As a busy mom, I rely on my crock-pot to get me through at least one or two dinners each week. When my kids were toddlers and I was cooking two different meals, it was easier to let the crock-pot do the heavy lifting of cooking the main meals. This gave me a little extra time to make the toddler favorites or dress up a side dish we could all eat. Freezer to crock-pot meals became my jam. I love prepping 5 meals at once and tossing into the freezer. I pull one out each night to dump in the crock pot the next day.
I love that there is less clean up and less thinking about what to make each night.
Finding gluten free meals to enjoy can be a little stressful and time consuming.
Here are five gluten free meals I foundto try this week:
I know it might sound early for spring cleaning since we are still in winter. But this is the perfect time to start cleaning. I take advantage of being inside more due to the cold weather and start cleaning out closets, dusting ceiling fans and giving the house a deeper clean. Then when the sun pops out and it’s warmer outside, we won’t waste any time inside cleaning.
Most people start with a room-by-room strategy, but I tackle the same hot spots throughout the house. For example, I focus on cleaning all the closets at once instead of the closet in the room I am currently cleaning. Instead of cleaning one ceiling fan, I clean them all the same day. This way I have all donation items take out at the same time, and I have all the dusting finished at once instead of starting that process over again in each room. Does that make sense? It can feel different if you are not used to do it that way.
Here’s how I get it all done:
Closets and dressers are the first place I start so I can eliminate anything we no longer use. Old clothes, tablecloths, sheets, towels, etc. I bag everything up and toss it near the door for one trip to the donation bin. I find the Hefty extra strong black out bags are best for donations.
Bathrooms: I make sure to toss any expired makeup or cleaning supplies and make a checklist of items that need to be replaced. We love Method Bathroom cleaner because it cleans, disinfects and gets rid of bathroom smells.
Kitchen: I pull all the pantry items out at the same time and toss anything that has expired. Then I wipe out each cabinet before I return items. Then I move on to the fridge to toss anything that may be expired and give the fridge a good wipe down with my Norwex Envirocloth. I check each cabinet for any dishes that may need to be tossed or re-organized.
I use a Swiffer extended handle duster to clean each ceiling fan in the house and then I dust the walls from ceiling to floor, including the base boards. Now each room should be cleaned out, organized and free from dust. The only thing left to do is clean the floors.
We have a Dyson Animal vacuum for deep cleaning (that thing is still kicking 14 years later) and a Yeedi robot vacuum for a daily sweep of the main living areas (that little guy is brand new!). This helps keep the pet hair and kid dirt managed.
I leave window washing until the very last because it is my least favorite. However, using my Norwex window cloth has been the easiest and fastest streak free window cleaning system I have found! Since I am the only one in my house to clean the windows, I am a big fan of anything that will get it done quick.
That’s how I spend my February. In upstate NY we can still get a few snowstorms in March, but we can also get a rare week of 80-degrees and sunshine. And those are the days I’ll be ready for because my chores will be done!
Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.
This week we are organizing like crazy. Every year I do the 40 bags in 40-days challenge. That’s where you fill one bag a day for 40 days with things to donate or toss. You would think I’d run out of things to toss, but somehow, we end up with so much stuff!
My kids grow out of things so quickly and honestly, as each year passes, I get comfortable with letting go of more things. We are donating toys my kids have outgrown. We have clothes and housewares that we are no longer into. So, it all gets tossed in a bag and sent on it’s way to a new home. But I want to organize what is left in a way that makes sense.
Art supplies my kids are super creative so they get a lot of art supplies as gifts. I need to toss anything that is old and unusable and organize what is left.
Shoes I am constantly fighting against a mountain of shoes. It drives me crazy that my children will kick their shoes off their feet and into a pile at the back of the closet. Maybe these will help them take better care of their shoes.
Books we have a ton of books to sort through. It is hard to part with ones we love so much, but I am going to upcycle them to friends and family.
Blankets what is the deal with kids dragging blankets everywhere? It’s like 3 feet to the basket, or even easier just fold it neatly and leave on the back of the couch. Why kids?
Make-up I have tweens who are getting into a skin care routine, so that means we each need our own storage for our respective products.
Spice rack my kitchen cupboard is overrun with random spices I bought for that one time meal or I bought at a home party. I need to toss what is expired and organize what is left.
Drawer organizers I could use these in every single drawer in the house. From our nightstand drawers to the kitchen and even the garage. I love opening a drawer and finding what I need instead of rummaging.
I think that’s enough for this week right? I won’t get to all 40 bags this week, but I am on a mission to get the bulk of this organizing project complete this week. Wish me luck!
What are your organizing tips?
Roxanne is a twin mom and freelance writer. She owns this little piece of the blogosphere where parents are encouraged to let go and embrace the messier parts of parenting, without judgement.
This month I took on the Veganuary challenge and committed to eating vegan for 30 days. Many of you are probably asking WHY!?! Well, I am always on the hunt for healthy options and after cooking nearly every meal for a year straight, I am kind of in a food rut. I enjoy trying new things, I thought this might be an interesting way to explore. I was also curious to see if it impacts any changes in my health.
Thankfully, I truly love my veggies. After two weeks into eating all vegan, I felt great! My energy levels increased and my chronic pain issues decreased. I found some new foods to enjoy and new nutrition combinations. So, this week I am sharing some of the vegan recipes I’ve tried so far and enjoyed.
Vegan donuts are a new family favorite. This recipe calls for bananas and nut butter and maple syrup instead of processed sugar. A new family favorite!
Quinoa bowls not everyone in my family is a fan of quinoa. But, I love that I can make so many different types of dishes with it. I make up a big batch and leave in the fridge and mix into my veggie bowls or salads.
Smoothie my hands down favorite is a chocolate avocado smoothie. It is filling and chocolatey! I love this recipe but I omit the bananas because my smoothie mixer can’t handle how thick the avocado makes this drink!
Un-chicken salad on a wrap warning, this does not taste anything like chicken. But it is delicious as it’s own recipe. I highly recommend if you are not used to vegan mayo, start off by using your favorite brand. Easy to make ahead for a few lunches through the week.
Hummus wrap hummus is my new favorite go-to condiment for almost everything. I slather it on my wraps, add a dollop on my salad or quinoa bowl and I even top my baked potato with it. Adding it to a veggie wrap adds flavor and protein to your midday meal.
Portobello or veggie burger with sweet potato fries: I’m not going lie, I buy all of these premade from the freezer section to make it an easy night off from cooking. My family will eat this with me, so it’s nice when we are all eating the same meal at once.
Lentil Bolognese over pasta this one was a hit at home. No one noticed the extra veggies. I will say that I’ve also cheated by just warming up meatless crumbles into our favorite sauce and tossing it over pasta to save time.
Chickpea curry over rice this one is loaded with veggies and glorious nutrition. It is also a little more time consuming, so I make it on the weekends when I have more time to devote to cooking.
Popcorn with crunchy chickpeas and pumpkin seeds, cranberries. I just mix all of these together in a bowl and munch on them while I am working.
Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with nut butter. This is also a new kid favorite. They don’t even complain that it’s healthy.
Orange slices with chocolate hummus is a new go-to sweet snack.
Oreos with almond milk. Yes, it’s true, Oreos are VEGAN!
If you are interested in going vegan be sure to research it well to be sure it is a diet you can follow and check with your doctor first.
Plan your meals and snacks ahead because you will be definitely be hungry more often as veggies tend to be less calorie dense.
Try to include healthy fats so your body can feel fuller longer.
Drink a lot of water and herbal teas between meals to keep all that extra fiber moving.
Don’t make it all or nothing to start. You can try one meal or new product a week, then add another and another until you are fully vegan or at a place where you feel comfortable including more plant based meals into your diet.
Also, don’t hate me. But there is no good vegan cheese substitute. There. I said it! I do add nutritional yeast in place of grated cheese for a mild cheese flavor. But, I have yet to find anything that has the same taste or texture equivalent. If you’ve found one you love, tell me in the comments below!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and freelance writer. The Whatever Mom blog is here to help other moms accept the messier parts of parenting and find solutions.
Planning a birthday party for your winter baby is hard enough when there isn’t a worldwide pandemic. But now with social distancing a must and sometimes mask wearing is mandated, it’s even harder to plan a party in the same way we did only a year ago.
My twins celebrated a double-digit birthday back in November and we made the choice to host a very small, all-masked, back yard party. The girls could invite just one friend each to make s’mores in our back yard. All kids and parents wore a mask, and all our snacks and beverages were prepackaged or prepared with gloves. It was different, but everyone was so happy to spend time together that the extra safety protocols didn’t even feel inconvenient.
Now that we are in the dead of winter in the North East with plummeting temperatures and most indoor places closed off for gatherings, birthday party ideas are running short. That’s why I created a virtual party planner to help you get creative and keep the details organized.
As a mom, I am always looking for easy solutions to the most common problems we all face and right now, we are all facing some tough choices for the safety of our kids. Indoor gatherings are not advised, and not everyone is feeling comfortable having people in their home. Last year drive-by birthday parades were a hit, this year virtual parties are taking over. But, creating a party through a screen is all new. If 2020 taught me anything, it is to embrace what we’ve got to work with. I hope this helps other moms embrace fun in a new way and makes kids feel celebrated!
I asked other moms to test this planner before I share it and one mom said, “I used this for their “virtual party” on Friday. And honestly it gave me ideas I didn’t even think of. I was able to organize who I wanted to join, sent out links and plan games (I didn’t even know this was a thing)! Your planner helped me get everything together and I really appreciate it. The kids had a great time!”
This planner is free when you sign up for my e-newsletter (which only arrives once a month). I send out mom hacks and simple solutions to the most common struggles like picky eating, self-care, meal planning and more. As a thank you for signing up to follow along, I will email you this easy-to-use party planner right away!
It’s the last day of 2020 and everyone is ready for this year to be over. While I am one to lean into optimism for a happier new year, I am also realistic enough to understand the flip of a calendar isn’t going to change the circumstances we carry into 2021.
This year has been a solid suck fest, one thing after another to worry about, leave behind or pivot away from. It has been mentally exhausting and at times draining just working with our new restrictions for shopping, vacationing, and finding activities that do not involve being near other people. My kids have attended remote school for almost a year and their mental health has incrementally declined since the beginning of our “quarantine life.” But overall, we have persevered. I feel like I had just enough positivity in me to get through the spring and summer months. It was easier when we could still get outside and do things we enjoyed, but with winter here, I can feel it faltering.
I know it’s hard to think of anything positive from this last year, but everything exists in opposites. So, we can’t have good without evil, or evil without the good. Looking back over 2020, I can see the darkness and the sadness, but I can also see the love and kindness that came out of this “unprecedented” year.
The nurses, doctors, EMS, EMTs, and ER staff working the front lines caring for us jumped in with sleeves rolled up and ready to love complete strangers through their most difficult days. Nurses held up iPads for families to say goodbye and wept right alongside of them while they died. Nursing home staff gave married couples dying from COVID the dignity and compassion to spend their final days side by side. Love was found in the strangers who sent pizzas, meals, coffee, cards, and gifts to those on the front lines.
Kindess was found in the landlords that gave rent relief to those who lost their jobs.
Love was found in the teachers who scurried to create virtual classrooms so they can stay connected to their students, not just dole out a lesson plan. Love was found in the cafeteria workers who put together meals for kids who eat most of their meals at school. Love was found in the school nurse who prepared to return in a gown and plastic face shield to keep their students safe.
Love was found in firefighters and police officers offering birthday parades to kids during quarantine because traditional birthday parties were not allowed.
Kindness was found in neighbors feeding neighbors. Neighbors watching over each other and delivering goods to those who weren’t feeling safe going into a store.
Kindness was found in those who donated blood for those in need.
Love was found in those who continued to volunteer to feed, clothe and help their communities most vulnerable populations.
I’ll bet if you look around your own community and neighborhood, you will find places love and kindness suddenly showed up. Maybe in places it didn’t exist before. Maybe you were on the receiving end of someone who helped you that you didn’t expect or count on before. I am still blown away by kind friends who drop deliveries at my doorstep, left crafts for my kids, sent packages to brighten our days and listened to me when I was most frustrated by so many changes happening at once.
In my broader community, people are filling refrigerators outside their doorstep for anyone in need to shop from. Families are sending cards and happy mail to our local nursing homes, so no one feels alone. Our local restaurants are partnering to create feeding programs to serve those in need and finding creative ways to keep their own doors open. Churches are keeping their feeding programs open. Warming centers are quickly evolving to meet safety protocols, families are adopting other families Christmas wish lists. Some of my friends are donating their time to serve community meals. This is love in action. If I stop and think back on this year, I can find several ways love and kindness still pulled through.
I am in no way thankful for COVID and things like “quarantine” and “cohorts,” but if I dig deep enough through the craziest parts of this year, I can still find a lot of love and gratitude to take with me into the new year. This won’t solve our current crisis and is in no way meant to gloss over the deep wounds many of us still feel from the year, but reminding ourselves of the good gives us hope that there is still goodness left to come, even if we must actively look for it.
One of the things that has helped me through the sadness of missing out on our usual things and the feeling of time standing still, is taking pictures of us trying new things together. Every time we hiked a new trail or found a new place to play, I took a bunch of photos. On the days I am feeling sad about missing out on our vacation or our life pre COVID, I scroll through those bright photos and remember we can still find happiness.
What is one bright spot you had during 2020?
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of this blog. Thank you for reading along and for being a part of this supportive motherhood community. Follow along on Facebook or Instagram.
It’s Christmas, during a pandemic, and getting a baby sitter is not as easy as it was during Christmases of yore. So, on the first day of Christmas, I’m giving my true love a list of movie date nights to choose from. We can’t get reservations at a local restaurant either, so I created a list of cocktails we can make at home to sip along with some take out appetizers. Everything we need can be picked up curbside at a safe distance.
If you do not drink alcohol, mocktails are equally fun and festive. If you prefer to you can choose a main dish from a movie to recreate and eat while watching along. The key is to just make the most of the evening while the kids are either in bed, or in their own rooms.
12 Movies + 12 Cocktails = 12 Date Nights of Christmas
It’s a Wonderful Life – our favorite classic movie to kick off the season with. You have to sip your way through this holiday tear jerker with a simple Bailey’s on the rocks, or shake it with cream and serve in a chilled martini glass.
Home Alone – one of my personal favorites! I have to go with a chocolate martini here in honor of the giant sundae Kevin eats while no one is watching. Toss in some mini marshmallows and a sprinkle of crushed candy canes.
Home Alone 2 – normally I am not a fan of sequels, but this one was as good as the first movie. It is a must see in our house! Since Kevin is lost in Manhattan, you’re going to need a Manhattan cocktail to go along with this movie.
A Christmas Story – another classic we watch year after year. A simple red wine goes along with this movie. It’s the drink the mom and dad share while taking in the splendor of their Christmas night in front of the tree.
Scrooged – This is my husbands favorite and one I was reluctant to watch. I just didn’t think it looked very Christmasy. Now it’s on our annual watch list! In this movie Bill Murray’s character repeatedly requests a Tab and Vodka. I’ve never had that one, but willing to give it a try. (p.s. Tab was discontinued in October this year, but you can use a cola drink instead).
Elf – This is a quirky little mish mosh of a Christmas movie, but in honor of Buddy’s search for the Worlds Best Coffee, I’d fix up an Espresso Martini.
Christmas Vacation – we usually watch this while finishing up our gift wrapping. It’s just tradition! You can’t go wrong with a simple Rum and Nog (eggnog). Any store bout eggnog will do!
Die Hard – I confess, I’ve never watched this movie. My husband (and several friends) swear it is a traditional Christmas movie. I agreed this year to watch it. We have not tried this movie + cocktail combination yet, but I found the Nakatomi Plaza Bomb.
The Santa Clause – another one of my favorites from childhood! I paired this with a Sugar Cookie Martini. (You could reuse some of the Bailey’s from a previous movie night if you haven’t drank it all yet).
Deck the Halls – this back and forth competition of bright lights is too hilarious to forget about. Nothing says Christmas like dueling neighborhood light shows! A boozy Hot Chocolate will keep you lit through the chilly adventure.
If you choose to make the cocktails portion of these themed date nights, please drink responsibly, and pace yourself! If you can’t handle one cocktail a night then don’t! Just pick one or two nights of fun as you count down to Christmas!
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer/blogger just trying her best to survive parenthood. You can follow along with her less than perfect adventures at The Whatever Mom.
It is no secret that I need the sun to feel my healthy best. Living in the North East where we have dark, cloudy winters, getting enough sunshine is a challenge for me.
I have never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I can tell you my mood changes through the winter. I am less patient, I feel more stressed and less motivated. Over the years I have developed a winter wellness routine that helps me get through the dark days of winter.
I use the Happy Light from Verilux – this little light creates the same feeling of being in the sun. I use it in the mornings during my treadmill walks. During the winter, the morning is too dark and cold for me to walk outside, so I bring the outside in. I set my light up near my treadmill and walk for 30 minutes.
I take my supplements. I normally run deficient in vitamin D3 (known as the sunshine vitamin) and have for many, many years. I supplement all year, but in the winter I change the dose according to my doctors recommendation. Omega 3 fish oil also help increase a positive mood. Always check with your own doctor if these supplements are safe for you to take.
I get outside when I can. If the sun is out, I am out too. I grab my Sketchers and head out the door for a quick walk around the block. I turn on the tunes and soak in the light and get those endorphins pumping.
I ditch my late night to-do list. I am a natural born night owl and often stay up way to late to get things done. But that always leaves me with a grumpy attitude and a hangover effect. You know when your head is too foggy and you just want to crawl back to bed? I make myself go to bed at the same time as my kids (around 9:30 or 10). I read a little, or write out my to-do list in my planner for the next day instead of trying to get it all done right now.
I drink tea – a lot of tea. I’m not giving up coffee any time soon, but I love a good cup of hot tea in the middle of a cold day. I try to be mindful of stopping what I am doing and grabbing some tea while I phone a friend, or call home to chat with my mom. It’s like a little happy hour routine in my day that keeps me connected.
I take time to center my thoughts. I am a mom, writer, homeowner, wife and dog mom. I have a lot of things to do in a day and my brain often feels like someone dumped a big old box of ping pong balls and they are all bouncing out of control. I take 5-10 minutes each morning to meditate, or simply stand at my open back door and listen to the birds and take three deep breaths.
I may not get to do these things all in one day, but I strive to work them into my daily routine. Each little action creates a bigger impact on my mood and how I am feeling as a mom.
Do you have a winter wellness routine? I’d love to hear more about how you make time to take care of yourself.
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. She spends most of her time learning to let go of perfection and sharing her messier parent moments with other moms. You can follow her Facebook page to see the messiness unfold.
Dr Orlena has invited 17 amazing speakers, all of whom are parents, so they know your struggles! Each of the speakers will talk about a different aspect of health and wellness. For example, I’m talking about how to create easy selfcare routines for overall wellness.
Dr Orlena’s Fit and Fabulous philosophy focuses on 4 pillars of healthy living.
1. What we eat.
4. Emotional wellness (how we reduce stress and create a loving atmosphere in our homes.)
Because we are all busy parents, just like you, each video is 15 minutes or less to maximize your time, and covers different aspects of all 4 pillars.
Do you worry about your family’s health and wellness?
Do you want a long healthy life for you and your kids, but life seems to get in the way of your goals?
The goal of this summit is to show you how to create healthy living habits, so you and your family can feel fit and fabulous! We’ll show you how to make it easy and fun!
The event is entirely FREE for 3 whole days from Friday December 4th to Sunday Dec 6th.
Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom, writer and owner of this blogspace. She spends a lot of time trying to find balance and teaching other moms that it is OK to embrace the messier parts of parenting! Follow her on Facebook for her less than perfect posts.
I took a walk all by myself today, literally over the river
and through woods. It was glorious!
I rarely get time to myself, but this week my husband is on vacation. It means I am on vacation too. I know, I know “but he works!” Well, so do I. I work from home as a freelance writer while making sandwiches and packing two kids for a day at the beach. He works only one job at a time, albeit stressful he isn’t managing meltdowns while trying to look professional to a client. We both deserve a break. But while he is working 70 hours a week, I am covering all the childcare needs while simultaneously running a business. I’m not kidding when I say, if I go down no one knows how to the food gets in the house or when the toilets get cleaned. It’s all courtesy of moi!
Today, I chose to visit one of my favorite walking trails
because it is quiet and has such beautiful views of the Hudson River. I’ve only
ever walked this trail with my kids, so it felt strange not pushing a stroller
or pulling a heavy wagon full of screaming kids. I made pretty good time
walking nearly three miles. I had my favorite music pushing me on and no one to
talk too. The silence was golden.
No answering questions about sea creatures.
No organizing lunches.
No packing up a swim bag.
No blowing up pool toys.
No slathering sunscreen and carrying an armful of towels to
It was a glorious start to my vacation!
This is the first break for myself I’ve had all summer. My
kids and I have been tethered since their last day of school. It’s OK, I love
them. But as a work from home/stay at home mom the daily tasks of motherhood
can become the weekly grind. It’s almost cliché to call my job as a mom exhausting.
Everyone knows how tired we are because we can’t stop telling everyone we are
Taking a walk while you’re that kind of exhausted sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s exactly what I needed! To roam freely, unattached to a to-do list, or locked into mealtime demands. Listening to my own thoughts without interruptions helps me declutter things that are bugging me. Do I really need to hold on to that friend if she clearly let me go? How about cleaning out some of this guilt about letting my kids eat so many hot dogs? Being alone allows me to regroup a little and feel lighter. It’s like therapy.
Are you someone that likes to be alone in your head? Or do you enjoy escaping from the mom demands with friends? Leave me a comment below, or feel free to join the conversation on Facebook! ????
Roxanne Ferber is a freelance writer and owner of The Whatever Mom blog. Nearly nine years on the coffee wagon and she still doesn’t have enough energy to keep up with her twins. But she is a survivor and she’s gonna make it; even if she has to white knuckle it through each day until her kids graduate. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Insta.