Apr 182017
 

Did you just get an Instant Pot for a holiday gift or birthday present and have no idea what is next? Maybe you read the manual and the *beginner’s guide* (link to the first article!). Now, you’re ready to start cooking! Before you get started, there are a few things I want you to know. You can cook healthier foods with your Instant Pot from simple entrees to gourmet dishes. I also want to show you that you can use your Instant Pot daily which can make it one of the most valuable appliances in your kitchen.

How to Cook Healthy Foods in Your Instant Pot

Easy does it. If you’re a beginner, start off easy. Skip long or heavy recipes until you get the hang of it. With simple recipes with few ingredients, you can learn how to make adjustments and discover how the Instant Pot works. You will learn how your food cooks and what you might need to read up on to truly master your Instant Pot. Try rice to learn the rice cooker setting and shredded meat to learn how to make your meat flavorful.

Start with a whole chicken. If you’re not sure how to get going with your Instant Pot, a whole chicken could be just what you need. While there are many recipes online for a whole chicken in your Instant Pot, you can add your own flair with seasonings and broth. Don’t forget that your Instant Pot should always have a cup of liquid in your pot when you cook. Continue reading »

Apr 122017
 

Have you thought about organizing your kitchen cabinets lately? I opened one of mine yesterday and a bunch of stuff fell on me, so I figured it was time for a little cleaning and reorganization. Honestly, it doesn’t take much to get started and to keep them organized and here are some easy tips to get you started on organizing those kitchen cupboards.

Tips for Cleaning & Organizing the Kitchen Cupboards

Clean out the cabinets first.

Before you decide to organize the kitchen cupboards, take the time to clean them out. This is the perfect time to get rid of all broken Tupperware out of the cabinets. If there’s something you don’t want to keep, then now is the time to throw it out.

Take out all of the dishes.

In order to organize the cupboards like they should be done, take out all of the dishes in the cupboard. I try to be incredibly careful during this part because I don’t want to break any dishes. I set all of the dishes on the table until it’s time to put them back into the cupboards. Continue reading »

Mar 272017
 

April Fools Day is coming up quick guys and I am already planning out some awesome April Fools Food Pranks to play on my boys.  Growing up, there was absolutely no pranking in parent’s house.  They didn’t go for that sort of thing, so my sister, brother and I behaved. Then I met my husband, Christian, and he happens to come from a family full of pranksters. Christian knows I am not a fan, so they rarely get played on me, but my boys are a whole other story.

The boys think pranks are the best thing ever and pretty much live for April Fools Day because that’s the only real day that they can get away with them without consequences. But what kind of a mom would I be if I didn’t play a few pranks back?  I have experimented over the years and have found that food pranks are the best way to go with my two. It gets them every time. If you want to try some food pranks of your own, take a peek at some of these links.  There is lots of good stuff in there. Continue reading »

Mar 212017
 

Spring cleaning is one of the only things that stands between you and an amazing spring. Ok, maybe it won’t ruin your whole season, but if you are anything like me, you dread it all year long and procrastinate as much as humanly possible. The reason spring cleaning is so daunting is because it’s a lot more than just the regular day to day (or weekly) cleaning – it’s a whole lot of work. To be honest, for a lot of us starting our spring cleaning takes a quite a bit of motivation. Today I am going to share some of the ways I motivate myself to get started with my spring cleaning and hope it helps you, too.

Inspiration

The first step to motivation before anything else is to be inspired, if you have no inspiration then you will ultimately end up like me – being lazy and skipping an entire year or two.  So go out and buy some of those home decor magazines you always avoid and throw that “my house will never look this good” attitude right out the door. Sure you may not financially be able to buy all that spendy decor, but trust me when I say it’ll give you some great ideas on how decorate your house in a way that perfectly fits your personality once you are done with the deep cleaning.  I also like to call this one “the reward system”. Once you’re done cleaning, reward yourself with a little shopping spree to liven up your living space a little bit. Continue reading »

Mar 152017
 

How to keep your kids entertained during school breaks can be a little rough. Those long breaks – winter holidays, spring breaks, and then summer break can be a lot. At first your kids might love the freedom, but over time find themselves being bored more often and getting frustrated! If you are looking for ways to keep your kids entertained, you might find some of these ideas below helpful. Granted depending on your child’s age will depend what fits there needs! But, hopefully a few of these might save you from a day of, “I have nothing to do, I am so bored!”

Ways to Entertain Kids During School Breaks 

Arts and Crafts: Thanks to the world of Pinterest you can always find fun arts and crafts to do. From making bird feeders with old toilet paper rolls to making salt crystals. You can find fun art projects for kids of all ages. Plus a lot of them can be very inexpensive, but keep your child busy for hours! So search out DIY crafts and see what fun ideas you find. 

Scavenger Hunt: This can be a lot of fun, create a scavenger hunt. Create a list of items they will have to go on a hunt to find. This can be one of their favorite toys, some kitchen utensils, the sky is the limit here. Then at the end you can have a surprise like a cookie or even a cheap dollar toy from the dollar store. They will love doing it!  Continue reading »

Mar 132017
 

There is more to meal planning than cooking and freezing. There are certain things you can do before you start meal planning that will help you become more efficient in the kitchen. This guide is going to take you from overwhelmed at the grocery store to organized with a plan. The goal is to save money when you shop while enjoying healthier and more delicious food.

Pick a day. Before you start with your grand plan, pick a day that works for your family for meal prep. This would require clipping coupons if you do so, reading the sale circulars, making a list, and shopping. When you return home, instead of quickly putting groceries away, you can start formulating your meals into freezer bags and containers.

The truth is that meal prep can become over stressful over time, and you may just give up. Don’t let a setback make you quit. Write it down, shop in the early or late hours of the day to avoid crowds, and use the internet to help you track lists and recipes. Continue reading »

Mar 082017
 

We all need time to ourselves, and what better way to spend it than in the company of friends? I’ve never been one who enjoys going to bars, and I am even less inclined to do so now that I’m older. Sure, a girl’s night out is fun occasionally, but it can get expensive. My friends are I prefer a girl’s night in; much cheaper and often a lot more fun! Here are some ideas for Girl’s Night In:

Pinterest Night– I’ve done this many times. The rule was that we each had to pick a Pinterest project (sometimes we worked on the same thing, other times we did different projects). We tried out some great food, some not-so-great foods, and made some cool stuff. We typically also had a bottle of wine, but that is optional. I know that my Pinterest page has over 5,000 pins, many of which I will never make, but I have tried more than a few out this way. Give it a try!

Craft Night– At one point I had a group of friends who were a crafty bunch. Some knitted, some crocheted, and some scrapbooked (I am a crocheter and a scrapbooker). We had snacks and drinks, and we always chatted the night away. We had many laughs on those nights. We made it a monthly event and rotated houses each month. Continue reading »

Mar 072017
 

If you haven’t seen the hype of Instant Pots around the internet, you are missing out! This nifty kitchen gadget can help you simplify your time in the kitchen. Instead of having a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and saute pan, you can have an Instant Pot! This tool handles many tasks that other appliances do just in one simple cooking option. If you are ready to make the switch to an Instant Pot, here is what you need to know.

Instant Pot Starter Guide

Just what exactly is PSI conversion? One of the questions that pressure cookers users have about Instant Pots is how to convert recipes to your Instant Pot. Pressure cookers have specific recipe instructions, and it is possible to convert those to the Instant Pot. This is perfect for your family, especially if you have children in your home and you are worried about having a pressure cooker.

PSI conversion may sound difficult, but it is pretty simple. Just remember that the typical pressure cooker works at 15 PSI while the Instant Pot works at 11. What does that mean for you? Converting the recipes will result in a longer cook time in the Instant Pot. Cook them for just a few extra minutes longer if the recipe is meatless. Continue reading »

Feb 132017
 

If you are finding it hard to work out or need to spice up your everyday routine, try hosting a fitness scavenger hunt! This creative idea can be hosted at any time during the year, and all it requires is a little planning. The main idea is that you jog or run to find items on your scavenger hunt list as opposed to walking around the block. You can have fun, workout, and challenge your friends!

Choose the Right Location

The first thing is to pick the right location. You would like the area to be large enough to have room to exercise while running around to collect items. It should obviously be safe and be available during the daytime.

Scavenger Hunt Location Ideas:

  • Parks
  • Beaches
  • Field
  • Large backyards
  • Downtown area (one with lots of benches, walkways, parks, or historic monuments that you can use as stops on your adventure, etc.).

Plan Your Scavenger Hunt Continue reading »

Feb 122017
 

If you are a parent you’ve either been there, are going through it now, or will someday experience the joy (please note the sarcasm) of raising a teenager. Let me start off by saying that I love my son with all my heart and cannot imagine my life without him. It’s been just the 2 of us taking on the world for the last 12 years, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some days I just don’t like him very much. He is very much a typical 14-year-old boy. He’s a good kid and doesn’t get into trouble, but the mouth, the sighs, the eyerolls, and the general “mom, you are the dumbest person alive” attitude are enough to put me over the edge. I know that I’m not the first parent to experience this, and I certainly won’t be the last, so I decided to do a little bit of research on parenting teenagers and here is what I came up with. Continue reading »

Jan 302017
 

Robin posted not long ago about the importance of “me time,” and one of my favorite ways to spend my “me time” is reading. I have loved to read since I was a kid but then motherhood took over, and there wasn’t a whole lot of time to read. Now that my son is older and more self-sufficient, I have that time. I read a lot, and I read fast, so buying books gets expensive, and they take up room that I don’t really have. I have two eReaders/tablets: the Nook and the Kindle Fire. I like them both for different reasons, but I tend to use my Kindle more for reasons you will see below.

eReaders are so convenient. I recently took a cruise and brought my Kindle along for the downtime on the boat before we arrived in Bermuda. I downloaded a few books before we left so there would be no shortage of reading material because I can finish a book in a day or 2. Again, this can get expensive so I made it a mission to find free and inexpensive books and am going to share them with you.

FreeBooksy is a website that has free eBooks for the Kindle, Nook (Barnes and Noble), Kobe, and Apple. You can be added to their email list, and they will send you a daily email with free books of various genres, or you can search for them yourself. They have numerous genres: romance/chick lit, mystery/thriller, fantasy, non-fiction, young adult, science fiction, literary fiction, religion, horror, and even children’s books. There is definitely something for everyone. Continue reading »

Jan 232017
 

It’s the new year, we’ve all heard about self care and how important it is to find some “me time” in our everyday lives. Let’s be real for a second; that’s not how it works. It’s not as simple as just “finding some time for me”. There are always things that need fixing or finding or fetching and half the time it’s the kids themselves. In my life, and I’m sure you’ve been here too, there’s not a lot of real life “me time”. Instead of getting upset about it or running myself ragged, I use these quick tips to make the most of my time so I can enjoy a little time by myself.

How to Find Real Life “Me Time”:

Figure Out What Makes You Happy
This is probably the hardest part of enjoying time alone without the kids. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what they enjoy and just go with the flow. One of the things I try and do is set some time aside during school, sleep, whatever it takes, to just relax and unwind. Isn’t that what all mom’s like? Quiet moments of sitting still! During those few quiet moments I try and think of something that I’d really like to do. Make a list if you have to, I know I’ll forget half of them if I don’t put it in my phone or write it down somewhere. Now I know what to do when I come across some free time. It’s impossible to schedule it so I have to be ready when the time arises! Continue reading »

Jan 172017
 

During winter months, you may notice that your kids gradually start spending more and more time indoors, sitting in front of their computers, TVs or smartphones. While this type of fun is perfectly fine once in a while, it’s not healthy and definitely not family-oriented if your children have no other memories of charming winter time other than those that gadgets provide them with. In that respect, it’s time that you organize some cool outdoor activities for a whole family to enjoy. And most importantly, relax – these activities do not have to cost you an arm and a leg. All that’s necessary is your creativity, positive energy and love that you all share.

5 Frugal Family Bonding Outdoor Activities That Your Kids Will Love During Winter

Go out and make something
Winter time offers a lot of possibilities. If you happen to enjoy some good snowfall during winter, turn it to your advantage. Together with your kids, you can have a lot of fun in the snow. Making a snowman and other various forms, as well as using snow as a big canvas for your little works of art is a great and frugal way to bond as a family. Don’t feel sad if snow just doesn’t want to color your streets and yards white – you can make your own artificial snow that can serve the purpose of getting all artsy and crafty just fine. Continue reading »

Jan 112017
 

If the thought of being able to put money into savings makes you laugh hysterically, clap your hands.

If you clapped, you’re not alone. It can be incredibly difficult to put money into savings. And that’s just when the savings are your own. When you start considering how you’ll manage to save any money for your kid’s future — well, that can seem even more impossible.

If you want to save money for your kid’s future, or at least want to try, here are a few tactics to consider:

Start a 529 Plan

Like a 401k, a 529 plan is helpful, but it can be daunting if you’re new to it. The IRS has a detailed and helpful Q&A page that makes for a great introduction to this popular college savings plan.

The short and sweet explanation is this: A 529 plan allows you to save money specifically for education costs without being taxed on the account’s earnings — provided you spend those earnings on approved education costs. It’s considered your asset, so it won’t affect your kid’s financial aid and you can transfer it to their sibling if they’re not interested in pursuing higher education. Continue reading »

Jan 032017
 

how-to-survive-raising-boys

If you are raising boys then you surely have become familiar with that everlasting boy humor. That humor that is inappropriate for the dinner table yet becomes a frequent occurrence. That toilet seat that never gets put down and that ever growing smell that seems to be boy’s feet. Sure some of you are the lucky parents with boys who don’t exhibit most of these qualities on a regular basis but for the rest of us, we are just getting started in learning how to survive raising boys.

How to Survive Raising Boys

The initial step to ensuring that you survive the years of raising boys is to make sure that your weak stomach disappears. There will be times that you smell odd things on stuffed animals, wonder what’s hidden underneath their beds and why on Earth they still smell after having showered just that morning. Continue reading »

Jan 022017
 

After the initial novelty of it wears off, nobody really likes the cold, especially if you are being forced into it. And if we are being honest, nobody really likes being forced to exercise. So when you are forced to combine those things, it takes a great deal of willpower just to motivate yourself to lace up your sneakers and get out the door.

Not everyone has that strength to do that which is why a lot of people gain undesirable weight during the winter and make annual resolutions for the new year.

Exercising outdoors can be beneficial for your body. The crisp air can keep your energy from draining as quickly as it does during steamy summers keeping you fresher through your workout and the fresh air will help your circulatory system exhale carbon dioxide and other toxins more efficiently. You will however have to take a few extra precautions to protect you from injury and other harm that can come from exposure to lower temperatures.

So here are a few tips to help make your outdoors exercise time more tolerable so that you can keep up with your workout regimen when the thermometer drops:

Cover Your Head and Hands:

Most of your body’s heat is lost on a cold day through the outermost extremities so it is essential to keep your head and your hands warm. If these parts of your body are exposed, it is going to cause the rest of your body to feel much colder than it actually is. There are gloves specially designed to protect your hands from the elements while enabling you to keep your dexterity in your fingers and maintain grip when performing such tasks as riding a bike outdoors while still keeping your hands warm. For your head, even a simple baseball hat can help provide a layer of insulating protection although a beanie-style hat is a better choice if the temperatures are near or below freezing temperatures. Continue reading »

Dec 272016
 

For healthy weight loss to occur we need to reduce our intake of calories which means we should focus on eating foods that are high in nutrients, but lower in calories. If they taste great and can satisfy our biological hunger, that’s even better. That’s why smoothies are the perfect “meal” when you are trying to eat healthier while dropping a few pounds.

Here are just a few ways that incorporating smoothies into our daily diet can help us reach our nutritional goals:

How Smoothies Can Help You Eat Better And Lose Weight

Smoothies are Packed with Nutrients: You can pack a lot of nutrients in your smoothies with ingredients like fresh or frozen berries, assorted fruits and plenty of dark, leafy greens vegetables. For an added kick, substitute coconut water instead of plain water to maintain the consistency you desire while at the same time adding essential minerals and electrolytes.

Smoothies Can Fill You Up Without the Calories: By using ample amounts of leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and chard, you can create a smoothie that’s both low in calories and high in fiber, which helps give you that feeling of being “full” without eating a huge meal. Cucumbers, peppers, and even tomatoes can help add more dietary fiber to your smoothie without adding unnecessary calories and limiting the amount of sugars. Sugars, even if they are all natural, tend to be digested relatively quickly, leaving your body craving more in a short amount of time. For cutting down on sugars even more, try to use fruit sparingly and opt for low sugar varieties like berries for best results. Continue reading »

Dec 202016
 

‘Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house, no child was complaining, not even a spouse. The gifts were unwrapped and toys played with care, while parents reveled in the peace and quiet in the air… Well, that lasted 10 minutes. We know it’s not long before the first “I’M BORED” escapes your kids’ lips during holiday break.

We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve been in a slump due to the rainy day blues.  Instead of curling up into a ball and succumbing into boredom, there are dozens of different activities that you can do to keep yourself occupied.  Even if the weather is miserable outside, there is no reason as to why you should be miserable inside!  Below is a list of 4 great things that you can do to chase rainy day boredom away.

1. Plan a Scavenger Hunt

This is the perfect activity for families who have children that enjoy participating in activities.  A scavenger hunt is not only fun for the kids, but it is also fun for the parents.  Make a list of 20-30 items that the family will have to find throughout the house and the individual who finds all of the items first is the winner.  You can choose the prize, such as allowing the winner to pick what’s for dinner and desert that night. Continue reading »

Dec 062016
 

I have received information and materials from Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post. 

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

how-to-freeze-your-favorite-foods

Time seems to be a commodity that is in ever-shortening supply these days. Especially this time of year when the holiday are quickly approaching. Because of that, we often don’t take the time to eat right and often opt for quick and simple solutions when it comes to dinnertime. That option isn’t always the healthiest. But with just a little pre-planning, you can make a variety of dishes that can be prepared beforehand and stored in your freezer which you can reheat quickly and enjoy when the time is right. Not only will this save you time when your week gets hectic, it will also cut down on your intake of take-out and fast food, making you a healthier and happier person.

Here are some tips for simple freezer meals that will let you enjoy a home-cooked meal without the time usually needed to do so:

Know What Not to Freeze
Before you freeze any of your dishes, make sure you know what kinds of foods won’t lose quality and consistency during the freezing process. Some foods don’t hold up to freezing temperatures. For starters, you should never freeze dairy or cream-based ingredients, such as milk or sour cream, yogurt, or cottage cheese as it will often crystallize and separate into its components upon thawing. If you are going to be freezing cream-based soups, be careful with how it tastes when it is reheated. You also want to avoid certain fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruit, cucumbers, watermelon, and lettuce. Cooked eggs are another food that will lose its consistency after freezing. If you want to freeze potatoes, they should either be raw or be mashed potatoes. Continue reading »