Chicken Noodle Casserole

Sometimes you need to cook a large bulk meal that will last at least two days and maybe even give you enough left over to freeze for a third day in the future. This is a tasty dish that everyone in my family loves! You can you fresh veggies if you have the time, or if you want to make this as fast as possible frozen will work just as well, but try to find a bag that has chunk potatoes in the mix.

Chicken Noodle Casserole

Ingredients:

Fully cooked rotisserie chicken (I used the 3 pound Costco chicken)
4 large potatoes
4 to 5 large carrots
1/2 bag of frozen corn
1/2 bag of frozen peas
3 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 bag of wide egg noodles
2 cans of hot pasta water (reserved from boiling the noodles)
Onion Powder to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

  1. Peel and cube potatoes into 1/2 chunks. Peel and slice carrots. In a pot boil potatoes and carrots until almost fork tender. Add frozen peas and corn to same pot and finish letting potatoes and carrots cook for a few minutes. Drain and put aside.Chicken Noodle Casserole a
  2. While vegetables are cooking cube the rotisserie chicken. Dispose of skin and bones.
  3.  Cook egg noodles following the direction on the bag. Don’t pour out the pasta water when draining the noodles.
  4. In the now empty vegetable pot bring to a simmer the three cans of cream of chicken soup, two cans of hot pasta water, several large dashes of onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Toss veggies back into the soup mixture along with chicken and noodles and blend all in the ingredients together.
  6. Pour into the largest baking dish you have and sprinkle your bread crumbs all over the top.Chicken Noodle Casserole
  7. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes on the center rack to brown and crisp up the bread crumbs.

If you want to skip all that chopping of veggies feel free to substitute 3 bags of frozen mixed vegetables. Fresh tastes best, but sometimes lazy can save the day! This easily feeds my family of four two dinners. Add in some buttered bread and a big glass of milk and dinner is served.

If you want to see me make this meal from scratch be sure to check out my Youtube video where I make this as well as frozen sausage, egg, and cheese, muffin sandwiches for the weeks breakfasts for my guys.

The Practical & Natural Medicine Cabinet

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Practical medicine Cabinet

I have a compromised immune system. It is a major side effect of the medications use to treat my Rheumatoid Arthritis. As a result, I catch everything and then take 3-4 times as long as the normal person to recover. Colds almost always turn into bronchial infections or sinus infections. The flu will inevitably turn into walking pneumonia with me. So I am forever trying to boost my immune system with supplements, healthy teas, and plenty of sleep (though I often fail when it comes to the sleep).

Because I get serious infections so often, I end up on antibiotics once or twice a year. I have noticed that lately when I get sick I am getting prescribed stronger and stronger antibiotics because my body has started to build up a tolerance to your basic run of the mill amoxicillin. This means when the day comes that the proverbial super flu finally comes a knocking, I may be in serious trouble.

Because I don’t want my children to develop a resistance to antibiotics I always buy antibiotic free meats and dairy. There have also been some changes to our medicine cabinet that honestly really work for my kids.

kids_cough_syrup_product11Most cough syrups don’t work. Don’t believe me? Ask your pediatrician. Many of them are not safe for children under six. Plus, they are filled with dyes and artificial flavors. So what is a worried mom supposed to do? Not to mention that what ever I do needs to be simple, straight forward, and be effective. I don’t have time for bogus products that don’t deliver.childrens_nt

There are now several honey based cough syrups that actually work surprisingly well. I’ll admit I was skeptical. If actual medicine was proving ineffective how was honey going to do the trick? But the honey is thick and soothing on sore throats, and the nighttime version of Zarbees has melatonin in it, an all natural chemical that the body makes at bedtime, which helps little ones to fall asleep soundly so they don’t cough during the night. Genius! (Honey is not safe for children under a year old.)

For sore throats I keep a supply of Burt’s Bees Natural Throat Drops, free of dyes and artificial flavors. The honey pomegranate ones taste pretty good and just like Maty’s and Zarbee’s Cough Syrup, the honey really coats raw throats.

salineWhen it comes to drippy, stuffy noses, Saline Nose Spray is awesome. Small kids really haven’t mastered the art of blowing their noses. Saline helps to break up mucus and thin it out so it is easier and more effective when you blow. It also moisturizes raw and painful nasal passages.

Next is a treatment I bet many of you remember from your own childhood. When I was sick my mom used to slather my chest with Vicks Vapor Rub. Breathing those menthol and eucalyptus vapors really did amazing work in clearing up sinus passages.vapor_rub_product111

Maty’s Soothing Chest Rub works just like Vicks but is free of petroleum jelly or petrochemicals.

pedialyteAnother common illness this time of year is tummy bugs. Besides having a supply of Pedalyte for maintaining fluid and chemical balances, I have learned to keep a supply of Witch Hazel Wipes in the house as well. When an attack of diarrhea happens, children’s behinds get raw and painful really fast making it hard for them to wipe. These wipes sooth a rear end with the very first use.

butt-wipes

The last important item in the medicine cabinet is children’s ibuprofen for fevers that go above 101. I have learned not to medicate a fever right away. The truth is a fever is your bodies immune system doing what it is supposed to do, which is fight off foreign invaders. So actually a mild fever is a good thing. So before you dose, check your child’s temperature to make sure it is really necessary.

***I am not a medical professional. I am not pretending to be a medical professional. My advice is not to be taken as treatment for your child’s illness. If your child is sick then consult with your own pediatrician about the products listed on this page. These are just suggestions I have learned from speaking with my children’s pediatrician and doing a little research of my own, as well as watching my own children’s progress while using the natural remedies mentioned in this post. I was not paid by anyone to review these products, I just really like them and they work for my kids.***

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Activities for the Best Snow Day Ever

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Best Snow Day Ever

Snow days can be just as over whelming as they are wonderful. What starts off as, “Yay! We have the whole day off!” can quickly turn into, “Mom, I am so bored,” or, “Mom, he’s looking at me!”

What every busy mom needs is a plan of action. Or, put better, a plan of FUN! So below is an easy and very loose schedule with some fun activities using things you hopefully have in the house.

Morning:

pancakes2

Start the day with a pancake breakfast.  I love to buy the big bag of Krusteez Pancake mix from Costco.  A trick I have learned to make them fluffier and thicker is to swap some of the water for milk. If the batch you are making calls for 2 cups of water I will swap ½ a cup of it for milk and add in one tablespoon of vanilla extract. Get the children involved in making the batter. One can be the scooper, one can be the mixer, and if you have fresh strawberries or bananas one can slice the berries with a plastic knife. Having pancakes on a snow day is great because pancakes on what should be a school day just doesn’t happen in my house. Top with butter and syrup or fresh fruit and whipped cream.

Peter PanNext, it is time for a morning movie. The children can pick the DVD of their choice (preferably a long one), and pajamas, teddy bears, and blankets are a necessity.

I love the $5 rack of DVD’s at Target. There are many great movies that have been made that children today don’t even know about. As a teacher I can honestly recommend some tried and true winners. All are available on Amazon and are a great alternative to watching Frozen for the hundredth time.

  • Matilda
  • A Little Princess
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder!)
  • Holes
  • The Secret Garden
  • The Sandlot
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • The Tale of Desperaux
  • Peter Pan (2003 edition staring Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook and Mr. Darling)
  • Nanny McPhee
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Because of Winn Dixie (Dave Mathews is great eye candy for mom)
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Never Ending Story
  • Baby’s Day Out
  • And finally, Mary Poppins

Midday:

resized 600After a quick lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Annie’s Mac & Cheese, (It’s a snow day. Easy is the rule of the day.) it’s time to go outside. Snowballs, snow angles, and forts are ready for the making. If you have a teenager send him or her out to snow blow the driveway or help dig out the car.

Things to keep in mind:

*Everyone MUST go to the bathroom before putting on snow suits.

*A tissue needs to be shoved into coat pockets. Cold air means runny noses.

*Snow piles created by snow plows are totally big enough for little ones to slide down on a sled.

*Absolutely, under no circumstances, are children allowed to dig a cave into a giant snow mound.

To make playing in the snow more fun fill a spray bottle with water colored with food dye. Little ones can paint the snow while you are shoveling. If you have two water bottles make a red and a blue so the children can double spray and make purple!

hot chocolate2After snow play is the mandatory cups of hot chocolate. Any brand of hot chocolate will do. I like to fill the cups ½ full with hot water to dissolve the chocolate and then add cold milk to cool the cups down so the kids don’t have to whine that it is too hot or risk burning their mouths. Of course, marshmallows, whipped cream, and a dusting of cocoa powder make the hot chocolate seem all the more magical.

Around this time the children are ready for some quiet time. This is when I send each child to their own room to read books for about an hour. It will also give me a chance to clean up the kitchen and have a cup of tea. The bribery to get the children to do this is the promise of video games after quiet time. When Casey was too young to read but too old for a nap I used to insist on quiet time. This was simply him, in his room, playing quietly with toys. He’d play with Legos or his action figures, look at his books, or more often, look at the new Lego catalogs of all the things he wanted to get. I am a huge believer in children knowing how to self entertain.

Since it is a snow day, I will let the kids play video games for about two hours. I know a lot of moms will say that is too long, but as long as they got exercise outside, did a little reading, and have eaten lunch, why not let them have fun.

Other Activities to Fill the Day:

Board Games ~ Uno, Spot It, Trouble, Chutes and Ladders, and Scrabble

Make a movie ~ Let the kids dress up and make their own movie so when Dad gets home from work he can see what they did. I suggest putting your camera on a tripod so the children aren’t picking it up and possibly dropping it. Or let them make their own music video that they can share with grandma and extended family.

Arts & Crafts ~ If you are brave enough, you can let them paint with water colors. I admit I am not a “painting” kind of mom. I prefer Play dough. Yes, it crumbles and falls on the floor, but it will dry rock hard in about an hour and then can be swept up easily. I am all about the easy.

Build a Fort in the Living Room ~ Pull out the sofa cushions for walls, grab blankets for the roof, and turn chairs around to add structural support. Draw the blinds, turn off the lights and add flashlights to make it even better. The only rule is that everyone has to help put the room back together when play is done.

Bake Cookies ~ Just like the pancakes, assign tasks to different children and make a batch of your favorite cookies.

Roast Marshmallows ~ If you are lucky enough to have a fire place then it is time to pull out the left over marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate and toast them over the hearth. Even if the chocolate and graham crackers are long gone toasted marshmallows all by them selves are still yummy and fun to make.

Dinner Time:

This one is a no brainer! It is time to call the Pizza Deliver Guy and have him bring a hot pizza, bread sticks, and a big salad to your front door. It’s been a long day and it is time for mom to relax!

~Tina

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How I Got Rid of My Migraines

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How I got rid of migraines

For years I have had to avoid perfumes because they triggered debilitating migraines. I have gone to the ER several times because once the migraine began it refused to go away. The longest one I had was almost three weeks. I have had to actually send home students who came to school after playing in their parents perfume or, even worse, after shave cologne.

I clearly remember my mother scrubbing and cleaning every square inch of the house when I was a kid.  She loved Spic & Span for cleaning the floors and Formula 409 for washing the walls.  Next she would use Pledge furniture polish and make every wooden item in the house shine so that you could see your reflection on the surface.

In addition to that came several loads of towels and linens all washed with bleach and then hung outside to dry.  By the end of her spring or fall cleaning she would sit back and breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy her sanitized home.  I, on the other hand, would be in my bed in a pitch black room in agony from a headache so strong it would make me nauseous.

As I got older this reaction to strong smells never went away.  All those lovely smelling soaps and beauty products that women swoon over I can’t use.  The only scented candle I can tolerate is Macintosh Apple from the Yankee Candle Store.  Everything else will make me horribly sick.

When my youngest was born he often broke out in rashes.  I learned to use only Free & Clear Type detergents on his soft skin, but even then he would still break out, just to lesser degrees.

Then, about two years ago my oldest son started to have migraines too!  That really was the last straw for me.  I started to do a lot of research on fragrances, chemicals, and what the heck was really in the cleaning products, toothpaste, laundry detergent and body care products we were all using.

What I found out left me traumatized, and if you knew everything it would scare you too!  Suddenly, I understood why 1 out of every 6 couples is experiencing infertility issues.  Suddenly, I understood why ADHD seems to affect half of my class room every year.  Suddenly, I understood why every single adult I know takes a medication for some condition or illness.

I have since made a lot of changes in our house.  All kinds of new products showed up, some from Costco, some from the drug store, and some from The Honest Company.

Below are the new products that we have been using for almost two years now and they are all performing very well.

In the Laundry Room

Ecos

I love ECOS laundry detergent.  It is free of all toxic ingredients and scented only with essential oils (think aroma therapy).  It really does get our clothes clean with a tiny little amount.  I love that this item is sold in bulk size at Costco.  If you have read my previous posts you know we are Costco lovers here.  So I can do 210 loads of clothes for $12.99.  That is an amazing price.

If I am doing an extremely dirty load (grass stains and car oil) then I will toss in an Honest Oxy Boost.  Bye-bye stains.  I also buy the Honest Laundry 4 in 1 pods, but I mostly use those for going up north.  I toss a few pods in a sandwich bag and we are good to go.  I don’t have to worry about spills in the trunk.

In the Kitchen

kitchen sink

I love the Honest Dish Soap.  It cleans the dishes and the Grapefruit Oil does not cause a migraine.  Apparently my brain can handle real smells, just not chemically concocted ones.  I have the Honest Hand Soap as well.  At first my husband was not a fan of this hand soap. It is a low suds soap and took a bit of time to get used to but now he likes it just fine.

In the Bathroom

In the bathroom

It will probably surprise you to learn that I use the exact same products my kids use for the most part.  (Casey uses Tom’s of Maine Strawberry Toothpaste, I use Peppermint)

When it comes to oral care I love Tom’s of Maine.  The toothpastes are flavored with real mint extract and nothing else.  No dyes or artificial chemicals.  The same is true for the mouth wash which is minty but without the burn.

The sunscreen I apply every day is Babyganics SPF50.  Yes, I use baby sunscreen and it works perfectly on my pasty white easily burning skin.  The stick version goes on nice and even on top of my makeup without wiping my makeup off.

I use Honest Shampoo & Body Wash and Honest Conditioner on my hair.  They do a lovely job and because they are so gentle they don’t strip my hair color away.  After a shower I add a few drops of Honest Body Oil to a little bit of Honest Face and Body Lotion and rub it all in.  It leaves my skin feeling soft and dewy but not slimy or sticky.

I used to use Olay Daily Facial Clothes but have since switched to Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleaning Clothes.  I can’t tell a difference.  I am make-up free when I am done.

Gross fact~Did you know women eat about 7 pounds of lipstick over the course of a lifetime?  Since I can’t give up lipstick I like to use Burt’s Bees 100% natural Lip Shimmers.  Great color and totally non-toxic.  Top it off with a little gloss and you are date night ready.

When it comes to Antiperspirant I had to make a compromise.  I tried Tom’s of Maine Aluminum Free version and after two hours I stunk.  I can’t walk around being smelly, it just isn’t going to happen.  So I switched to Tom’s of Maine Naturally Dry Unscented.  It is free of all toxins EXCEPT aluminum.  No more pit sweat and no more stinky.

I hope this review of these products motivates you to try some of them and remove a bunch of chemicals from your home and life.

Also, since we made the switch there has been no rashes on Casey and AJ has had only two migraines in the past two years.

~Tina

If you have discovered great products please share below.  I love to learn about new products to try.

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How to Fake Clean Hair

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How to Fake Clean Hair

Let’s face it, once you become a mom, your personal grooming takes a hit. I remember when I had my first baby I could not for the life of me figure out when I was supposed to take a shower.

If I am supposed to sleep when the baby slept, then I couldn’t take a shower. But then once the baby woke up it was feeding, diapering, burping, etc., so I still wasn’t showering. I finally figured out to put the baby in the bouncy and take a shower with the baby in the bathroom. Of course my mommy fatigued brain took a week or so to come to up with that idea. I was becoming rather ripe if I do say so myself.

Then comes baby two, and your job, and the housework, and after school activities. I have learned to take a speed shower once the boys are in bed for the night since I don’t have time in the morning. But my hair is another story. Because my hair is fine I can’t wash it daily because it will break and fall out. So I only have to wash it twice a week. How hard can that be? No, you don’t have to answer that question because you already know the answer.

My hair is good for three days, but by day four it gets flat. By day five it pretty much looks awful. So how does a working mommy go to work when her hair looks like a matted down birds nest? Through trial and error I have honestly figured this one out.

Because I can’t afford Botox I grew myself some bangs years ago. The first step to faking clean hair is to wash out JUST your bangs. This requires a rain drop sized amount of shampoo and you hunched over the sink and in about 15 seconds wet, suds, and rinse your bangs. Be very careful NOT to get the rest of your hair wet. Squeeze out the water with your fingers and then use a round brush and your dryer to blow them out so they are dry, clean and fluffy. This whole process is done in under a minute, seriously.

Rockaholic Dirty Secret 2

Since your bangs are front and center on your face it’s the first thing people see, and you can’t fake clean hair with greasy, stringy bangs.

Next I love Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo. I am allergic to most perfumes but the citrus fragrance of this one is subtle and fresh smelling. Shake the can a few times and then separate hair into big chunks and spray the dry shampoo right on the root area. A quick sprits here and there will do. Then use your fingers and gently massage scalp and hair and work it through.

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To finish my fake “blowout” I love to use my 1 ½ inch curling iron.

under-curls

I lift the top half of my hair up on to the top of my head and secure it with a clip. Then I curl the bottom layer under in four big chunks for about 5 second each.

side-curls

Next I drop the sides and in two big rolls of the curling iron and five seconds each they are now straight and curled under at the ends. I still have the rest of my hair clipped to the crown of my head to keep it out of the way.

Once the sides are down all that’s left is the crown of my head.  I take out the clip and let it all fall forward. Then it gets rolled into three large sections going away from my face so the layers hang away from my face.  If you want your layers to frame your face roll your crown forward instead of back.

crown-curl-1crown-curls-2 crown-curls-3

That comes to nine curls in all each about 5 seconds. Run a brush through it all and you are ready to go!

done

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Breakfast Banana Split Sundaes

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Breakfast Banana Split Sundeas

What child doesn’t want to have dessert for breakfast? With just a few simple ingredients and a little presentation they can!

DSC_7108aMy boys love the Fage Fruyo Vanilla Greek Yogurt. It is incredibly thick and rich and filled with vanilla bean. It makes a great base for all kinds of breakfast combinations and even night time treats.

Simply fill a sundae glass up with the yogurt.

DSC_7111a

Casey loves to help me in the kitchen so he was on banana slicing duty this morning.

DSC_7114aFor toppings we added the sliced bananas, fresh blueberries, and granola with flaxseeds. A tiny drizzle of chocolate syrup topped it all off and ramped up the fun factor. A drizzle of chocolate syrup will usually win over even the pickiest of eaters. Plus they never need to know that they are actually eating a breakfast filled with protein, potassium, calcium, anti-oxidants, and omega 3’s.

DSC_7115b

Breakfast was a hit!

~Tina

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Taking Care of Mom: So Mom Can Take Care of Everyone Else

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Taking Care of Mom

It is no secret we are all busy and tired.  If you are a mom with or without a forty hour a week job you are exhausted.  If you are like me, you are only getting about six hours of sleep a night…on a good night!  If you are like me, you are only getting about four of those so called good nights a week at most.  What can we do to cope with our sleep loss?  What can we do to keep up with the demands our busy lives? How do we take care of ourselves so we have the energy to take care of everyone else?

Here you will find a list of things that has helped me to make it through the day.  Hopefully some of these will help you too!

Get as Much Rest as Possible:

I know what you are thinking.  Duh!  If I were getting enough rest already I wouldn’t be wasting my time reading this blog.  But are you really getting the most rest that you can?

Stop drinking caffeine around noon.  I know this is a hard one, but I recently gave up all my caffeine drinks after lunch time and I have noticed a difference.  My brain seems to quiet down faster once I go to bed at night instead of replaying the day over and over or worrying about all the things I need to do the next day

Take a melatonin supplement with dinner.  Melatonin doesn’t work like a sleeping pill, and it is all natural so you don’t have to worry about dependency.  However, it does take several hours to kick in so if you take it at bedtime it will be too late.

Consider buying a white noise machine or downloading an App.  I have an actual white noise maker in my room but it is too loud for my husband.  Instead I use the App “Relax Melodies” which is free through the iTunes App Store.  I set it on my bedside table on a volume that is just loud enough for me and it works great.  The two sounds I use each night are Thunder and Oscillating Fan.  For me just the sound of my husband breathing is enough to keep me awake at night, not to mention every time one of my boys cough, sneeze, or talk in their sleep.  I just don’t need to hear all that.  So a white noise machine blocks those sounds out for me.  Now if I can just find a way to block his snoring.

Take Care of Yourself:

I know you hear this one all the time too, and trust me I have rolled my eyes more than once by some of the helpful articles I have read.  Here is the truth, I don’t have time to cook from scratch daily.  I don’t have time to buy fresh produce every couple of days.  I can’t afford to buy 100% organic all the time.  Sometimes I don’t feel like cooking AGAIN!  And exercise! Hah!  Screw that.  However…

Probiotics are our friends.  I love all those little active bugs.  They keep things on track.  I have been eating Greek yogurt for years, but recently I added Naked Juice to my morning breakfast and I buy the ones that are Boosted with Probiotics.  Both of my boys just had colds with fevers.  Usually I catch everything they get.  Not this time.  I was shocked.  My class has had some kind of bug running back and forth through it and I have yet to catch it.  I am giving full credit to my Boosted Naked Juice along with my Greek yogurt.

Turn on the music and turn it on loud.  It just happens.  Before you know it you are tapping your toes, shaking your rear, and bopping along.  As far as I am concerned any movement is good movement, even if it is just my bad dancing.  Plus loud music will help to drown out your children’s whining.

Take your vitamins.  Many vitamins actually make me sick because the doses are too strong for my system, but I love my Flintstones with Iron.  It is just enough to stop my anemia (which is a side effect of my Rheumatoid Arthritis) but not make me positively ill.  Even better, toss in a Krill Oil supplement.  All the benefits of fish oil but no yucky fish burps!!

Stick a banana or an apple or a Kind Bar in your purse when you leave the house.  It helps you to avoid a quick pop-in to the drive thru or shove a candy treat in your mouth.  If you are PMSing, though, just eat the chocolate and call it a day.

Drink lots of water.  I have learned from experience that it is really easy to confuse dehydration for exhaustion.  I keep a refillable water bottle on my desk at all times and I never leave the house without one.

Get Yourself the Right Tools:

Dry Shampoo!  Seriously, I don’t know how I ever lived without this stuff.  I used to use my Treseme all the time but recently I discovered Bed Head’s Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo.  OMG!  This stuff is amazing.  I use it on clean hair to add volume and texture as well as on three day old hair to keep it fresh and looking good.

Concealer.  I love the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser.  It is a great little product that is super cheap and super effective, and it fights fine lines.  I actually buy two shades of this.  I use the one called Brightener for highlighting and then Light Pale to cover any imperfections.  The little sponge applicators make using it a piece of cake.

A small emergency kit for your purse.  I used to carry my PAK with me where ever I went but there is no denying that the PAK is rather large since I had purchased the original version.  Then one day I found the perfect replacement.  Pinch Provisions make a tiny little bag that fits in the size of your palm filled with mini-emergency items for her.  I then took a couple of their items out that I don’t really use and swapped them for items I need all the time, like my eye drops and nail clippers. It’s perfect for the busy mom on the go!

Eye serum and face cream.  I use Olay Regenerist Serum and Roc Retinol for my day and night moisturizer.  Whether you have wrinkles or not that stuff works incredibly well and I am a big believer that it is never too early to start.  Life is rough.  Life is exhausting, and all those sleepless nights and times spent worrying over one problem or another will begin to show up on your face.

So there you are.  My attempt to share a little knowledge gathered from forty years of life experience and time spent being really, really tired and still having to go to work.  Let me know if any of this advice helps you.  It’s nice to know I am not just talking to myself.  Also, if you have any great suggestions please share!

~Tina

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How to Save Your Clothes From Set In Grease Stains

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How to Save Your Clothes

It’s amazing really. I own three aprons. Yes, really, three, and do I ever remember to use then when I am cooking? No, not really. So it should come as no surprise that I am always getting grease spots on my clothes from cooking, or the occasional dropping of a meatball down the front of my shirt.

Further, I switched to strictly organic laundry products a couple of years ago because of sensitivity issues for both myself and my youngest. I love my Ecos and Honest laundry products for daily washing, but I can’t lie, quite often the products aren’t strong enough to remove set in grease. So, I was intrigued when my sister shared with me her results from using Dawn dish soap on spots, a trick she picked up from Pinterest.

I decided to try it out on two of my favorite knit tops that I used to wear all the time but were now no longer usable for work because the stains were too obvious.

spots 2 spots 1

It was incredibly easy.  All I had to do was pour the Dawn right on to the stains and let it sit for about ten minutes. Then I used the kitchen brush to give each stain a quick scrub. I only took the brush back and forth about five or six times because I didn’t want to damage the fabric.

Dawn scrub

After that I tossed the shirts into the machine with some other items that needed a wash along with a bit of Ecos detergent. After they tumbled dry I pulled them out and searched for the stains.  I was really happy with the result. The stains are about 95% gone.  You have to be looking for them to actually spot them. So now instead of having two shirts for the Salvation Army I now have two shirts that are back in my closet and ready to be worn to work.

It worked 2 It worked

I have since worn these shirts and I can say that I did not have a reaction from the Dawn dish soap. The amount needed to remove the stains wasn’t enough to make my clothes give me a reaction. However, if you think you might have a reaction from the Dawn I would recommend rinsing some of the soap out of the garments after it soaks and then wash as usual.

Hope this tip helps save your laundry as it has mine.

~Tina

Time Saving Strategies for Busy Moms

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Time Saving Strategies

Over the years I have learned many coping strategies to survive being a working mom.  Little tricks to survive the rush, stay organized, and not completely lose my mind.  Below are some of the tried and true daily actions that make life a bit easier.

1. Do One Load of Laundry Everyday

cropped laundryI don’t know about your house, but in mine laundry multiplies faster than bunny rabbits.  Between school clothes, gym clothes, baseball uniforms, a husband who wears one outfit to work and then a different one to relax in at home, and four people taking baths or showers in the evening, laundry piles up ridiculously fast.  My trick for surviving this mountain of smelly and stained clothing and linens is to do a load every single day.  In the morning before I go to work I quickly toss one load in the machine.  I have been doing this for so long now that I can seriously grab dirty clothes, load the washing machine and throw in some detergent and fabric softener in under three minutes.  If I miss an item of clothing, no big deal, since I will just get it next time.  This way I leave the house and my washer is working even when I am not there.

2.  Turn on the Dishwasher Before Going to Work

This is similar to the laundry.  I love knowing my machines are cleaning away as I drive to work AJ dishessipping my tea.  As soon as the last breakfast dish is loaded I toss in a Cascade pack and turn it on.  As for emptying, my oldest son now has that lovely task.  His chore as soon as he gets home is to empty the dishwasher so I will have all the kitchen tools I will need to prepare that night’s dinner.  Plus, doing it this way means the dishwasher is empty and ready to be filled with dinner dishes, pots and pans.  I hate cooking dinner only to find out the dishwasher is still full of clean dishes, or even worse, full of dirty dishes!

3.  Get a Planner

My life would fall apart very quickly without my daily planner.  I have everything in there; to do lists, appointments, the children’s activities, work obligations, even what’s for dinner. I personally use a planner that shows me a month at a glance and the weekly pages.  Also, don’t forget to compare your planner to your husband’s planner if he has one.  This will prevent accidentally double booking plans.

4. Facial Cleansing Cloths

After a full day of teaching, parenting, cooking, grading papers, and dealing with whatever crisis has arisen, I am practically dead on my feet come bedtime.  For years I went to bed with my makeup still on.  I was just too tired to care that my pillow the next morning was covered in mascara.  I would washed my face every morning and applied new makeup.  Then one day at Target I picked up a pack of make-up removing clothes.  I have been purchasing them ever since.  Now at bedtime I grab my adult version of a baby wipes and in about 10 seconds I am makeup free and there are no more black smudges on my pillow case.

5.  Buy Each Child Their Own Monday-Sunday Hanging Cubby

You can get them at IKEA, or order them from Amazon.  You hang it in the closet, and then every Sunday I stuff the cubbies with pants, shirts, underwear, and socks.  I take care of my seven years old and I did my other son’s for years, but he is now old enough to do it himself.  Every Sunday I check to make sure he has filled each cubby with needed items.  If certain days require school spirit T-shirts or you have to wear a school color just stick it in the cubby for the day of the week it is needed.  This trick saves tons of time in the morning.  No looking for lost shirts, no squandering time deciding that days fashion choices.  Just grab and go!

6.  Lay Out Your Own Clothes Each Night

You have probably heard this one before, but it is true.  Each night I pick my complete outfit, shoes, socks, and accessories before I go to bed.  I check the weather to see if I need my water proof coat or if I can wear my wool coat.

7.  Buy Black Pants…Lots of Them

I own 7 pairs of black pants.  Seriously.  I have some awesome jeans but I can’t wear them to work.  I have other kinds of pants but teaching children all day who use dry erase markers for assignments and are sticky from lunch time inevitably means spots and marker blotches on them.  I wear black pants to work pretty much every day.  I wear all kinds of colors when it comes to my shirts and sweaters, especially jewel tones like red, purple, and emerald.  I love my leopard ballet flats, my sandals, and my black ankle boots.  I love scarfs and toss one around my neck all the time.  But, ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am almost always in black pants.  It’s just my thing and it makes putting outfits together so much easier and for my busy mom lifestyle it works.

8.  Deal with the Mail as Soon as it Arrives

Sometimes I feel like mail and paper are the bane of my existence.  I hate junk mail.  I hate bills.  I hate catalogs that just tempt me into buying things I don’t need.  I have gone to websites to try to stop it, but since I do a lot of online shopping for the sake of convenience I get massive amounts of catalogs, fliers, and advertisements.  I have learned to deal with the mail on the spot or it quickly consumes my counter top.  I don’t even bring the catalogs in the house.  My recycling bin is in the garage and I go through the garage to get to the mail box.  Before entering the house ALL items of junk mail, or items that could lead me into making unwise spontaneous purchases (Pottery Barn, J. Jill, and Land’s End) are placed in the recycling bin.  Once in the house bills are sorted and put into a folder marked bills. Other items that need to be dealt with are placed in their own folder for when I have the time to sit down and address them.  In the end there is no mail left on the counter top.  I do the same with the boy’s book bags and notes home from school.  If a note comes home about an activity it is put on the calendar with any directions we need and the papers tossed in the recycling bin.  Fliers for things we don’t plan to do go in the bin or get used as kindling for the fireplace.

9.  Accept the Fact that Your Kids are Going to Watch TV

I know a lot of moms like to brag that their kids never watch TV.  Good for them.  Mine do.   After school the boys do their homework at the kitchen table, but once they finish they are allowed to turn on cartoons.  This is how I manage to cook dinner and fold laundry.  Otherwise my children would want my attention every five seconds and I would get absolutely nothing done.  The TV goes off as soon as dinner is on the table, and from then on we limit screen time, but I am pretty sure watching some TV will not completely fry my children’s brains, and it helps to save my own sanity as well.

10.  Use Your Grocery Store Sales Paper to Plan a Week of Meals

Each week I look at my store sales paper to see what items are on sale.  I clip whatever coupons I need, and then decide what I will be cooking for the next several days, or if possible the week ahead.  Tuesday is piano practice so no time to cook, which means Monday’s dinner must be a double batch so we will have leftovers.  Friday is T-ball so Thursday’s dinner needs to be a double batch.  Just a little bit of planning can save a lot of time.  I hate coming home and everything is frozen and I have no clue what to cook.  I’m not saying that never happens, it does, but I try to have a plan so we eat healthy as much as possible and I’m not stressing out.