Tips for a Sensory Friendly Halloween

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Halloween can be overwhelming to anyone with sensory processing disorder (SPD). If you haven’t heard of this particular disorder before, you are not alone. Most people do not know what it is until their own child is diagnosed. The difficulty is that even with a diagnosis, you as a parent may struggle to understand your child’s sensory triggers.

According to the website Understood.org, children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) “may be oversensitive or undersensitive to the world around them. When the brain receives information, it gives meaning to even the smallest bits of information. Keeping all that information organized and responding appropriately is challenging for them.”

Some kids never notice the feeling of a tag inside their shirt, or the seam inside their socks. But there are kids who are so distracted by this sensation that they can cry or scream, or even become aggressive. One in twenty children live with some varying degree of sensory processing disorder. Navigating daily life can be a struggle, let alone while wearing an itchy costume in a crowded, loud setting.

After speaking with other moms whose kiddos have SPD, I can share some really great tips. The most important thing is, do not force your child beyond their limits. Halloween activities are for their enjoyment and it is OK to let them enjoy activities in their own way. If your child can only handle wearing a small piece of their costume, or no costume at all, let that be enough.

PRO MOM TIPS

  • Select a costume that is mask free, or does not require face paint.
  • Let your kids use their own familiar clothing as part of their costume to help them enjoy dressing up.
  • For kids with auditory sensory issues, using noise cancelling headphones works great.
  • For kids who are sensitive to bright lights, start your trick or treat night as early as possible and take advantage of the day light.
  • If your child tires easily map out a short route, or bring along a wagon to let them take a break. And again, it’s OK if you cut your time short and head back home early.
  • Skip the costumes and make your kiddo feel included with fun family coordinated themed set of t-shirts. Use a small, personalization business like Mom Squad Creations to print up your matching shirts and you’ll be ready to head out together.

PRO TIPS

  • Avoid a meltdown by keeping your child informed of timing of events.
  • Host a small gathering in your home for your child’s comfort.
  • Trick or treat on streets with sidewalks to lesson anxiety.
  • Get creative in how your child participates. Nothing is set in stone. Instead of bobbing for apples, maybe your child can stack apples in a bucket.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Being a parent of a child with sensory issues can feel overwhelming, but imagine being the child who is struggling to process so much sensory information at once. It can provoke a lot of anxiety not knowing what is happening next.
  • Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Gina Bergdall suggests allowing your child to carry a fidget toy. This will allow them a constructive “place to focus their anxiety on.” Bergdall also shares these tips provided by the American Occupational Therapy Association. 
  • Pick only a few places to trick or treat and review that plan with your child before hand so they know what to expect.

If your child is overly sensitive to crowds or noises, there are no rules mandating they go trick or treating. You can make some really amazing traditions right at home. Bake and decorate treats, have a fun meal together, or make some popcorn and settle in for a movie. There is no wrong way to participate in Halloween! 

If this Halloween looks different than the way other families are celebrating, that’s OK. Embrace your unique traditions! If your child is comfortable at home watching Halloween specials and eating popcorn, join them! Deciding to follow their lead helps them feel capable and less stressed.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. Her spookiest Halloween decoration is an empty coffee pot. *shudder*

Get Ready for the Tooth Fairy with These Easy DIY Tooth Fairy Giving Bags

diytooth-fairy-bags
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Would you believe me if I told you that I used to work as a craft blogger? True story! Someone paid me to share the really lazy crafts I made each week with my kids. Turns out moms want easy crafts, preferably without glitter. And there are some moms who can’t resist a cute DIY.

I shared in my moms only group this week that I use these simple little DIY baggies to automate our tooth fairy giving. I made six at once and I keep 4 of the baggies pre-filled at all times so the tooth fairy never misses a stop! The other 2 bags I leave empty, one for each kiddo to collect their fallen teeth and leave under the pillow. Once they are asleep, I just swap out for the pre-filled baggie.

This system has worked for me for several years. It especially came in handy during the COVID quarantine when businesses closed. I couldn’t get the usual chocolate coins, or the gold dollar coin our tooth fairy traditionally leaves behind. Thankfully, I was already ahead of myself with this easy system. You can read my original post here, or scroll below for the step by step directions.

tooth-fairy-bags

Here’s what you’ll need: (Makes 4 bags)

6 Medium organza gift bags (you can find at the dollar store)

1 Piece of white felt

Download a tooth shape to trace

12 Googly eyes

School glue

8 inches of string or yarn

Wax paper

*Optional pink paint for rosy cheeks

I found the tooth shape online and printed it out to trace and cut the felt shapes for all six bags.

To make the face, I cut the string into two inch pieces and glued to the felt, next I glued on the eyes. If you’d like cute little pink cheeks, dip a pencil eraser, small dowel, or the end of a round paint brush  (whatever you have on hand) into the pink paint and apply at the ends of the smile. Allow time for the glue to dry before attaching the tooth shape to the bag.

Since you are working with an organza bag the glue will seep through and make a mess. If you cut a small square of wax paper to fit inside the bag it will keep the glue from sealing the bag closed.

Begin by inserting the wax paper into the bag before applying the felt shaped tooth. Once the tooth is on the baggie, wait a few minutes before removing the wax paper. Then, hang the open bag to dry. You can leave it at the end of a chopstick, a pencil or paint brush to keep the bag open while it dries. Allow the glue to dry overnight and before filling with treats.

We fill our bags with one gold dollar coin and five chocolate coins. Nothing fancy. I have heard of parents giving their kids $5 per tooth, or $20 for the first tooth and some parents put together an entire basket of gifts. Whatever works. I just know that having twins means double the magic and double the tooth fairy money. So keeping some pre-filled bags between payouts means I won’t be caught off guard the night a tooth falls out.

Do you go all out for the tooth fairy, or do you keep it simple?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She likes to keep expectations low by avoiding craft projects that involve any real crafting. Follow along with her daily posts on Facebook.

6 Easy Trick or Treat Alternatives

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This year, trick or treat may look and feel a bit different. Many parents are rethinking ways to enjoy the candy filled spooky season without creating a super spreader event. Even my own family is working on a COVID friendly treat distribution. But, what if you aren’t totally feeling the traditional walking door to door for candy?

Here are 6 easy alternatives to trick our treating:

CANDY HUNT

Make the kids work a little harder this year for their stash of candy. Hide some clues around the back yard that will lead them to a mega trove of treats.

GLOW IN THE DARK CANDY HUNT

Put a few treats in a clear bag and add in one glow stick. Hide the treat bags in the back yard after dark (or around the house and turn off the lights). Turn on the spooky sounds and let the kids follow the light for their Halloween sweets.

DRIVE BY TRICK OR TREAT

This is especially great if you live in a more remote area and normally do not get a lot of trick or treaters. Set up a table of pre-packaged, store bought treats and invite your friends to drive by to pick up a treat from you personally. It’s like the birthday parades that were fashionable in the spring, only everyone else gets a take home treat.

HOLIDAY DRIVE BY

If trick or treat is completely banned in your area, you can provide a little eye candy for passersby. Decorate the yard with lights and spooky décor. Encourage folks to drive by to take in the sights.

HOST A VIRTUAL PARTY

If social distance is keeping you apart from friends and loved ones, dial up a Zoom conference to create a virtual Halloween party! Put together a fun “scare package” of crafts and treats to drop off at someone’s door before meeting on Zoom. Then, kids can show off their costumes, craft together and turn up some Halloween tunes for a dance off.

HOST A SOCIALLY DISTANT PARTY

If you have a yard or park area large enough for kids to stay spread out and stay at a healthy distance away from each other, there’s no harm in hosting. Keep it small, encourage masks and hand out prepackaged treats. It’s really smart to stay cautious, so no one will hold it against you if you take temps or offer hand sanitizer at the event. A lot of kids are struggling right now without in-person social connections. This will definitely keep the traditional Halloween fun alive and give kids a little boost of joy.

Are you changing the way you trick or treat on Halloween? I’d love to know how!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She writes about the challenges in her motherhood, like how to keep her kids at a socially acceptable distance while trying to work from home.

Halloween Recipe Round up

Halloween is a fun tradition for many families, including my own. My kids are always excited to show off their costumes to our closest neighbors and spend time walking door to door with their friends. But before we head out, I want to make sure their tummies are full and they have enough energy to make it through the neighborhood.

I’ve rounded up some of our quickest and most favorite Halloween dinner ideas. When my kids were just toddlers, these fun recipes were also a fun holiday themed activity and eating our creepy morsels was part of the fun.

MUMMY DOGS from Home Made Interest are super easy and super fun!

Mummy Dogs is an easy Halloween recipe

MUMMY PIZZA from “Cents”able Mama uses store bought ingredients to make this fun dinner fast!

BAKED QUESADILLAS from That Fit Fam are perfect for your little cheese lover! Serve with some carrot sticks or an apple sauce pouch for a quick meal before heading out the door.

Halloween shaped baked quesadillas

SWEET AND SOUR BAT WINGS from Sprinkles and Sprouts. How spooky are these?? Marinate overnight in the fridge and put in the oven in time for your pre-treat dinner.

close up on the wing tip of a black chicken wing on a grey plate

If you have time to make all of these at once you’ll have a variety of fun things to offer the kids before heading out for candy. We usually don’t serve a dessert since we know we are going to eat a bunch of candy as soon as we get home. Happy treating!

What’s your favorite Halloween recipe to make?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, blogger and freelance writer. She spends most of her time making food her kids won’t eat and fantasizing about how a beach vacation where naps are required. You can find her at The Whatever Mom on Facebook and on Instagram. For more recipe ideas, follow her on Pinterest.

Creating a Healthy Home Fragrance for Fall

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Before kids I had a major candle addiction that typically peaked as the Fall season began. I love all the scents of autumn and anything with a warm cinnamon or a hearty clove smell had to be in my collection. Those famous little spices warm my home and soul as the temperature begins to drop. Once I had babies, I learned how unhealthy burning candles can be for indoor air quality, not to mention how anxious I felt leaving an open flame for tiny exploring hands to find. Since then, I’ve discovered healthier ways to bring those seasonal scents into my home without all the toxins and worry.

Here are my favorite ways to bring the smell off fall safely into my home:

Oil diffuse

ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSER

You can use an electric oil diffuser without any worry of heat, flame or burning. Simply fill the with water and add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil. One of my favorites to diffuse during the fall and winter months is Germ Away Organic Essential Oil Blend by Three Sister’s Herbals. The antiviral properties of thieves oil help purify the air and won’t leave behind toxic chemicals. Plus, it is made with clove and cinnamon, two traditional fall scents. I also love to use it in my ceramic wax warmer. I add one TBSP of coconut oil ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 5-10 drops of Germ Away Oil. The light of the tealight candle adds ambiance and warmth as it diffuses the protective elements of thieves oil into the air. You can use this same recipe in an electric wax warmer to avoid the open flame around little ones. Be sure to keep it far enough out of reach the kiddos can’t pull it down.

I also use the Germ Away Hand and Surface Essential Oil spray to wipe down high touch surfaces like light switches, doorknobs, faucet handles and countertops. It safely adds a scent of fall to my home while keeping germs at bay. And because it safe to use around babies and animals, I can hand this job off to one of the kiddos without any worries.

LIGHT A FIRE

Nothing feels warmer or more soothing in the fall than a crackling fire. Unfortunately, I do not have a fireplace in my home, but I have found a way to recreate the scent and feel of a warm fire, without an actual fire. A friend of mine gifted me Palo Santo sticks to burn like incense in my home. The scent made by this tiny stick of wood is as comforting as any fire. Simply light it, let it burn for 30 seconds before blowing it out and leaving to sit in a fire safe dish (I use a ceramic saucer). This burns cleaner than store bought incense which can be full of chemicals and respiratory irritants, plus there is no open flame to worry about. You can use other wood sticks like cedar, hickory, and pine to fill your home with that feeling and scent of a warm fire.

DRINK TEA

I find that a simple cup of chai tea (which uses cinnamon and cardamom) elicits a feeling of warmth and coziness. Other flavors I love are cinnamon apple, pumpkin spice, citrus and cinnamon spice, and cranberry. The health benefits of drinking tea are well documented but stopping long enough to enjoy a cup of tea is a great way to relax. Simply allowing your tea to steep a few minutes before drinking will surround you with a familiar fall fragrance.

How do you fill your home with the smells of the season?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, coffee addict and freelance writer. She will write about almost anything you want her to for a small fee. Just check out her about me section to find out how to hire her.

Prep These Easy French Toast Rolls for the Week Ahead!

My kids have fought me on eating any kind of veggies since their toddlerhood. Now, they are almost ten. These picky eaters dominate our meal time choices, but they aren’t always winning the war. I sneak veggies inside of their favorite foods undetected all the time. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have no clue.

I typically meal prep our breakfast for the week ahead on Sunday. I like stuff I can freeze for a quick reheat in the morning. Now that my kids are older, this method makes it easier for them to make their own breakfast. This is a huge time saver for us all!

So… this weekend I made sausage stuffed French toast with some hidden sweet potato in there. I tried to make it two ways, the traditional frying method vs. baking in the oven. Even though making one big batch in the oven at once is convenient, frying the rolls individually made for a better texture. And it hid the miniscule pieces of orange potato better.

Here is what you need:

12 of your favorite sausage links

12 slices of your favorite bread

3 eggs

2 TBSP of sweet potato puree

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp maple syrup

Dash of cinnamon

2-4TBSP coconut oil

Rolling pin

* If you do not have sweet potato puree on hand, you’ll need to start by peeling and dicing a sweet potato and boiling until soft enough to mash before adding to the egg mixture. I made the sweet potato puree while I pre-cooked the sausage links in the oven. You can also use summer squash puree which you can find in the freezer section of your grocery store.*

Once you have your puree and cooked sausage you are ready to begin!

EGG MIXTURE

Crack open 3 eggs and dump into a shallow dish. Add sweet potato, vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Whisk together until well mixed and no large clumps.

ASSEMBLING ROLL UPS

Use the rolling pin to roll flat each slice of bread (I did four at a time because it’s an easier amount to work with and it is faster than just one at a time). Place a fully cooked sausage on one edge of the flattened bread and roll together. Next, dip the stuffed bread roll into the egg mixture and lay seam side down on a plate.

COOKING

I fried in batches of four to make assembling easier and to leave enough room in the pan. Heat 2 TBSP coconut oil in frying pan. Place each roll up seam side down into the pan. Let cook 2-3 minutes before turning. Be sure to cook all sides.

I stored the rolls in a flat layer in a freezer bag for the family to grab what they need and make for their breakfast. This made one dozen rolls which my family gladly enjoyed with a favorite fruit and glass of milk.

What do you think? Would you hide veggies in your kids favorite foods?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer, also known as The Whatever Mom. She is on a mission to connect struggling moms with little ones with her community to laugh, grow and embrace the messy parts of parenting so that they feel empowered and confident in their mom choices.

10 Date Night Ideas for Couples Without a Babysitter

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Date nights with your spouse are an essential investment in your relationship. After all, you were each other’s everything before you became parents. It is important to spend time nurturing your romantic relationship too. Once the kids grow up and leave, it will be just you and the hubby together again. Plus, it makes it easier to cope with those annoying habits like absurdly loud chewing and never changing out the empty tooth paste tube. *eye twitch*

COVID has created some complications for date night opportunities, but even before this pandemic it was hard for my husband and I to spend a Friday night out on the town together. We do not have access to regular babysitters and the extra cost to pay for childcare limited what we could spend on dinner, or a movie. My kids did not love being left with a babysitter and would cry, which always led to me feeling guilty and wanting to rush back home. When my husband started working from home it was easier to treat ourselves to a grown-up lunch while the kids were in school. Except, now school is happening at home.

So where do parents with two rambunctious children and zero babysitting options go for a date night?

Here are 10 date night ideas for couples without a babysitter:

  1. If you have a back yard, us it! Light a fire, grab a blanket and a couple of favorite beverages and head to the back yard to gaze up at the stars. Super easy and spontaneous.

2. Have a subscription box delivered to open together after the kids go to bed. Take turns presenting each other with a new snack box, or silly gifts to exchange.

3. Host a Zoom night double date with good friends and include a wine tasting. Each couple can recommend a bottle for the other couple to taste and sample along with some snacks. Treat the kid to their own special movie night in the living room with snacks and separate places to get cozy to buy yourself some quiet time with friends.

4. Host a game night with another couple on Zoom. You can split your screen for online games or go old school with fun Pictionary or charades.

5. Set up a candlelight picnic outside under the stars after the kids go to bed. Order out some grown-up appetizers from that new place you have wanted to try, but you know the kids will not like.

6. Stream a movie on the lawn. Set up a comfy spot with an air mattress and cozy blankets, or a double seated swing chair to snuggle in while watching. Bring out the snacks and beverages to enjoy.

7. Order a DIY craft kit from a local maker and make something at home. A lot of local crafters are offering a make and take kit to do at home. Pick one that you both like and give it a try! It does not have to be perfect, just fun.

8. Pick up a favorite dessert that you don’t want to share with the kids. Once they go to bed, bring it out and do not feel guilty!  

9. Go through old photos and movies together and laugh at some of the crazy shenanigans you have taken part in over the years. Pop open some champagne and re-watch your wedding video or honeymoon videos.

10. Make it an early morning date. Wake up an hour or two before the kids and enjoy some quiet coffee and a savory brunch without picky eaters. You don’t even need to get fancy, just toss some fresh bagels out and call it breakfast. The point is you’re alone and it’s quiet.

Even when bedtime is a struggle (as it is in my house) these ideas are all easy enough to put together without a lot of planning. And they can break you out of the channel surfing rut most of us find ourselves in after the kids go to bed.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer in search of picky eater free meals and exciting adult conversation. Visit The Whatever Mom on Facebook Instagram Pinterest and Twitter.

Prep These Easy Chicken Dinners Ahead This Week!

Now that back to school is here and life is a little chaotic with a new schedule to work with, I find meal prepping a giant life saver. I actually get a little excited to see my hard work stacked up neatly in the freezer. Knowing that most of my meal prep work is done takes a lot of stress off of my plate, especially on those crazy days where everything else seems to be going wrong, or I am running behind.

As I was prepping I stopped quickly to take a few pics of what I was making to show you how easy it is to make two different chicken dinners ahead of time to stash in the freezer for later in the week. I made Honey Mustard Chicken to serve with rice pilaf and I made Thai Chicken Soup. One package of chicken split between two different recipes and I was done in minutes.

HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN

1 lb. chicken breast (I use thighs because it’s usually cheaper and tastier)

1 bottle of your favorite honey mustard dressing or marinade

1 package of French cut green beans

Salt and pepper

1 gallon zip seal freezer bag

Place chicken pieces into bottom of the bag, pour one half of the bottle of honey mustard dressing over the chicken and then dump the frozen veggies on top. Sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Press all of the air out of the bag before you seal it and stack in the freezer. That’s it for prep!

When you are ready to cook, remove the prepped meal from the freezer and place in the fridge overnight to thaw out. Empty contents into the crock-pot and be sure to arrange with green beans on the bottom and chicken on top. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. *Every crock-pot heats differently. Mine cooks really fast, so I only need 3 hours for this meal.* Serve with rice, pasta or roasted potatoes (you can get prechopped potatoes in the produce section or in the freezer section to save more time).

THAI CHICKEN SOUP

1 lb. chicken breast (thigh definitely is best for this recipe, but either works)

1 jar of salsa

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 lime

1 TBSP soy sauce (or coconut aminos)

1 can coconut milk

1 gallon zip seal freezer bag

*optional serve over cooked rice, or rice noodles.

Place chicken pieces in the bottom of the bag. In a separate bowl add peanut butter, juice of one lime, soy sauce and the jar of salsa. Mix until it is all combined and pour over chicken in the bag. Seal and freeze.

When you are ready to cook, remove from the freezer and leave in the fridge overnight. Put the mixture into the crockpot and allow it to cook on high 3-4 hours. *Crock-pots may vary in cooking times. Mine will cook this meal in 2.5 hours.* The last half an hour of cook time, shred the chicken and add in can of coconut milk. Allow to simmer for remaining 30 minutes. If you chose to serve over rice, you can get those really quick 90 second microwave rice packs that will bring this meal together quick. You can even delegate that small part of dinner to a helper.

That’s it! Two recipes to prep this week that will take you as much time as it takes to read this post. Enjoy! Oh and don’t forget to prep those breakfast smoothies too! If you try any of these feel free to comment below, or stop by The Whatever Mom Facebook page to share, or find me on Insta.

Roxanne Ferber is twin mom and freelance writer doing whatever it takes to find extra sanity in the day.

Sometimes I Need to Get Away From My Family, and I Don’t Feel Bad About It

A good friend once said to me, “you need to get away from the husband and kids. You need time to miss them.” She is totally right.

My husband and I both work from home, and now both of our kids are attending school from home. We spend every waking hour together. I love them and I am so grateful we have the option to bet together through these crazy COVID times, but, I need mental space. And sometimes I really need physical space. I need to not be on demand for a meal, a snack, a quick question or to settle an argument.

Before the pandemic hit and the kids were in school for most of the day, I met with friends for coffee and we talked about our lives as moms. We vented about our stress and laughed at the ridiculous things our husbands can’t seem to find right in front of their faces. It was good for our mental health to drop those feelings in a safe space and let them go.

Now that I am “teaching” all day while trying to write and balance the chores, I am stuck inside my house more and it really makes me crazy. I am not a “homebody” or one to sit still for long. Movement and getting out of my house (and away from my family) is essential selfcare for my mental wellness. Some days I fantasize about running away or leaving a note on the counter, “Dear family, I love you. Now get away from me.” That’s not considered polite, so here are four ways to nicely inform your family you need time alone with your thoughts.

FIND SOME HEADSPACE

Taking a daily walk through my neighborhood each morning before logging everyone into a laptop helps me feel free. There’s no schedule, there’s no tether to my home, there is only me, the fresh air and my air pods. It isn’t the spa or working out at the gym, but it truly helps me clear my head and get ready for the chaos of the day. If I can’t get outside to walk because of weather, I walk on my treadmill. And sometimes, I just stand at an open door and quietly sip my coffee and listen to the birds chirp.

SOCIALLY DISTANT VENT SESSIONS

Once a week, usually a weekend morning, I invite other moms to join me on socially distant hikes. We walk on opposite sides of the trail while we chat about our stress and laugh about how crazy our families make us. It’s a great way to stay connected to my village and take in nature, which always makes me feel more grounded. Once a month, I meet with a couple of other moms outside in one of our driveways, or an empty lot just to talk about our stress. We sit 10 feet apart and bring our own chairs.

JUST LEAVE THE STRESS BEHIND

There are some days after the laptops are off and the kids are plugged into a video game, I leave the house. I no longer walk the aisles of Target slowly to peruse. Instead, I head to the drive through for a coffee and take the back country roads and soak in the passing scenery. Sometimes, I get out at a park to sit on a bench and watch people go by, read a book, write in a journal or phone a friend, which ever I am in the mood for.

SCHEDULE TIME TO UNPLUG

About once or twice a week, I skip watching TV after the kids go to bed and opt for reading a book. I leave the phone in another room so that I am not tempted to scroll, or look through the horrifying headlines of the daily news. This gives me time to unwind and plug into things that bring me joy like reading a good book and being in my cozy bed.

Selfcare means something different to everyone. I personally, need deep connections to others and nature and time to connect with myself. I miss dining out at leisure and going to the gym. But, scaling back to basics have really helped me cope with how different things are right now.

Do you spend time away from your family to recharge?

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer just looking for a quiet space to enjoy her own thoughts.

Time Saving Meal Prep Ideas

Going back to school this year looks vastly different than any other year. Many of us are working from home, while also teaching our kids at home. We are not sending our kids off on the bus and our back to school traditions may have changed.

At least this time around we are not feeling the last-minute scramble of a complete shutdown, we are starting day one at home. Thankfully, we learned what worked and did not work and we can use that to plan this year.

The one big thing I learned during our shutdown in the spring, is that I am over standing in my kitchen all day making meals on demand. Scrambling to prepare food in between Zoom classes did not work well for me. I spent a lot of time making fresh meals three times a day for picky eaters and it was exhausting. So, to free up that time this year I am ramping up my meal prepping.

Since becoming a mom meal prepping is my go-to sanity saver and number one-time management technique. It does require a one to two-hour time commitment in the kitchen, but the amount of time it saves me from clean up and standing in front of the stove the rest of the week is worth it.

Here are my quick tips for planning and prepping for each meal of the week. Maybe it will help you save some time/sanity around remote learning this Fall.

BREAKFAST

I use the weekends to prep ahead a few different breakfast options that my family can grab and go or warm up for themselves. I wake up an hour before the family on Sunday morning to have the kitchen to myself. You can check out my Pinterest board for ideas, but some of our favorites are breakfast burritos, protein pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, hidden veggie muffins and smoothie blender cups. I make two options for my family to choose from and then I make the blender cups for myself. I have them preloaded and stacked in the freezer to make my mornings easier. My family can reheat their breakfast sandwiches and pancakes on their own or grab a muffin from the fridge.

LUNCH

Each night after dinner, I have the kids pack a lunch just like they did when going to school. And my husband and I pack up our own lunches. This saves me the headache of making two different sandwiches or rummaging around for leftovers to reheat every day. Preparing all of our lunches each night saves enough time for all of us to take our lunch break together, and it encourages my kids to be self sufficient.

DINNER

Before I even go grocery shopping, I make a dinner menu for the week. My meal plan for the week includes a DIY pizza night (or take out) and a leftovers night to give me a night off from cooking. On my grocery shopping day, I like to wash all the produce before putting it away and I prepare as many meals ahead of time that I can. I am especially fond of freezer meals that I can toss together in a freezer bag and dump into the crock pot later. This is a huge time saver and way less mess to clean up during the busy week. I am also a fan of one sheet pan meals to make in the oven. And on really busy nights, I’ll make a charcuterie board that fits everyone’s picky favorites. You can find some of my favorite go to meal pins here.

SNACKS

I discovered my kids will eat through a bag of chips like its an Olympic sport. So, I stopped buying bags of chips that literally disappears within minutes and leaves my kids crabby. I set up bins in the fridge with grab and go options like cheese sticks, baby bell cheeses, yogurt tubes, mini oranges, hummus cups and bags of veggies. Don’t get me wrong, chips are delicious, and I do not judge anyone buying them for their kids. I just know my kids stay fuller longer (and stay less moody) when they eat protein and fruits.

It took me a little while to make these prepping hacks a routine. So, don’t think you have to do all of the above to be efficient. Pick the toughest meal of the day and prep it in advance to help make that time of day run a bit smoother for you.

What’s the toughest meal for you to prepare each day? Mine is breakfast, so I will always prepare breakfast in advance. I like sleep more than I like to cook.

If you have any great meal prep hacks or recipes, feel free to share in comments below or send them to [email protected]gmail.com

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, fur mom, wife and freelance writer just trying to eek out as much sanity as she can from each day.

Is it Time to Hire Professional Help?

After nearly six months at home with my family here around the clock, I might be ready to lose my mind. I cannot tell you how many messes I have cleaned up, nor how often I’ve heard myself yelling, “pick that up” or “put that back where you got it!” or “don’t even think about stepping over that one more time!”

I am officially burned out from all of the cleaning and sanitizing. I don’t know about you, but I like a good deep clean right after summer to clean up all the mess we dragged in through the season. Since I am so tired of it all, I am seriously considering hiring a cleaning service to do the heavy lifting for me.

4 Reasons You Can and You Will Get a Cleaning Lady

We aren’t ready to have a weekly cleaning person come into our home, but we could definitely use some help with a deeper cleaning. The folks at E&J Cleaning and Floors have provided deep cleaning and sanitizing services for businesses and residents throughout the Capital District. They have perfected their sanitation levels and protocols throughout this Pandemic, and they are ready to help you too! Their team will arrive to your home with masks and gloves and stay at a safe distance while they work.

Not only can they sanitize high touch surfaces by hand, but they also offer an Electrostatic Disinfection Technique to apply an EPA approved sanitizing solution to surfaces that lasts for months. A great way to protect your home as we head into flu-season.

Visit their Facebook and Instagram pages to see before and after photos of their residential, furniture and floor cleanings and what a great job they can do! Having someone else shampoo the couches and carpets will save me a ton of time and energy that I just don’t have right now, while planning our return to remote learning for two kids, working from home, meal planning and wiping down all the door knobs.

If you are worn out by all the extra cleaning, or trying to balance all the extra messes with working and cooking and everything else that comes along with this Pandemic life, do yourself a favor and hire someone who can help. Treat yourself to a little extra time in your week, or month and let someone else do the heavy lifting. You can use that time to relax in the back yard reading a book, or taking the kids for a drive for ice cream. If you hire someone for a weekly cleaning, count that time as self care and head to your local drive through to pick up lunch or dinner. Hiring extra help definitely leaves room for sanity in our day.

A clean and sanitized home is one less thing to stress about as we head into back to school season, holiday planning and worries about keeping our family safe. Call / Text For Your Free Estimate Today (518) 419-4683

(This is a paid post, but all opinions expressed are my own).

Meet The Whatever Mom

I hope you enjoyed my meet a mom series this summer and found a sense of solidarity among these interviews. Even though the moms featured are business owners, writers, bakers, scientists and more, as moms they still have to endure kid tantrums and picky eating. As schools across the country begin to reopen, I want to focus more on content moms can use right now, so I am going to retire the series (for now). Before I do, I thought maybe now would be a good time to share a little about myself. Things have certainly changed since I began writing

I started writing about my messy life as a mom nearly 8 years ago while my twins were toddlers. Back then, life was messy in the very literal sense. My kids were into finger paints and playdough, dumping cereal and pulling pans out of the cupboards. I was living through the early messy phases of potty training and picky eating. I learned that the messiest part of all, was me. I felt like a failure every day. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the other moms. Most days were a scramble, so I started sharing those moments and solutions that work for my family. Turns out, other moms feel the same way. I often hear from moms, that reading this blog gives them permission to let go of making things perfect and that it’s ok to embrace the chaos.

My twins are now pre-teens. Life looks messy in a new way. There are many emotional messes and sibling arguments to overcome. The bills are tighter, my kids need deeper conversations about life and there still aren’t enough hours in the day to finish every task demanded of me as mom, a wife, a writer, a blogger and from my own expectations. And, don’t even get me started on the demands of parenting through a pandemic!

However, the payoff to all this stressful living is watching my kids become independent and self-driven little people. Being a mom is a pretty amazing journey. It really does go by as fast as people tell you. Along the way there are many unexpected speed bumps and worries you wouldn’t have if you weren’t in charge of someone else’s survival. In the end, all of those messes clean up, and everything works out.

Meet The Whatever Mom – a.k.a Roxanne!

What is the name of your blog? The Whatever Mom (obvi)

Who is your target audience? Moms just like me who are trying to make it through the day with as much sanity as we can.

Why did you begin blogging? When I became a mom there was this very thin line of acceptance for sloppy buns and rolling into play groups a total hot mess. It was also taboo to talk about things like miscarriage, divorce, marriage issues and worries about your kid’s development during park meet ups. I can’t tell you how many times I’d meet new parents at the park and hear how perfect their lives were, while they fed their kids all organic fruits and seeds from their stainless-steel bento boxes. I felt like I couldn’t measure up to those standards. I want my blog to be a safe place for myself and other moms to connect regardless of our parenting styles.

How many children do you have? I have twins, two girls, about to turn ten. In the twin world, I’d call them *G/G ID twins* That stands for girl/girl, identical twins.  

Describe your business mission: Well, my mission is to develop this little blog of mine into a thriving business. Not only do I want to provide a non-judgey place to commiserate, but I’d like to one day employ other stay at home moms, or mompreneurs and help them find success following their dreams. Or at least pay them enough money to get their very own latte without having to worry about taking money out of the family budget.

How do you most relate to The Whatever Mom philosophy? For the record, I didn’t create an entirely new philosophy. When I was a brand-new mom, I spent hours crying because I felt like I was always behind the eight ball. No matter what I did, my twins just cried. My husband worked 17 hours (yes, truly 17) a day while I learned how to manage two infants at once. I honestly thought I was going to lose my mind. Until a friend said to me, you just “do whatever it takes to make it through to the end of the day with the most amount of sanity left.” If plan A doesn’t work, toss it out and go with plan B. There will be some days you make it all the way to plan Z, but if it means less stress and less crying, then that’s the plan you go with. So, being a whatever mom means learning to roll with the punches and making it work for your family. I added the whole non-judgey part because it was really getting on my nerves to hear moms tear each other down for making different choices. I hate to break it to ya, but we’re all wiping butts for at least the first three years of motherhood, no one is better than anyone else.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I want other moms to know that motherhood is a struggle for me. I did not take to motherhood as easily as I thought I would. I love my kids dearly and as strong willed as my kids are, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But, letting go of who I was before kids was hard. I had two successful careers before I became a mom. I succeeded at just about anything I tried, so when I couldn’t make things perfect as a mom, I felt hopeless and defeated. What helped me through it was connecting with other moms, learning how to take self-care seriously and a learning to let go of perfection.

What makes you stand out as a mom? Funny, when I put this in the questionnaire, I thought it was an easy question. Now, I know why everyone said it was hard to answer. We are all moms dedicated to our kids, right? I think what makes me standout as a mom is my ability to learn and grow alongside my kids. Not just in learning new life lessons but learning to tune into myself and each of my kids as individuals. Not only am I teaching them how to not need me one day, but they are changing my perception of the world. And they are teaching me how to play video games because I am really, really, like REALLY BAD at them! 😉

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer. She enjoys drinking coffee in total silence while she scrolls mindlessly through social media. Shhh… no talkie before the coffee.

How to Host a Socially Distant Party with Friends

Last year, I made a big plan in my head to celebrate my summer birthday with a backyard bash. I wanted lights, catered food, friends and music. Just a relaxing summer night with people I enjoy most, eating cake and toasting with prosecco. As always, when I make a plan the world steps in with different ideas.

[Enter a world wide Pandemic]

One of the bummers about this COVID Pandemic is that birthday celebrations just aren’t the same. We can’t have our usual big gatherings to celebrate. There can be no sharing of bowls filled with snacks and dips for potentially contaminated fingers to swim around in. Pouring drinks from large containers means a variety of hands touching the same surface and sanitizing after every use. It feels daunting to try to entertain safely right now.

But, I wasn’t giving up on what I want, which was food and friends. Instead, I found another way to celebrate on a much smaller scale while enjoying some of my favorite things. Instead of fifty people, I had five. I didn’t serve a catered menu, but we did enjoy some safe snacks at a distance. And yes, there was prosecco and music. For a background playlist I chose the Hamilton musical soundtrack. If you haven’t listened yet, you are missing out.

Our small group enjoyed gathering around the firepit in the open air where we could maintain enough distance without worrying about spreading germs. Since no celebration is complete without food and wine, I got a little creative with how to serve sanitary snacks at a distance without constant sanitation.

I picked up some reusable storage bins at the dollar store to fill with ice and some snacks. I added a bottle of water, two mini bottles of my favorite prosecco and prepackaged snack plates that include cheese, prosciutto and toasty bread. It was a big hit! Plus, moms could take the entire bin home with them, so no worries about sanitizing after.

I placed the individual snack boxes on the ground six-feet apart around the firepit in my yard, and asked each mom to bring their own chair for seating. When they arrived I pointed them to a sanitized snack box to set up next to in our circle. We spent the next three hours socializing and snacking safely. I also asked moms to bring their masks just incase, but we didn’t need them because we sat far enough apart. Chatting without a face covering felt a little more like the normalcy of pre-pandemic times.

It also felt great to celebrate my birthday with friends, but it was even better to commiserate with other moms in person. We laughed about our kids, shared our anxieties about school, told hilarious stories about ourselves and it felt like we left our worries behind for a bit. It was a great moms night out!

My only regret is that it was too dark for photos outside. But, I’ll have the memories of our time together to look back on as we get through the uncertainty of the winter ahead of us.

Did you celebrate a birthday during the pandemic? How was it different this year? I’d love to hear about your creative celebrations in comments below!

Roxanne Ferber is raising twins with double the fun of writing from home during a pandemic. Her parenting style is messy with a side of chaos and archiving it all on her blog for others to read.

Meet a Mom and Motivational Speaker

Photo credit: Tri-County Woman Magazine

I first met Laura Bagnarol at a moms retreat two years ago. I recognized her as the creator of the Pigskin Princess Project. Before meeting her in person, I only knew her through social media. Now, I am in love with her Be Big Be Brave mission.

Laura started the Pigskin Princess Project when her daughter was just 4 years old. She was not satisfied by the local sports programs, so she created one of her own, a flag-football team that focuses on combating harmful gender stereotypes. Through her Be Big Be Brave company she has helped raise funds to build an inclusive play ground and support local and national non-profits.

Today, Laura is a mother to three children, a public speaker, community organizer, creator of The Brave Project, freelance writer and strives to empower children age 3 to college (and if I am honest, she is an inspiration to those around her). She is proof that moms can do anything and will do anything for their kids while making waves of change right in their own community.

How are your programs helping others? I offer empowerment workshops, programs, and products for kids. I am the founder of the Pigskin Princess Project and its companion program the Pigskin Prince Project. These are flag-football programs for girls, ages 3-11 and pre-k age boys. We teach the fundamentals of the sport but also use the sport of football as a tool to combat harmful gender stereotypes and to introduce kids to the many inspiring individuals in our community and beyond, that are doing incredible things off the field. I also co-created, The Brave Project, an educational awareness program for girls in 5th grade through college age. I am also a motivational speaker and present to a variety of groups from Girl Scouts to women in business. I am a contributing writer to Her View From Home blog site.

Where are you located? Hopewell Junction but will travel all over the Hudson Valley and beyond!

Who is your target audience? Kids, ages 3 through college age!

Can you describe your business mission for us? To inspire kids to be their big, brave selves! I create programs and products that are designed to help kids build resiliency, recognize their strengths, combat bullying, become more self-aware, and build confidence.

How many children do you have? Three: Girl (11); Boy (9); Girl (7)

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? Love the nonjudgmental tone, combined with the realness and humor. The Whatever Mom philosophy shatters the myth of perfect parenting and takes the pressure – of knowing it all and being it all – OFF us moms.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I care deeply about creating a culture where kids can lead safe, happy, healthy lives in large part because of my professional background. I have my master’s in social work and spent my 20s and 30s working with victims of crime of all ages and backgrounds. It is this work that has made me so passionate about educating children to look out for themselves and each other.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I have big ideas that I have to make come to fruition. I started my flag football empowerment program for girls because I just wasn’t loving the sports programs that were available to my then 4-year-old daughter. I also love those teachable moments that are happening all the time in life and will use them whenever I can to try to teach my kids something. (This, as you can imagine, is quite annoying to them.) I also like to make my kids laugh. (Me learning TikTok dances is always good for a laugh.) My 7-year-old will tell you that my butter cookies make me stand out.

Where can other moms find you on social media? Be Big Be Brave, LLC Etsy Shop Facebook Instagram YouTube

Gluten Free Pizza Pasta Dish – Great for lunch boxes!

Yes, it’s another deconstructed pizza recipe from me! I can’t help it, my family loves pizza! You may have enjoyed our Easy Pizza Rolls for family pizza night or even our Pizza Cookie for dessert. But, this gluten free pizza pasta casserole is just for me because I can’t have gluten or (most) dairy. So, finding anything resembling a real pizza is near impossible. I am from New York, home of the best pizza and there is no substitute. However, this easy recipe brings the same flavors and makes me feel like I am not missing out entirely.

This whips together in under 30 minutes and FYI, it is a great recipe for school lunch boxes! Make it on a Sunday, reheat to put into a thermos and pack in a lunch box.

Pizza is simply crust (base carb), cheese, sauce and favorite toppings.

Our deconstructed pizza uses gluten free pasta as the base carb, mixed with sauce and favorite toppings like pepperoni, sausage or favorite veggies and of course cheese. We use a gluten free pasta from the grocery store that everyone in my family likes and suddenly we are all eating one meal! Since I can’t have most dairy, I use grated parmesan cheese, affectionately known in my house as “shaker cheese.” It isn’t the hot gooey mess of melted Mozzarella, but it still tastes so darn good!

Directions:

Cook 1 pound of pasta according to directions on package.

Add in one jar of your favorite sauce.

Stir in favorite pizza toppings (I sliced up pepperoni, black olives, green pepper and red onion).

Sprinkle with grated parmesan, or add in shredded mozzarella. (The mozzarella will melt into the hot pasta and sauce, so no need to bake to melt).

Give it a good mix before serving! This goes great with a salad or a side of wings. Anything you’d normally eat with your pizza!

It’s a super easy meal to make on a week night when the kids are hungry and you need something fast, or as a quick side dish for your picky eater who only eats pasta, pizza and cheese.

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, freelance writer and wannabe foodie. Food tastes better when other people cook it, or when kids aren’t complaining about it, but she doesn’t have a lot of time to cook it fancy. If you have a recipe to share email it to [email protected] or share it over on The Whatever Mom Facebook page.

Meet a Mom and Travel Blogger

Jacqueline Ramirez (Jackie for short) is mom to two teenagers, ages 14 and 17, an incredible iPhone photographer and the owner of Hudson Valley Exposed blog, chronicling her travel adventures over six different counties in the Hudson Valley. On top of her busy life raising kids, she produces digital guides and lists for budget friendly places to take the kids to play, for ice cream, the movies, local events, farmers markets and even date night ideas. She makes light work for busy parents planning their family fun.

Originally from the Bronx, Jackie settled in the Hudson Valley just after college and has taken many adventures with her family. Alongside her recommendations for family friendly trips, she gives tips for travel and snapping just the right pic with your iPhone. Even if you are not currently living in the Hudson Valley, take a look at all the exciting things Jackie shares and you may be inspired to take the trip.

Meet Jackie!

How do you help families find their weekend adventures? I offer digital Hudson Valley Guides and lists they can use to plan their next day together.

Where in the Hudson Valley are you located? I am completely digital – on the web and social media.

Who do you write your blog for? Anyone looking to see & do new things in the Hudson Valley.

Why did you begin blogging these adventures? I want to help others explore the Hudson Valley the easiest and stress free way. I encourage everyone to explore without breaking the bank.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? I think women can do it all. Motherhood, business owner and more.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I love what I do and look forward to providing important information to others. I sometimes struggle with organization and feel completely overwhelmed the majority of the time.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I take my kids on all my Hudson Valley outings and make them a part of my online business journey. I have no family up here and we are doing all of this completely on our own.

Where can others find Hudson Valley Exposed? Find my website or follow me on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet a Bad Mom and Squad Leader

Amber Murphy is mom to two girls, a teenager and a little one, and the owner/lead designer of Mom Squad Creations. She likes to keep it real by finding the funny in motherhood which shines through in the personalized products she creates. Whether it’s her personal philosophy scrolled across a shopping bag, or a customer’s inside joke on the outside of a cup, Amber will bring it to life.

Amber identifies as a “Bad Mom” who enjoys coffee and swearing. She enjoys all things sparkly, snarky and loud. And she runs her businesses the same way while raising two humans to be creative, inclusive and true to themselves.

Meet Amber!

What is your full name? *Princess Consuela Banana Hammock….. I mean, Amber Murphy.

What kind of products do you offer? Drinkware and Apparel with a snarky twist.

Where are you located? Halfmoon, NY

Who do you create these snarky things for? Moms, particularly the moms who fall under the “bad moms” category.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? I’m realllllll down with the Whatever part. ? We are all just doing our best to survive the experience of motherhood. Anyone who says they have motherhood figured out is lying to you, we are all a hot mess just doing our best.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I’m not sure. I don’t know what there is to know because I’m generally transparent and we show a lot of my personality through my business. I guess I’d like people to know I really do read every comment. I’m on top of every comment, message, etc. For some reason people sometimes don’t understand there’s a real person/mom reading and responding to everything! Especially when you start to really brand your business people assume everything is robotic…. but it’s me, a real person! I’m on the other side of the screen carefully selecting the funny gifs to respond to you! ?

What makes you stand out as a mom? My lack of a filter.

Where can other moms find you? My website, Facebook and IG

This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission for each purchase made through these links.

My Daily Smoothie Hack

I have to confess, I am addicted to drinking smoothies. Not only are they easy to make, but I can just toss a bunch of stuff in a cup without measuring and it still tastes good. The one thing I don’t like, is the clean up. Plus, rummaging around for ingredients and pulling them all out of different locations in the kitchen while I am barely awake, is a pain.

It is so tempting to sign up for a smoothie subscription and have premade smoothies delivered to my door step. I even found a local company to source them, but then I saw the price. It will cost me around $100 for one dozen premade smoothies. I can’t justify spending that much just for my personal breakfast each morning. I’d save time on the prep, but I’d still have to dispose of all the packaging and shipping materials after I transfer all the cups to the freezer. That still takes up time. But man, I’d sure love the convenience and simplicity of dumping a cup of ingredients into a blender.

So….

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That’s what I do!

I found some left over disposable coffee cups with lids stashed away on a shelf in my basement and realize they make the perfect DIY grab and go smoothie cups. I make seven smoothies ahead of time, stash in the freezer and grab one each day. My kids have caught on to this and will grab one for themselves occasionally. They won’t make their own smoothies if they have to lug out all the individual bags of produce. Now that mom has done all the prep work it’s suddenly fair game. At least they are eating healthy and feeding themselves, right? In the future, I’d like to switch out the coffee cups for glass jars with lids to minimize waste, but since my kids are young and clumsy, paper cups do the trick.

Ready to see how easy it is to make a weeks worth of smoothies in about 10 minutes?

Line up seven freezer friendly cups.

Pull out all your favorite fruits and veggies to divide between containers. You can add nut butters or protein powders, seeds or any extras you like in your smoothie.

Just layer in each ingredient, attach the lids and put in the freezer.

When you are ready for a smoothie, remove one from the fridge and fill container with your favorite milk or water (are you a creamy smoothie drinker or a watery smoothie drinker?), dump the entire cup into the smoothie blender and give it a whirl. Then you can dump the mixture right back into the cup to take along with you. If you need something fancier to transport, I’ve attached a couple of options here in this post.

I topped each cup with a piece of waxed paper before adding the lid. This provides an extra “seal” against ice crystals and it keeps the fruit from absorbing any funky flavors from the freezer. Now I have breakfast already made for the entire week (as long as neither of my kiddos takes one for themselves).

Now you have a full week of breakfast (or snacks) for significantly less money and with less wasteful packaging to have to cart to the curb. I love a good hack that gives me more for less!

Our favorite combination so far is bananas, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, kale, spinach, pumpkin seeds and peanut butter. What do you put in your smoothie?

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Contains affiliate links. I make a small commission from the sales made through this site.

Meet a Mom and Cake Designer

Stephanie Feuker is a busy mom to two very energetic little boys (ages 2 and 4) and a specialty cake (and cupcake) maker. Her designs are out of this world perfect for any occasion, a kid party, mom’s night or dessert on a Tuesday. Visit Caked with Love by Steph on Facebook to see photos of her cakes. You will be so impressed (and you may drool a little)!

Not only is Stephanie incredibly talented, but she also has a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and previously worked in the financial services industry before creating her custom cake operations. To say she is, “just baking now” would overlook how much time she puts into creating these perfect designs for each order. Baking is what gives Stephanie joy and she loves doing it in a way that she has never love anything else before.

Meet Stephanie!

Where are you located? Latham, NY

Who are you making these incredible cakes for? Anyone in need of a special dessert for an occasion!

Describe your business mission. To meet or exceed every single cake/cupcake expectation each and every time I create something.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? Motherhood is by far the hardest (but hands down the most wonderful) thing I’ve ever done. As a mom, I am part of a tribe now, and in that sense, I feel like there’s a “we-ness” among moms in the struggles and victories we share.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I want moms to know I am a FAR from perfect mom. I feel like on social media, we tend to share the best of ourselves. In reality, my kids get to much screen time, I yell too much and I lose my patience too often. I’m constantly riddled with mom guilt (every single day). I have a lot of anxiety with the thoughts of something bad happening to my kids. But I love my boys and I try every day to be a good mom. I feel nothing short of blessed to have them. There have been several instances during this pandemic where I have stepped back and just realized how unbelievably lucky I am. It brings tears to my eyes some days.

What makes you stand out as a mom? Honestly, I don’t feel like I stand out as a mom. I feel like every day I’m just like a bunch of other moms, doing our best and trying to get thru the day without losing our patience. I’m a mom that makes fun cakes. I guess that makes me stand out. My boys think that’s cool.

How can other moms find you? You can message me through my Facebook page

Meet a Motivated Mom and Blogger

I first met Diedre Anthony through a blogger group on Facebook. I was drawn to her kindness and her willingness to support other women. She is the blog owner and writer for Are Those Your Kids where she shares her life as mom from the perspective of a mom raising three beautiful bi-racial children. She doesn’t shy away from sharing what that looks like and feels like in this world.

Besides being a mom and blogger, Diedre is also a farm wife, school counselor and runs an essential oil business and more! She does a brilliant job at chasing her dreams alongside motherhood. Even if you are not raising bi-racial children, or come from a diverse family, Diedre’s blog is still a wonderful parenting resource. And if you follow her on Instagram you get a closer look at her farm life and family fun.

Meet Diedre!

Do you offer any other products as a blogger? Curly hair guide I have dedicated this guide to providing hair and skin care tips, tools and everything in between to parents who need assistance.

Where are you located? Statesboro, GA

Who do you write this blog for? Multiracial families

How would you describe your blog mission? I want to provide resources to the multiracial family to promote curly hair care, education, identity and diversity.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? I love that you embrace the messy side of parenting–and keep it all the way real.

What do you want other moms to know about you? That I’m an advocate for all.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I’ve got my hand in so many things–being a farm wife, school counselor, mom of 3 littles, running an essential oil business, writer/influencer. It can be done. You can be a good mom and wife and still pursue your dreams.

Where can other moms find you? My website Are Those Your Kids and on Facebook or Instagram.

Meet a Mom and Science Lover

Margaret Liberti is mom to Keaton, a science educator and a business owner. She owns Mad Science of the Capital District and provides hands on learning for kids in her community. She has hand delivered a bagful of science experiments for my own kiddos to enjoy. I love watching their faces light up as they work with magnets or take data on a set of growing brains. I also love learning right along side them. If you are looking for a way to keep your kiddos occupied this summer, need a virtual camp or want to encourage your child’s love of science, check out the Loop Lab subscription kits, camp options or the science delivered options on her website.

As a Professor, Margaret has witnessed the disdain students in higher education have for science. They’ve been told that they’re not good at science, or they’re not smart enough, or it’s boring, and they believe it. She is on a mission to change that for kids beginning at an earlier age. Oh and she is also a 2014-15 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. This is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an adjunct faculty member in the State University of New York system. Excelling in her field, running a business and being mom? That’s a whole lot of awesome!

Meet Margaret!

What is the name of your business? Mad Science of the Capital District

What products do you offer? STEM programming such as birthday parties, backyard camps, virtual camps, camp in a box, in person camps, special events, workshops, and after school programming.

Where are you located? I am operating in the Albany/Capital District, but Mad Science is a traveling business that owns the territories of the following counties: Columbia, Greene, Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer , Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Bennington, and can travel north and as far west as Syracuse!

What age group do you share your experiments with? Ages 3-12, anyone who loves/is interested in STEM!

Describe your business mission. As both a professor and a science education business owner, I want science to be fun and exciting. I want students to learn science without thinking, “yep. This is science. Still hate it.” Science is everywhere, and once applied in a fun manner, exciting, or related to your students, you’re going to see a change in their beliefs and attitude towards science. And igniting passion (or at least a lesser dislike) for science is my goal.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I think this goes for every mom, but my son comes first above all else. I went through a lot to have him, and although he’s what I have always wanted, I don’t let him get away with bad behavior.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? We all have to roll with the punches, particularly in the current environment.

What do you want other moms to know about you? Being mom to Keaton and a fur-mom is my greatest accomplishment. I love science, education, students, and dogs.

Where can other moms find you? Visit my website, Facebook page or drop an email at [email protected]

Pizza Cookies, the Lazy Mom’s Best Friend

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from items you purchase through my merch link.

The pizza cookie is the lazy mom’s best friend.

Maybe you are not lazy, but some days I am just too tired, and I don’t really feel like making dozens of cookies. A pizza cookie is basically one giant cookie that the kids can top with their own little hands. Less work for me and dare I say, life skills for the kids?

I made this cookie from scratch, which I really don’t advise. Unless baking is your thing. Then go for it!

Otherwise you can grab a tube of ready-made cookie dough and spread it out in a circle on a pizza pan or pizza stone. Bake according to the directions on the package (around 11-13 minutes).

Once the cookie is cool, top with fruits and berries. We used strawberry sauce as the pizza sauce and topped with banana slices, frozen blueberries, chocolate chips and a drizzle of chocolate syrup, that’s it. A super easy and quick dessert any night of the week.

The strawberry sauce:

1 cup of strawberries (frozen or fresh)

2 TBSP cane sugar

Sprinkle the sugar over the strawberries and leave in the fridge for a few hours. The sugar breaks down the berries until they are juicy. I used a potato masher to squish them into a sauce. Spoon over the cookie crust as the pizza sauce.

You can get as fancy as you want and add whatever fruits or berries your kids will eat. If your kiddo can have nuts, drizzle on some melted peanut butter. You really can not mess this up, just make it your own and enjoy!

Check out my cheater recipe for beignets or pizza rolls.

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Roxanne Ferber is a blogger mom and freelance writer. She enjoys the sweet silence of kids sleeping in and has a crippling coffee addiction. Motherhood has changed her in many ways, but remaining non-judgey and ready to support other moms are her strong suits. If you’d like to work with her, visit the work with me link in the side bar. If you want to send her happy thoughts or share your motherhood story drop a line at [email protected], or find The Whatever Mom on Facebook.

Meet a Mom and Licensed Massage Therapist

Sakinah Irizarry is a mom to two young sons (ages 10 and 12) and a licensed massage therapist. She has a lot to balance between raising two amazing kids and running a business, but that doesn’t stop her from investing time and energy in her own community. On top of her mom life, she volunteers for the PTA, raises funds for local charities, champions inclusive school activities and works hard to elevate her mission for educational equity.

Her pursuit for equality for students doesn’t stop at making sure her own sons are included, but that every student is included. Sakinah stresses the value of having students in special education classes incorporated regularly at school events. She advocates for a broader presentation of American history in school and she works to break down barriers of race, ability and gender in early education. Beginning with her own small town, she is creating a stronger foundation that encompasses equality for her children and their peers. I truly admire her strength, her courage and the energy she commits to making the changes she wants to see in this world. You know, all while working the toughest job in the world, being mom.

Meet Sakinah!

What do you do as a massage therapist? I offer massage for stress relief, pain relief and prenatal massage.

Who can benefit from massage? My niche is caring for caretakers, such as teachers, nurses and new moms, also people caring for elderly family members or special needs children at home.

What is your business mission? My mission is to hold space for those who give so much of themselves to receive and be cared for, not only as a necessary component of being a caretaker, but because they are deserving as an individual.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? Parenting is the hardest job I ever loved, and I often have to remind myself that perfection can be the enemy of the good. I do my best to lead with my heart and allow my kids to see me strive and overcome my own challenges.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I want other moms to know that educational equity is my passion. I am striving not only for the benefit of my biracial black and latinx sons, but for the benefit of all children in our district. I am of the belief that changing our society for the better begins with how we educate our children. They deserve equitable opportunities, a curriculum that reflects a wider variety of lived experiences and an age-appropriate and accurate reckoning with history.

In addition, I am a huge Star Trek fan.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I stand out in some obvious ways (I’m over 6 feet tall), but as a mom? I’m still learning and always willing to learn.

Where can other moms find you? Stop by my website or my Facebook page to learn more about my business.

Frozen Treats for Your Furry Child {Dog Moms this is for You!}

**Post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission for orders placed using nthose links.

Summer is finally here, and it has been so hot! Of course, when it is hot outside, our minds drift right to ice cream and icy treats. Our pup always gives us the sad eyes while we enjoy our ice cream, so of course we have to spoil him too. Except dogs shouldn’t eat dairy and the puppy ice cream in the stores we purchased a few years ago was made entirely with chemicals. Not one drop of food. We really questioned what was in it when it didn’t even melt while sitting in the direct sun. Yikes!

After making some strawberry and banana ice cream cupcakes for ourselves, we set out to make some fun bite-sized frozen treats for our best friend (and sometimes the most well behaved child in my home).

My furry child knows when we are whirling up frozen bananas, he is going to get a treat too. In fact, we have a special bone shaped silicon mold just for this recipe. If you couldn’t tell, he is a bit spoiled by his #dogmom and family.

If you want to make these for your fur-baby you do not need a special mold, you can just fill a lined muffin baking tray and put in the freezer. Before you serve them, simply peel off the paper and put the cupcake into your pup’s bowl and I guarantee they will eat it up!

Here is what you need:

2-3 overripe bananas (you know the ones the rest of the family won’t touch) peeled, sliced and frozen.

1 TBSP peanut butter (make sure it is natural, made without Xylitol).

Splash of non-dairy milk.

Blender or food processor

Silicon mold, or paper lined muffin baking pan

Place the frozen bananas in the food processor and add a splash of milk to help break up the bananas. Once the bananas begin to break up (about 1-2 minutes in the processor) add in the peanut butter (or another nut butter you know your dog can have safely). The consistency should begin to look like soft serve ice cream.

Scoop the soft serve bananas into your silicon mold (we used mini dog bone shapes) or into a lined muffin tray and place in the freezer for one hour. Pop the shapes out of the mold and store in freezer safe container. Serve on a hot day or when you think your doggie could use a tasty treat.

If you want to make dairy free ice cream cupcakes for yourself, you literally make them the same way. Except maybe make the cupcake sized treats for the humans? Listen, I won’t judge you if you use the little tiny bone shapes. They are supper cute.

Our guy loves this easy ice cream recipe so much, we always make him his own batch to keep in the freezer. Just look at the excitement on his face!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and blogger. She enjoys the finer things in life like drinking coffee in total silence and driving alone in the car listening to her own play list on full blast. You can join her private Circle of Moms Facebook group if you need mom support (but there’s a strict no selling stuff policy) or follow along on The Whatever Mom Facebook page if you need some laughs. Thanks for reading along!

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Meet a Mom and Kindness Hustler

Jessica Negron, mother of two and the owner of Three Wishes Boutique has been a friend for a few years. Not only is she a wonderful part of The Whatever Mom community and circle of moms, but she is busy living The Whatever Mom philosophy by empowering other women and staying true to herself.

Raising two amazing humans is a lot of work, but Jessica makes it look effortless along side college classes, fundraising for the St. Baldrick’s organization, fostering dogs in her home, and volunteering for every cause that speaks to her. She recently made sure our front line medical workers in the community had access to PPE and self-care kits. If there is a person or creature in need, Jessica will create a way to lend her support.

Meet Jessica!

Where does the name for your business “Three Wishes Boutique” come from? The “Three Wishes” in the business name stand for my wishes to:

1.) Be able to support my family without compromising my time with them while supporting other female made local small businesses!

2.) Be able to give back to the community & create a safe community for women through clothing & accessories!

3.) Remain successful for years to come so I can continue the first two wishes!!

Where are you located? I am located in Port Ewen, NY. I also travel with my renovated delivery truck. It has a fitting room and additional shopping displays filled with products made by other local moms.

What makes you stand out as a mom? Oh wow, well this is a tough one…. “Stand out?” I feel like I do what most moms do. Maybe juggling school and small business ownership adds a layer of chaos that I struggle to manage well, but I still try my best to give my kids my best. I think that’s what we all do though. I love being involved in community causes and signing up to chair mega fundraisers and coach sports teams despite the chaos it can bring to my schedule. I know it is a struggle to find parent volunteers that have the time to commit to causes. (Which is another reason my small business has been an AMAZING blessing to me, it offers me the flexibility to be in all the places!)

What do you want other moms to know about you? I am a hot mess, just like (and probably more than) you! The connections I’ve made through my business have created the most amazing and LOVING network of women who have helped me through hard times, and helped me help THEM and find the community where the need is! It is THAT, that fills my cup every day and keeps my purpose alive! I love that I have the support of my community rallied behind me in everything I do! And I love sending that support anywhere it is needed as well!

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? My business works to create a safe space for women to NOT feel judged, to help learn to love their bodies and where they are on their journey in life. Letting go of the “perfection” and being kind to yourself is what I try to demonstrate through sharing my vulnerabilities with the community of women I’ve created in my group.

Where can other moms find you? Please join me at Lularoe Jess Negron _Three Wishes Boutique

Dairy Free Ice Cream Cupcakes

Picking your own berries and fruit is a great way to get kids outside and enjoying nature. Strawberries, cherries, blueberries and raspberries are all in season right now. And we are here for it!

This week we picked 4 gallons of strawberries and 8 lbs. of sweet cherries. We definitely could have picked more, but the storm clouds were moving in fast. We climbed into the car to go home just as the first raindrop fell. Perfect timing! My kids love cherry picking the most because they can climb the trees to reach the top branches. Thankfully, cherry trees are’t terribly high. Tomorrow we plan to pick blueberries and I can only imagine how many we will come home with.

After we picked all of our strawberries, I washed them and divided into freezer bags and tossed in the freezer. This assures me they will be usable later. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let the berries sit for too long and wasted them, literally spoiling the fruits of my labor.

We have our standard uses for Strawberries. I toss them into our smoothies, pancakes and baked goods. And every year I make fresh strawberry ice cream. I make it right in my food processor and it is ridiculously easy.

I also make frozen banana ice cream pretty regularly. So, when I eyeballed those sad little bananas on my counter just turning brown, I had an idea. Why not make banana strawberry ice cream cupcakes? I’ll throw a little peanut butter into the banana ice cream for protein and it will practically be a health food! ~ genius

Here is the recipe I whipped up for my family to enjoy. It is dairy, gluten, soy, dye free and there is no added sugar. We did add a layer of graham cracker crumbs between the ice cream layers, but that is optional. Next time I am going to make the strawberry ice cream with coconut milk to see how that changes the texture. This makes six cupcakes, however, there will be about a pint of additional strawberry ice cream you can tuck away for yourself for later. You’re welcome!

I hope you make these and enjoy! Do you get out to pick your own berries? What do you make with all of those sweet berries?

Roxanne Ferber is a blogger mom and freelance writer. She enjoys the sweet silence of kids sleeping in and has a crippling coffee addiction. Motherhood has changed her in many ways, but remaining non-judgey and ready to support other moms are her strong suits. If you’d like to work with her, visit the work with me link in the side bar. If you want to send her happy thoughts or share your motherhood story drop a line at [email protected], or find The Whatever Mom on Facebook.

Eco-Friendly Play Kits from Love Play Create

Summer time is here and I am stocking up on all the play kits and science experiments I can to keep my kids busy. My kids are almost ten, but they still enjoy creating with playdough and using their very active imaginations. Since we are an eco-friendly family, we are always looking for healthy options for playing and living.

I purchased two awesome play kits from Love Play Create because everything is made with love and attention to detail. My kids fell in love with the bumble bee and the dragon themes. Take a look at what’s inside!

How cute are these bees? The play dough is made from all natural ingredients and stored inside glass mason jars which keeps the playdough fluffy for longer. All the play things my kids use to build their imaginary meadow, or bee hive are made from paper, wood or glass.

The shipping materials are all paper based and can be put in the recycling or compost bin, which we love! For preschool aged players this would pair perfectly with a story about bumble bees in the garden or how bees pollinate our food supply. Planting flowers after playing with bees helps little ones connect the busy work of bees! (Always supervise little ones while playing with small parts).

The dragon theme box is an equal favorite and truly indulges a creative imagination. The toad stools are hand painted wine corks and the adorable dragon cookie cutter is reusable. Don’t you think this set calls out for an after play time tea party with dragon shaped cookies to decorate? This is such a fun box!

Here’s what my kids say:

What is your favorite part? The playdough is fluffier than store bought.

What do you think of the accessories? These things are fun to use to design the picture I have in my mind.

What do you think of the materials? I love that it’s safe for us and healthier for the earth!

Which theme do you like better? I love them both, I just can’t decide!

There you have it, we are in love with these adorable play boxes! Now you can get yours for 10% off THROUGH SEPTEMBER 1ST 2020!! That’s the entire summer! Check out all the awesome themes available to keep your kids busy at the Love Play Create Etsy store, and use code WHATEVERMOM.

What is your kiddos favorite way to create?

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Summer Hydration Tips for Kids

Do you have a kid that just will not drink water, no matter how much you remind them? I have two kiddos that I have to constantly remind to drink water on the daily. It is frustrating. I barely remember to drink my own ounces and somehow I have to remember to get them to drink enough too?

Water is essential for so many things, but most importantly, it is essential for our mood and energy levels. So, if you want the kids to have enough energy to log off of their video games without an attitude make sure they are properly hydrated. OK the attitude part is not a guarantee, but at least they should have enough energy to log off the screens for a little bit.

Thankfully, water isn’t the only way to hydrate. If you have a kid that is not a water drinker, there are still plenty of ways for your kids to get their ounces each day, including water dense fruits and veggies and icy cold treats.

Go nuts – coconuts! Coconut water is a fantastic way to hydrate and replenish electrolytes without artificial dyes or added sugar. You can purchase coconut water in a variety of flavors, or as a powder to mix into your bottled water.

Just add ice – puree your favorite berries, or fruits and pour into ice cube trays to freeze. Then just add to a glass and add water. It will keep things cold while slowly adding flavor to your water.

Skip the mix – fresh squeezed lemonade is a tasty way to get those ounces with the added benefit of vitamin c. As my kids say, homemade lemonade is easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Harness the power of the sun – Sun tea requires very little effort and brews while you are playing in the yard. Add 2-3 caffeine free herbal tea bags to a gallon pitcher of water and place it in the sun. Pour over ice to cool down while you rehydrate.

Go Natural – fill up a gallon pitcher of water and add slices of your child’s favorite fruit, or frozen berries. It will add flavor and antioxidants to your next drink.

Solid advice – freeze herbal teas or fruit infused coconut water in popsicle molds. Your kids will be more than happy to eat an icy treat on a hot day. Or offer your kids fresh fruits and veggies with high water content like apples, oranges, watermelon, blueberries and raspberries. Snacking on fresh foods through the day goes a lot further for hydration than eating salty processed snacks. Plus there will be more salty snacks left over for you to enjoy once those little cherubs go to sleep. 🙂

Water can taste bland and seem like a chore for kids to finish. But if you keep a few of the flavorful options listed above, on hand, they may be more willing to sip through out the day.

How do you make sure you and your kiddos get enough hydrating ounces each day?

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Meet a Mom and Owner of Three Sisters Herbals, LLC

Meet Kimberlee Tompkins, owner of Three Sisters Herbals, LLC. Kim creates hand made herbal skin care, aromatheraputic essential oil products, lip balms and more. My family began using these products nearly ten years ago when a friend introduced me to using Wicked Salve for my daughter’s diaper rash. Then we tried the Bug Away spray while my kids were toddlers. These products work so well for us, we keep them in supply all year long.

Kimberlee is mom to three biological children and two bonus children, a business owner, gardener, nature lover, wife and business owner. She has an eye on sustainability and it is reflected in her packaging and business practices. She even offers a recycling program for empty containers her customers use (including brands not her own). Kim is generous with her community and even during this pandemic she made sure the front line workers were taken care of with essential product care packages to keep them healthy and cared for. She is as nurturing to the world around her as she is her own family.

Meet Kimberlee!

What is your business? Three Sisters Herbals, Inc.

Who does your business serve? Mom, usually between 35-45 years old, who have an interest in non toxic living and the environment.

What is your business mission? To help families reduce the amount of chemicals in their homes by providing them with all natural and organic products, that have multiple uses and are budget friendly. To provide opportunities for our customers to give back to the community we live in by offering donations to local charities.

What local charities do you support? We routinely raise product donations for Sparrows Nest clients, Hope on a Mission, Dutchess Outreach and now essential workers in the Hudson Valley.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I think this is a really hard question. Becoming a parent has been a journey of self discovery. As I saw undesirable qualities in my kids, I had to face up to the fact some were from me. I began to really dig deep to be the best person I could be, so my kids would be better. It has catapulted an epic life changing spiritual journey. I let my kids see me, all flawed and weird and stressed and laughing and human (hopefully not at the same time!), and I think it makes them better people, to realize we are all just humans.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I am an introvert who would rather talk to her pets or her houseplants over most people 🙂 I struggle with social anxiety and various health issues, which makes working from home so valuable to me, it affords me the time to rest if I need. My husband and my kids are the most important thing to me. I love to hug people (which is in direct conflict with being an introvert, but I’m also a Scorpio, so don’t try to figure me out). And lastly, just to keep it real, I sleep with multiple stuffed animals every single night.

How do you most relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? How Roxanne keeps a judgement free zone. We are all moms, we all have struggles and good/bad days. The more we can support and lift each other up, the better the world will be.

Where are you located and how can other moms find you? I am located in Hyde Park with products available in local retail locations which are listed on my website. For great updates about products everyone can follow along on Facebook, Instagram and my Momsteading blog.

Family Pizza Night Recipe

My family has had a long-standing tradition of making our own pizza every Friday night. It began while my kids were toddlers using their little chubby hands to sprinkle the cheese topping and smuggle extra pepperoni to their mouth while I wasn’t looking. Cooking together is one of the first educational activities we enjoyed together as a family.

I confess there have been several pizza nights we skipped the DIY process and just ordered out, because it was easier. Since we have been home and easing up on take out during this pandemic, we have found new tasty and fun ways to enjoy our family DIY pizza night. This is the next big hit at my house – pizza rolls. These are ridiculously easy to make at any age and it is a huge time savor since it uses store bought ingredients.

You will need:

Any store bought, pre-made canned biscuit dough.

Pepperoni slices

Shredded mozzarella

Grated Parmesan cheese

2 TBSP melted butter

Dried parsley (optional)

Tomato sauce

Begin by rolling out the individual biscuit slices until flat and three times larger than original size.

Next, sprinkle on a little shredded mozzarella and top with 2-3 pepperoni slices.

Now you can fold the ends of the biscuit dough toward the center and close it up. It looks like a cute little bun! Place the roll seam side down on a baking sheet (I love using my baking stone).

Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with grated parmesan and dried parsley.

Bake according to the directions on the side of the package (about 12-14 minutes depending on your oven).

You can serve with your favorite tomato sauce for dipping or serve plain for the picky eater refusing anything tomatoey this week. You can bump up the veggie count by adding puree veggies to the dipping sauce. You can bump up the vitamin and fiber content by sprinkling some nutritional yeast over the shredded cheese or swap out the melted butter for olive oil. You use whatever ingredients works for your family and just enjoy the silliness and conversation while building these delightful little pizza bundles!

Got a good family pizza night recipe? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Meet a Mom and Energetic Entrepreneur

If you haven’t met Jenny Yeung, you haven’t met her creative vibe and non- stop energy. I’ve watched her (through social media updates) build and create two Asian/Mexican fusion restaurants and two satellite Bunsen Tea Lab locations for her amazing bubble tea and bites. I may also eat my fair share of shrimp pad Thai on a regular basis.

Jenny owns and manages two brands and several restaurant locations while she works hard raising two young children. Her food creations and flavor combinations are unique and just plain yummy. I seriously asked if her secret to this kind of energy comes from drinking bubble tea, because I’ll have what she’s having!

Meet Jenny!

What is your business? Crazy Bowls, a Asian/Mexican fusion restaurant with two locations, Kingston and New Paltz, NY.

Who is your ideal customer? Anyone who appreciates good food!

How would you describe your business mission: Serving the community quality food fast and at an affordable price. A better alternative than fast food chains.

How do you relate most to the Whatever Mom Philosophy: Wine before coffee. Coffee before the face of my kids.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I think all moms are strong and unique in their own way.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I built a restaurant from scratch during my pregnancies and then grew those businesses while dealing with two little demons at day and angels at night.

Where can moms find out more about your business? Feel free to drool along with Crazy Bowls food updates on Facebook and IG.

Summer Grilling Made Easy with Foil Packets

Perfectly delicious when topped with grated parmesan cheese.

I really rely on our grill to get me through the diner time rush during the summer. Everything seems to cook easier, quicker and cleaner on my grill. Plus, the heat stays outside and not inside where I have the air conditioner running.

A friend of mine introduced me to foil packets years ago and it is one of those things I question why I never thought of it before. Super easy clean up! You can wrap almost anything in foil and cook it on the grill and get amazing fast food!

My picky eaters are currently into asparagus and tomatoes, so I made both!

Seasoned asparagus topped with heirloom cherry tomatoes.

Start by pulling enough foil to be wrap around the food you will place inside.

Drizzle oil directly onto the foil, layer on the veggies, drizzle on more oil and sprinkle with seasonings. We like to add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Once the veggies are grilled we shake on some parm cheese. Nice and simple.

To wrap, bring the short edges together (folding the long rectangle into itself) and roll them downward in one direction. Next, fold the sides or roll them up to create enough of a seal to keep the oil and steam from escaping.

Secure the edges of your foil packet to avoid dripping.

Put the packets over a medium flame for about 10-12 minutes, flipping half way. You’re done! Super easy side dish with very little clean up!

How do you like to grill your veggies? Got a recipe you’d like to submit? Please email it to me at [email protected]

Meet a Mom and Creator of Bespoke Commodities

Meet Kristen Haefner!

Kristen is the owner and creator of Bespoke Commodities. What started out as having fun making cute bows for her daughter to wear, has blossomed into a full on creative business that includes hosting craft parties, boxed gift sets and subscription boxes. Kristen built her dream business from the ground up while raising her little girl.

When Kristen isn’t working hard as a mom and creative genius, you might find her relaxing at the spa to escape the constant demands of parenting, raising awareness for the Bully Proof Project and playing gift fairy behind the scenes at Bespoke. She is known for randomly surprising a shopper or two with an entirely free order, just because.

What kind of products can moms expect from Bespoke Commodities? Personalized Gifts ranging from t-shirts and wine tumblers to gift boxes of all sorts, craft kits for kids and subscription boxes.

Describe your business mission: At Bespoke Commodities, we promise to help you celebrate life’s special occasions (or every day!) with personalized products. We provide superior value in terms of product quality, price and satisfaction and we offer a fun and ever-changing product line.

Do you make things just for moms? We make great gifts and personalized items for everyone!

What makes you stand out as a mom? I drop everything I’m doing when it comes to my daughter – whether she’s with me or at her fathers. She reaches out to me at midnight from the other house and I am there for her.

How do you relate to The Whatever Mom philosophy? That parenting isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.

What do you want other moms to know about you? That it is absolutely worth it to follow your dreams – I took the jump from working for someone else to working for myself and I won’t look back!

Where can other moms find you? My website and Facebook

Arnold Palmers by the Gallon

This week’s recipe was submitted by reader Sandra McKeever. Here’s how she makes a refreshing gallon of Arnold Palmer Iced Tea.

Enjoy!

You will need:
A gallon sized pitcher

Ice

6 Tea bags

2 scoops of powdered lemonade

Begin by filling the pitcher to the top with ice and adding all 6 tea bags. Next, top with the two scoops of lemonade powder.

Boil 1.7 liters of water and pour over the ice/teabag/lemonade poweder.

Add as much cool water as needed to fill the pitcher.

Stir and let it blend together in the fridge for about an hour. Remove the tea bags and enjoy!

How great is this to enjoy through the week or to put out at barbeques? Super simple and doesn’t require a lot of time in the kitchen.

Thank you Sandra!!

If you’d like to submit a favorite recipe to be featured on The Whatever Mom blog, email your original recipe along with photos to [email protected] Make the title: What’chya eatin’?

Meet a Mom and Certified Stress Management Coach

Meet my friend Lisa Zawrotny!

Lisa is an amazing conversationalist, stress management coach, decluttering expert and mother of two. She loves coffee, making music and spending time with her family. After living through the overwhelming experience of juggling her combined roles as a wife, mother, care taker (for her mother) and business owner, she founded Positively Productive Systems LLC. Lisa is now a Certified Stress Management Coach specializing in Productivity & Organizing and the host of the Positively Living Podcast. She shares the powerful healing of simplifying, self-care, and structure through speaking engagements, and offers coaching to overwhelmed moms and women everywhere.

Lisa Zawrotny is the owner and founder of Positively Productive Systems, LLC.

How do you help overwhelmed mamas make positive change? I offer personalized coaching and content relating to stress management, time management, decluttering/organizing, gratitude, and more!

Where are you located? I just moved from the Hudson Valley region to Finger Lakes area of New York.

Who are you looking to help? Caregivers, nurturers, the overextended, the overwhelmed, the ones who give until they hurt, the mamas, the multitaskers, those with chronic conditions, those who feel like there has got to be a better way, those who believe in simplifying and not sweating the small stuff, the ones who are daring to dream again and define who they are, the empaths who feel the weight of the world and still show up.

How do you serve others through your business mission? It is my mission to be the antidote to stress, not simply another task on a todo list, to encourage action in a way that is livable, and a guide to true and lasting change that fits each person’s life.

How do you most relate to The Whatever Mom philosophy? I adore the non judgmental “we’re all just trying to make it through here” philosophy. Why does it matter *how* we do what we do? Unity is key.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I get it. I’ve been there. And even when my positivity is flying high, my heart still feels your weariness and pain. I’m here to help and encourage…to highlight Hope in your life. ?

What makes you stand out as a mom? I respect my kiddos and laugh a LOT with them. I am real with them. I show them I am human and I think they respect me all the more for it.

Where can other moms find you? My website: Positively Productive Systems, My Podcast, Facebook and Instagram.

What’chya Eatin’ Wednesday

One of the things my readers respond to most are my posts about food! Every Wednesday I ask my friends, what’chya eatin? The results do not disappoint.

One of my easy favorite go to recipes in the summer is corn on the cob. We especially love it on the grill. Grilled street corn is a favorite for my husband and me. I bring it out all summer long as an easy week night side dish. I know everyone hates having to scroll through a long story about a recipe before getting to the actual recipe, so I won’t keep you! Just comment below if you give this recipe a try!

MEXICAN STREET CORN

Ingredients:

4 ears of corn

1/2 cup of mayonnaise

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp chipotle powder

Shaker parmesan cheese

1 lime (for zest and cut into wedges)

*optional* Cilantro

Begin by grilling your corn on the grill. We clean the husk and the silk form the corn and place it directly on the grill. Turn it to a new side every few minutes for a total of about 15 minutes.

While the corn is grilling, it’s time to mix the creamy topping. Zest the lime into a bowl, add in mayo, chipotle, garlic and paprika. Set aside.

Once your corn is finished on the grill, let it sit until cool enough to touch. You can also use cob holders in the end of the corn to make it easier to hold and turn while topping. Slice the lime into wedges and rub one lime wedge on each ear of corn. Then brush the corn with the seasoned mixture of mayo and top with grated cheese. That’s it!

This makes an easy side dish for adults and kids to enjoy. But if you have a picky eater kid (like mine) skip the mayo and slather the corn in butter, top with salt and parm cheese and it’s good to go.

Have you ever had corn this delicious?

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Meet a Mom and the Owner of Olive & Elm Crafts

Meet my friend Kelly Fears! Not only is she a mother and business owner, but she also donates her time to supporting other moms. She runs a support group for moms surviving infant loss and a group dedicated to helping other moms run a businesses.

Kelly started her own business making customizable gifts, shirts, tumblers, totes and more, as a way to express her creativity while staying home with her two adorable children. She built her business from scratch and is dedicated to helping other small mom run businesses succeed.

How did you come up with the name for your business? Olive & Elm is a mash up of all my children’s’ names. My twin daughters Ellie & Emma past away on their due date, and I really wanted to make sure all my children were included in the name.

What types of products do you offer through Olive & Elm? Signs, Gifts, Décor, Shirts, Tumblers & more. I also co-admin a local, small business mamas group on Facebook. I put several hours in each week curating content to help small business mamas navigate being a mom & running a small businesses.

Where are you located? I have two locations, one in Dutchess County NY an one in Saratoga County, NY.

Describe your business mission: I create customized items people need with a personalized touch, and offer them the experience to talk to the creator of their products.

How do you relate to The Whatever Mom Philosophy? Honestly, since reading your blog it has helped me to let go of the imperfections that I felt were a character flaw and my failures as a mom/wife etc. So, Identify with your struggles and the reminders to sometimes just say “Whatever” and embrace the messiness.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I also run a support group for moms who have lost mono/mono twins. I started the group in early 2014 after my mono/mono twin loss. It is an extremely rare and extremely high risk pregnancy survival rate, at best it’s about 50%. It was hard to find groups that understood the rare nature, the high risk and then the loss. I created the group in hopes of connecting families who have walked the same path as we did for support and understanding.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I think I’m fairly funny and easy going despite having gone through some of the darkest pain most parents could ever imagine. And, I love owning my small business. I try to help other moms find the in’s and outs of owning a small business as well.

Where can moms find you? Olive & Elm Crafts Facebook Instagram and TikTok.

What is Going Right During this Pandemic?

Several weeks ago, I asked the moms in my Whatever Mom Circle private group what is working for them during quarantine. What is something positive they are gaining from this time at home? Almost everyone said, slowing down has made a big difference in how they feel.

Normally, as moms, we are rushing from one drop off to another, running errands and racing through our day in a blur. Now that we are home more, that hectic pace has shifted. Yes, we are now handling more educational tasks than before, but there is less pressure to get everyone out of the door by a certain time. Most of us are letting the kids sleep in a little longer. It is sad our favorite activities are on hold, but it’s also nice to not have to crack the whip to get through dinner on time for soccer practice.

What else is going right?

Well, I for one feel less anxious about sending my kids off each day into the unknown. Will they be bullied today? Will they be afraid during a lockdown drill and I won’t be there to comfort them? Will they eat their full lunch today? Will they feel ill and sit in the nurses office? Now that we are home together all day, I don’t have to worry so much.

Then there is not having to pack lunches! Shout out to the gods above because I HATE packing two lunches every night. Lunch planning is the bane of my school year! I count down to every Friday because the cafeteria serves pizza. The one school food my kids willingly eat. God bless the lunch ladies! I haven’t met them, but I hold each of them in my heart.

My kids are connecting more with each other. The hectic pace of the school day, shuffling from one classroom to the next and using manners seems to wear them out entirely. This leaves very little patience for one another. As soon as they return home it is non-stop bickering and arguing. They still argue in quarantine, but they are a bit more patient and more accepting of each other in their respective spaces.

Overall, this pandemic at home thing is not ideal. It’s not my favorite experience. But, I am grateful my kids are home with me where I know they are safe. I like that we can slow down and we have less obligations on the calendar. I like that we are eating better. I like that we are using our local farms more, have more time to grow things and my kids are learning life skills.

Plus, there is a lot more wine in the house lately. Perhaps one silver lining to this pandemic.

What is working for you during this pandemic?

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Meet a Mom Monday

This post kicks off my new weekly series, Meet a Mom Monday! I thought it might be a fun way to introduce some moms already in The Whatever Mom community. I put out a call to moms already following along to introduce themselves and tell us more about how they are making a difference within their communities alongside being a mom. It’s easy to lose ourselves in motherhood, especially in those really early years. It’s hard to remember that life will get a little easier and there will be more time for ourselves. I hope the amazing women you are about to meet will inspire you to keep your own dreams alive! I know they inspire me. So, without further ado, meet Nakeyia!

Nakeyia Jones is an author and owner of Uniquely Purposed, LLC a publishing company focusing on children’s books and novels. She has authored children’s books, family devotionals and a recent novella of her own. Her first book, Super Spots shares the story of a young girl living with a skin condition known as Vitiligo, a condition Nakeyia herself lives with. Her hope is to inspire others living with this condition and to raise awareness and acceptance.

Describe your mission: To inspire children to embrace their differences and those of others. I want to reach moms of twins, children with special needs and rare diseases and adults that want a little suspense out of a book.

How many children do you have? Two children and one grandchild.

How do you relate to the Whatever Mom philosophy? We are not given a handbook on how to raise our children. The Whatever Mom helps us all to know we are human, will make mistakes and we are not alone on the parenting journey.

What do you want other moms to know about you? I am passionate about the future of young people and it’s my calling in life to help them find purpose and keep them motivated.

What makes you stand out as a mom? I raised a hyper-active child successfully, that is my super power!

Where can other moms find you? I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Virtual Activities to Keep Your Kids Feeling Social

I know moms miss having the kids in school right now, for obvious reasons. There’s no time to work and teach and there is no time to work and teach and cook a million times a day.

Not being in school is incredibly hard on the kids too. Especially the kids who really love going to school each day to see their friends. My kids are social creatures and look forward to conversations with their bus drivers, their teachers, school staff and friends every day in school. There just aren’t as many people to talk to at home. So, we have to get a little creative with how we participate in our friendships from home.

Thank goodness for technology! We use Zoom and Google Meets to keep in touch with teachers and classmates and to have individual virtual play dates. My kids are young so they still like to play on play dates. Here is what they’ve loved so far:

Bake Some Treats – pick a recipe you both have ingredients for (we chose chocolate chip cookies). Follow the steps together and show off your progress. Kids can keep the conversation going while they are waiting for the cookies to finish baking. Once the cookies are cool enough to eat, it’s time for both friends on either side of the screen to grab some milk and get to dunking. There is something so comforting in sharing fresh warm cookies and chatting with a friend.

Play games – There is a whiteboard feature on the Zoom screen. Kids can use this to play tic tac toe, hangman, Pictionary or share the screen to take turns completing a drawing project. This one is so much fun because both kids can participate and no one needs to rummage for the same game pieces.

Watch funny videos together – Zoom and Google Meets allows you to share the screen so you can load up some funny pet videos from the Internet, or share a movie experience together. Everyone can grab their own snacks before they sign on and pick a video or movie to watch together.

Build things – If your kid loves to build with Legos, Blocks or magnetic tiles, or scraps of recycled materials, they will love building something along side a buddy to show off when complete. Kids absolutely love show and tell and sharing their creations.

Get artsy – my kids love to paint or draw or make their own books. Grab all the supplies you need, log on and let the kids brainstorm their own themes and get to work. This is a great way for kids to share in the creative process together while socializing.

Read together – it can be hard to encourage kids to read outside of classwork and school time. But if they have a reading buddy it makes it more fun and feels less like work. Have your child grab a favorite book to read to their friend (and their friend’s pet if they have one). They can chat together in the end about the books, or just about life and connect.

Host a virtual sleep over – we haven’t tried this one yet, but it is on our list! No need to leave your kid logged in all night (mine would never go to bed!). Just hop into some comfy pajamas and get ready to eat some snacks and play some games! You can throw in homemade facials, or chit chat while painting nails. Maybe watch some videos together or make your own silly videos to capture the memory of this really unique slumber party.

Even with the use of technology, it can be hard not seeing people up close and personal. So, we’ve had a few creative socially distant get togethers too. One morning we called our friends and told them meet us outside. We drove to our their houses with music blasting and had a dance party in our car while they were in their yard. We’ve dropped off surprise gifts and we’ve had friends do walk-bys and stand at the end of driveway to offer hellos and air hugs. Just parking 6 feet apart with our cars side by side so the kids can talk across the divide does wonders for their social emotional health.

Now that spring is here and we can be outside, it doesn’t mean we are ready to rush getting together. We still need to keep our socially safe distance apart to keep everyone healthy. We can’t participate in our friendships and socialize the same way as before, but with a little bit of creativity, we can find some new ways to stay together even while we are apart.

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Spring Cleaning During a Pandemic? Leave it to the Professionals!

This post contains sponsored content.

Anyone else feeling overwhelmed by the thought of yard work and exterior home clean up? Between crisis schooling the kids, cooking every meal, sanitizing protocols and working from home I am so exhausted. I am ready for a nap by 2:30 p.m. every day! By Saturday, the last thing I want to do is spend hours on yard clean up and power washing the deck. I feel like as a family we work hard during the week on school assignments, cleaning and chores that I feel guilty doing more work on the weekends.   

As my husband and I made our list of springtime chores, we realize at our current pace and weather patterns, we are so behind. Even when we include our kids in the work, it takes us triple the time to get it done. So, now we are working through the week and on the weekends checking off our springtime cleaning tasks. I am a firm believer that professional help is worth every penny especially when it saves my sanity! So, I want to share with you a family run business out of Clifton Park, NY that I recently discovered, E&J Cleaning and Floors.

Call / Text For Your Free Estimate Today 518-419-4683

Hiring professionals during this COVID crisis can feel uneasy. We want to make sure they are following safety protocols and social distancing practices. Thankfully, E&J Cleaning and Floors has adapted to create a no contact service call to help knock those big cleaning tasks off your list and free up your time. They offer power washing for your siding, deck, fences, driveways, patios, etc., and window washing. All these services can take place at a distance on the exterior of your home, and can be arranged via email, phone or text. Estimates are free and payment handled over the phone before work is completed. That means no face to face, no hand shaking and no pen sharing. This is perfect for families overwhelmed by working, educating and isolating at home, or older homeowners who need the extra help. And, getting these chores taken care of safely will be a huge relief.

Photo credit: E&J Cleaning and Floors

You can visit their website for details and to see before and after photos of all their individual cleaning projects on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Speaking of the details, I notice they also clean home interiors and are providing a unique sanitizing system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help businesses and homes safeguard against the COVID-19 virus, they are using a special Electrostatic Disinfection technique. The technique includes using a designated applicator that administers a negative charge to the EPA approved cleaning solution as it applies an even coating of the solution onto surfaces and into hard to reach places. The E&J Cleaning crew is already using the system inside campers and offices and adapting for residential use. Staff will arrive wearing masks and gloves and keeping a distance from anyone in the house. This service sounds ideal for homes of essential workers who may be worried about exposing their families to the COVID-19 virus, doctors’ offices, families who may be more vulnerable to contracting the virus, etc. I did some quick research and find that it is most effective after a deep clean of your home. E&J Cleaning and Floors also offers in-home deep cleaning and sanitizing those high-touch surfaces such as light switches, doorknobs and handrails.

As a local, small business E&J Cleaning and Floors is ready to serve the greater Capital District area of NY with dedicated and individualized service that includes keeping your health and safety in mind. You can also grab a gift certificate for a cleaning to use when this stay at home life is over. If your house is anything like mine, after four humans living here 24/7 for two months it is probably screaming DEEP CLEAN right about now. (Ahem, Mother’s Day is in 11 days! And nothing says thank you like giving mom the day off from any chore!).

Earth Day Coloring Contest!

Happy 50th Earth Day!

Today is the 50th celebration of Earth Day and on a personal note, it is my 30th celebration. I began celebrating as a high school student when I joined the Student Environmental Action Committee (SEAC). Every Earth Day we hosted a campus wide cleanup of the school grounds and planted trees. During the year we wrote letters to our state representatives asking them to consider funding recycling programs, and we wrote letters to large corporations asking them to stop testing on animals. And right in our own school we worked with our administrators to amplify our recycling efforts and limit the amount of waste we generated as a school community. It was my first lesson in creating change right in my community. I can’t remember if any of our larger efforts outside of our school made direct changes, but I do believe that all of our collective efforts helped power the eco-friendly movement. Thirty years later, I am so excited to share with my own family how to reduce, reuse and recycle what we have. We do our best each day to keep our planet and living creatures healthy, from recycling to pitching single use plastics from our home, we make sure to put thought into our impact on the environment.

This week, my daughter designed an Earth Day poster to share with her class. I shared her design with my friend Kelly at Olive & Elm Crafts who generously jumped on board with an Earth Day coloring contest! Use THIS LINK to find the FREE Earth Day Turtle coloring page. Let your kiddo color it and snap a pic to share on Olive & Elm’s Facebook post announcing the contest. We will pick a winner next week to receive a FREE reusable tote bag with their artwork on it! This is our fun way of celebrating the day with all of you!

* * * Now for the awareness part! * * *

Read on to learn more about small changes your family can make at home for a big impact!

Making eco-friendly changes can feel overwhelming when you aren’t sure where to start. The key is to make changes that your family is most likely to stick to and not give up on. We are so reliant on convenience, but there are plenty of swap outs you can make that are still convenient (and affordable) for a busy family. I always tell families to start with just one simple change and once you have that down pat, look for another. Every bit helps and the more families making small changes, the bigger the long-term effect!

Here are some simple changes families can make to help keep the planet healthy!

  1. Swap out your paper napkins for cloth. This might sound like more laundry, but it really isn’t. I toss our cloth napkins right in with the weekly load of kitchen towels. I am just pitching them into laundry I am already doing, so no extra step. I found our cloth napkins at thrift stores for near pennies!
  2. Recycle properly. I have learned over the years that not all plastics are created equal and many of us just toss all our plastic items into the bin assuming it will be recycled. The term for that is, “wish cycling.” The truth is, not all plastics are accepted in every town. Go to your town’s website and search for a listing of acceptable items. Hang the list on your fridge so everyone in your family can refer to it. Try to avoid buying plastics or other materials that are not recycled in your area.
  3. Pitch the plastic water bottles and sippy cups. Switching to stainless steal is a much healthier alternative. Not only are plastic bottles plaguing our waterways, but we can ingest microplastics and plasticizers (chemicals in plastics). We fill up our stainless bottles and leave in the fridge for a grab and go cold drink during the day and I send them along in the school lunches.
  4. Switch to bamboo toothbrushes instead of using plastic. Did you know every single toothbrush ever manufactured is still living in a landfill or floating in our oceans? It takes hundreds of years for the plastic to bio-degrade. Bamboo is compostable and biodegradable. Plus, it is antimicrobial which stays cleaner than plastic. These brushes are quickly becoming more affordable and only need to be replaced every 6 months.
  5. Reduce convenience packaging. Everything about modern parenting is created with convenience in mind from travel pouches and storage bags to plastic to-go cups that transport easily in the car. We will buy bulk sized snacks (or make our own) and store in reusable containers like mason jars or a soup Thermos for every day snack options and leave the convenience packages for long trips.

I could keep the list going. Every year my family and I take on one new eco-friendly habit to change. The ones listed above are the easiest and most affordable changes for families to make.

What is one change your family is planning to make in honor of Earth Day?

Picky Eater Solutions: How to Minimize the Fight

Many of you know by now, I have two very picky eaters. There was a day I could feed them anything without a problem. Suddenly, they decided food wasn’t exciting anymore. They began limiting themselves to the familiar favorites of macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets.

Before kids, I was not a meal planner nor spent hours prepping ahead. I love the joy of cooking and spontaneously creating a meal from ingredients I’ve tossed together. I love sampling the food combos I’ve dreamed up. Unless it is made entirely of cheese, my kids could care less about my craftiness in the kitchen. So, over the years I’ve learned to push passed my frustration with their picky habits. I’ve realized the main focus is getting food into the belly. Not just any food, but nutritious food. So, how do I get nutritious food into such picky eaters? Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the years.

1. PICK YOUR BATTLES: If you are tired of missing out on meals because your entire time is spent fighting a kid to eat, let it go. If that means prepping a smaller side dish that your kid will eat, then do it if it works for you. To me that is easier than missing my own meal to focus on a battle I am not going to win. I let my kids eat boxed mac and cheese and stir in a couple spoonful’s of squash or cauliflower puree. It makes them happy to eat what they love and it makes me happy they are getting extra nutrition.

I like this hidden veggie mac and cheese recipe from My Fussy Eater.

2. FOCUS ON NUTRITION: Often as parents we get caught up in subscribing to the clean plate club. But this doesn’t help kids understand their hunger cues. Portion sizes vary widely for kids, some enjoy larger portions than others. I try to make sure what I am serving is so packed with nutrition that even if they take two bites, it counts for something. I have become the queen of concealing veggies in my kids’ favorite foods.

My picky eaters don’t even notice the spinach in these Secret Ingredient Pistachio Muffins from Making Thyme for Health.

3. GET THEM INVOVLED WITH FOOD: My kids may turn their noses up to sitting at a table with a full meal before them, but they will nibble all day long on familiar favorites. I encourage them to make their own foods by putting out a sandwich bar or a “picky” tray filled with proteins and nourishment like cold cuts, devilled eggs, hummus and veggies, fruit and dip, etc. It makes things easier for me and we all win when our bellies are full.

Related post: Moms to Kids Everywhere, Make Your Own Damned Sandwiches

4. CHANGE THE WAY YOU CELEBRATE WITH FOOD: Before kids, the only meal planning I did was around the holidays. I created a menu combining my and my husbands favorites from childhood. All I had to do was pull out the recipes and go shopping. But my kids really aren’t into stuffing and Ambrosia Salad. If your kid isn’t into your favorite holiday meals, move your celebration to the meal they love the most. Make a special breakfast, or lunch and enjoy a less stressful experience. You can still enjoy the traditional foods you love at dinner and let them eat smaller portions or something they will stay at the table for. Memories of being at the table together without a war will mean more to them in the future than whether or not they finished the dreaded peas.

We make this Dublin Coddle for St. Patrick’s Day from Fit Slow Cooker Queen. My kids just pick out the parts they will eat.

5. USE COMPASSION: Some kids have anxiety around food, or sensory disorders, they will stick to the foods they know are familiar. Ultimately, it was this discovery in my own kids that made it easier to accept there are times I need to make two different dinners. The old school technique of forcing kids to eat, DOES NOT work for kids with anxiety, or sensory issues. It only forces them to become more rigid with their choices. It can really do more harm than good.

Learn More at Anxious Toddler.

Do you have a picky eater? How do you plan for meals?

My Favorite Turmeric Tea For Immune Health

A couple of weeks ago I posted on Instagram how I upped my adulting level to drinking Tumeric tea. I was shocked by how many questions I received asking why I drink it and how do I make it.

Well, to tell the truth, drinking tea is one of the ways I make time for self care. The act of making tea kind of slows me down and gives me a moment to pause. Once I pour the hot water into the cup, I hold the warm cup in my hands to soak up the heat. (My hands are continuously frozen from October through May).

I started adding turmeric to my favorite lemon, ginger tea to help tame the inflammation from my arthritis. Getting through the winter in the North East is tough. But, this has truly helped me keep up with my kids hectic pace. Turmeric also gives the immune system a boost. Pairing it with the Vitamin C in the lemon and combining with the health benefits of ginger makes for one tasty, healing tea. I add just enough honey to balance out the spiciness of the turmeric.

There are all kinds of recipes you can find that uses whole fresh ginger root that you peel and slice, then you add a squeeze of fresh lemon…but I don’t have time for that in my day. I use my favorite brand of bagged tea and add in 1/8 tsp of turmeric and 1 tsp of honey. Easy peasy without the lemon squeezy.

I still love my coffee to get me going in the morning, but I love a warm cup of slow sipping tea a few times of the day to slow me down and keep me feeling connected.

How about you? Are you a tea drinker?

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Come Spend the Day with me at Mom University! *Exclusive Discount*

Mom University is a one day event just for moms.
This is a compensated post, but all opinions are authentically my own.

This time last year I was in deep need of a mental and physical break. I had just left a horrible job and was under stress at home while trying to get work lined up. My husband and I were fighting so much, and one of my kiddos was having a rough time at school. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with all the demands coming at me all at once. I was stressed to the max.

I needed a break so badly, that I drove an hour all by myself through the snow and rain to get to an event called, Mom University. It is a one-day event from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with food I don’t have to make and coffee and conversation with other moms in the same boat as me. I arrived alone, but I wasn’t alone for long. Other moms invited me to sit at their table and the organizers Jen, Alicia and Laura made me feel welcome. After settling in with my cup of hot, fresh coffee and rooting through my swag bag of goodies, I dove into the breakout session topics. I was excited to spend time with experts in the areas I was struggling with the most, nutrition, finances, self-care and kid behaviors. And, the chair massage and blow out bar were an amazing extra in my day. I laughed so much, and I even cried a little when some of us shared our mom stories. It was a powerful day.

Mom Swag! So much more in the bag, but I couldn’t hold it all up for a selfie.

I came to the event feeling like a hot ball of stress. But when I left, I felt more relaxed, uplifted and ready to face the chaos at home. I had tools to use to take care of myself and my family and the best part, I knew I wasn’t the only mom struggling.

I am excited to return to the gorgeous Locust Grove Estate in Poughkeepsie on March 29th, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. for another exciting line up of experts to learn from and this time, meet up with mom friends. And I am even more excited to share with my readers and local moms an *exclusive discount* so you can experience Mom University for yourselves! You can buy your tickets —> here <—- and use the code WHATEVERMOM at checkout (before 3/1/20) to take $10.00 off your ticket which entitles you to a full 7 hours of time to connect and recharge. (A full hour alone at the spa costs more and there’s no one feeding you).

Julie Ciardi 2019 Key Note Speaker

As moms, there is no manual for how to make all the things work. It’s kind of a learn as you go job. That’s why we need a village of other moms to talk to and learn from. Mom University is like a career development day for all moms where we can learn to master the challenging parts of motherhood. I’ve been a SAHM, a WAHM and a work outside the home mom and this day applies to every single mom out there. Every mom needs connection. Every mom needs solidarity. Every mom needs time to grow. It’s hard to do all those things with a toddler tugging at your back pockets, or a boss breathing down our neck.

The 2020 event has over 16 workshops lead by professionals and guest speakers to help ignite your passions and help you find balance. This event is created by moms, for moms. You might recognize Jen and Alicia from The Mommy Dash; both moms struggling to make it all work too. It is their vision and passion to bring this day to all of us. (I don’t think they ever sleep).  I am so thankful they still have the energy to take care of all of us with a catered breakfast and lunch, snacks and coffee, mini massages and a mommy marketplace, oh and a DJ dropping the sound track to our lives.

Jen, Laura and Alicia all sporting their fabulous Mom U Sweatshirts from the Mommy Marketplace.

Being a mom myself, I know how hard it is to take an hour for myself, let alone an entire day, but I assure you the house will still be standing when you get back home. The kids will eat garbage while you are gone, and your husband will tell you it was all easy. But you will be ready to let it all roll off your freshly massaged shoulders. And nothing can replace feeling recharged and connected. So don’t wait, go grab your special discount and shoot me an email at [email protected] and tell me to look for you there!

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

A Parenting Book Every Kid Will Want to Read!

Working book title selected by The Whatever Mom. Not up for grabs.

For years friends and family have asked me to write a book about my life as a twin mom. How do you survive two babies at once? How do you handle raising two girls the exact same age? That’s a damned good question, because I am not sure my cursing and personal tantrums set the parenting bar very high. Surviving for me, looks like a lot of running to another room to hide from my family, so that I can curse into a closet and come back a wholly refreshed human being.

Nearly every minute of the day, I am writing a book inside my head. Or I am at least ear marking a moment to share later. I really believe we each have our own struggles as parents, and we all think we are the only ones struggling. I can GURANTEE YOU, you are not alone! And I think we can also agree, parenting would be so much easier if it weren’t for the kids.

And that’s why I’ve created this book just for kids! A simple strategy guide for making their lives easier and moving up the ladder to become their mom’s favorite child. By chapter 3, EVERY kid will be able to usurp their siblings place in line as the family favorite. It is filled with real stories of all the times my kids lives would have turned out much better if they had just listened to their mother.

Perhaps you can relate, and are looking for a solution? If your child is old enough to read, they are old enough to follow this easy guide!

How many times do you tell your kid not to do something because they could get hurt, and literally before your very eyes they are doing it and getting hurt? Or how many times have you asked your child to finish a simple task, only for them to throw a 20 minute tantrum and get a consequence they could have avoided if …. they just listened to their mother?

Childhood would really be much easier for kids if they just read my book and follow the cautionary tale of a set of twins refusing to listen to their mother. It could help them avoid countless hours of punishment and countless tears. Gift your child with my book today, and set them on the path to thriving, not just surviving.

Other titles from the author’s child series you might recognize: Just F$#@ing Do It! – A Simple Guide to Clarifying Your Intentions.” “Because I Said So – How to Avoid the Wrath of Mom!” “I Swear to God I Will Throw the Xbox Away! – And Other Ridiculous Things Moms Say.” “Just Get Out of The Car! – How to Be More Efficient With Your Time.”

Writer Bio for The Whatever Mom

Lilla Rose Accessories Review & Giveaway

This is a sponsored post. I received product and payment for my review, but all opinions are honest and my own.

Have you ever found yourself in a hairstyle rut? I used to take the time to at least brush my hair every day, but now that I am a mom, I just swipe it up into a messy bun in the morning. There it stays. All day long. Lately I’ve noticed a lot of my mom friends take the time to do their hair. They look good! And it makes me wonder, “when did I become so bad at just brushing my hair?”

I can’t just blame it on motherhood. I also work from home so the need to style my hair isn’t a big necessity anymore. I usually don’t even notice how crazy my hair is until I pass my reflection in a store window. Then I remember, “whoops! I forgot to do my hair today.”

So, I partnered with an independent stylist from Lilla Rose.  Marianne sent me three Flexi clips to try. I admit I panicked a bit when I thought these clips were two separate pieces. My mom brain would lose them in half a second and it would be extra for me to keep organized. Thankfully, the stick piece of the clip is secured to the decorative clip making it all one piece. Convenient!

The large size is great for twists and upsweeps but did not work for a straight ponytail for me. I have super thick hair that everything slides out of, even hair ties and scrunchies. So, I wasn’t surprised by that, but I was surprised by how quickly I could assemble a more sophisticated and polished style in the same amount of time it takes to throw my hair into a sloppy bun.

Round center with a jet stone and jet bead accents.

The medium size is perfect for a half up, half down look. This is often a go too look for me, but in a hair tie it looks like a fallen sloppy bun. In the clip, it’s a cleaner look with very little effort. This is the perfect size for me!

Silhouette of the moon with a face and gleaming star charms.

The small size is great for a little side sweep. Naturally my daughter fell in love with the tiny size and wanted it for herself. Of course, we had to play with it in her hair too. Like her mother, she enjoys the simplicity of a ponytail, so this was something different and fun.

Lilla Rose offers a wide variety of hair accessories. Besides the unique Flexi-Clip there is a gorgeous selection of U-picks, headbands, sticks, decorative bobby pins and brooches. Designs range from colorful and playful to simple and elegant. There is a design to fit everyone’s fashion sense.

I like that it doesn’t require much more time than I am already spending on my hair, I can get one of these clips in my hair in the same amount of time it takes for me to put my hair into a rubber band. And it gives my look a bit more finesse when I’m leaving the house. These clips are simple, elegant and easy to use. There is a library of styling videos sharing different ways to style with your clips and Marianne can guide you through the sizes and designs that suit you. You can also host an online Style Up party so you can spend time with your other mom friends without having to find a babysitter or leave the house while earning discounts and products of your own.

I love that these are so easy to use for everyday wear, but with the holidays coming up the Flexi Clip will make a great accessory to go with my party outfits. If you’re thinking the same thing, you are in luck! My new friend Marianne is offering a Flexi clip to three lucky readers! THREE WINNERS!

Enter —> HERE <— for your chance to win! There are a variety of ways to enter, each will count as one entry. Winners will be announced on The Whatever Mom Facebook page.

Connecting with My Kids Is Worth Every Minute I am Disconnected from My Phone

Hey, hey, hey! Last week I was on vacation with the fam. It was the first family vacation we’ve taken that no one had a public meltdown! We didn’t even argue. We had a few kid attitudes and grumpiness, but I was totally impressed by my kids use of manners in all the public places.

We spent time at museums, aquariums and shopping in crowded candle shops (with lots of breakable things), we hiked and played outside and discovered we all love the hot tub. My kids not only handled it all, but they seemed to actually enjoy it. There were no complaints of being bored, or begging to go home? Color me shocked!

I never go into a family vacation with the illusion I will get time to relax. After all, parents are never off the clock. If your kids are picky eaters at home, they will be picky eaters on vacation. If your kids have melt downs at home, they will meltdown on vacation. When you are a parent, there is no real vacation, just a change of location. However, this time, I actually felt relaxed. Another shock!

This wasn’t our first family vacation together. We’ve had many colossal vacation fails over the years. So, what was so different about this trip? Was it the extra sleep? Was it less whining? Did my kids suddenly mature since our last vacation? Was it less time on my cell phone? BINGO!

It turns out, it is totally possible to unplug when you are on vacation. Before kids and cell phones my husband and I never made a single phone call, or checked an email while on vacation. We didn’t have the technology attached directly to our hip and it was cumbersome to locate the business center tucked away in a remote area of the hotel or resort, we never bothered to find it. Who has time for that?

This vacation, I decided to live like it was 1990 something. Well, sort of. I limited my social media check-ins and text message replies to early morning before the kids were up and again after the kids went to bed. I locked my cell phone away in the safe, or my purse during the day while we traveled. And surprise, surprise I didn’t miss a thing! Just like in the 90s, if there were any kind of emergency, my friends or family would have left messages for me and awaited my return call.

Besides my limited screen attachment, this was the first family vacation where my husband wasn’t bombarded by several text messages every hour asking him to put out a fire hundreds of miles away. Before cell phones people knew you were on vacation and had no way to reach you. Today, those boundaries are nonexistent with a 24 hour connection.

I noticed our family was feeling more cozy and connected. My husband and I weren’t agitated by other people’s demands and taking it out on each other. I never realized before how having a stressful interaction online or via text message made us less patient with our kids and each other. Toward the end of the week I witnessed how our connection to technology affects family life.

When we woke up to a rainy day we cancelled all our travel plans and planned to hang around the pool instead. The pool was empty except for ourselves and we took full advantage by cranking up our volume and jumping into the pool. After an hour, another family entered. Both parents remained on deck, while they sent their preteen son into the water alone. No judgement here, I don’t know their full story. Maybe it was their first day off in a while and they needed some down time for themselves too. But what I saw next really broke my heart.

One parent opened up their lap top and pulled out the cell phone and had one eye on each, splitting their attention between two screens. That left little time for their kid bobbing around the pool. The other parent laid back on a chaise lounge and pulled their screen to their face and never looked up. Here’s where my heart break came in.

As my heart warmed watching my husband willingly embarrass himself playing Marco Polo with my kids excitedly running and splashing through the pool, my heart broke watching this kid all by himself looking at us and back at his parents and back at us again. I know we don’t have to be our kids only source of entertainment, but the look on this kids face made it clear he felt like he was alone in the pool. He lasted all of 20 minutes in the water before asking his parents to leave. They willingly obliged and packed up.

In that moment I realized just how much our own addiction to being attached and busy affects our kids. I am not comparing my story to theirs, or my family to their family, but watching their child’s experience definitely made me reassess my own digital dependence. Not being connected to a virtual world made it easier to connect to the world right in front of me. And the benefits of my family feeling more balanced and connected was worth every minute I didn’t have a screen in my hand.

The Mom Gear You Didn’t Know You Need!

The Whatever Mom pre-sale logo travel tumbler and V-neck t-shirt.

My fondness and love for Rosie the Riveter began with one simple poster I hung on my wall in college. I hung that poster by my door, so it was the first thing I’d see before leaving, and the first thing I’d see upon arriving. The words, “Yes, We Can!” were written across top, her arm flexing with sleeves rolled up just below. She was ready to believe in me and now, so was I!

I have carried some form of that poster with me for over twenty years to remind myself that no matter how hard things get yes, I can do this. So, when I became a twin mom overcome by fear, confusion and exhaustion, I carried that image on my cellphone and would look at it on my hard days.

It only made sense to me while designing a logo that I incorporate Rosie’s inspiration from my life. She is one-part Rosie the Riveter, one-part me. Ultimately this little logo represents me cheering on every mom. Sloppy bun – check! A tasty cup of motivation – check! And the attitude that yes, we can do whatever it takes to get through the day with our crazy little human tornadoes – check!

Thing is, after I had the logo in hand and slapped it on every social media platform I own, it kind of sat there. Waiting for bigger things. Well that day has come. I am launching some exclusive The Whatever Mom gear this week and showcasing my logo! You can get all the details and pricing options here —-> https://forms.gle/RgmwijA4cLj28NHc7

I selected a sleek 30 oz insulated tumbler to keep your coffee warm no matter where you leave it and a wash and go V-neck t-shirt to kick off my selection of mom gear. It’s all about the lifestyle. I hope to create additional fun and useful pieces to add to my shop very soon. Right now both of these items are in *pre-sale* which means once I reach a minimum quantity of orders my friend Kelly at Olive & Elm Crafts can begin production! This sale will shape all future swag found in my shop, so no pressure! 🙂

My oath to you is that I will not promote anything that I do not use or want for myself. I ordered the tumbler and t-shirt for myself to test out how it fits into hectic mom life. My kind of hectic may not look the same as yours, but at the very least, owning one of my logo pieces will be like having a little Whatever Mom alongside you through the day reminding you that YES, YOU CAN do whatever the day demands from you.

To treat yourself to something JUST FOR YOU, click this link to grab your order form. This pre-sale closes on November 1st 11:59 p.m. EST. When minimums are met and forms complete, invoices will be sent between November 1st and November 4th, 2019. Invoices must be paid in full by November 6th 11:59 p.m. EST. (If for some reason the minimums are not met any paid invoices will be refunded and you will be notified accordingly).

I am deeply grateful and incredibly excited to show off our solidarity and connect our mutual mom philosophy – just do whatever works for YOU!

5 Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Last week I shared in my newsletter how hard it is for me to keep up when I get sick. Life gets a little derailed and the timeline of our week is tossed around like a jumbled pile of fall leaves. In my house I am the keeper of all of the details and manage everyone’s schedule. So when I need to take time out for myself to heal up and rest, things come to a halt. I can delegate tasks from my bed, but that’s not really restful now is it? My husband gets sick and stays in his room without a peep. If I get sick it’s a million questions about where things go and what foods can everyone eat for snacks.

So my plan is to just not get sick, ever. Maybe that plan is not entirely realistic, but I can do my best to keep colds and viruses from taking over. And when I do get sick, I can give myself permission to rest when I need to.

Top 5 things you need to do to stay healthy this flu season:

1. Wash your hands! Teach kids to wash their hands when ever you return to the house. As soon as they come home from school, a birthday party, or just shopping, everyone must wash their hands. 

2. Remove your shoes! Think about where your shoes go in a day. At some point you are walking through a public bathroom and not everyone is an “expert marksman” if you know what I mean. Bacteria or viruses that stay on the floor travel home with you. Take your shoes off and leave them at the front door. 

3. Change your clothes! Kids are gross. They never look before they sit and don’t seem to mind wiping things on their clothes. Put their school outfit right in the wash in exchange for a clean outfit. It might make extra laundry each week, but worth it when that laundry isn’t due to a 2:00 a.m. vomit session. I also change my clothes when I’ve been in a doctors office or emergent care.

4. Toss the lunchbox left overs! I know, it isn’t a frugal idea to toss the leftovers from the lunch you lovingly packed for your child. But most cafeterias do not have circulating air, so when the kid next to your kid sneezes at the table it’s most likely to land in their lunch. If the food isn’t sealed, it gets tossed.

5. Disinfect the lunch box! Get a small spray bottle of peroxide at the dollar store. Use it to spray the inside of your kids lunch bag and then wipe it clean before putting it away. You can also run your child’s soft lunch box through the washer set on the gentle cycle once or twice per month.

I work from home so I am not exposed to all the germs my kids are. They are like little germ mules carrying bugs through the borders of our home. I can’t escape colds entirely and I get that we need to get sick now and then. But, most of the time moms do not have time to spare to heal from sickness. So by making sure my family and I are following healthy habits it helps block the amount of germs we bring into our house.

Parenting in Survival Mode

My husband traveled every week for the entire month of September and it sucked. It felt like he was home for a day or two with just enough time to unpack before repacking and leaving again. That left me to manage my kids, the house, the chores, the lunch packing, my blog and gave me zero time to take care of myself. Let me tell you, working from home isn’t easy when you’ve got last nights dinner dishes calling you from across the house. And of course it doesn’t feel like I’m winning mom of the year when I forget to pack an extra snack for my daughter’s long bus ride home. Ooops!

Chaos coordinator reporting for duty! When I am left alone to hold down the fort, I go completely into survival mode. Every parent knows survival mode. It’s what gets us through those lengthy stretches of teething and middle of the night vomit. There is nothing glamorous about survival mode.

For the first three years (or four – it’s kind of a blur) after my twins were born, I lived in survival mode. I mostly remember my husband working 17-19 hours per day while I was home alone with two infants and not a single extra helping hand. I cried a lot because I was so exhausted and in constant management mode. I actually made an appointment with a neurologist because I was convinced the exhaustion and dizziness were signs something bigger was wrong. She simply looked at me and said, you’re perfectly fine. You just need more help. And that’s when I realized perfection cannot exist in survival mode. I was trying too hard to make every piece of the puzzle fit perfectly and it was only hurting me in the end. Those early years really taught me how to live life with the bare minimum and that even the hardest days will pass. 

Thankfully, my husband doesn’t travel often and today he only works around 9 hours a day, but there are times those survival skills come in handy! It’s what gets us through a rough week, kid sickness or when things go a little off kilter. It’s good to have those skills, but survival isn’t a place you want to live in for too long. Believe me, there isn’t much joy in it.

I know there are plenty of you out there doing this gig solo every day. Whether you are divorced, widowed or maybe your spouse travels routinely for work. No matter what the reason, carrying the parenting load all alone is incredibly exhausting. My hat goes off to you! I’m sure you are familiar with survival mode, but I hope you are finding the support you need!

It has been a chaotic month for sure. It is also amazing how quickly I can slide right into trading perfection for whatever works. If I slow down and focus on each moment as it comes and not think too far ahead (and extend myself a little grace), I find it easier to survive when the wheels fall off the track.

How are you surviving this week?

Tips if your spouse travels for work:

If you know your spouse is traveling, prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Start by writing a simple menu for the week so you aren’t caught off guard at dinner time.

Use paper plates to eliminate the big clean up.

Line up the help you need – a cleaning lady at the end of the week, or a baby sitter during the week so you can run errands or grocery shop kid free. Order your groceries online and pick up at the store to save time.

Being out numbered by picky eaters and time, I try to keep dinner super simple. I will sometimes call a DIY sandwich night and round everyone up for a picnic on the living room floor, or I might put out a picky platter like this and let everyone chose what they want.

Use your calendar and sticky notes to keep you on task. I try to look at my calendar each night and make a list for the next day of the most important things I need to accomplish (lunches, phone calls, emails, etc). I write my list on a sticky note and I leave the note on my kitchen counter to review again in the morning.

Lower your expectations. Do not expect to fit everything into one day, or make all the ends meet. Your perfect plan will be destroyed by kids with a stomach bug, or a sudden school event you forgot about. Just keep things basic and aim for survival until help returns.

If you want to see what’s happening on the blog before I hit publish, or get a sneak peak at discounts, reviews and giveaways before they hit my social media – sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter (it only publishes two Mondays a month!).

Pirate Ringo’s Salsa Review – Arrrr me tasty!

Photo Credit: Pirate Ringo’s Salsa

Pirates are kind of a thing at our house. We speak in pirate often, well because it’s just fun. We have pirate jokes, enjoy pirate trivia and now we have a pirate salsa!

My friends at Pirate Ringo’s Salsa sent me a jar of their Original salsa to sample. Being the salsa junkie that I am I obliged me mateys (see…no end of pirate puns here!). This blend of medium heat spices and chilis has a good smoky slow burn to it. I tested it on a tortilla chip. It goes down easy before it releases the heat. I reluctantly shared my jar with my husband who lives for spicy food. In fact, there was a time he and a group of co-workers instituted the Iron-Stomach award for their weekly dinner outings. Whoever could finish the spiciest meal on the menu and walk away won bragging rights. This salsa isn’t that level of spicy, so even a light weight like me can handle it. The flavors shine through before the chili’s demand your attention.

As a self-proclaimed salsa junkie, I will eat salsa on a box, in my socks, over here, over there or anywhere. I top my nachos with it, my salads with it, add it to my scrambled eggs, top my baked potatoes with it and toss it into various recipes when I need some good flavor. After tasting this take on Tex-Mex, I knew what I had to do… I had to make a big crock pot full of my award-winning Lazy Tex Chili. If you are a chili lover pressed for time, this recipe is for you! It’s called Lazy for a reason. I literally dump everything into the crock pot and let it simmer for hours. I never touch it again.

But before I share my recipe with you, I have bigger news to share! Pirate Ringo’s is giving my readers an exclusive 20% discount to try their salsa! A jar or two of these salsas will make a great gift for the foodie in your life, that hard to buy for friend, or share for a unique hostess gift this holiday season. Chili is the perfect fall food, so you want to stock up on a few of these fiery tasty treasures to add to your favorite chili. Go to the website and pick a salsa to try and when you add it to the cart enter code WHATEVER20 (This code is only good through 10/2/19 so hurry!).

 * * Now for the recipe * *

This is the first time I am sharing my award-winning recipe for Lazy Tex Chili. I’m not kidding that it is award winning! A group of my friends held a chili contest and we sampled around a dozen different chili recipes among ourselves. Mine won first place! And, much to my husband’s chagrin, my lazy recipe won out over the chili he spent two days sweating over. Nothing says legit chili maker like a tiny plastic gold star trophy proudly displayed in the kitchen. At the time I created this recipe my twins were still toddlers, so I didn’t have a lot of time to stand around in a kitchen cooking with two kids hanging off my back pockets. This recipe was born out of my love for chili and having zero time to invest in making it. Grab a screen shot below!

If you want more simple recipes sign up to receive my newsletter! I send it out only two times a month and I make it short and sweet because we are all busy people! You’ll also get exclusive first looks on giveaways, discount codes, freebies and other fun stuff before it goes live on my blog and social media!