's like second nature for us now, but it was not an easy road in the beginning.

Being a new mom can be extremely lonely & isolating, and it's nice to know that you're not the only one going through those tough times.  I hope that by sharing my story I can give encouragement to other mamas out there who may be going through a rough patch.  It will get better!  I'm also hopeful that my story might inform & educate new moms on topics they should be aware of for their own sake - there were SO many things I didn't even know to look out for until it was too late.

So where to begin?  As I sat down & tried to recall all the different topics & stories I wanted to touch on, it became clear that I actually had a lot to say about the ups & downs of breastfeeding.  I decided to break up my post into a mini blog series instead.  Part 1 of this series will cover the first couple of weeks after Sami was born.  Who knew so much could happen in just 2 short weeks?  Here we go....

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Oxo Tot Transitions Sippy Cup Review

It's no secret that we're big fans of the Oxo Tot brand around here, having already purchased their Sprout High ChairBaby Food Freezer TraysRoll Up Bibs, & their Divided Plate for toddlers. What I love most about this brand is their ability to combine both form & function within their products.  Not only are they more aesthetically pleasing than your average "baby" product, but they are actually thoughtfully designed with both parents & kids in mind.  This company is amazing at creating items that can grow with your child & I love that we really get a lot of bang for our buck with this brand.

The innovative folks over at Oxo Tot have recently launched a new line of sippy cups for babies & toddlers & when they asked if we'd be interested in trying them out, I was on board! They were kind enough to send us a Transitions Soft Spout Sippy Cup Set & a 9 oz. Transitions Sippy Cup to try out for ourselves.  They also sent along a couple more goodies, including a Cleaning Set for Straw & Sippy Cups & a Roll-Up Bib!

Ironically, Sami has been showing a lot of interest in drinking out of our cups as of late, so it was actually the perfect opportunity to try out the Transitions Training Cup Set.  Just like the name suggests, this cup will grow with your baby, helping your little one transition from bottle or breast and will eventually convert into a regular cup once they're ready!

Friday, July 1, 2016

White Chocolate Berry Trifle

With the 4th of July right around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to share my red, white, & blue trifle recipe!  I've been making this since 2014, when I first made it for my youngest brothers's graduation:
I've tried out several trifle recipes on Pinterest, but in the end I wound up making my own version.  What's great about this trifle is that you can use the basic outline & switch up the type of cake, pudding flavor, & fruit to create any combo you want.  Any variation of this trifle is delicious - it just depends on what YOU like!

I think it's also worth mentioning that you will probably still love this dessert, even if you're not a fan of white chocolate itself.  I have made this dessert with both regular vanilla and white chocolate instant pudding mixes, & I've had several people tell me they prefer the version made with the white chocolate pudding - so I've been sticking with that lately.  Cheesecake pudding mix would be good too though!

-2 cups (1 pint) of heavy whipping cream
-two 12 oz pound cakes (I can usually find them @ Publix, Target, or Walmart)
-1 cup cold milk
-two 3.3 oz white chocolate instant pudding mixes
-14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk (refrigerated)
-2 lbs strawberries (I usually use about a box & a half)
-12 oz raspberries
-1 pint blueberries (I usually use about 1.5 cups)

I used an 8" trifle dish for this recipe.

*A note about the fruit:
Typically, I don't end up using all the fruit.  Just use your judgement when layering the trifle, as to not overfill it.

*A note about the pudding mix:
The recipe for the cream mixture calls for one 5.1 oz box of instant pudding mix, but the only flavor I can seem to find in that size is the 'vanilla' & 'chocolate'.  The 'white chocolate' flavor only comes in the smaller 3.3 oz boxes.  To make due, I always end up buying two of the smaller 3.3 oz boxes & measuring out what I need.

1.  Rinse strawberries, blueberries, & raspberries thoroughly & strain:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

DIY Baby Food: The Basics

Let me preface this post by saying that I am by no means an authority on baby food & there are tons of great websites out there that are dedicated to baby & toddler recipes.  That being said, I've had several requests on how to make your own baby food and there is something encouraging & real about seeing a 1st time mom being able to make all their baby's food at home with no prior experience.  #ificandoityoucandoit  :)


Before Sami was born, I did some basic research and decided to exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months.  At that time, we introduced foods like avocado, sweet potato, squash, & banana.  We gave him veggies first, followed by fruit.  Over time we slowly added meats, legumes, grains, & dairy (he ended up having allergic reactions to both egg whites & dairy...but that is a whole other story for another time).

We also made the decision to forego the store-bought rice & oatmeal cereals.  Although his pediatrician advised us to add a little iron-fortified rice cereal to his food, I never did, & Sami's iron level at his 9 month check up was still perfect.

We decided to start with purees at the 6 month mark & then began incorporating "baby led weaning" when he was about 8 months old to help Sami develop his pincer grasp & allow him to become a little more independent & exploratory with his food.  I started with blueberries (cut in half) & slowly added soft veggies or fruit cut into bite size pieces.  Around 11 months, we started giving him pieces of shredded grilled chicken & he has loved chicken ever since!

Sami turned 1 year old last month, so we've actually been in the phase of transitioning out of purees & into more solid food over the several months.  I won't be making any more veggie, chicken, & bean purees (since he's eating them their original form now), but I will continue with the fruit purees as they are very convenient to add to Sami's oatmeal in the morning or to use in baby feeders as popsicles & teething soothers:

I'm sure I forgot to include certain foods, but these are the main foods we introduced to Sami over his 1st year:

1-6 months: exclusively breastfed (continued to breastfeed until today)

6 months: avocado, yellow squash, sweet potato, green beans, peas, carrots
7 months: apple, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines
8 months: boiled chicken, mango, quinoa, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc)
9 months: brown rice, hard boiled egg yolk, blueberries, coconut oil & olive oil
10 months: scrambled eggs, chickpeas, lentils, broccoli, whole wheat pasta & homemade tomato sauce, plain yogurt, strawberries, grapes
11 months: grilled chicken, ground turkey, ground beef (limited), raisins, rice with veggie mixed in
12 months: whole milk, almond milk


Personally, this is the most obvious & singular downside for me.  While not difficult, it does require some extra effort & time from your already busy schedule.  I will say though, that once you get a system down, it becomes easier & easier.  Before you know it, you are introducing regular foods & don't need to make as many purees.

On the flip side, these frozen cubes are convenient in the sense that I couldn't always prepare fresh purees every single day (either I was too tired or lazy, or didn't have the time or the ingredients).  So, always having a freezer stocked with a rainbow of puree options made my life much easier.  You have to figure out what works with your lifestyle.

Storing, packing, & traveling with homemade baby food is definitely more challenging.  You have to consider ways to keep the food cool and/or have a way to heat it up if needed.  I usually throw a few cubes into a small Glasslock container & heat it up at our friends' or families' homes.  I usually had no need to worry about refrigeration, as the cubes were frozen & the food was not left out for very long.  Reusable food pouches are another great option to use as well.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Garage: Extra Paint Storage

We worked on some garage organization projects at the beginning of last year, including a DIY ceiling storage solution & a wall track system.  Both projects have helped tremendously, but we still had a lot of smaller areas to work on - including our paint storage & organization.

All in all, our initial setup wasn't too bad:

The problem was that the shelf was filling up pretty quickly & it was hard to see what we had on hand.  In most cases, we had gallon paint cans that were less than half full.

Another issue we had, was the dreaded rust that formed along the top of many of the rims, which always led to rust particles falling into the can every time we wanted to paint something (this was the worst one, but most of the other cans still had a good amount of rust):