Thursday, February 28, 2013

all warmed up....

All warmed up, just in the nick of time.  With the kids all sick for two weeks, going on three weeks and winter in full effect, Edward and I managed to escape to florida at the perfect moment.  We planned a four day trip to southeast florida and before leaving the children, I can say that my heart was fully prepped to say goodbye for a few days and to miss them only a little bit ;)  We had wonderful weather and a perfect time of sleeping, , lounging, walks on the beach and even a little window shopping.  My bones are warmed up enough to pull me through the remainder or winter, so thank you to those who made our trip possible!!!!  I've decided my next home decor purchase is going to be a huge potted palm tree; I need one in my life on a daily basis.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"candy" for the kids

Nope, not valentines day candy.  I've fooled my kids into thinking that candy is their daily regimen of vitamins.  I am no health or nutrition expert but my brother has spent a lot of time researching supplements and holistic health, so I take his recommendations when it comes to what vitamins and supplements to give the kids.

I started my kids on their daily "candy" regimen about 1 year ago and this winter has convinced me that  their "candy" is working!!  This winter my toddlers have had lots of play dates, been dropped off at the gym's kids club and church nursery quite often, and sometimes even played on the nasty mall playground and they have not had a cold since September.  Of course last week, a few days after I run out of their vitamins and am waiting for the next shipment to arrive, they all come down with a cold.  Maybe the two events are connected, maybe they are not, but my husband and I both agree, let's make sure we don't run out of candy again.

Here's what I give them and I order them from Vitacost, which is the least expensive website I've found.

They have their probiotics before one or two meals every day. Probiotics fixed what I thought was their "gluten sensitivity" or toddler IBS.  Probiotics give your gut a great dose of good bacteria which helps with digestion, fights against yeast production and therefore prevents bad bacteria growth and illness.

Here's where they get a great deal of "DHA," which promotes brain growth (important for little ones for obvious reasons)... from these fruity chewy balls of cod liver oil.  They also give the kids naturally occurring vitamins A & D, which helps boost their immune systems. 

This is their multivitamin "candy," they eat them after lunch.  I've tried them and they are delicious!

This past flu season, in addition to the vitamin c they receive from their multivitamin, I've given them these vitamin c animal candies after dinner and they love them.

If you're inspired to order some supplements from from vitacost, let me know because every time you refer someone, both people get $10 off their order.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

to my gurlz

Feel so blessed to have such wonderful friends.  God is good to give me just what I need and beyond.  Thank you, gurrrllls, for doing all of the above and forcing me to take a moment and realize I've got my fourth little gift from God in my belly.  I got really excited to meet my little future dirt hauler and booger picker today and I owe that to you all.  Now that I am about to have a pregnancy hormone amplified teary moment I better stop writing but I just feel so blessed to have all of you friends and kiddos en mi vida.  Even though life on this earth is not perfect, it sure is great when you're given exactly what you need.

Monday, February 11, 2013

1 Step Organic Whole Chicken

My family is a family of eaters.  I prefer eating organic meat and poultry but given how much our family eats (my toddlers eat as much if not more than I do on a daily basis), I buy non-organic everything else in order to save some dough.  We get the majority of our groceries from Costco and go to Wegmans for the weekly round-up of fruits, veggies, milk and other random things.  Thankfully Costco sells organic chicken (I am sure there's even better organic chicken out there from local farms but I don't think I'd be able to keep up with the ordering, picking up and probably smaller portions) ;)

I grab a few of Costco's whole chickens every time we go because there couldn't be an easier, more affordable way to have a bunch of chicken on hand for the meals we eat during the week.  On Mondays usually I'll empty out the defrosted chicken's gizzards (I think that's what that bag inside of the chicken is called), rinse the chicken, plop it in my crock pot and turn it on low for 5-6 hours.  That's literally all I do.  MAYBE I'll sprinkle some seasonings on it and MAYBE I'll take the skin off beforehand if I don't plan to make chicken broth afterward.  But usually, the chicken goes naked into my crock pot.  I do this because I'll be adding it into fajitas or casseroles later on and just flavor it then, depending on the dish.

*If your crock pot doesn't have a wire rack like mine, on which the chicken rests (so that it doesn't cook in the bubbling chicken drippings, supposedly that's unsanitary), then you can crumple up 4 or 5 foil balls and rest the bird on the foil balls.

The chicken cooks on low for 5-7 hours, depending on the size of the bird or until the chicken doesn't look pink.  

On a rimmed cutting board I separate the skin and bones from the meat and there you have it...a TON of chicken that feeds my family of five for two maybe three meals.  If you want shredded chicken (if you plan to make chicken salad or a casserole), then put the chicken into your kitchen aid mixer and with the white mixer blade it's perfectly shredded in seconds.

Last week I used the chicken to make fajitas and chicken salad.  Visit my pinterest board titled "chicken dinners" for more ideas on what to make with the chicken.

THEN, if you feel really motivated and want your house to smell like Boston Market for just one more day, instead of throwing away the chicken bones and drippings, make homemade chicken broth.  I really recommend doing this if you have little ones during flu season.  Homemade chicken broth really helps reduce inflammation if you have a cold or virus.

Put the bones back into the crock pot, add 1.5 quarts of filtered water and a splash of white vinegar (it helps extract all the minerals from the bones and put them into the stock) and turn your crock pot on low for 8 hours, or overnight.  If you have leftover vegetable scraps like celery roots, carrot stems or onion scraps, throw them in there as well for added flavor and nutrition.  Then, use a strainer to strain the liquid from everything else, distribute the liquid into freezable containers and make sure to cool the broth in the refrigerator before you try to skim off the fat that collects on top.  You can keep the broth in the refrigerator for a few days or store it for longer in the freezer.  It's great to have on hand for soup but I use it most often when I cook rice and quinoa.

I call this stuff "liquid gold" during flu season 

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

right-side-out is over-rated

I used to have myself pretty together back in the day.  I got almost perfect grades, kept a detailed agenda and passed room inspection 100% of the time back in the all-girls boarding school.  After college I was an executive assistant for an extremely busy boss and made a good living by organizing people, events and keeping myself and others straight!

Fast forward and I am now a busy mama, who does NOT have it together in those ways any more.  The past few years I have tried to keep a calendar or to-do list or something and a month or so into it, I lose said calendar, or throw it away on accident because I am so disorganized!  (yes, I know, keep my calendar on my phone! ...but you don't want to know my track record with phones either).  I doubt that any of my mom friends now would ever believe that I used to be organized for a living, but that's okay.  Like I said before, I'm content in this state of chaos and truthfully enjoy the freedom that this new, type B way of life brings me.  I'm sure that one day when my kids aren't all so young and dependent that I'll have more brain cells to devote towards organization, but right now I'm giving it all I've got and what I've decided that is right-side-out is over-rated.

When it comes to laundry, I mean.  The washer and dryer run daily here and the amount of clothes I pick up and throw into the washer will just continue to grow as the children multiply and the years pass.  I am sure of that and have accepted it as a constant part of my routine.  That said, I have racked my brain on how to spend the least amount of time on laundry as possible.  Here's what this oh so organized mom does not do: I do not, when folding the laundry, turn every single article of textile right-side out.  It totally cuts down on the folding time.  I figure that when it comes time for the owner of the inside out piece of clothing to put it on, they can take one extra second that day to fix it, if they so choose :)  

Also, I don't even fold my kids clothes!!  I just throw them directly from the dryer into their plastic bins, which are stacked in the laundry room.  They just wear casual stuff every day that doesn't really show wrinkles so I save myself time and skip the folding.  They inevitably plow through their bins each morning anyway trying to find the perfect outfit, so everything ends up unfolded after all.  

Moving the little tots' "dressers" to the main floor laundry room was the most helpful thing I've done as a susie homemaker.  My little ones get dressed and undressed multiple times a day and since we spend all of our waking hours on the main level, this has made my life so much easier.  The other main reason I decided to keep their clothes in the laundry room is because it means I will actually put away their clean laundry (unfolded and inside out of course).  I had the hardest time putting away their clean laundry when their dressers were in their rooms because they of course are napping when I find the time to sort laundry.  And of course I am not going to go in their rooms while they nap or am I ever able to remember to put away up there while they are awake.  SO, bins in laundry room = problem solved. 

One last time saver laundry tip: the kids' clean socks go in the drawer located under the washing machine, un-matched for the most part (I do match lili's socks) because the boys are old enough now to find two that match every morning.

And for the sake of my mom who may read this, I did not learn these tricks from her ;)  She did a much better job ;)