Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You know you're a mom cooped up at home with two sick kids when...

(1) You gave your kids chocolate chip cookies for breakfast in an attempt to get them to eat something (granted, they are homemade "breakfast cookies," but still chocolate chip cookies, nonetheless);

(2) You've drank 3/4 of a pot of coffee and one Diet Coke by 11 am;

(3) You've changed your shirt three times because you are covered in snot, vomit, and/or poo; and

(4) Your basement looks like this:

Calgon, take me away!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What I am NOT feeling guilty about today...


My kids probably watched close to four hours of TV today. For this, I am neither apologizing nor feeling any guilt. They are both sick as dogs. The preschooler has a horrific cold and the toddler has both a cold and also a stomach bug. I am stuck at home with two sick, miserable kids. Snot, vomit and verrrry messy diapers have filled my days.

My relief? Good ol' TV.
Thank you, Nick Jr.
Thank you, PBS Sprout.
Thank you, Princess and the Frog via Netflix.

Because of you, my children were able to forget about their illnesses, cozy up on the couch with a sippy cup and blanket, and veg out with some television. Was it enriching? No. Did they expand their brain function or fine motor skills? Nope. Did they get fresh air and exercise? Definitely not.

But what they DID get was some down time that kept them occupied. They weren't crying. They weren't complaining. They were entertained. And mommy had some quiet time, too. If it weren't for this, I would likely have lost it today. It was survival wrapped up in a neat little gray package called a remote. My kids do not normally watch this much TV on a daily basis, but today it was necessary for one crazy mama and two sick kiddos.

I'm sure plenty of readers out there may think I'm the worst parent for allowing two young kids to watch so much TV in one day. Well, to each their own. Do I think I'm in the running for the Super Mother of the Year Award? No way. But my purpose of this blog is to keep it real. Yes, I like to menu plan. Yes, I like to bake and cook from scratch for my family. Yes, I enjoy organizing and keeping a (fairly) tidy home. But I am, under no circumstances, trying to operate under the disguise that I'm a SuperMom.

But what I am is a Super-Survivor. And my survival tool for the day: television.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 4/26/10

This past week (and weekend) have flown by. My daughter's third birthday...followed up by son's latest cold...followed with a weekend visit from my father-in-law and his wife...and topped off with the daughter catching the son's cold. I am finally getting to a mountain of laundry and really haven't put a whole lot of thought or creativity into this week's menu plan. Frankly, I'm just not feeling too inspired today! I haven't scanned the store sale flyers, either, so I'm kind of going by what I mostly have in the house already this week. Here goes:


Peanut Butter Granola with vanilla yogurt
cereal and toast
oatmeal with brown sugar and walnuts, fruit


Corn Dog Muffins (from the freezer)
PB&J with cottage cheese and fruit
Spinach and cheese omelets with toast


Monday: Spaghetti with slow cooker sauce (new recipe), lettuce salad, honeydew melon (which I got on sale at Target last week for $1.90)
Tuesday: Mexican Meatloaf with Salsa Noodles (new recipe), frozen mixed vegetables, melon
Wednesday: leftover buffet
Thursday: Honey Mustard Lime Chicken Drummies, brown rice, broccoli, lettuce salad
Friday: Chicken Noodle Soup (from the freezer), grilled ham and cheese
Saturday: leftovers or out to eat?

For more menu planning inspiration, please visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My First Blog Award!!!

I was very honored by the recent recognition from Amy at A Foodie Fairytale. She was kind enough to nominate me for the Kreativ Blogger Award! Amy's site is awesome with some terrific, unique recipes - for example, check out this Mexican Meatloaf with Salsa Noodles....need I say more?! My mouth is watering just reading the recipe.

I have so much fun with this blog and the recognition is really appreciated. It's nice to know that at least a few of you out there are reading this!

I am new to this, so I guess there are some rules to follow with The Kreativ Blogger Award:

1. Post the award.
2. Thank and mention the person who gave you the award.
3. Pass the award on to seven blogs who you think embody the spirit of the Kreativ Blogger Award.
4. Name seven things about yourself that others don't know.
5. Don't forget to notify your seven Bloggers about their award and post a link to their blog.

There are a lot of blogs I visit daily - some with a TON of followers and some with a few, like me. I tell my friends that my new hobby is checking out fellow "mom blogs" during my kids' naptime every day! Here are some bloggers that I'm really enjoying lately and would like to pass on this award nomination to them:

1. Dawn at Finding My Way At Home
2. Amber at Half Is More Than Enough
3. Sarah at Clay In His Hands
4. KK at My Journey As A Homemaker
5. A crazy mama at Our Happy Crazy Home
6. Elissa at My Thoughtful Spot
7. April at Angel Foods Kitchen

Thanks to these fellow bloggers because I really enjoy the inspiration, humor, and encouragement I get from your blogs!

And now for 7 things about me!

1. Before I quit my job to stay home with my kids, I had absolutely NO IDEA how to cook. I could bake (breads, cookies, etc.) but as my husband always said, "I had yet to master the stovetop."
2. I played the drums in high school.
3. I cannot go one single morning without coffee. Period. At least half a pot...sometimes more.
4. I love getting up very early in the morning to start my day off right (hence the half pot of coffee) and get a little "me time" before the kids wake up.
5. My undergraduate degree is in Mass Communications and Political Science. I started college wanting to be a television news reporter. I interned at a TV station my senior year and realized the profession was not for me. to law school I went.
6. I'm not afraid to admit it...I love QVC and HSN.
7. I am absolutely, 110% NOT crafty although I would secretly love to know to how sew, scrapbook, and knit.

Thanks again Amy for the recognition and I hope my fellow nominees pass the award on to others!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 4/18/10

We had a wonderful weekend with a last-minute visit from my mother-in-law. Saturday was her birthday and my husband made a delicious supper of baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and homemade cheesy bisquits. (He made this supper while the MIL and I were out shopping at a consignment awesome is that to come home to a kitchen of wonderful smells and supper already made while holding a bag of fun new consignment finds?!) Anyway, we are now benefiting from the leftover chicken. We boiled down the chicken carcass (nice word, right?) to make chicken broth. I froze two cups and we used the rest for chicken noodle soup on Sunday night. (The remaining soup will be frozen as well). We will be making chicken pot pie on Monday. As my mother-in-law says, she taught her son how to get three different meals out of one little chicken!

I really stuck to our menu plan from last week with the exception of making the Cheesy Beef and Rice. I plan on making that this week and doubling for the freezer.

Here's our plan for this week:

Banana Flax Muffins (from the freezer)
Toast and cereal
Honey Crunch Granola with vanilla yogurt
Banana Cinnamon Waffles (from the freezer)

Corn Dog Muffins (from the freezer), fruit
Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches with vegetable soup
Cheese omelets with peanut butter toast


Sunday: Chicken Noodle Soup (with leftover chicken), potato pancakes (with leftover mashed potatoes), cheesy bisquits

Monday: Chicken Pot Pie, lettuce salad

Tuesday: daughter’s 3rd birthday – supper at Rainforest CafĂ©

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Barbeques, macaroni salad, green beans

Thursday: Slow Cooker Turkey Chili (Cincinnati-style over spaghetti noodles - my hubby's request for this week), lettuce salad

Friday: leftover buffet

Saturday: Turkey Spinach Enchiladas (1/2 batch for supper, 1/2 batch for freezer), spanish rice

For menu planning ideas, please visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm tired!

I'm nearing the end of the kids' naptime so I finally have a moment to sit down and blog a bit. I'm tired. Whoever thinks that stay-at-home moms sit on the couch and eat bonbons all day...well, they are dead wrong. I've been up since 5:15 this morning. In addition to the usual tasks of making hubby's lunch, feeding the kids lunch and breakfast, getting the kids dressed, playtime with the kids...this is so far the "extras" that I've done today:

- Took a toddler and preschooler grocery shopping (That, by itself, is enough to exhaust anyone.)

- For the freezer: baked a dozen Banana Flax Muffins, a dozen Corn Dog Muffins, and made a batch of slow cooker Chicken Taco filling

- Prepared a marinated pork tenderloin (currently in the fridge) for supper tonight

- Vacuumed the basement, guest room and steps
- Cleaned two bathrooms
- Washed, dryed and folded 5 loads of laundry (including guest room bedding and hubby's work shirts)
- Swept and mopped the kitchen and living room

A lot of this is in anticipation of a visit from my mother-in-law tonight (which I only found out about LAST NIGHT after supper!) I bit off more than I could chew with the freezer cooking, but I already had planned on doing that today before I found out about the MIL's visit and I had the ingredients all ready to go.

While I think we all strive to be "super mommies", it really is exhausting. There are still items on my "to do" list that just won't get done today. No matter what, I will never get all of the cooking done or the house in perfect order. But hopefully my family will be happy and comfortable in our home - and that is all I can ask for.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Crock Pot Wednesday - Barbeques (aka Sloppy Joes)

I grew up calling them Barbeques. My friends think I'm crazy when I call them that and remind me that they are called "Sloppy Joes." Is it a farm kid thing, kind of like how I call the evening meal "supper" instead of "dinner"?

Well, whatever you call them, these sandwiches are delicious and very easy to make. I usually make them when I know I have company coming in from town later in the evening, because the meat keeps nice and warm in the slow cooker and the sandwiches will be ready for them whenever they arrive. Don't be scared off by the unexpected ingredient...sauerkraut. They really are delicious and you likely already have most of the ingredients in your fridge or pantry! (Wish I had a picture but I don't...I'll be making them next week so will add a picture then.) Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Barbeques

2 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 can tomato soup
2 T. sugar
2 tsp. mustard
1/4 c. ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 can (about 7 oz.) sauerkraut, drained and chopped very fine

Mix all ingredients together. Simmer in the slow cooker on low for about two hours. Serve on buns or toast.

For more slow cooking ideas, please visit Dining With Debbie.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Closet is finished!

I did it! I cleaned out and organized the closet in our dining room/back entryway. For a quick embarrassing refresher, it looked like this:

It took about two days of working during very early mornings and kids’ naptimes, but I ended up packing up three trash bags and one box full of donated items. I donated coats that no longer fit or haven’t been worn in over two years, kids’ Halloween costumes, shoes, snow boots, and some kids’ toys that hadn’t been played with in months. Yes, all of this unused stuff was crammed into this one little closet.

I moved some winter coats to the living room closet where I managed to find some extra hanging storage space. I even found a box of stuff that I brought home from my last day at my law firm nearly three years ago! I finally went through it and donated a ton of picture frames and office-type knick knacks. Not sure why I was holding on to that box of stuff for so long – perhaps as a small way to hold on to my “old life” as a professional working outside of the home? Anyway, out it went. The kids and I made a big trip to Goodwill and it felt so good!

And now for the "after":

In total, I spent about $37 organizing this closet. I purchased some wire storage cubes (set of 6 but I only had room for 5) at Target for $16.99. I removed the wooden bench-type shelf in the bottom of the closet and replaced it with these cubes. I can now hold so much more stuff and it’s more accessible and organized! I store shoes, sidewalk chalk and outdoor games, bike helmets, diaper bag and my purse in these cubes. I even saved a cube “just for me” – sort of like my own little office space – where I am going to keep folders to organize household-related items.

Next to the cubes, I hung a shoe organizer that I’ve had for some time. I now store hats, gloves, and umbrellas in this organizer. It works great and actually takes up very little space! Although this picture is dark (credit to my very dimly lit dining area), here is the repurposed shoe organizer:

I found two white storage containers (with lids!) at Target for $6.99 each. I put my husband’s sporty stuff (biking equipment, tennis balls, etc.) in the white bins and placed on the top shelf with labels so he knows right where to look when he needs something and I hopefully won’t be faced with that same old question every weekend: “Honey, do you know where my ____ is?” I put some miscellaneous kids stuff (Easter baskets, kite string, bubbles, etc.) in a cardboard box I had down in the basement and that went on the top shelf, too. Here are the new, organized, and labeled bins:

While shopping at Target, I fell in LOVE with these organizational envelopes from 3M that stick to hard vertical surfaces. They were pretty and the purpose is to store bills, receipts, etc. But the price tag was nearly $16 for the set I loved and I had a hard time justifying spending that. So, although I’m not at all crafty, I thought: "hmm, I bet I can make something like that." So I purchased three plastic folders with Velcro closures for $.99 each and some 3M double-sided tape for $3.29. I hung up the three folders on the inside of the door. Here is my cheapo-do-it-yourself version:

At the time I took this picture, I hadn’t quite decided what I was going to keep in these folders. I now have them labeled as follows: husband’s mail and work documents, household documents to be filed, and sales flyers and coupons.

I am so pleased with this finished project. It is like a breath of fresh air in this part of the house. I keep finding myself peeking in the closet and smiling. Now my mission is to KEEP this closet organized!

For more ideas on spring cleaning and organization, please visit Life As Mom.

Menu Plan: Week of 4/11/10

I am back after a little break from blogging last week in addition to a weekend away in my hometown with the kids celebrating my grandma's 91st birthday and my daughter's 3rd birthday (early). Life has been a little hectic lately. I feel like I've lost control over a lot of things in the house and my motivation level to get things done around the house has been low, as well. I'm hoping for a much more productive and more postive week!

Here is what is on our menu plan this week (doesn't this look a lot like last week's menu plan??):


Toast and cereal
Banana Prune Muffins (from the freezer)
Banana Cinnamon Waffles (from the freezer)
Whole Wheat Pancakes (from the freezer)


PB&J, fruit
Grilled cheese with tomato soup
Pasta with marinara sauce


Sunday: we had Chipotle take out

Monday: Bacon Cheddar Quiche (using this crust)(carryover from last week), lettuce salad, fresh pineapple

Tuesday: Lentil Soup (from freezer), leftover quiche, pineapple

Wednesday: Marinated Pork Tenderloin, red potatoes, green beans with almonds

Thursday: Chicken Tacos, refried beans

Friday: Chicken taco salads and chicken cheese quesadillas (using leftover taco filling)

Saturday: Cheesy Beef and Rice (will make a double batch for the freezer), frozen mixed vegetables, lettuce salad

For more menu planning inspiration, please visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Banana Prune Muffins

This is probably TMI, but let’s just say that I’m always looking for ways to get more fiber into my kids’ diet. I had some overripe bananas to use and instead of my traditional banana bread, I found an interesting Banana Prune Muffin recipe online. I tweaked it a bit by adding whole wheat flour, reducing some oil and adding applesauce. The result was fantastic - both moist and sweet but not-too-sweet - and both my one-year-old and two-year-old loved them!

Banana Prune Muffins

½ c. white sugar (I used a little less)
1/8 c. vegetable oil
1/8 c. applesauce
1 egg
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ c. all purpose flour
¾ c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. chopped pitted prunes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin pan or use paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, egg, oil and applesauce. Beat until smooth.
Blend in bananas and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir into egg mixture just until moistened. Mix in prunes.
Spoon into muffin cups 2/3 full.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Menu Plan: Week of 4/4/10

Unexpected travels of a spouse, unexpected colds (me this time) and unexpected Chipotle take out led to last week’s meal plan once again being thrown off kilter a bit. This week I still plan on cleaning some things out of my freezer and carryover some items from last week. We are heading out of town on Friday to visit my family and celebrate my grandma's 91st birthday, so we have an abbreviated meal plan this week:

Toast and cereal
Peanut Butter Granola with vanilla yogurt
Banana Prune Muffins (from the freezer)
Banana Cinnamon Waffles (from the freezer)

Poor Man Pizzas
Wheat tortillas with refried beans and cheese
Grilled cheese & tomato soup

Sunday: Grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, potato salad (I realize this is not the traditional Easter Sunday meal!)
Monday: Slow Cooker Honey Lime Chicken Drummies (carryover from last week), brown rice, frozen mixed vegetables
Tuesday: Spicy Slow Cooker Pork Chops, red potatoes, green beans with almonds
Wednesday: Bacon Cheddar Quiche (using this pie crust), lettuce salad, fresh fruit
Thursday: Homemade Mac ‘n’ Cheese (carryover from two weeks ago), leftover quiche, frozen broccoli
Friday - Sunday: out of town

For more menu planning ideas and recipes, please visit I’m an Organizing Junkie!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Perfect Banana Bread

When my daughter was very little, the sound of an electric mixer freaked her out. I don’t know why, but she cried every time she heard it. So I came across this recipe for banana bread that touted itself as requring "only one bowl and a wooden spoon.” Sounded like the perfect recipe at the time and it’s now been a family favorite for over two years. (I make this as a “treat” in our house because it’s not the healthiest recipe with a whole cup of sugar and all white flour…I suppose I could try tweaking it with less sugar and substituting some whole wheat flour, but I am reluctant to mess with perfection!)

* (Update: 4/5/11 - I made this today using 3/4 cup whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup white flour, and cut the sugar down to 3/4 cup. It still turned out very yummy!)

The Easiest and Best Banana Bread

3 – 4 mashed ripe bananas
1/3 c. melted butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. soda
Pinch of salt
1 ½ c. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix butter into mashed bananas with a wooden spoon.
Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla.
Sprinkle soda and salt over the top and mix in.
Last, add the flour and mix in just until moistened.
Pour into a greased 4x8 loaf pan.
Bake about 1 hour. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Fail - Out of Control Closet

I am a closet failure. In our very tiny house, you would think that I would organize (and keep organized) our precious few small closets to make for a comfy, tidy, clean home. Well, here it is. My biggest continual closet failure in my house...take a deep matter how embarrassing it may be....I give you (drumroll please...) - our entryway/dining room closet:

About once a year, I clean this horrendous thing out and organize it a little bit. Throw out old shoes and mismatched gloves. Give away coats that no longer fit or are not being used. But then, inevitably, after a month or so, it looks like this again. A total "stuff it away for later day" hellhole. Yes, those are not only my daughter's snowboots, but also the kids' trick-or-treating pumpkins and kites all shoved into the bottom of the closet. (Apparently I like to cover all seasons). And I literally mean "shove." That is how I store stuff in this closet - by throwing it in the bottom and shoving the door closed until the doorknob clicks. Awesome, right? Well, I'm all about honesty today.

This is my failure that I hope to turn into an organizational triumph this month. I was completely inspired by this post at Virtually Organized. While I don't have the space or the budget to do everything she did in her closet, I hope to utilize some of the same concepts in my upcoming closet makeover.

Stay tuned! I hope to have some successful "after" photos posted in a couple of weeks.

For more "Friday Fails", please visit Myra's awesome site at My Blessed Life.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Things I Love Thursday - Dollar Tree "Fun Dough"

There's nothing too complex about this post of what I love this week. It's cheap, fun, and worth the 50 cents per can. It's Animal Soup "Fun Dough" (nope, can't call it "Play Doh"...) from Dollar Tree. It comes in different colors in two to a pack for $1.00.

I was skeptical, but bought two packs anyway. My kids LOVE this stuff and in this humble reviewer's opinion: it's better than the name-brand Play Doh. It's softer and doesn't dry out as quickly. After three solid days of my two toddlers tearing through this stuff, it's still in really good condition. Well worth the 50 cents per can and well deserving of this frugal mama's Fun Seal of Approval.

Check out more "Things I Love" at the Diaper Diaries!