Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Crock Pot to the Rescue!

The last week has been exhausting to say the least. My husband had a wedding video shoot back in my home town (4 hours south) over Mother's Day weekend so we decided to make a mini trip out of it and spend Mother's Day with his mom and family. Unfortunately my husband got sick with some sort of crud so the trip was a bit wearing on him and then I got hit with something. Sigh. As soon as we got back home baby Chase went on a teething rampage plus fever. It never ends, but I know you all know that!

So what does one do to make life a bit easier? Well, I've taken my advice from this post and went double time with my crock pot. This morning I whipped up these pinto beans in one crock pot. I made a few adjustments of my own. I added fresh cilantro and two Knorr Chicken Bouillon cubes and I didn't add the jalapeƱo or cumin as suggested. In the second crock pot I put together a Chicken Enchilada Casserole. We had both of these for dinner tonight and they turned out great. My daughter who eats slower than molasses cleaned out her plate in a matter of minutes and even said, "Mommy you cooked good today!" Score!

Once I cleaned up dinner I went back to throwing a few things together so I could have a bit of breathing room tomorrow. In one crock pot I added a pork butt roast with some BBQ sauce. I'm making a double batch of pulled pork sandwiches. This will be for dinner tomorrow for the family and I'm also taking some to a friend who just had a baby. For breakfast in the morning I'm going to sit back and relax and let the slow cooker do the work with this oatmeal recipe here

Just writing this post made me tired! Off to bed I go! Hope you all have a good week and I hope you enjoyed the Efficient Mom Series. If you've missed it catch up by starting off here.
Sophia on Mother's Day.

Jack enjoying some swim time with our good friend Stephanie.

Had an early birthday celebration for Chase with Grandma & Grandpa!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's Day Tribute

At this time last year I was spending Mother’s Day with my beautiful mother. You see just a few weeks before that I went into pre-term labor with my third child. I was still living in the Rio Grande Valley and mom was living in San Antonio. We could sense it. Baby Chase’s arrival was near. Mom couldn’t bear the fact that I was in pain and she lived four hours away. 

My mom, she’s the best. Honestly this post is probably the hardest one I’ve written thus far. It’s hard because there aren’t any words that will ever truly suffice my deep gratitude for this woman. Stringing out sentences don’t come easily when you’re seeking perfection because that’s what she deserves.

 My mother is a warrior. My dad worked long hours so most days she raised five children on her own. She is selfless. Our needs were always before hers I can’t think of one moment where it was the other way around. 

My mother is graceful. Her words bring comfort and her hands extend love. She is one of a kind. She listens well. Her heart is big. 

Mom, you are truly my best friend. Everyday I wish to honor you but this weekend I want the world to meet you, the person behind the woman I am today. I am so grateful God chose you to be my mother. I love you mom, Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Efficient Mom Series: Out the Door in a Snap!

I hate being late. If I have a scheduled appointment or playdate that requires me to be out the door bright and early I have a game plan the night before that pretty much sets me up for success the following day. Here are a few tips to be more efficient in the mornings if you need to get out the door in a snap.

1. Set aside clothes the night before
Make sure to pick out a set of clothes for each child along with undergarments, socks, and shoes that way you aren’t hustling in the morning. If your child is old enough to dress themselves this makes it easier for them too. Mom, don’t forget to think through your outfit too!

2. Pack up all your essentials the night before
This really depends on the ages of your children, but if you have little ones like me pack the diaper bag before going to bed. Because you can never be too prepared I like to pack a thermal tote with snacks, fruit, and a water bottle for each child. Pack it all up and leave it in the fridge. If you think you might forget write out a note by your purse so you won’t leave it in the fridge. 

3. Think through breakfast
If you don’t want grumpy children then don’t make breakfast an after thought. You can either do something quick and easy like cereal or throw together oatmeal in the crock pot the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning. Not a fan of oatmeal? You can whip up some pancake batter or muffin batter the night before so all you have to do is cook it. 

4. Gas up
One of my pet peeves is having to stop for gas when I’m in a hurry. If you know you’re running low on gas get it taken care of the night before so it’s one last thing you have to worry about.

5. Wake up early
I’m so much more pleasant in the morning when I’ve showered, put my makeup on, and have dressed myself all before the children are awake. It may require you getting up an hour earlier than usual but at least you can just focus on the kids and drinking your cup of coffee.  

It’s not that complicated. The whole process just requires a bit of thinking and planning so you are out the door without any headaches.  Good luck mommies and may the force be with you!
One of the many reasons I have to be prepared before
heading out, my little crazy munchkins! By the way
I'm in love with this three seater cart I found at Walmart!

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Efficient Mom Series: The Crockpot Investment

In my mind one of the greatest tools for a busy mom is the crock pot. Unless you just love to cook and the process that goes with it having a crock pot can save you so much time! I’m the primary cook in my home so I’m always trying to find ways to save my sanity in the kitchen. Today I want to share with you five ways utilizing the crock pot can be your best friend.

1. Search Pinterest for ideas
The Internet is just saturated with crock pot recipes especially Pinterest. Don’t spend money on cookbooks just search online and you’ll be surprised by all the goodness you'll find. If you don’t already have one make sure to create a Pinterest Board just for your crock pot cooking!

2. Make a Meal Plan and Grocery List
Before you just head to the grocery store in hopes ideas will come to you take time to plan out at least a weeks worth of meals. Use variety for crowd pleasing results. Don’t just make every meal a chicken meal there are soups, beef recipes, pasta, and the list goes on. You can use good old fashion paper and pen to write it all out or you can use apps like these ones here
3. Purchase two crock pots
This is not necessary but in the long run it can be a wonderful investment especially if you have a large family. There are so many sizes, styles, and features of crock pots on the market. I own two crock pots. One is plain and simple with just a Low and High setting that I purchased at HEB for $25 and the other one has the bells and whistles with it’s own timer that cost me about $40. What I love about owning two crock pots is one can be used for the main dish and the other for a side dish. 

4. Make Crock pot Cooking a Challenge
Sometimes I need a little push. One way I challenge myself is by seeing how I can make all my dinners with just a crock pot. 

5. Be Creative
If saving you time by using a crock pot isn’t enough to motivate you be creative with it by gathering a mom or two and doing a crock pot meal swap. This will not only encourage creativity but give you some variety. You can also make double the portion and freeze it for a future meal.

Don’t let that crock pot just sit in your kitchen cabinet. It’s a wonderful tool for the efficient mom and can most definitely save you some money. If you have no idea where to begin I've ended this post with a week's worth of crock pot recipes that are some of my family's favorite to help give you a head start. Make sure to visit my Pinterest Board for more ideas.  Catch a shorter version of this post here. Enjoy!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Five Fun Facts on Friday

In light of my new blog series: The Efficient Mom, here are Five Fun Facts and tips for the busy mom! I love how they each have 5 Tips!

Happy Friday Friends! Oh, and stay tuned next week for more on The Efficient Mom Series!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Efficient Mom Series: Snack Time

One of the most precious gifts we are given is time. There are certain areas of my life that I’ve done a pretty bad job of managing my time, but in most cases I’m always looking for ways to do better. As a mom, wife, cook, maid, taxi driver, volunteer, daughter, sister, pet owner and blogger (I’m sure I’m missing something) not managing my time well could lead to a hiccup in my daily routine. Hiccups will happen that’s life but I like to be prepared, if possible, for when those days come. 

Without fail, my kids want a snack when they wake up from their nap…and at least once in the morning after breakfast and once more before bed. It may not sound like a big deal but it can actually be quite annoying when you don’t have an idea in mind or anything on hand. Pre-packaged snacks may save you a bit of a headache but it won’t save you money!

I came across this inspiring blog post that gave me the motivation I needed to get some fresh ideas with a bit of organization. 

Within 30 minutes I had a refrigerator full of snacks and a pantry basket topped with a variety of snacks to choose from. Magic! 

Here’s a list of the snacks I made. You can find more snack ideas like the ones below by visiting here. I didn't follow the exact list of ingredients that are mentioned on that link because I wanted to utilize items I had in my pantry. You'll see an * by the ingredient where I made a substitute. 

Smores in a cup

*1/4 cup Graham Crackers
1/4 cup Small Marshmallows
1/4 cup Chocolate Graham Cracker Goldfish ($1.67)
Crunchy Bites
1/4 cup Whole Grain Goldfish ($1.67)
1/4 cup Pretzel Sticks ($1.48)
1/4 cup Nuts 
Strawberry Shortcake Bites
1/4 cup Strawberry Fruit Snacks ($2.25)
1/4 cup Mini Nilla wafers ($3.18)
Berry Trio
*1/4 cup grapes
1/4 cup blueberries ($4.48)
1/4 cup raspberries ($2.98)
Protein Pack
1/4 cup cheese squares ($2.50)
*beef snack bites ($3.98)
*whole grain Gold Fish 
Spring Garden Blend
3 to 4 Cherry Tomatoes ($2.94)
3 to 4 Sugar Snap Peas ($2.74)
3 to 4 Baby Carrots ($1.78)
1/4 cup of Ranch Dressing

I already had a few of the Gladware Mini Rounds so I only bought one package of 6 ($2.57). I also purchased a box of the Ziploc Snack Bags 100 count ($2.86). I already had the Ziploc divided lunch containers. I just love these because they are great for picnics or days at the park. I used the Ziploc snack bags for just about everything except the Protein Pack. For that recipe I used the Glad round containers. 

Once again, use what you have and do what's best for your wallet! On top of all of that I did purchase a bag of the little oranges ($3.98). If you don't see a price beside an item it's because I already had it at home.  I purchased all of these ingredients and packaging items for a total of $41.06 on April 21st and put it together that day and I still have snacks on hand! This by far as been the best solution to having snacks ready and on hand. The price may seem outrages but I'm pretty sure I have at least 2 more weeks worth of snacks. So when you figure $40 for a month of snacks for 3 snacks a day...yeah I think it's worth it. 

Any efficient moms out there? What are your snack solutions and ideas???