Category Archives: Day-to-day

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?

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 

 

Some are born mothers, some achieve motherhood, and some have motherhood thrust upon them.

I am of the latter category. Yes, I had a cabbage patch doll or two growing up, but I was normally more interested in playing with Legos than tending to a fake baby.  I had two younger sisters, one of whom was my playmate, the other of whom thoroughly annoyed me with her babyhood through her first decade of life.  I was hired as a sitter on occasion, likely due to my older sister’s reputation as a “mother hen,” bringing crafts and all kinds of fun to the event. But even though I was still so close to childhood, I had no idea how to entertain these children a half-generation younger than me, and did not excel at it. I vaguely remember not changing a poopy diaper for the duration of a stay and eating a whole box of Nutrigrain bars that the mom had set out for her toddler while he napped. I cringe as I remember.  I was not asked back.

Fast forward about 15 years, married, finishing grad school. Lots of friends having kids, but I wasn’t the friend to ask to hold the newborn or get down on the floor to play.  I probably talked over  cries while I visited.  More likely, I made one or two of them cry with an overbearing “Helllll-Ow!.” I do not-a speak-a your language kid. “Do I want kids?” “Yes, a bunch,” was my answer, “but I will still want to work.”

Now I have my own much-desired baby. He is the joy of my life.  He has made me into a mother and made me love him.  Not the easy way. Not by the-being-cute-sleepy-newborn-meeting-milestones-cuddly-meltiness way, but the other way.  The screaming-so-hard-the-first-six-months-of-life-I-thought-he-was-possessed way. The stiff-as-a-board-back-arching-won’t-be-soothed-something-is-wrong-with- this-kid-way.  The around-the-clock-hourly-nursing-no-sleep-for-ten-months-way. The no-crib-no-bassinet-no-rock-and-play-no-swing-hold-me-upright-for-every -sleep way.  The physically-taxing-delivery-body-never-the-same way.  The so-unbelievably-difficult-daycare-wouldn’t-take-him-made-me- question-my-ability-to-be-his-mother way.

My dad used to say love is a verb, not a noun, and this baby made me LOVE him, whether I wanted to or not.  He demanded love in action. Every. Second. Of. The. Day.  And sure, “All babies are high needs,” but some are more high needs.  And some mothers are born, and it may come naturally for them, and I know and love these women. Some mothers are self-made with the arrival of their bundle of joy. But for others, motherhood is forged. Forged like steel in the fire by that tiny babe in their arms.

Through a year of sleepless nights, inconsolable colic, undiagnosed medical problems and the emotional turmoil that goes with it, my own physical pain, confusion and at times distress, my baby made me love him. Then he made me love him MORE. And in the process he made me a mother. I wasn’t born a mother, I did not achieve motherhood over the course of the past year, but, boy, was it thrust upon me in the most challenging-scary-amazing-fulfilling-how-did-I-exist-without-you way. And I am so grateful that it happened that way.

Was motherhood your calling all along, or was it your answer to the cries as they came? I want to hear your story in the comments!