Six Ways to Upcycle your Chipotle Bowl (or Burrito!)

My hubby and I don’t go “out” to eat much, but we like to get Chipotle To-Go about once a week, generally on a Friday or Saturday night.  It is great to have an easy and delicious meal with no clean up on the weekend. It is relatively healthy compared to other take-out options and it makes great left-overs.  Before baby, I could barely finish a whole burrito or bowl; now I order two (yes, for myself), so I (generally) have some for the next day.  They are great straight out of the fridge, IMO, but I am all about using leftovers, and especially with my little guy wanting to play, mealtime is often grab and go.  So I occasionally use recipes, but also have fun coming up with some interesting concoctions on the fly, mostly with great success!  Next time, save your smidgen of rice, beans and toppings at the end or order two from the get-go for the below Chipotle Bowl (or Burrito!) Upcycles created by me!

1)  Mock stuffed squash-I usually roast a squash once every 1-2 weeks, and with half a roasted butternut squash and my Chipotle in the fridge, I stumbled across a new combination.  I grabbed them both, heated them, and discovered the flavors were amazingly harmonious!   Squash is a super-food and tastes great on its own, mild and sweet but the flavors in the Chipotle kick it up a notch and take the squash from a side-dish to a whole meal. You can use any winter squash, but I particularily like butternut prepared similar to this recipe.

2) Stir-fry-Use the leftover Chipotle as part of the flavor profile for a super easy stir-fry.  Stir up some rice or noodles and a protein, throw in peppers (frozen are super easy), onion and garlic. I like to add cashews or peanut sauce to change the flavor a bit and keep it from being too much of a repeat. The beauty of using the Chipotle is that you get a hint of that extra spiciness and grilled flavor that is sometimes hard to get at home! Yum!

3) Egg bake-Thanks  to my mom for showing me growing up that you can turn just about any savory left-over into a delicious egg bake, especially if the eggs are about to expire 🙂 .  Use anywhere from 6-12 eggs, a dash of milk, bread crusts, chopped onions, S&P and chipotle, and it is 30 minutes at 350 F until done. This recipe is a great starting point. It is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and sometimes I like to freeze half of the finished product for breakfasts at a later date. Endless tessellations of Chipotle.

3) Soup-I keep home-made broth on hand in the freeze, but you could just as easily use store-bought, or even add your chipotle to a pre-made canned soup.  Throw in extra frozen or fresh veggies, beans or another protein, simmer and done!

5) Salad-So chipotle does sell a salad bowl, but honestly I have never ordered it, because who wants to waste that yum real-estate on lettuce?  However, if you have leftovers and always have fresh greens in the fridge like me, the combo is obvious and can stretch your leftovers into a nice lunch. The leftovers already have all of the salad toppings you could want and no dressing required with all of that flavor chocked in the Chipotle.

6) Meatloaf-This one is getting a little bit adventurous, but it is worth taking the risk!  Lots of times I eat all of the meat out of my burrito bowl and just end up with the rice and other toppings. It is fine for any of the above recipes, but also serves me well for a dish like meatloaf. Make sure the large veggies are diced and then modify a recipe like this one for awesome results!

7) Guacamole-Bonus idea! I haven’t tried this yet, it just occured to me! Just mash your Chipotle leftovers in with avocado, lemon juice, garlic and diced onion! The circle of avocado life, or compounded Chipotle interest, right?

Sometimes it feels like there is nothing to eat even when I just went to the grocery store. Other times I open my fridge door, see my leftovers, inspiration hits me over the head, and I feel like a genius in the kitchen! Do you have any leftover dishes that have become your favorite go-tos? Please share!

Image from Tumblr.


Why Motherhood is Like an Endless Spa Day

Time for your facial!

Yesterday I came to the realization that my life is uncannily similar to a getaway at a five star spa and resort.  I did not notice this at first because the execution is different than a typical spa, but all of the big players are there: yoga, massage etc.  To help us mommies realize how much pampering we actually get on a day-to-day basis I drew up a list of spa-like diversions that I get to enjoy!

1) Yoga: We start the day with a diaper change around here.  If your tot is like mine this means you stretch all four of your limbs into impossible configurations and hold the pose (wait, wait, wait) for 60-90 seconds with each diap. Occasional, with certain diaper poses we focus on breathing, so we practice conscious deep abdominal breaths and holding during the face-everted pose. Lucky us; we get to participate in diaper yoga anywhere from 6-10 times per day at the mommy spa! It brings a whole new meaning to “child’s pose.”

2) Facial: Your facial appointment coincides with breakfast time. Whether fruit, oatmeal or milk, breakfast ingredients are rife with micronutrients and antioxidants.  The expert application to our forehead, cheeks and occasional hair may go unnoticed by us, but our mommy friends at play date may be kind enough to point out our unconscious anti-aging mask.  Our little ones are keeping us young!

3) Acupuncture: It is well known that many important pressure points are found in the foot. Your tot knows this too and has strategically placed small pointy toys where you least expect them, so that you get the full benefit of the accupuncture as you bring your foot down into contact with them. Ahh, your entire nervous system has now been reset!

4) Meditation: Meditation is an important part of mental health and well-being. Luckily, your little guy or gal is eager to assist you with this.  Whether it be stacking blocks or re-reading “Little Blue Truck” for the tenth time, your tot is definitely has a mantra in mind for you. You repeat your mini Zen Master’s activity of choice until your mind is blank, and then you find yourself doing the shape sorter of your own volition.  Congratulations; your thought-purging is on par with a Buddhist monk!

5) Light Snack: Every excellent spa offers a light and healthy snack during the course of your stay; Mommyhood also ensures that you will snack lightly since you can’t remember the last time you sat down to eat a meal.  Don’t worry, you will get a few snacks during your spa day, as it will round out to four peanut butter sandwich crusts, eight cubes of cheese, half an apple, diced pre-chewed chicken, as many carrot sticks and you can eat and orange juice to wash it down.

6) Finally, the long awaited massage: After all of the cleansing of the day it is time to wind down with a massage.  You lay face down on the mattress or floor with your eyes closed and wait. Your little one begins the massage in an unorthodox manner, by climbing on to your shoulders and butting heads with you.  He continues to seek out all areas of tension and apply moderate to firm pressure. He uses varied techniques; climbing and applying feet and elbows liberally.  You find yourself dozing off and as the massage comes to a close your heart fills with bliss and gratefulness for another amazing day at the Mommy Spa!

The day has come to a close and you may not have noticed all of the rejuvenation that took place!  What a shame.  Don’t worry though, every day is spa day! Now go on with Mommy Spa Day and remember to RELAX!

What is your favorite part of Mommy Spa Day?

Attachment Parenting Misnomers As Cued by My Attachment Baby

I’m an accidental “Natural Mama”.  When my son was born, I had no grand plan as to which parenting philosophy I would use. My only plan was to breastfeed for the first 6 months.  Well, this baby had plans for me; he may have spent the entire 9 months in utero hatching his plan. He was a classic high-needs baby, and had an undiagnosed medical problem for many months to boot. I was introduced to the AP community by a close friend and mother of 3. The community has been a huge source of support and normalization for helping me to meet my child’s needs and my own.That being said, over the course of a year, my misperceptions (or delusions) surrounding some of the AP terms have been made apparent (?) to me. Here are my tongue-in-cheek re-definitions of some of the common terms.

First let’s start with the name “attachment parent.” This term is only 50% correct.  No flack here for the attachment part, because yes, when you eat, wake, sleep, shower and beyond with your offspring, you are most definitely emotionally and moreover physically attached. My qualm is with the “parent” part of the term, because I will venture to say that there are attachment children and non-attachment children and you parent them accordingly. Some babies require that they are attached to you all of the time, and these are the attachment babies, which in turn create attachment parents.  I venture to say that Dr. Sears might agree, looking at this quote about his child here:  “After Hayden introduced us to high-need babies, we learned a whole new way to parent.” So, now the question is how to coin this term? I have an attachment baby? I’m a parent of an attachment child?  I can see the difficulty here, so we will move on.

Baby wearing: Baby wearing is a basic tenet of AP. It is  at the same time a non-negotiable and and a profound blessing if you have an attachment baby. Baby fussy? Won’t nap? Just “wear him down.” But let’s be a little clearer about who is being worn in this scenario. If you have a carrier (and you will get one if you have an attachment baby), your baby is physically strapped to you with cloth; he is being worn. After 35-40 minutes, you find baby-wearing to be physically wearing as well. For this reason it could arguably be called “parent wearing.” And after these shenanigans, you are both going to need a nap. Someone please cue the blessed event: co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping. This term suggests both mother and child are sleeping in the same space at the same time, often for naps, more-so for overnight.  In reality, one of you may be sleeping (baby) while the other feeds, re-positions, feeds again, burps, changes, feeds again and repositions, then feeds some more. Yes, it is precious and peaceful to be with in bed your little one, but you may come up short as far as actually sleep goes. Perhaps this is why the term “bed-sharing” was coined; to address the false pretenses of the above term.  It should be acknowledged that the terms bed-sharing is equally suspect.  Bed sharing is more aptly described as bed-relinquishing since somehow the littlest person takes up 90% of the prime bed real estate.

Baby-led weaning: Synonymous with extended breastfeeding. Not to be confused with cessation of breastfeeding. It could more aptly be called “toddler-led weaning” to convey how it is actually gonna go down in this situation. 15 month and going strong here!

Amber teething necklace: The baby does not teeth on this necklace. No, he does not chew on it as you might think.  Baby accessorizes with for its natural pain-killing properties from infancy through toddlerhood, and as the unofficial AP precious gem, it is functional AND stylish. It is also well-known in the community that there are counterfeits circulating. If you have taken a hair drying to your strand, you are in neck-deep! Wear it with pride!

Unbeknownst to me ahead of time, AP-ing was how I would survive the first year of my child’s life. We are thriving now still using these ideals as a touchstone, and looking back I am so glad for how I grew into being a mother. Thank you to all of mom’s out there who supported me with solid advice and understanding when the nights were long. If you have an attachment baby or you may also have the sense that some of the terms are innocently ironic or profoundly accurate. Much like all of parenthood, sometimes words are shorthand for what we all know and understand, and sometimes no words can describe it and we must define it for ourselves.

People of Target: Moms of Target Edition

I have been a Person of Target for as long as I can remember. My mom used to take us to the one four blocks from our home on the weekly, when it was still just a modest sundry-stocked chain. I remember hiding in the circular racks while my mom sifted through the hangers, then staring at rows and rows of Barbie’s and baby dolls in the toy aisle. I used to joke that the photo department was one of my first memories.  That was my Home Target.  I have come of age with Target over the years:  walking there with my sisters during our pre-teen years, buying shoes and a clutch for a homecoming dance in high school, getting M&Ms and a movie on a junk food run in college, etc. My love affair deepened as the NEW TARGET era (N.T.) swept the nation a half-decade ago, and my Home Target expanded into all of its complete-grocery, must-have-seasonal and Starbucks-cup-holder-genius glory. I found a new Home Target when I moved away, where I feel as much at home as I did finding my mom in the shoe section at age 8.

Now, besides being a Person of Target I am a Mom of Target, and I will maintain, a self-made expert.  I was beholden to put together this list of other Moms of Target and their characteristics for your shopping convenience on your next Home Target outing. See if you can recognize yourself here:

1) The stay-at-home mom:  Target is an important social outing in her weekly calendar. You can identify her by her coffee in hand and lack of merchandise in the cart.  She is there to socialize not only her baby, but herself since she has not had an adult conversation in two days.  She has a tendency to sidle up to anyone with children in hopes of a chance of exchanging a smile or a wave.  Be kind to her;  you are her new friend!

2) The brand new mom: This mommy is on her first outing with her very adorable 4 week baby.  Mommy may have gotten dressed for the first time in a while, and this may be her first foray back into the world outside of her nest.  Daddy may be along-side.  They are choosing between  Carter’s bum character onesies, and eventually decide on both. Pacis, diapers and nursing bras are also on their list. Make sure to coo over their baby and tell Mommy she looks great!

3) The must-be-blogger mom: A rare sighting, this mom makes a Target outing look glam. Her kiddo’s outfits are perfect; her hair and make-up are flawless. She is effortlessly pulled together, and is simultaneously doting on her children and photo documenting each cutesy move. Naturally she is here for the seasonal swag and craft supplies, with which she will create delightful childhood memories to blog about.  Why can’t I…?

4) The seasoned mom: With 3-4 kids in tow and perhaps a husband, this mom at the weekly Target trip to get all of the necessities in between practice and dinner.  Her cart is full to the brim with groceries, toiletries and new athletic shoes.  Her kids age 8 and under know the drill and are on the mission with her. Watch for a herd and a fast-moving cart!

5) The working mom:  This mom is super-busy and is grabbing Cliff bars and dinner items before swinging by daycare and heading to the gym.  She needs no cart; she expertly juggles her venti, cell-phone and merch. She’ll multitask at the checkout; it’s gonna be in and out.

6) The mom’s-day-off mom:  This mom has not had a break in a while, and stumbled out of the house at her MIL’s instructions, for some “me” time. She tries to remember how to shop, she is not quite sure what to do with herself alone, and she may look lost.  You will see her also with a frap in hand perusing the cosmetics section of the store. Later she is idly wandering around clothing and eventually lands in the children’s department where she will make the bulk of her purchases.  She will leave for home sooner than she should.

7) The soon-to-be mom: You can I.D. this mom by her burgeoning bump.  She shops maternity, cribs and car seats.  You nod knowingly and approvingly.  Another one for Team Target. 🙂

Now you know who you are. Happy Shopping!

House Hunting

Photo credit Fireside Book Shop, Chagrin Falls

I’m so excited to go look at houses today! We are looking in a new area, a cute little town called Chagrin Falls. It has all of the must-have features: close to my husband’s work, family-oriented, close to amenities. We have been searching for almost a year and our search has evolved quite a bit. Our real estate agents, Jody and Rochelle, have been very helpful and patient as well. I have spent so many hours on Zillow, my fav real estate search site, that it is not even funny and pretty much know the entire east side of Cleveland by heart. Being the analytical person that I am, I was obligated to assess what I have learned about the psychology of house hunting, and have documented it here for you! Here are some tips for house hunters out there:

1) Expect your needs and wants to evolve as you search. Maybe you thought you could never do a split level. Maybe you thought you HAD to have stainless and granite (blehhh, like every house hunter on cable TV). The more houses you see, the more your mind will be open to possibilities, and the more concrete your must-haves will become. We originally thought Chagrin Falls was too far east, but now I am realizing all of the positive aspects of the area, and I am very excited and hopeful about our options today!
2) Don’t fall into the trap of too many “must haves.” Once you see a few houses, you might start picking out things that you like about each of them, or don’t like. If you keep adding to your must have/must not have list, you will end up with a mutant creation that doesn’t exist (trust me, even if you triple your budget, there is ALWAYS something wanting). HGTV is a house-hunting fantasy world. Everything is shiny and bright; everyone gets everything they want; the process is quick and painless; even the home-buyers’ outfits coordinate with the decor. It is easy to forget that there is no perfect house, and putting too many things on either side of the list may result in nit-picking your dream house to death.
3) Don’t get attached to a house before you know the specifics. I can quickly fall in love with a well-staged house. The glossy pictures on the internet make that perfectly clean, tidy and decorated home seem like it is flawless. Add a dash of imagination and soon I picture myself living the dream. Look at the details during the home tour, the condition of the windows, appliances and exterior features. If these are on their last leg, you may need to tack thousands on to the price. We have found new roof, HVAC and electrical to be just as drool-worthy as the shiniest kitchen during this process. Think about the location and the yard and compare them with what you had in mind. Look at the spaces. Staging can camouflage awkward setups, so visualize yourself using the space in the way that you would normally live. At the same time, don’t let little quirks, like the miniature lean-to office with the giant brick fireplace bring you down if the house ticks a lot of your other boxes. Those unique features are the ones may grow to love in your home.
4) Go with your gut. House hunting is a lot like dating. If you walk into a house and feel immediately turned off, that is a big sign. However, don’t leave your “blind date” in the lurch; that is just rude. Suspend your judgment for a few minutes and look at the positive features of the house, because sometimes first impressions can be wrong, and unlike in a relationship, some houses make good “fixer uppers.” If it looks ok on paper, but you are uncertain, wait a few days and see if you want to give it another shot. On the same token, if you love the house at first sight, make sure you thoroughly consider the investment. Let that feeling lead you and help you feel confident in your decision when it comes time to commit.

5) Don’t be afraid to make YOUR offer. Some of the houses are listed spot-on, some are listed low for a quick sell, but inevitably, the one you want seems to be priced higher than you see fit. Do you research, If possible, use a website like Zillow to browse pictures, read descriptions and look closesly at the items in the home needing updates compared to “similar” sold homes. Factor in updates that have been made. Make it personal. If the backyard is not quite perfect for you and you are willing to let the house go for the $ it would take to get it fixed, then so be it. You are in the driver’s seat during negotiation, and you don’t want to end up under contract and feel like you got the short end of the stick.

6) It is ok to walk away. You don’t have to feel embarrassed or apologize for your descisions, even if you end the negotiations at the 11th hour. Perhaps you regretted making an offer immediately, perhaps something came up on the inspection. A few months ago, we put in an offer on a beautiful house, and during inspection some issues came up, but the biggest negative was the gun-range within hearing distance that both my husband and I had brushed off during our initial excitement and desire to be done with looking.  We both confessed after we cancelled the offer that we felt relief. It is normal to feel nervous before the deal closes, but if you feel dread, it means something is off. This is when it is helpful to have a professional on board. They can talk to you about your options, help you determine if it is just game-day jitters or lost love, and then help you “move forward” with your decision.

So, we don’t have a house yet, and I am sure we still have some learning to do and some curveballs ahead. I’m having fun day-dreaming on Houzz, but also hoping that soon our dream is a reality. It feels like we are getting close and I will keep you updated! Happy house hunting 


6 Reasons Why Text-Arguing is a Good Idea

My hubby and I have been house hunting for over a year.  We are mostly on the same page, but at times, impatience with the whole thing has one or both of us on edge. Spending a huge chunk of money, where the TV will go, if a split-level is a no-go, commitment in general. Today we had a virtual spat via text as to whether a home was worth seeing.  I realized, contrary to popular belief, that texting is a great way to communicate when emotions are high.  Here are a few reasons why:

1) This morning let my rage fly as I swiped away. I was forced to parse down my thoughts in to text-sized nuggets.  I could delete and rephrase before I hit send.  I could only “speak” as fast as I could swype and I had to stop to edit the incorrect autocorrect . These features unique to text force us to evaluate what we are saying to the other person before they hear it.  It is almost like thinking before you speak! This doesn’t always happen in real-time, ya know 😉  But it is a great strategy to having a great discussion.

2) People say that one of the downfalls of e-communication is inflection and tone is lost, and you may interpret the content incorrectly. During some conversations, you don’t need to hear the inflection; and if you don’t know the inflection, it is better that way. 🙂  Taking inflection, body language, and facial expression off of the table as a communication tool forces us to look at the words. We can respond to WHAT is being said rather than HOW it is being said.

3) Going along with number 3, we don’t get loud and we have to take turns.  Raising a voice or even using a strained voice is counterproductive to sorting things out.  With texting, ALL CAPS is almost funny in its juvenility. We can get all of our thoughts out without interrupting each other or without accidental meanness coming out of our mouths.

4) There is a record of what is said. Sometimes, when discussions get heated, the main points that we want to be communicated are forgotten because everyone is just trying to win.  With texting, viewpoints don’t have to be repeated ad nauseam because they are “on the record.”  It is almost like having a mediator because the dialogue is being held and recorded by a non-judgemental “third party.”

5) In a weird way, texting is calming.  It is almost like journaling or blogging. Your thoughts are out there in the ether and you used a sensory experience via your fingertips to get them there.

6) The issue is more often resolved.  By the time we pick up the phone to talk, we have either hashed out the major details of the issue at hand, or the heated moment has passed and we have moved on.  Generally after we are done texting about a big issue, we pick up the phone to discuss the results.  It is almost like the post-game huddle. All the dust has settled, and we can move forward.  It is nice always knowing the phone will be answered with love and understanding in the other person’s voice!

Do you ever text to sort things out? Do you find it to be helpful?

11 Signs of Baby Fever When You Are Already a Mom

1) When shopping for next season’s clothes, you consider if the item will accommodate your soon-to-be-conceived baby bump.

2) You google “cute newborn” and browse the pictures of all of the melty-ness.

3) You are dressing your toddler in 18-24 month onesies and wondering if they make them in the next size.

4) You surf mommy forums for earliest signs of pregnancy repeatedly and note all of the signs your are experiencing. You mentally check off breast tenderness, fatigue, sore back and gas, all pointing to your impending arrival.

5) You follow number 4 by taking an HPT (or three) 5 days before your missed period every month. “Is that a faint positive?”

6) You notice that EVERYONE else is announcing they are 12 weeks along. Celebrities, FB friends, distant cousins, political figures.

7) You grip your squirming one year old in the cradle position and coo to him that he is “still Mommy’s newborn” for temporary conciliation.

8) You open your file of baby names from your previous pregnancy and start brainstorming and revising.

9) You tell your husband you want 100 babies crawling around as you watch your little one on the floor.

10) You consider maca root.

11) You are reading this post.

Can’t wait to hear from gals who can relate in the comments…:)