My New Kitchen Tool

I finally bought it! I have been debating this kitchen tool for over a year now and finally pulled the trigger. It’s nothing fancy, nothing new to the market, and not a fad like the Instapot craze…..it’s a simple toaster oven.

I know, I know, they have been around forever. My husband actually grew up having one in his childhood home his entire life. Although, I did not and never found the need to have one since I always found myself cooking for a family. However, now I will admit….I love it!!! Since becoming empty nesters and often times finding my husband gone for work and only myself to cook for, this is so much faster, easier, and cooler in the summer months.

So far I have made a small casserole for myself and the daycare children for lunchtime.

IMG_1415

I have also made fish,

IMG_1417

chicken and cheese tortilla melts,

IMG_1444

stuffed zucchini boats, IMG_1449

along with sweet potato fries, nachos, black bean burgers, and pizza melts.

I love that it takes minutes to preheat, minutes to cook, and does not heat up my entire kitchen to prepare one/two serving dishes.

Little by little I am learning how to revamp my/our life to be a family of one or two and occasionally three when our son stops back in to eat at home. I am loving trying new veggie packed recipes that I could never get away with in the past. And believe it or not, being empty nesters is working out pretty well for us all. I am happy, dad is happy and spends more quality time with our son than before, and our son seems pretty happy himself being on his own. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all my 9×13 casserole dishes since I don’t see a lot of usage for them anymore.

So tell me all you other empty nest parents out there…..what was the biggest change when your kids moved out on their own? Was it cooking, cleaning, living a childless lifestyle, reconnecting with your spouse, etc?

 

Advertisements

Sometimes In Marriage You Must Agree To Disagree

Sometimes in marriage you must agree to disagree. This is always what I have believed. Just because your married to someone you love does not mean you have to have the same beliefs and thoughts. And I can assure you, in our marriage, we disagree about a few things but this one main topic I was determined to win….it all started about 8 years ago. Our disagreement was and still to this day about dishwashers.Seriously, not money, not where we vacation, not lack of communication….simply dishwashers! I feel they are the most useless appliance in a household. Here is where this all started.

Twenty-two years ago we bought our house and it came with our first ever dishwasher. I was excited.Then maybe two years after it started to leak. And sometimes finding a leak in a dishwasher takes awhile, so by the time you figure it out you have floor damage….thankfully we found ours fairly quickly. We repaired this one, this time. Then a year after this the entire dishwasher was junk for some reason that I don’t recall. OK, so we go buy another one. Four years after this one is purchased, this one is junk. I even called a repair man….which let me assure you, rarely happens in my house since my husband can fix almost anything. This guy, the repairman, assures me it is junk and tells me to buy a new one. We buy another dishwasher. Then, like always, while my husband is traveling for work this dishwasher also springs a leak. I call him, tell him, and he says I will look at it when I get home. OK, I stop using it and wash dishes by hand until he returns. No big deal! Well, he traveled for two weeks with work and I really learned that doing dishes was seriously not that bad. I could wash them, they would dry quickly, and I could have them all put away in a few minutes…..compared to the hour it took for the dishwasher to wash, dry, and then be emptied. That is after you find at least one, usually more, dishes that did not get cleaned. OMG, this used to drive me insane….I remember it like it was yesterday.

So this is where the argument starts…..he got home, looked at it and said, oh I can fix it it’s no big deal. I said, you know what, I don’t want it fixed. Let’s just do dishes by hand since it’s so much faster. He looked at me like…what…are you serious…or just crazy??? I laughed and said….don’t fix it, because if you do your wasting your time, I am not going to use it anymore anyhow. And he knows not to second guess me, what I say I mean with all my heart and soul. I was done being the dishwasher queen….I was now converted to the dish washing queen. So he did as asked and left it.

And here we are today, after getting a quote from a professional to remove the dishwasher and make it back into storage space a few weeks ago….which my husband is the one that told me to get this professional quote, I did as I was told. I knew exactly what would come of this but I did what he asked. I then emailed him at work with the quote and waited patiently for his response. I would love to repeat what he sent me but let’s just say this is what has been happening in my kitchen since this email.

It began with a plan scribbled out by MY personal repair man…my husband!

IMG_0435

Then we hashed around a few ideas and before I knew it the dishwasher was out of it’s hole and was history.

IMG_0431

IMG_0434

Wood was cut, drilling was happening, and saw dust was now starting to cover my house.

IMG_0432

That all took about 3 hours on a Sunday. Then it was time to go back to work for the week and I was left with a hole for the time being.

That is until an ice storm happened on a Tuesday where both my husband and son were home from work for the day……however, I still had to work.(Remember: I work from home with my in home daycare)

IMG_0440

You can only imagine that I knew what he would want to do on his day off….which was work on the cabinet. Which meant that I would have to try and keep children out of his way and still function in the kitchen during breakfast, lunch, and snack times. Ugggg, this would be like me trying to make a chocolate cake with icing and sprinkles on his work bench while he is trying to work. Yeh, not a good thought but we made it work. Thankfully, he loves children and has learned how to have an enormous amount of patience from having so many in our home for so many years.

IMG_0463

IMG_0452

IMG_0460

IMG_0461

He even made time for a quick break taken at snack time to keep his “little supervisor” happy since he promised her he would make popcorn after nap. Plus, this snack takes a good amount of time to eat with little fingers which meant he managed to get all but the staining done on the new cabinets on his day off.

IMG_0458

The finished results are wonderful. I am so excited to have additional storage in a spot that has been wasted space for so many years. It’s been a long debate in our house…one that I would not budge on. I will never be the owner of another dishwasher.

IMG_0486

IMG_0487

As for the argument of whether or not we need a dishwasher……apparently not!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do I Get It All Done? I Don’t!

 

I am often asked how I get it all done. It’s a question that sometimes annoys me because getting IT ALL DONE can mean so many different things to so many different people. So I really never know how to answer this question when it is asked. Although, I feel I do a pretty good job of being a wife, mother, daycare provider, barber, accountant, dishwasher, home maker, yard person, chef, first aid provider, and still have time for me. So for all my friends, family, and acquaintances who have asked me this, let me tell you how I do what I do.

First, just let me say…..I don’t get it all done. If I got it all done I would probably never sleep since it would be a full 24 hour a day job. However, I do follow a pretty strict schedule. Which is my first suggestion…make a schedule and stick to it. For instance, here at my house, I do laundry every single day except Saturday. I clean the bathrooms Tuesday, dust/scrub floors Monday, vacuum every single day(sometimes twice a day), garbage goes out on Tuesday, bills are done on Thursday, lawn gets cut once a week(sometimes twice), daycare bedding along with our bedding gets washed every two weeks unless needed before, garage gets swept once a week, dishes are done at least three times a day, ironing gets done on Wednesday, and dinner is prepared every evening except Friday. This schedule is very rarely changed up and some things are delegated to other members of my family. Lawn is typically husband or son, vacuuming is also husband or son if its the evening vacuum…..everything else is on me. All this is completed while I also work full time caring for three children all under the age of 3 yrs old. Add in a daily workout session for myself, kid cuddle time, play time, and time to eat and my days are full.

IMG_8059

How do I manage…..well I have a few other tips for everyone:

* Wake up early. Get what you can done before the kids wake up….in my instance before they arrive(6a.m.). Or if your a night owl, stay up late and get it done then.

IMG_3322

*Routine …routine…. routine. Having a schedule which becomes a routine after awhile helps me to know what the day holds in store. I know Mondays are my hardest days so dinner is typically something easy and fast.

IMG_7883

IMG_7886

*Don’t be afraid to use your kids and spouse for help. Kids as young as two can lend a hand…plus it teaches them responsibility.

IMG_1403

*Don’t forget time for yourself. Sometimes we become so involved in life matters that our needs get pushed to the back of the line. Don’t let this happen. Schedule time for you just like time for laundry,dishes, and meal prep.

IMG_5030

*Organization is key. I am a very organized person and it helps so much to know exactly where things are when I need them. Even my daycare kids are taught from very young….things go back where we got them. They know exactly what is going to happen when. And having a routine is truly priceless when it comes to living a crazy, busy life here in our house.

IMG_7809

*Make a list. If you find it hard to stay on track try making a list. I am a professional list maker and have noticed my son is catching on now that he is an adult. I have lists every where. I have a weekly menu which then helps me make my weekly grocery list so food is not bought that may be wasted. I have a packing list for when we travel, lists for where I want to vacation, and lists for daily chores. You name it…. I have a list.

IMG_7856

Pre prep if you can. For me timing is everything. Many people may think I relax at nap time if I am so lucky to get everyone on the same napping schedule. This is not true….I typically exercise first and pre prep dinner during nap time. This way when my last child is picked up I can switch gears back to wife and mother and quickly throw together dinner before I hit the gym or my nightly exercise of choice. I find chopping veggies for the week on the weekends is helpful and taking things like sun dried tomatoes and pureeing them and then freezing them makes for a fast sauce additive with very little prep during the week.

IMG_1772

IMG_7847

IMG_7849

There is never a day where I feel like I got everything done. Although, there are days where I feel I have accomplished a lot and I am happy with the day. I used to stress over the fact that not everything got done but I quickly learned it never really changed anything. For me, I prioritize and the things that need attention get it…. from a chore around the house, to a particular person, or to simply myself. You need to have priorities. My family knows, if mom is not happy no one will be happy. Thankfully, I have a marriage where if either of us needs time apart we can simply say so and it’s not a problem. If we need some couple time we can also just say so and it happens. If I need help my husband is typically ready and waiting to lend a hand.

After all this is said, I will never say I don’t at times need an afternoon pick me up. My days are long and often exhausting, especially in the summer months where it is hot and we spend all day outside enjoying summer. When these days happen I will often turn to a afternoon chilled latte…..but believe me it is never in a fancy glass with ice cubes to keep it chilled while I sit on the front porch and enjoy it during nap time. Nope….never. Instead, it is straight from the frig, with a splash of almond milk added right to to container it was stored in, and gulped down withing minutes so I have time to workout before my first child decides they are not going to sleep on this particular day for whatever reason.

IMG_8152

Plus, in all honesty…..a fancy glass would just be one more dish I would need to wash and put away later on. It tastes the same from the storage container as it would from a fancy glass…..right?

I learned along time ago, what does not get done today will still be there tomorrow. I no longer sweat the small stuff….it’s just not worth the stress.

 

 

 

 

Shivering Off Calories

Recently, I read an article in a magazine that shivering can burn as many calories as a half hour workout. First, I want to say, if this is true I have been working out all week, non stop, and should have lost weight without even trying. And second, I want to say, even though I may not agree with the amount of calories burned in a half hour of shivering….I do believe it’s exhausting to shiver for hours each day.

This week it has been frigid here in our area…..I mean, it hurts to go outside and have the wind hit you in the face. So, of course, I stayed in as much as I could and did anything possible to warm up, which meant I had more home workouts than gym workouts.

Sunday: gym: 40 minute elliptical, rowing, and stretching

Monday: home: total body weight workout, recumbent bike 15 minutes, stretching

Tuesday: a quick(15 minutes) home weight lifting routine….something is better than nothing at all

IMG_6428

Wednesday: mall lap walk 3 miles

Thursday: home: 30 minute recumbent bike, abs and stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: gym: 45 minutes on the elliptical, rowing and abs

Last weekend I had a gentleman contact me to purchase my home gym. I was sad to see it go but knew in my heart the days of heavy lifting are over.

IMG_3040

So after he came to pick it up, I rearranged a bit, and assembled my new workout area.You really do not need much to get a really great workout at home if you know what your doing. This week, I have been finding my groove again and loving my new home routine.

IMG_6433

Speaking of this week, what a mess it turned out to be. Every Sunday we take a look at the calendar and have a pretty set plan of action for the week ahead. Tuesday is when it all fell apart after hearing a major snowstorm was on its way to our area apparently bringing too much snow to drive in safely for the upcoming weekend. Which meant, I needed to move some appointments around making time for them during the week, which in turn meant forgoing my original gym nights. This did not make me happy but sometimes life gets in the way. However, about mid afternoon Saturday during this snowstorm, I was chomping at the bit to go to the gym and convinced my husband that this was the reason we bought a SUV with all wheel drive….so we could still travel if needed during snowstorms. Which, in my opinion, I needed a workout at the gym in the worse way and eventually he said, “then just go.” So I did and let me tell you, it felt wonderful and I made it there and back just fine.

 

 

 

Let’s Chat Over Some Tea….

Let’s chat a bit over a nice cup of hot tea.

IMG_5385

Hunting season is in full swing and this is a big stress topic for me. I am not fond of hunting…well not really hunting per say….just the part that includes the gun! So for me, when my husband says he is going hunting for the day…the busier I can keep myself the better I will be until I see him arrive home safe and sound. And hiking during hunting season offers a bit more stress since I often think the gun shots are closer than they actually are. Soon we will be adding blaze orange to our hiking attire to hopefully not be mistaken for an animal and shot at.

IMG_3013

Then you have the colors that are changing in the trees surrounding our state. Which is a photographers paradise….and our son is a photographer. Well, this also brings stress for this here mom since the same place my husband stumbled across a bear while hunting, just so happens is the same place my son says he is going to try and capture some fall photos. And let’s face it, a camera is far from carrying a gun for protection….so at least he asked dad to join him(with the gun) and he armed himself with the bear spray. I was a bit more at ease then.

IMG_5383

You all won’t believe what I received in the mail this past week. A “save the date” invitation for an upcoming wedding of one of the first children I ever cared for in my home. OMG, did this make me feel old. Even though I knew she had gotten engaged, had introduced me to her fiancee, and I even got to see the ring…..the invitation is what really made me think back and just say WOW….I have cared for children for a long time!!!!

IMG_4305

I am learning more and more every day how to live with my new limitations since going through major surgery 8 months ago. I am not going to say I like it by any means, but I am learning to live with it. I am still not up to what I weight lifted prior to surgery, which in all honesty, I don’t think I ever will be back to where I was. Although, I am ok with this since weight lifting was never my favorite anyhow. Yoga is a challenge….especially on my right side. However, I am not willing to give up yet on yoga since it brings me such calmness and peace. I do what I can and accept it for what it is. I am happy to say my cardio is back where I left it and even more on some days. This is awesome, since cardio is my favorite, stress relief.

IMG_4318

Even though fall officially just started….I really miss summer already. Like, REALLY miss summer!!!!!

IMG_4497

That being said, we are in full swing of some big home repairs and this makes me very happy. I hate summer home repairs, so we put them off until the fall and go crazy during the weekends.

IMG_5389

Have you all seen them….these mini 100 calorie bars of yumminess? I am by no means a chocoholic but when I am craving chocolate I will eat it no matter what the calorie count is and later feel guilty. I came across these in the store the other day and grabbed 4 bars just for me. Now, when that moment hits and I NEED chocolate, I can eat one of these with very little guilt.

IMG_5423

I have to say, since the weather has gotten cooler I have found myself rotating some of our favorite stove top and casserole type meals into our weekly meals plans. Summer is when we grill often and I rarely make casseroles.

IMG_5427

That’s it for me today. Got anything you want to share? Go ahead, I love hearing from you.

My Weekend + High Hopes For The Week Ahead

It’s amazing how much improvement I have seen in a week. I am still working on stamina but it has definitely gotten better. My naps are shorter and not every day, which makes me happy.Which also means, I had some fun this weekend and got out and enjoyed life a little.

Besides making a trip to the mall every day last week to walk, I finally escaped the four walls of my home for a bit of fun on Friday. My two closest friends, that have been just a phone call away through this whole ordeal, took me shopping and out to lunch Friday. It was so nice to forget about pain,recovery, and medical issues and just feel normal for awhile. We had a few hours of fun, a fabulous lunch, and met a new friend while we were out. Isn’t he cute?

IMG_1846

I have finally started contributing and doing what I can of the house chores again. My poor husband has had this all on him, with assistance from our son when he’s home, for weeks now. At least now I am able to do laundry with the help of my grabber. Although, the clean baskets of clothes still have to be carried by someone else, at least I am able to sort, wash, dry and fold them.

IMG_3380

Sitting comfortably has been a challenge since surgery but I am happy to say we are back to family dinners at the table, which for this mom, is HUGE! Sometimes the only time we have as a family to catch up is dinner time so this is always a goal to do when we are all home together.

IMG_3377

As for the week ahead, I have some very high hopes. I have a post op doctor appointment Monday and want to hear everything is healing nicely, I can get back to life as I knew it, I can go back to work and welcome all my kids back to our home,

IMG_3302

I will be able to hike miles and miles on vacation,

IMG_3150

and go back to my workouts that I miss so much.

IMG_3039

Now whether this is what I all hear tomorrow will be seen soon enough I suppose, but it does not hurt to hope, right??? I do know hiking miles is not possible since I cannot walk miles and miles yet, I sure cannot hike it then either. And workouts will be limited at best, but anything will be something in my eyes.

So with a little luck maybe I will have some great trails to share with you all when I am back next time. I will be able to get back to posting my weekly workouts which I know some of you have ask for in the past. And I can come home tomorrow and call all my daycare families whom are all waiting patiently for the ok to return to Karen’s house again.

So for now I will wish you all a great week ahead.

Until next time….

 

 

I’ll Take This Any Day

Sunday when I went around our home and reset our clocks a part of me wanted to just dig a cave and hibernate for the next few months. Something in me changes during this time of year and as much as I want to fight it…..I just don’t know how. I struggle through every day and literally drive my family crazy counting down the days until it’s time to change back the clocks again.

 

Despite my mood, life must go on. Monday I truly expected to have a horrible day. That one hour time change in a child’s life can literally cause them to crumble. However, I was happily surprised when all my daycare children showed up bright eyed and ready for a day of fun. What a wonderful way to start the week.

Take some happy children and mix them with some extreme temperatures in the month of November here in WI and life only got better. We actually played outside with no jackets and the sun shining on our already fading summer tanned faces. How glorious this was….

I had to laugh, which I know will come back and bite me in the %$# eventually since we are basking in warmth and sunshine and some individuals already have their Christmas trees up in their homes. I know, nothing like rushing the season, I almost choked when I saw this driving by a home the other day. I can’t help but wonder how much of a shock it’s going to be when this warm, summer like few days is over and I wake up to a cold, white covering on my lawn one morning. UGGGG, let’s not think about that!!!!

Talking about Christmas, did you know that Starbucks has released their holiday cups, stores/malls are playing Christmas music and everyone is already talking up black Friday shopping events. Maybe this warmth has me thinking summer yet because apparently everyone else is ready for the holidays except me. Plus, whatever happened to Thanksgiving…..it does come before Christmas???

Either way, I am going to take and spend every last moment outside before Mother Nature decides this needs to come to an end and winter has to arrive.

What affect does the time change have on you?

How about your children….do they adjust well or does it take some time?