Monday, November 22, 2010

Time Savers - Volume 1

Are you tired of looking like you just rolled out of bed? Check out the following article I found on the website (one of my personal favorite sites). Sure, some ideas sound just plain gross and I wouldn't be caught DEAD in yoga pants, but there are lots of helpful hints therein for getting ready to go without going nuts.

Here is the link:

And here is the article:
Moms don't have much time for prettifying before leaving the house. In a 2010 BabyCenter survey, the majority said they spend less time doing their hair, getting dressed, and putting on makeup compared with pre-child days.
Before motherhood, women spent 41 minutes getting themselves ready for the day. After having kids, that number was trimmed to 25 minutes. That's a loss of 16 minutes – and is almost 40 percent less primping time!
Yet moms still want to look put together, whether we're heading to the office or the playground. Here's how BabyCenter moms manage to look good and get out the door quickly.

Plan ahead

"I get everything ready the night before that I possibly can."
"Shower at night after the kids are in bed. In the morning just flat-iron your hair. There's no time for a blow-dry."
"I think about what I'm going to wear ahead of time, like when I'm eating breakfast or lying in bed."
"Choose your clothes the night before, so your tired brain doesn't have to make any decisions in the morning."
"I plan what I'll wear two or three days in advance and put it ready to go on hangers."
"Set your clothes out the night before, along with shoes and accessories. That way if you're running late, you don't have to think about what to wear."


"Make time to at least put some makeup on and never go out in pajamas. Because if you do, it's downhill from there. You'll start to think it's acceptable."
"Always wash your face, wear clean underwear, and put on deodorant."
"Instead of doing your whole makeup routine, stick to a couple of basics that highlight your best features. For me that's just putting on mascara and sometimes blush."
"Get up earlier. I just find it's a lot easier to get myself up and get ready before waking the kids so I have all the time to focus on myself rather than having to multitask."
"No tricks – just hustle!"

Keep it simple

"I use minimal makeup and I let my hair air-dry."
"Wipe very important areas, brush your teeth, put body lotion on, and wear a hat."
"Buy lots of yoga pants and either cut your hair way short or keep it long enough for a ponytail."
"Have three pairs of pants with tops that can go with all of them. Use mineral makeup, no eye shadow, just liner and some mascara."
"Wear more repeat outfits and fewer accessories."
"Keep it simple. A little foundation and mascara goes a long way."
"I wear my nursing tank around the house and just throw a T-shirt over it and add jeans and flip-flops. I'm ready in a flash."
"Good mascara, cute headband, and colored lip balm."
"I skip all makeup and just use a tinted moisturizer. My hairstyle is always straight and fuss-free so I just have to give it a quick brush in the morning."

Take it on the road

"I do my makeup, nails, and accessories on the bus."
"I do my makeup in the car, and only minimally."
"I skip makeup until I get to the office."
"Keep all your important things (like lip gloss and a comb) in your handbag for easy access later."

Rethink things

"I've found I like my hair better when I don't wash it every day! Yay!"
"I put my hair up instead of styling it or straightening it."
"If you pump in the morning, use a hands-free pumping bra. You can do your hair and makeup while you're pumping."

Involve your kids

"I shower with my baby girl, get her ready, and plop her in her baby chair while I throw something cute on."
"I've made my entire upstairs babyproof. My son can crawl around and play wherever while I get ready."
"I put the TV on and let my older kids watch their favorite shows. I bring the baby in his car seat into the bathroom with me while I get ready."

Take shortcuts

"If I know I'm going to be in a rush, I sleep in the clothes I'm going to wear the next day."
"Do everything in the shower – brushing your teeth, washing your face, and shaving. Have everything you need to get ready in the bathroom, like lotion, hair supplies, makeup, and clothes. Getting ready all in the same room saves time."
"Always take breakfast to eat in the car."
"I wipe myself with a washcloth or wipes, lotion my arms and legs, use deodorant, eyeliner, and lipstick, and spritz perfume on my neck and wrists. I keep my hair in braids so I don't have to do it every day."

Get help

"I have my partner watch our son while I get dressed."
"Have your partner, spouse, or friend get ready while you nurse, then hand the baby over when you're finished nursing. They can get the rest of the tasks done while you get ready yourself."

Don't worry

"Remember that everyone looks at your kid and not you."
"Just make do with less and put up with being frumpy unless you decide it's worth sacrificing sleep to try to improve the situation."
"You are a beautiful mother! Who cares if you don't have the trendiest makeup or latest fashions? And remember, a ponytail looks cute on anyone."


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Snack Time Simplified

If you are like me (always short on time, in a hurry and generally overwhelmed), it is very helpful to have an ace up your sleeve between meals and when hunger pangs hit. Here are a few ideas to get you and the kids snacking:

Super-Quick Snacks
Ants on a Log - spread peanut butter on celery and top with raisin "ants".
Cheese and Crackers
Yogurt with Cereal or Granola Clusters
Graham Crackers with Cream Cheese
Raw Veggies and Dip (hummus, bean dip, soft cheese)
Fresh Fruit
Apple (or Pear Slices) - serve with peanut butter, sugar free caramel dip or yogurt
String Cheese or Cheddar Sticks
Sugar-free Pudding Cups
Baked Tortilla Chips and Salsa
Dried Fruit
Granola Bars
Rice Cakes
Toast "Sticks" with Peanut Butter

Make-Ahead Snacks:
Pinwheels - tortilla or other flat bread spread with cream cheese, topped with deli meat/veggies, rolled and sliced
Homemade Trail Mix - combine whole grain cereal with raisins /other dried fruit
Frozen Fruit Juice Popsicles or Grapes
Cucumber Slices
Fruit Salad

Leftovers Anyone?
Tuna or Chicken Salad on Crackers
Meat Loaf "Bites" with Melted Cheddar
Diced Ham and Pineapple
Cold Pizza (I prefer homemade)
Roasted Vegetables
Pasta Dishes
Soups and Stews

Okay. Now I'm hungry (again).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

15 Minutes to Spare

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff that life is made of." - Benjamin Franklin

Good 'ol Ben also said: Time is money. To me, time is golden, priceless and fleeting. The most valuable moments are spent with my family but I still have a household to maintain and every evening I find myself wondering where the time went. Some days my Wrinkle in Time (i.e. a fold in the fabric of The Daily Routine) renders me incapable of completing something as simple, yet deceptively elusive, as the task of unloading the dishwasher. Such Wrinkle often occurs after a late breakfast...

"Breakfast time! Crap. Late again"
[Fast Forward] 
Ok. it's 10 am. "Naptime!"
[Fast Forward] 
The kids are awake. "Time for lunch."
[Fast Forward] 
Papa is home..."Enzo, say hello to your Papa (whew-it's about time)."
[Fast Forward] 
Is it 5 o'clock already? Holy COW. I have to figure out what to make for dinner. "Is that clothes still in the dryer?!"

I've compiled a list of things I can do in 15 minutes or less (when I can find the time):

Spot-clean the bathroom
Sweep the kitchen floor
Vacuum a room
Load/unload the dishwasher
Take out the trash
Make the beds
Pick up toys and put them away (several times)
Water plants
Discard junk mail
Sort laundry
Create a shopping list
Clip coupons
Purge the fridge of old food
Prep dinner
Set the table
Clear the table
Make a phone call
Meditate/take a "power" nap-whatever that means
Thumb through a magazine
Read a book
Water the lawn
Groom a pet
Bathe a kid
Play hide-and-seek
Sew a button onto a shirt
Upload photos from a camera/phone
File a bit of paperwork
Check and return e-mail messages
Clean out my purse
Take a shower
Write and send a thank-you note

Keepin' it "real": If I had 8 consecutive, uninterrupted hours of spare time (kid-free), I probably wouldn't do any of the above, except "blog"...and maybe take a nap. When spending time with the my husband and kids, I do my best to make sure we all enjoy every minute of it. After all, they are only young once and time flies.

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." - Michael Altshuler 

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Harvest Pumpkin Soup


1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 small potato, finely cubed
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken broth*
1 tsp dried parsley (or 2 tsp fresh)
1/2 tsp thyme
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
Chives for garnish (optional)


In a 1-quart sauce pan over medium heat, saute the onion, potato and sugar in the butter until onion is transparent and slightly caramelized (about 8 minutes). Add the pumpkin puree, chicken broth*, parsley, thyme and bacon. Stir to combine well, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm or serve immediately. Before serving, season with salt and pepper, to taste and garnish with a tablespoon or more of the heavy cream spooned onto each individual serving. Garnish with chives (optional).

*More or less broth can be used to adjust the thickness of the soup. The soup can be pureed in a blender or food processor before garnishing for a smoother texture.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Comfy Cozy

Ahhhhh, yes. My favorite time of year is finally here. Autumn has arrived, chock-full of holidays and activities that are near and dear to my heart. My personal favorite is Fall Wardrobe Day. I rummage around the closets looking for where I stashed the dozen or so sweaters I own. They're nothing special, really. Most were acquired either at a discount retailer or thrift store (I am one who needn't worry about potential moth infestations). Out come the hats, scarves, footsie pajamas and jackets for the little ones and warm blankies are stowed in the car. Oh, and yes--I actually do keep gloves in my glove compartment. Isn't that what it's for?

And then there's the food. Comfort foods like meat loaf and mashed potatoes are a favorite at my house. Soups and stews are relatively easy one-pot meals that can be prepared with little fat and lots of vegetables. Aside from all the usual Autumn fare, there's a myriad of recipes that call for pumpkin puree that I'm just dying to experiment with. I gotta get those veggies down their little hatches any way I can! Cooler weather calls for hot cocoa with marshmallows, herbal tea, vanilla lattes, and warm milk spiked with cinnamon and a teeny bit of sugar (if you've never had it, you really ought to give it a try).

Fall is a great season to encourage kids to use their creativity with food decor. They can help frost spooky ghost cookies, construct a haunted gingerbread house, or decorate sugar cookies with candy corn before they are baked. Sure, it's likely to create a huge mess, but it's very entertaining for little ones. Mmmmmm...Don't for get the Candy Apples. One can argue that these candy-coated delights are actually kind of healthy, right? Every year, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom creates a centerpiece using a whole pineapple decorated to resemble a turkey. She fashions a turkey head cut from red felt stuffed with cotton which she then attaches with pins to the fruit. It may sound unusual but it's really awfully cute! Why a pineapple you ask? That's a very good question...

Here is a great recipe just passed on to me by a friend. I have yet to cook it myself, as I just acquired this week and would need to borrow a larger crock pot but ingredients don't lie--it's chock-full of yummy stuff. I can't wait to try it! It is as follows:

Dawn's Potato Soup
In a large crock pot set to "low" add the following, combining well:
6 potatoes, cubed
2 leeks, sliced
2 onions, chopped/sliced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 4 cups of water
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 tbsp parsley (fresh or dried)
2 tbsp butter

Cook for four hours on the lowest setting. One hour before serving add one can of evaporated milk
and garnish with chives.
Optional garnishes: bacon bits or minced garlic, chopped ham, whatever is on hand.

Gobble, gobble, gobble...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do You Rememer That Thing Known As "Sleep"?

sleep n. A natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli. -

I faintly recall a time in my life when I could sleep for 12 hour stretches, without so much as a drink of water or a bathroom break. Sometimes I wonder: Did that really happen or did I just dream that I once slept for 12 hours?  It is true, though that at the ripe, old age of 16 I felt the need to stay in bed long after the rooster crowed, was plucked and baked in a pie. Wow. That seems like such a long time ago. I'll let you in on a little secret: As I type it is now 9:40 pm and I really should be in bed. Not a creature is stirring, not even the husband. The kids are asleep by 8(ish) and the baby can snooze for about seven hours at a time. If I were smart I would, too but, given a bit of spare time, I can accomplish a lot. The idea that doing dishes, laundry, checking e-mails or blogging could be accomplished kid-free is all too tempting.

Crap. It's 9:49 already. Soon it will be 10 o'clock and 1.5 hours past my "bedtime". Don't get me wrong-I love to sleep but motherhood changes everything. Day-to-day, minute-by-minute my priorities shift according to what is best, not only for the children, but for the household as a whole. Many times I have griped to my husband (a.k.a.The Innocent Bystander), "You don't understand. I would go and take a nap if this house weren't a total disaster area!! If I don't reorganize the Ziploc container drawer, who will?" Just let it go, he tells me. That is sound advice but easier said than done. Every evening I do as much as I can before bedtime to prepare for the day ahead. The diaper bags are stocked, bottles made, sippy cups filled, coffee maker set, clothing chosen and laid out, the cat's bowl filled. Did I forget anything? Oh--I can shower and wash my hair tonight to save time in the morning and my toenails have been neglected for way too long... Forget it. No time for that now. I feel too tired and overwhelmed at the moment.
It's 10:30 and I wonder where the time went. The muscles that control my eyelids are failing me. Time to shut the P.C. down and finish my story some other time. I must sleep now. Until tomorrow...

Okay! I'M BACK, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready for another day. Seven hours of sleep can do wonders for my spirit. Just like the definition for sleep, I spent quality time resting during which I'm relatively certain my eyes were closed, my body movement decreased (when I wasn't tossing and turning), and I showed little response to external stimuli. The latter I know because my husband tended to our toddler when he woke up fussing and I miraculously slept right through it all. I have been falsely accused of routinely feigning sleep so that he will get up instead of me, which I adamantly deny. Just because I did that once, doesn't mean I do it all the time. So today, with new-found energy, enthusiasm and (hopeless) optimism I create my daily "To-Do" list. Included in the top five after "laundry" and before "vacuuming" I write: TAKE A NAP in all caps and underline it. Twice.
People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one.  ~Leo J. Burke

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'M IMPRESSED...Products That "Wow'd" Me

The Magic Eraser:
I am not one to recommend nor endorse something I don't like so when I say that I love the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, I really mean it! After the first use, my thought was, "Where have you been all my life?"  I appreciate any cleaning products that make my life easier, are easy on the environment (as well as the people in it) and perform well. My bathroom cleaning routine used to consist of spraying the tub, toilet, sink and counter with a caustic cleanser and letting it sit for a few minutes before tackling the commode first. By the time I got to the tub, I would hope that the cleanser has loosened some of the soap scum so I could step into the tub wearing a Hazmat suit and scrub it off. Not fun. This is a back-breaking job especially considering that I have those stupid shower doors that slide open instead of a shower curtain. I have no idea what those funky Mr. Clean sponges are made of, but they are out-of-this-world effective. A chore that would normally take me 30-45 minutes was complete in only 10! Wow.

Oxy Clean:
I was reluctant to try this product because I doubted it's effectiveness but Billy Mays, may he rest in peace, was right to get all fired up over this one! It works great for all sorts of stains. I was even able to clean my fruit-juice stained cutting board with it. It works wonders on kids clothing and yellowed burp cloths. I've used it for numerous diaper "explosions" with great success.

Penny Pincher Tip: I went with the store-brand versions of both products mentioned and not only was I very pleased with the results but I saved a considerable amount of moola.