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Monthly Archive for April, 2017

Streamline and Simplify

Streamline & Simplify

I feel like I have always been an organized, prepared and punctual individual.  A few books I have been pouring over these last couple months have let me indulge in uncovering the “why” and helped explain the sense of calm I feel by being this way.  It’s not for everyone, that’s certain, but my delight in the ease of routine and preparation has benefitted me greatly and I wanted to share a few ways how.

Laying out clothes the night before

I started doing this for my children when they were in preschool.  I’d check the weather at their bedtime and get their outfit out and in easy reach for the next day so I could feed them, change diapers, clothe them and go.  The habit migrated to my evening routine as well when I found myself spending more time than necessary on pairing a tank and sparkly headband in the morning.  So I make my choices after I brush my teeth and lay the items in a folded pile on the vanity bench in the bathroom.  It saves me time and gets me ready quickly so I can move on to other things that genuinely require effort and thought.

Food and coffee prep

Much like eliminating the time needed for clothing choices in the morning, I prep my morning meal at night also.   This is quite simple and takes less than a couple of minutes as I pick a coffee mug to place in position on our coffee maker and lay out one packet of sweetener (I switched to packets so I could monitor my sweetener intake), I lay a spoon near the Keurig, then choose oatmeal, yogurt or one of my pre-made breakfast burritos.  If it’s oatmeal I’ll grab my favorite ground cinnamon and another mug to heat the oatmeal in, if yogurt I’ll grab a pre-portioned pack of almonds to add, and if I choose burrito then I simply move one from the freezer to the fridge for overnight thawing.  The quick action of getting myself ready for the morning leaves one less thing to fuss with when it’s GO time and the husband & kids are waking up for school and I’m trying to hustle us all out the door at the same time.

Black Underwear

I am a colorful person.  In home decor, clothing choices, and life in general.  My yoga pants and a few cocktail dresses are black and that’s about it.  But I have spent too many moments in front of the mirror doing the “can you see my underwear pattern/color through these yoga pants” exercise.  Ladies – you know what I’m talking about.  Every day it was a chore to decide, “well, maybe these purple-y ones are dark enough” or “hopefully these polka dots and pineapples won’t show too much.”  As I was reading one of Gretchen Rubin’s fun books about happiness, organization and simplifying I had a brilliantly obvious thought.  Go get some black underwear!  DUH, right?  In the five years that black yoga pants have been my main form of pants it had never occurred to me to have a supply of black underwear.  So I popped over to the Hanes Brands Outlet nearby because they sell my favorite microfiber bikini cut and purchased a pile of black ones in my size knowing that I love the fit, the fabric and I’d never have to make any special effort to choose my undies on the days I wear my regular uniform.  All my crazy colors and patterns are still there and get used with pajamas, jeans, sundresses, etc. but a noticeable portion of nearly every single morning has been made easier by not having to choose that one thing.

Keep a gym bag ready

I began keeping a small gym bag ready in the car stocked with several pairs of barre socks, deodorant, body wipes, lotion, ear buds and a phone case that straps to my arm.  I never have to worry about not being prepared as I always have these things with me should it be an odd day and my workout doesn’t happen as usual.  I can grab the phone case and go walk while I’m waiting to pick the kids up.  Or if I took my socks in the house to wash, I have spare pairs so I don’t need to purchase another set in order to take class.

Online grocery ordering

I avoided this for ages, to my husband’s dismay and confusion.  Mainly because I like going to the grocery store.  I like walking the aisles and looking and touching and smelling.  Generally I made it through fine whether the kids were with me or not.  If we went as a family of four on a Sunday morning, it somehow ended up being a different story and that’s all my husband saw – the obnoxious chaos of going grocery shopping together.  But at Christmas 2015, it was a choice I made out of panic.  It was a crazy time of year, the kids were out for their break and we needed a very large amount of items for several large meals.  I wasn’t as confident this time that the boys could control themselves long enough for me to get every last herb on my list and the grocery store was running a one month free trial of their pick-up services.  So we tried it from mid-December through mid-January.  I didn’t want to love it as much as I do.  My orders are saved as orders, the individual items kept in a list for 6 months for easy reorder.  It mostly eliminates the buying of random crap and I can get what I know we need and what I’m using for that week’s meal prep.  Such a time saver!  I generally choose the time slot that falls immediately after school pick up since our store is on our direct path home.  It is absolute perfection to cultivate my list throughout the week, plan my meals on the weekend, place an order Sunday night with a Monday afternoon grocery grab and go.  Mom heaven, y’all.

What are some things you do to make life easier for yourself?  What are some things you could do (if you wanted to)?

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Crock Pot Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Crock Pot Pasta e Fagioli Soup

I found this recipe on www.therecipecritic.com and gave it a test run last night.  I’d call it a delicious success and wanted to share it with y’all!

I feel like it would be easy to make vegetarian and you could add more veggies or a different pasta shape, or a gluten free pasta to accommodate various dietary needs.  My Crock Pot was full and we ate heartily.  I have enough leftover to freeze, which will last a couple meals and I left one serving in the fridge for me to heat up tonight.

This filling soup would be great as a make-to-share dish and make-to-freeze dish.  My only notation on that is that the longer mine cooled before I refrigerated it, the more water the pasta soaked up and the soup got thick.  So I’d revive it with additional beef broth to reheat or after freezing.


1 tablespoon EVOO

1 pound ground lean beef (I subbed lean ground turkey)

2 whole carrots diced

4 celery stalks diced

1 medium onion diced

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 (14.5 ounce) cans beef broth

2 whole bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans drained and rinsed

1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans drained and rinsed

1 cup ditallini pasta uncooked


1. Add olive oil to large skillet and add in ground meat.  Cook until no longer pink.

2.  Place meat in slow cooker with other ingredients except the beans and pasta.

3.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.  30 minutes before serving stir in beans and pasta.

4.  Serve immediately while hot.

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Shitty Mom Award

Shitty Mom Award…

A decent (albeit rainy) day has drawn to a close on a negative note with my youngest son.  Here is where I will launch into the backstory:

Backstory – I’ve been jonesing for some lasagna roll-ups for dinner lately and was interested in making a batch that all four of us could enjoy.  I prefer spinach and cottage cheese, hubby prefers regular meat sauce and kids just want buttered noodles and cheese basically.  So we discussed the idea of dinner prepping together the batch of turkey meat sauce roll-ups for daddy and I and leaving everything plain for the boys with JUST CHEESE.  Everyone was ok with this plan, everyone agreed to eat it.  I’m fine varying the ingredients slightly if it can all be cooked in the same dang pan.  I am always a short order cook (my mistake to begin with), so on the rare occasion that we find something we will all eat some variance of – I’m thrilled!  Grocery pick up and prep was yesterday and we baked it for dinner tonight after taekwondo.

Big little was not super enthused with them, but after cutting them up and reheating them and allowing a pinch of salt to be sprinkled on top and letting him use his fingers to eat like a pirate, he munched his way through most of his serving and finished his milk and fruit.

Little little was leary from the start as they did not look like his traditionally preferred spaghetti noodles.  He whined a bit.  We cut them up.  He ate a few strawberries.  We reheated.  He still had not actually put one bite in his mouth.  We discussed that allllll the pasta dough we buy is the SAME dough recipe, but the noodle makers squish it into different shapes to make different things with.  The key – it all tastes like a spaghetti noodle.  Still no bite would pass his lips.  He said he never wanted this.  He said he never told me he would eat plain cheese and noodle rolls.  He swore he hated melted cheese, except (of course) on pizza and macaroni, which he loves.  He decreed he didn’t like his roll-ups and that they were disgusting even though he has NEVER had any before.  We told him he wasn’t able to say he didn’t like something until he had officially sampled it.

He asked if he could drink his milk and we told him after he tried a bite he could have a sip.  That was a NOPE on his end.  And that’s where we got serious.  No bite of dinner would mean no more fruit, no milk, no alternative dinner being served and no stories before bed.  Yep.  He took that route.

He sat in his room until bedtime after he cried piteously for a while.  I assisted with the jammies and teeth brushing.  Then he let me hold him in his rocking chair as I spoke with him about being rude and wasteful.  He listened but I don’t think he heard me.  So I bid him a good evening and left his room.

I feel like a mean person.  I did get myself into the routine of making the kids something different that what we eat – hell, I eat differently than my husband most of the time because I have particular nutritional needs I want to meet.  But because this one meal was discussed well in advance and the time was put in early to make it happen for an easy Monday night meal, I’m extremely irritated by the entire thing.  It was cheese and noodles for crying out loud.  He eats that same crap on our normal spaghetti evenings but the noodles are long and skinny and the cheese is sprinkled on top not baked inside.  What. The. Hell.

So I’m feeling rotten letting him go to bed without supper.  I’m probably going to go watch a depressing movie and drink hot tea and hope I can sleep.  Shitty mom award recipient right here.  Oh joy.

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