Simple Dinnertime with a Simple Clean-Up Solution

Sunday, July 31, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
 #ScrubbingPower #CollectiveBias

After taking a year off from teaching for maternity leave, I am headed back to work today.  While I am excited to head back to the classroom and continue teaching, I'm also a bit nervous when I think about how our busy lives will change.  I sat down and decide to create a meal plan for the next few weeks with some of our simple meals, just until we can catch our breath again.  The kids and I listed out our favorite meals.  Then I picked the meals that were easiest to make and ones I knew they would eat.  And which one made the top of our list?  Baked Mac and Cheese of course!

 Simple Baked Mac and Cheese
You Need:
--One (1) box of elbow macaroni
--One (1) package of shredded cheese
--One (1) cup of heavy cream
--One (1) cup of milk
--Four (4) tablespoons of butter
--Four (4) tablespoons of flour
--Salt and Pepper for taste 

How to Make It:
1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  While your oven is preheating, boil your water and prepare your noodles according to the directions on the box.

2.  In another pan, melt the butter and mix in the flour.  It will be a clumpy consistency.

3.  Next, slowly add in your cream and milk, whisking it while you mix it together.

4.  Bring your cream mixture to a boil and simmer for about ten minutes to thicken it up.

5.  Then, slowly add your cheese, mixing it in until melted.

6.  Add the noodles to the cheese mixture to coat them in the sauce.

7.  Transfer the noddles and cheese into a sprayed baking dish and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown on top.  

8.  Let the Mac and Cheese cool for 5 minutes before serving.

While our Baked Mac and Cheese is seriously amazing, the clean up, well is not so much.  Luckily during a recent trip to Kroger I found new Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths that give non-scratch rubbing power with the wiping and drying functions of a dish cloth.  This dish cloth features two sides - one with a soft, fiber that's perfect for gentle wiping and the other with the scrubbing dot technology which originated from their stay clean sponges.  I love the high quality of this Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloth along with the power of the Scotch-Brite scrubbing dots because it makes cleaning these tough messes easier and quicker.  No more nails or knives to get that forever stuck crust off the pots and pans!

These dish clothes are washable, reusable and sturdy to be used for messes time and time again.  I threw mine in the wash yesterday and it cleaned up like a charm!  I also love that the Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloths are super affordable too!  Just $2.99 for a 1 pack and $5.49 for the two pack which come in grey, navy, mint and tan colors.  (Right now you can get them on sale for $1 off the 1 pack and $1.50 off 2 pack!)   I found my Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloth in the cleaning aisle, near the section with the mops and sponges.

With the stress of going back to school, my goal is also make my house as organized and clean as possible.  You know that saying, "work smarter, not harder?"  That's my plan.  I want to do it now when I have time and get things done so I don't have to think about them for awhile.  Under my sink has been on my to-do list for a long time.  Things are just throw into baskets and its is nothing more than an unorganized mess.  But the one thing about under the sink that drives me nuts is how we just throw our plastic bags from the grocery store under there.  While we reuse these bags for almost everything, I need to be able to grab a bag when I need one without grabbing 382 in a jumble mess.  So recently I made a plastic bag holder by reusing an old container.  It was so easy and probably the best solution yet!

DIY Plastic Bag Container

You Need:
--Empty round container
--Plastic Bags
--Craft Tape

How to Make It:
1.  Begin by laying your plastic bags out flat, with the handles of the bag facing the left.

2.  Fold the bag in half, lengthwise.  Next, fold the handles in half so they are at the top, facing up.

3.  Begin rolling the bag, with the handles still at the top.

4.  Make sure your next bag is folded in half and add it to the end of the first bag, with the handles facing in first.

5.  Continue rolling with the desired amount of bags.

6.  Place the roll into your container and pull the handle out of the top.

7.  Add your craft tape to decorate your container as you wish!

This simple container has eliminated so much mess and chaos under my sink, I'm kinda mad at myself for not doing it sooner!  Plus I can easily place it in the basket with the rest of the cleaners, so I grab and go as needed.

Going back to work after a year off is going to be hard adjustment for everyone.  But I'm glad I'm preparing myself with these simple meals and even simpler solutions to the clean up because it will help make the transition a little easier.

Don't miss out on some great recipes and other cleaning tutorials featuring the Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Cloth!  Check it out here!

Share with Me!
What are some of your cleaning tips to make the work easier for your family?



Saturday, July 30, 2016

*A photograph of each of my children, once a week in 2016*

Tonight I asked him if he would just not go to Kindergarten and stay little.  He looked at me and said he would give me a $1 if I let him go to Kindergarten.  Okay, you win buddy.  You win.

Crusts and topknots - I'm not sure there is a better combination.  And the fact that I got ALL of her locks up into a knot it a miracle people.  Last year at this time we weren't even sure if she was going to grow hair...

Mealtime - her favorite time of the day.  She loves it all and would eat until the next day if we let her.  Now if only we could also add naps and bedtime to her favorite list as well.



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

*A photograph of each of my children, once a week in 2016*

Last week was a big week for this guy.  He had his first official sleepover with his grandparents over the weekend.  Basically they spoiled the poop out of him, but that's what grandparents are for, right?  He also lost his third tooth.  Don't talk about it, ok?

As you can see this girl enjoyed her Mommy and Daddy time last weekend.  She did wake up Sunday morning looking for her Co, but I think enjoyed the extra attention.  Middle child problems for sure.
This one is finally sprouting some chicken feathers on top that resemble the mohawk her brother had once upon a time at this age.  But this swing is a God-send for those long afternoons and evenings...even if her chunks are starting to get stuck a bit in it.


DIY Portable Water Bowl for Your Dog

Monday, July 25, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. 
#MyPetMyStar #CollectiveBias

Growing up we never had dogs.  The only pets my family had were two cats (one which I'm quite positive was the meanest feline alive) and three goldfish that all lived to be over fifteen years old.  Yes, I'm serious about the age part.  So when I graduated college and moved out into the real world,  I decided I wanted to get a dog of my own.  I found the sweetest lady who owned a dog rescue and had just received a litter of these adorable Puggle puppies.  When I originally got him she told me he wouldn't grow much bigger than 15 lbs.  Funny joke, right?  Here we are are ten years, two houses, and forty pounds later still living the life.

Obviously when you add children to the family your time quickly becomes consumed with all things family.  While Brady may not get the attention he once upon a time had, he still gets lots of love and snuggles from our family.  But lately I've been noticing that he seems to be getting older.  Yes, I realize he's ten years old (which is seventy in dog years) but he's really starting to act like an old man.  The love I have for this dog is indescribable, despite the fact that he can still scale counter tops like a ninja in his old age.  I truly love everything about his Puggle butt.  Since my realization I have tried to be more conscience about things that are important factors in his way of life.  Recently during my weekly trip to Kroger, I found that the store now carried Purina® Dog Chow® Natural dry food with natural ingredients.  I loved that it was 100% complete and balanced without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives which are important for a long and healthy life.  The kibble is nutritious and packed with a big taste that dogs love.  Plus it is quality food at an affordable price - which is what I like to see!  I wish they would have had this ten years ago when Brady was a puppy because they also have it in puppy formula too!  Purina® has always been our go-to brand of food for Brady because they understand that our dogs deserve the very best plus the prices are always easy on the budget.  The Dog Chow brand is crafted here in the United States since 1926 and they offer a money back guarantee if your dog isn't satisfied!  (Be sure to the check the website for more information.  You can also use the formulator tool on the site to help you determine the food that best fits your dog.)    Both Purina® and Kroger make it easy to give Brady the very best treatment while saving me time and money along the wayKroger's pet aisle always has what I need.  Whether it's my Purina® dog food, treats or even toys, I know that I can stop in and find what I'm looking for to ensure Brady continues to get that superstar treatment as part of our family!

While we have a fenced in backyard, it still is important that I get him out and moving.  Daily exercise has been another area that I have recently started to try and amp up for Brady.  But the dog has no manners when it comes to other dogs.  So as much as I'd love to take him with us on our family walks, it's much easier to take him one-on-one when I can let him pull, sniff and mark his territory on every piece of grass in our subdivison.  Honestly, I love our nightly walks together - it makes me reminisce back to his times as a puppy.  It is my way to spoil him and give him some extra attention too.  We spend a good twenty minutes walking around the neighborhood and I can't help but laugh at his cute little waddling shadow. 

Lately the weather has been super hot and Brady is panting for water within the first five minutes.  So I whipped up an easy solution to this problem that took barely any time for me to put together -- a portable water bowl!

DIY Portable Dog Water Bowl

You Need:
*An empty bottle
I used an apple juice bottle because of the flat bottom and squarish shape.
*Decorative tape

How to Make Your Water Bowl:
1. Begin by cutting a slit towards the bottom of your bottle.  You want the slit just big enough to get your scissors through.

2.  Use scissors to cut the top half of your bottle off.  You will end up with a small cup.

3.  Take your tape and place it over the cut edges.

4.  Then, use another piece to tape around the outside to cover up the tape and give your bowl a bit more support.

5.  Finally, fill it up for your pooch!

Before I head out the door, I'll grab my bowl because it is small enough to carry on our walk.  It has made the whole walking process a lot easier too because I'm not stopping to try and give Brady a drink from my own water bottle.   Dog breath isn't really my favorite thing...

It's crazy for me to think I've had Brady for ten years already!  While he does have his moments, he sure fits perfectly within our family.  I love his snuggles and don't even mind sharing a bed with him at night.  I can't imagine life without this sweet pooch and will continue to give him that superstar treatment as long as I can!

Share with Me!
How do you give your dog the special treatment they deserve?


**Don't forget to check this Sunday's paper for your $3 off Dog Chow coupon in the Purina 7/31 insert that you can use at Kroger!  This insert will have $19 in Purina product savings including Tidy Cats, Dog Chow, Fancy Feast, Alpo, and DentaLife dog and cat dental treats.  Plus be on the lookout for additional Purina brand digital coupons!  These will include $2 off Dog Chow Naturals dry dog food, $1 Off Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter and $1 Off Tidy Cats Litter!**



Sunday, July 24, 2016

*A photograph of each of my children, once a week in 2016*

This smile just melts me.  Lately he has been a turd, but still can be the best little helper in the world.  I have been making him do chores to earn his iPad time and the other morning he found the Roomba stuck, so he took it upon himself to put it back on the charger.  While he wasn't too quiet about it he still was extremely sweet and meant for it to be helpful.
This girl has a fire in her soul, that's for sure!  Her new thing to say is, "Don't worry Mom.  I fine."  And that's usually after she's done something she knows she shouldn't pour an entire juice box on her shorts in the car.
A perfect picture of this boss lady in the midst of enjoying her cheese.  We take it seriously over here, can you tell?  Because cheese is the best food in the world, duh!


Remy 9 Month Update

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Remy // 9 months
Weight:22 lbs 3 oz
Height: 29 inches

Oh my baby girl is just a growing here lately!  Remy is constantly moving, loves to laugh and enjoys all things with cords.  I was quickly reminded of how exhausting this age can be, even though it is truly one of my favorite age groups.  While I miss her ability to just sit and be content, I do love when she crawls to the kitchen to check out what I'm doing or into the bathroom to see what's going on.  Did I mention that I'm pretty sure I'm going to get my Kate Middleton arms by carrying her everywhere?

Here is what Remy has been up to the last month:

Welp, girlfriend loves to eat that's for sure.  She has rolls for days and isn't ashamed of them at all.  Remy is 5 oz smaller than Cohen was at this age and 5 lbs more than Lola - ha!   Don't worry, I'm still trying to squeeze her into Lola's old clothes... Remy is definitely in more 12 month clothes, some 9 month and any 6-12 month.  My friend's daughter held her the other day and it was the funniest thing because Remy towered over her, like they were basically the same size.  Oh Remy, you are something else.

We still do three meals a day and four bottles - 6 oz, two 4 oz and a 7 oz before bed.  I spent the last week weaning her from that night bottle because she would drink 2 oz and fall right back asleep, which made me quickly realize it was all for comfort.  Plus look at her, she is not hungry people.  Remy isn't too picky so far when it comes to food and loves anything Kurtis and I eat, even if she can't eat it.  Well, not because it's not food but because she doesn't have the chewing capabilities yet.  She loves steamed carrots, watermelon, cheese and noodles.  I made potatoes the other day and threw some on her tray and the girl was in heaven.  I'm crossing my fingers for another good eater like her sister hopefully!  My goal is to NOT have two picky eaters - Cohen is enough.

Insert sleeping emoji face here. 
While we are pretty solid with our naps, nighttime is still a hot mess.  My friend Jordan (thanks, girl!) recommended a sleep group on Facebook which has been a great support.  We are a week into sleep training.  While I no longer get up with her in the middle of the night, I still hear her at 2 or 3 wake up and is ready to party.  Then it takes a good 30 minutes of crying until she falls back asleep.  At this point I just turn off the sound on the monitor, keep on the video screen and watch her to make sure her legs or arms aren't stuck in the sides of the crib, which happens more often than I would like.  Her naps, though, are pretty consistent at 10 and 2 and will last 1.5 hours each.  I'm determined to get this nighttime sleeping under control.  I will win this one, Remy.  I always do.

This child has me exhausted.  She is officially crawling EVERYWHERE.  Her favorite places to crawl are to the Roomba and Brady's water bowl.  Remy also loves to find any cords in the wall and will scoot there as fast as possible.  She still hasn't popped that ninth tooth yet but I can see it just at the surface of her gums, so it will be any day.  In two weeks Remy starts up at the babysitter for the first time which makes me so sad.  But I know she will love Remy as much as we do!

Remy loves to be involved in the action.  She also loves playing with her sister and is slowly warming up to her brother's rough ways.  Lately her big thing is standing up with our help.  My favorite time of day is getting her from her crib after a good sleep because her reaction is so damn precious, I could eat her up.  Remy also loves water - the pool and bath are her jam.

The girl still can't stand when someone walks away from her or doesn't pay attention to her.  She also hates her dad's kisses.  Like HATES them.  I don't blame her because scruff hurts!  Plus he can't give just one, it has to be a million.  But that face is oh so kissable.  Remy also isn't a fan of being strapped into her car seat or stroller, but quickly gets over it once we get moving.


Remy Elizabeth,
Oh my little girl, you are just a busy little body!  Your personality is so spunky and sweet - you are the light of every single person in the family.  We are starting to notice a little diva-tude coming out here lately which only solidifies the fact that you are extremely spoiled.  Must be a third baby problem. :)  I am so lucky that I got to spend almost ten months home with you and know that you will love every second with your sister at the sitter's house.  Pretty soon we will be planning your first birthday.  But let's not think about that, okay?  Love you baby girl!


Making Time for Me

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. 
  #UBKForMe #CollectiveBias

Health and fitness have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Running has always been my go-to outlet to release stress and negative energy, which in my profession as a teacher are two things you don't want to have the in the classroom!  I love lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement to get a good sweat on at the end of a long day.  It helps me prepare mentally and emotionally for the following day's events.  But when I had kids these running moments started to become even more important for my personal health.  I found it was a great way to get some alone time to gather my thoughts and regain myself so I could be the best version of me for my family.  When you add the needs of other family members on top of everything you already had going on in your life, you quickly realize that a clear head helps you maintain the best outlook on things in your professional life as well as your personal life too. 

Between work, daycare, Kindergarten, sports and other activities I have to make sure I carve out time for my runs and exercise.  I could easily dismiss my fitness and blame it on my busy schedule.  But again, I refuse to do that because I find I'm in a much better place mentally when I make sure to get in a good workout.  The struggle can be real.  I have yet to find a time when I don't try to tell myself I'm too tired or I don't feel good.  The hardest times seem to be during my time of the month.  Last month I tried to tell myself I couldn't workout because I wasn't prepared.  So this time I loaded the kids (yes, all three of them) into the car and headed to CVS to stock up on my favorite U by Kotex® products which specifically designs their products to help make your period manageable and easier.  This brand wants women to share with them what we want in their products as well as hear what we have to say about our period.  The Period Project is a program that gives women the opportunity to voice what they need when it comes to their period.  U by Kotex® wants to work with us to make a change in the category by letting us be part of the conversation!  For my lifestyle I need products that are comfortable and allow me to maintain my busy day to day activities - including running.  U by Kotex® Click® Tampons are designed small and protect big.  Plus they are perfect to throw into my wallet for when heading to the gym, work or even before a long trail run.  I also grabbed U by Kotex® Sleek® Tampons which have an exclusive anti-slip rubbery grip.  Finally, I made sure to stock up on a box of U by Kotex® Barely There Liners because these come in handy for those light days, are super flexible and move any way you do.  They are so small too and can also conveniently fit within my wallet for easy grab-and-go action as needed!

I found that another way to help me stay motivated and keep on my fitness track is to periodically update my workout wardrobe.  When I got home from my CVS trip I started to clean out my closet in preparation for my upcoming fitness fashion shopping trip.  But I decided to keep a few of my old stretchy t-shirts to repurpose into some easy DIY headbands.  I actually made a couple of these headbands for my girls with their old baby clothes and figured I might as well as some more to my own collection!  I can't explain how easy these headbands are - I mean, the hardest part is the cutting.  For real.

DIY T-Shirt Headbands

1.  Find an old t-shirt you are ready to cut up, preferably jersey or stretchy material.  

2.  Measure a strip about six inches long and cut it out.  You want to start above the seam so you don't include it in your headband.

3.  Take your strip and make a circle.

4.  Next, twist the ends to make a figure 8 shape.  Do this twice.

5.  Lastly, grab the two ends to create your headband.

These headbands are perfect to just throw into my bag or car so I make sure I always have something to pull back those little pieces when I run.  I love that they are tight fitting to my head too and rarely slip.  Plus they are SO EASY and cute!

Life is busy.  Life is chaotic.  Life is just plain crazy!  But my health and fitness are a priority when it comes to my mental health, even with the buzz of work and family.   When it comes to my period, nothing will hold me back either because the U by Kotex® brand wants us to tell them what we think - not the other way around! 

Share with Me!
What keeps you going, even during your time of the month