Category: Uncategorized

Meal Plan Monday: Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Earlier this week, I shared on my personal social media pages the grilled sweet potatoes that my very picky eaters enjoyed (and gave a rave review by the way!). It felt like a total win when my whole family ate them without a single complaint.

I started eating a vegan diet at the beginning of the year for my own personal health reasons. The goal was to eat a vegan diet for 30 days. Well, after 120 days, I’m still going strong. I don’t expect my entire family to make the switch, it is something I am doing for myself. But, that does mean I need to spend a little time coming up with one meal that can fit three different pallets at once. I am thrilled that this easy sweet potato side dish is something we all agree on! And it is so easy to make on a weeknight, or for a family barbecue.

Free recipe card

Of course I can’t let on how over joyed I am that my kids ate a healthy serving of a fiber, nutrient rich VEGETABLE! Otherwise, they will never eat it again. So, I silently turn cartwheels inside my heart and commit the recipe to memory, promising to only make it now and then. I have to make sure to no over use it. Moms with picky eaters know about this quiet victory dance, and how we have to steel our emotions against believing this is the breakthrough vegetable.

For myself, I served this alongside some marinated baby portabella mushroom skewers and grilled romaine, topped with shredded vegan parmesan.

For my family, I served alongside Spiedies Marinaded chicken. If you haven’t had a chicken Spiedies sandwich before, well you are missing out! It is an upstate New York favorite. Hmmm… I feel a new recipe post coming on.

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Just to keep things simple, I made these potato slices in foil packets so I wouldn’t have to spend time flipping each individual potato slice. The steam created during the grill time also helps soften the potatoes quicker.

I’ve also made this recipe with regular potatoes to create a completely different flavor.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite vegetable to toss on the grill? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

The whatever mom blogger bio

10 Day Inspirational Home Declutter Course and Special Offer

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Clutter in our homes has a direct impact on our social and emotional stress. It can impact how we feel about ourselves, our creativity and overall mental wellness. A recent survey finds that most people are more annoyed by clutter than dirt. Perhaps this is because it feels less overwhelming to run the vacuum over a pile of dirt to remove it in seconds, than making decisions about what to keep and what to toss. Personally, I feel deflated just looking at the messes and clutter piles around my house. Most of those messes are created by my family with all the things they leave behind. You know the shoe pile by the front door, the growing stack of mail that no one else knows what to do with, baskets of laundry calling me. I could go on, but I am sure you have similar hot spots in your homes too.

I know I am not alone.

But moms, I’ve met a new friend to help. Her name is Emily, she is a mom with small kids and the owner of The Orange Slate blog. She created an Inspiring 10-day e-course to help us reclaim the spaces in our homes. It’s a one-time download that you own forever. 

I followed the daily actions for 10 days (I may have missed a day or two in between, but Emily knows busy moms oversee a lot of things and missing a day or two is going to happen). My favorite part is that in true Whatever Mom fashion, Emily is not seeking perfection here. She is simply sharing her systems for reclaiming the messiest places in the home so we can feel less stress in our day. She tosses aside the notion of creating a house to share on Pinterest for the idea of creating a home to live in.

Kids make messes. Families make messes. It’s where the living really happens. Playtime is messy. We get busy with life and things pile up. It is perfectly normal to live in a house with clutter. This e-course shares how to create daily habits to tackle the clutter to minimize your stress and daily battle with clutter. 

sample pages from a course
Sample pages from the course.

I followed this e-course for myself and found it helpful and easy to follow along with. I also find it helpful to hand off some of the action items to my husband and kids, so they can learn to help care for our space too. We schedule a time each day to declare, “tidy time” and we all pitch in to put away our own things and clean up our own clutter. This clutter sweep saves me a lot of time from cleaning up everyone else’s messes and teaches my kids some life skills. Using Emily’s lessons, we now have an evening routine to reset the kitchen and living spaces to create a calm, clutter free space for our morning. Getting us all on onboard with habits and routines helps me feel less overwhelmed by having to do it all.

As a bonus, Emily has sprinkled in links to her top blog posts about how to simplify your home life and her best tips on meal planning and creating rituals as a mom. You will feel truly inspired by her 10-day home reset and relating to another mom who gets what it is like trying to find balance in parenting.

As a special gift to my readers, Emily is offering her course at a discount. Use this link to download and code: WHATEVER to receive your e-course right away. For a tiny fraction of what it costs to hire a professional, you can own this course. Start when you are ready and reuse when you need to. We all fall out of rhythm from time to time. I can’t wait for you to share your review with me.

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Easter Basket Gift Round Up!

Non-candy easter basket gift ideas
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Easter is traditionally observed as a religious holiday, but like any holiday in America, everyone is invited to join in. The Easter season begins with Lent and ends with Pentecost. The season lasts for 50 days (nearly two months, not just one day!). Just for this one holiday season, more than 90 million chocolate bunnies, 91.4 billion eggs and 700 million Peeps are produced each year in the United States alone.

Next to Halloween, Easter is the biggest candy driven holiday. When I was a kid our Easter baskets were FILLED to the brim with chocolate treats and sugary confections. I don’t know what my mom was thinking giving all four of her children (very close in age) free reign over so much candy. Maybe she was too tired to care, or just opened the door and tossed the candy on the lawn so we had to fight over it and only one of us could reign supreme? (Old age makes the details fuzzy).

Babies

Anyway, a lot has changed now that I am a parent. Instead of focusing on the treats, we try to fill our kids’ Easter baskets with things they need, or items they can use rather than eat. The first holiday my twins were just babies and we bought them a few outfits and stuffed animals to snuggle, but really did not go overboard. At six months old they were too young to participate in anything. It was more fun just to dress them up and ooh and awe at their cuteness, or sharing a storybook before bed.

Toddlers

By age two my kids understood plastic eggs delivered the good stuff, but they still weren’t ready for a sugar overload. So we loaded their baskets with fun things like bug kits, umbrellas, rainboots, puzzles and outdoor toys. They loved their magic bubble wands and sidewalk chalk. And when they were about school age we filled their baskets with bathing suits, sunglasses, educational books, and pool toys.

Pre-teens

Now as pre-teens, my kiddos are way into candy, so we don’t deny them. But we do set limits (for our own sanity). They get the most important holiday classics like a chocolate bunny and some egg shaped peanut butter cups. The rest of the baskets are filled with fun craft and science kits, seeds and garden kits or painting kits to keep them busy. My kids would make everything in one day, so I strategically hide them to dole out through the rainy days of spring. One kiddo mentioned she found these beaker creatures online and wanted a set of her own. Of course, we tucked that idea away for Easter baskets!

You can also skip toys and crafts and candy all together and put in gift certificates for experiences to a local zoo or ice cream place. A fun list of hikes tucked inside of a pair of new hiking boots with a plan to explore together. This holiday may be steeped in traditions, but there is no tradition dictating what kinds of things you put in your child’s Easter baskets. Other moms might have opinions about giving gifts at Easter, but you do what works for you and your family. I know for my family; it doesn’t work to hand my kids a bucket sized basket of candy. Not only would it be a sugar crash waiting to happen, but would also be very boring for my busy, active kids.

And if you don’t celebrate Easter in your family, celebrating the coming of spring with gifts and earth based ceremonies are just as important. We all celebrate in whatever way works for our own family. I have noticed the common threads between the celebrations usually involves family, food and time to reflect on the gifts we already have. Whatever holiday you celebrate – even if it’s just to feel joyful about spring – I wish you a healthy and happy celebration!

The whatever mom blogger bio

Going Gray is the New Female Empowerment Movement

One of the things I preach around here is to embrace the real. The messy parts, the not so perfect parts and sometimes even the uncomfortable parts. So, I am about to confess something of my own that is real, and uncomfortable, with all of you. I am coming out as gray.

I have been hiding my true colors for years because I was just too self-conscious to expose my gray hair. I started losing my natural dark shade shortly after my twins were born. I was considered a “geriatric” mom in my mid-thirties and the gray settled in quickly after having twins. I started coloring my hair immediately because I was not yet ready to let go of feeling like I was in my 20s. So, I kept covering it up. I spent hours at the salon and made a mad dash to the drug store between colorings just to keep my grays under wraps. It was a stealthy covert operation that cost me thousands of dollars over the last ten years. Before I went to any big event, a reunion, a wedding, or a vacation, I scheduled myself to sit in a salon chair for nearly 3 hours to temporarily delete this obvious sign of aging.

Last year, when the COVID pandemic hit and shut down every salon in the world, I panicked. My appointment was only days away and my roots were already on display. I felt anxious the shut down was going to create some noticeably awkward hair growth, or what I refer to as “the skunk stripe.” As I scrolled for daily updates on when I could safely return to the salon, I noticed that nearly everyone on my friends list was confessing to missing their colorist too. Bloggers around the globe were suddenly showing up in videos and IG reels with silver streaks. As the weeks rolled into months, I found I wasn’t the only one awkwardly trying to cover my part.

Just as I was contemplating between coloring again or embracing this touch of gray, my colorist (or hair therapist as I call her) dropped off a professional grade color kit for me to use at home. I immediately rushed to color my hair and as I saw myself frantically brushing hair dye against my head, I thought this just doesn’t feel right anymore. I began wondering if I could pull off silver fox status. But…will I look…old? I decided the worst-case scenario is I hate it and I go back to dying it. And the best case scenario I love it and keep going. A year later, I am still dye free and learning to love it. But let me tell you, it’s still not easy. I am about two good hair cuts away from being fully gray.

I haven’t made a public post about it before now because I am still getting used to seeing myself with salt and pepper strands peeking through. It’s now very obvious and easily recognizable in my photos. Now is the time to admit it to myself and to those whom I haven’t seen face to face in the last year. It’s time to share it with my followers because my headshots are clearly not the same. Will anyone recognize me?

woman with gray hair
Me in my natural state of gray hair and no make up.

The longer my gray roots grow, the taller I grow in my own confidence. It turns out I’m not alone there either! I made a cryptic post on my personal social media page about contemplating life as a silver fox and a childhood friend sent a text message that she was inspired to do the same. Now we encourage each other by sending snapshots of our changing hair. Another friend from high school recently posted that she was going to give up coloring her hair to be more authentic too. Suddenly, I am in very good company and feeling bolder about this choice.

I am finding inspiration from women all over Instagram embracing their gray hair. There are a lot of us feeling powerful walking through life with silvery tendrils, and as one woman pointed out, “It takes a lot of confidence to walk around daily with two-toned hair.” Isn’t it funny, that people can have rainbow hair, two different shades of purple, or bleached or fading colors and no one second guesses that persons value and relevance. But women with gray hair are told they look “too old” or look like they “let themselves go.”

And oddly enough, I am finding inspiration from men with gray hair. When men age they are referred to as “distinguished” which implies dignity and respect. But when women age they are referred to as “washed up.” I noticed male lead actors that dominated the TV screen in my childhood are still on TV and fully gray. They’ve grown up, just like I have. Yet, no one is accusing them of having let themselves go. In fact, they are given the commanding roles with younger looking wives or partners. Honestly, if men can walk around with new found confidence with fully gray hair, then I can feel just as empowered to do the same.

So, here I am.

On my way to a braver, grayer self.

Have you embraced your new, natural color since the pandemic? Does gray hair make you feel bolder? Wiser? More empowered? I’d love to read about it in the comments below.

How to Tackle Home Clutter (Free offer)

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Clutter is defined as ‘a collection of things laying around in an untidy mass.’ As moms, we are familiar with the untidy mass and the frustration it creates. It is well known by now how clutter impacts our minds. Organizers tout the benefits of decluttering by hauling out our belongings to sort into piles to toss or donate. Who doesn’t love replacing a chaotic mess with a well-organized bin with a cute label, right? But not everyone has time for an extreme make over.

Moms are busy and often the only person to tackle the clutter at home. We might set aside time once a year (usually in the spring) to clean out our closets and kid toys, but it is the daily management of clutter that can wear us down. Managing the daily clutter and mess causes stress. Clutter impacts our mood when we feel like we are nagging, it affects our relationship with our loved ones because we can resent having to do it all by ourselves, and it can be physically draining being a cleaning team of one.

As much as I love an organized closet and escalate to giddy heights over the perfect storage solution, I find the daily clutter to be the most overwhelming. It distracts me from working and feeling productive, it takes time to clear the dining table so we can eat, and I am exhausted at the end of the day after returning items back to where my family took them from. I admit, my blood boils when no one else notices the crumbs and puddles on the counter nor remembers that coats do not belong on the floor.

Scientists agree that clutter signals to our brain that our work is never done. It can be difficult to relax when we feel like we see an endless task list. I don’t know about you, but I could use a few less things on my to-do list. I already have enough running to-do lists taking up space in my brain. What I need is a simple solution to tackle the daily clutter my family creates.

Sort mail as it comes in! (Click to add to cart).

Cleaning out the closet doesn’t make me feel better when my husband tosses the mail in a pile on the side table next to my workspace and leaves it for me to take care of.

Putting the kids toys in cute bins with pretty labels doesn’t make me feel better when I find toys strung about the house left for me to take care of.

Rounding up things to donate or toss doesn’t make me feel better when there is a new stream of stuff right behind me to take care of.

I’ve noticed, I am the only one doing all that cleaning and organizing on top of the daily cleaning and organizing and I am tired.

One day, I thought about what will make me feel better. I will feel better when my family pitches in to take ownership of their own stuff.

After months of feeling angry and festering in silence, I realize it isn’t fair to me or my family to just do everything myself. It isn’t teaching them life skills they need to learn, and it isn’t fair to drain my energy each day picking up after other people who can pick up after themselves.

FREE DOWNLOAD – 5 Tips to Tackle Home Clutter

I created a list of the top five sources of clutter in my home and planned how to tackle each one.

After I made my list and my plan, I sat my family down for a family meeting and told them they needed to pitch in. We are a team, and we are all capable of sharing the workload to maintain our home.

Organize your purse to save time and minimize clutter! (Click to add to cart).

That’s it.

I set the expectation for their help and explained how working as a team frees up time and energy for all of us, it improves our moods and our relationship.  That doesn’t mean every day is perfect or that I stop giving reminders, but now there is no question of where and when I need help. It minimizes my nagging and pleading and saves me energy!

So, how do I motivate them without nagging and making an elaborate chore chart?

I assign a tidy time each day. We all pitch in together to put away our own clutter and items that need to return to their point of origin. If we are all working together, there is less complaining and not one person feels like they are the only ones doing the work. I am less exhausted and less annoyed.

I delegate responsibilities, not just tasks. My kids need to learn to be responsible with their belongings. So, I assign each of them their own laundry day. I taught them the steps to loading the washer and dryer. They still need help folding, but they are responsible for putting away their laundry. They pick up the clothes on their floor during tidy time and do their own laundry on their laundry day. This is a huge step toward independence and less for me to tackle.

If you want to know the other steps in my daily declutter plan, sign up for my monthly newsletter! My list of 5 ways to Tackle Home Clutter is my free gift to you, and it arrives in your in box within minutes.  

How do you get your family to pitch in more? I’d love to read in the comments below!

Roxanne Ferber is a twin mom and creator/owner of The Whatever Mom community. As a freelance writer she has contributed to parenting magazines and influencer campaigns. A fan of snarky comedy, she uses humor to share the messier parts of her parenting life and helps other moms embrace the chaos and let go of perfection.

Cooking Basics for Kids with a Fun Recipe Round-up!

Is your kid ready to learn some basic kitchen skills? Cooking with kids can be a little stressful because most often we see the mess we have to clean up. The key here is it will all clean up. Let your kids learn from their messy mistakes and learn how to clean up after their cooking adventures. Afterall, cleaning up after themselves is also a valuable life skill, right?

So here are the basics when cooking with kids:

Chose the right recipe. Select recipes that require skills your kids already have. For example, you might have your 2-year-old help bake cookies, or pretzels because rolling out the dough is easy and fun. But you wouldn’t have them help you make a 4-course dinner with a million steps.

Keep it simple. If your kids are just starting out in the kitchen start out with recipes that require fewer steps to complete. Your kid will stay motivated to learn more. Start with easy snacks to nail down the basics like cutting and planning, then work up to meals that requires bigger skills.

Use the right tools. If you are worried about your kids using knives or any of your kitchen tools, get them a kid version that they can use with easy. I always have plenty of towels and a broom and dustpan on hand to clean up any messes.

Chose the right time. Don’t try to teach your kid some cooking skills while they are hungry and impatient, or during the dinner time rush. You want to select a recipe that will fit into the time you have to get through the recipe without pressure to get it done quickly.

Here are some simple recipes you can help your child make:

Toddlers:

Banana sushi

Soft pretzels

Garlic bread pizza

Older kids (ages 6-10):

Egg salad wraps

Pancakes

Meatballs and sauce.

Tweens: (Age 10+)

Grilled cheese

Homemade mac and cheese

Scrambled egg burritos

What are you cooking with the kids this week? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!

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.

Recipe Round-up: Sheet pan meals!

As much as I love cooking, I don’t love spending hours in the kitchen. I will often prep my meals ahead of time if I can, and pull them out as I need them through the week. But when I am pressed for time, I absolutely love tossing everything on one baking sheet to cook together in the oven. One sheet pan meals make dinner time easier because there is only one pan to clean!

Here are my favorite sheet pan meals to try this week!

Sheet pan fajitas

Mini meatloaf sheet pan meal

Sheet pan BBQ Tofu

Easy sheet pan sausage and veggies

Vegan herbed veggies sheet pan meal

And when I am feeling lazy, I mean “pressed for time” I simply put some frozen veggie burgers and sweet potato fries on one sheet pan and toss in the oven. In less than 30 minutes I have a full dinner made complete with veggies my family will eat.

Do you have a favorite sheet pan meal recipe you love? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to give it a try!

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.

Amazon Bulk Buys – Our Favorite Snacks

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Buying in bulk isn’t always an option since most stores are still limiting the number of items one can purchase at a time. Since we are still avoiding crowded stores and long lines, buying bulk items on Amazon and having them delivered is a time saver. I can stock my cupboards and keep my little eating machines in snacks.

We typically buy the kids snacks in bulk and hide them away then ration them out. Otherwise they will eat everything at once and still claim to be hungry.

Here are some of favorite snacks we buy in bulky proportions:

Seaweed Snacks

Pirates Booty puffed cheddar snacks

Emerald nut variety packs

Go Go Squeeze fruit pouches

Nuts & Protein bars

Sensible portions veggie straws

Kid Cliff Z bar

Natures Bakery fig bars

Off the Eaten Path organic variety snacks

Biena Chickpea Snacks

How are you serving up snacks to your insatiable eating machines? Buying in bulk and preparing a few days worth of health snacks helps keep my family fed.

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.

Recipe Round-up: Gluten Free Crock-pot Meals!

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 found to try this week: 

Slow cooker gluten free cocktail meatballs my kids go crazy for these along with maple roasted carrots.

Low carb crock-pot chili

Creamy salsa chicken

Vegetarian portobello crock-pot roast

Slow cookier coconut quinoa curry

That’s five nights of a crock-pot meals done! Which one will you try first?

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.

Spring Cleaning Just in Time for Spring to Arrive

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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.

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