Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Schedule

I am flattered when people ask me how I get things done, all the things that a Happy Housewife does. I am not a schedule-nazi per say but I do believe in a little routine. The new principal at my older son's elementary school has a new motto for this school year, "EVERY MINUTE COUNTS". I love it! I believe in it! I try to live it!

There are things to keep in mind when maximizing your time. You have to consider when you are most efficient and determine your priorities. For example, I am a morning person. Always have been, always will be. I was the very uncool girl at slumber parties who fell asleep first (deadly mistake) and the annoying sorority member who woke up before 7am no matter what time we got in (my apologies to my college roommate DTW). But now, as a mom, this natural tendency has benefited me! My point however is that if you aren't one to naturally bound out of bed at 6am but rather stay up until midnight working on things, figure it out for you. We have to be comfortable, happy, and motivated in what we are doing or we won't do it. Side note: I do believe that even if you are not a morning person, dragging yourself out of bed just 30 minutes before the troops awake will pay you dividends for the rest of the day. Being one step ahead of them!

Now here is a sample day (leaving MUCH room for error and honesty):

5:30-6:30am- Wake Up! My hubby is usually up first recently since my insomnia has been winning the sleep battle from 12-3. Before the boys get up(usually just my older son since nobody can guess when the almost two year old will or will not be up), I try to:

  • Start a load of laundry

  • Unload the dishwasher

  • Make our bed

  • Get breakfast started

  • Make D's lunch for school

6:30am - Mr D the Champion 1st Grader arises! Lucky for him, he is a morning person like his father and I! While he eats breakfast (possibly joined by Mr. M the precocious younger brother):

  • Go over spelling words (LOVE that we have spelling words now, I am so excited!!!)

  • Clean up breakfast

  • Change over laundry, start next load if needed

  • Balance checkbook

  • Review calendar for the day

7am- Move boys to bathroom for teeth brushing, clothes changing, hair fixing, etc.

  • Help D make his bed and straighten Mr. M's crib from the plethora of "friends" he chose to sleep with the night before.

  • Brush my teeth

  • Any last minute pre-school time items

7:30am- Walk all the way (across the street) to school. Back in five! Usually my husband walks D over and M goes with them. He had to carry his own lunch box over today even though he is not yet two. During these minutes, I shower. Blissful, hot, alone (because I have all boys), shower time!

7:30-11:30am - This is a very fluid part of my day consisting of but not limited to:

  • Finish, fold, put away laundry

  • Confirm dinner recipe/ingredients/prep/plans

  • Some days we have play dates or play group

  • Errands, Target (to give them the $100 they require me to give every time I go), bank, etc. I'm not a big errands with little one person. I try to keep it to a minimum. Although, Target is a great, free (kind of), air conditioned outing to look at toys and burn energy.

  • Home or out for lunch depending on the day.

  • Some days we are home all morning, playing, coloring, organizing, etc.

Noon-Noon:thirty-ISH- If you know my younger son, you know that saying everyday at this time he goes down for a nap would be ridiculous. It's getting better and we do try.

  • Normal nap time routine, milk, book, pick the eight friends you want to sleep with you. You understand.

  • Pray for a two hour nap.

Beginning of Nap until.... This is where I try to pack in as much as I can that still needs to be done before school gets out. Sometimes it's a long list but usually its very do-able and I like tackling it while the house is quiet.

  • Clean. Whether it's the bathrooms, the bedrooms, what have you. Seriously, its so fantastic to clean the bathrooms and have them sparkle in 20 minutes. Love it!

  • Blog, write to you, or maybe to myself, I never know!

  • Do any dinner prep I can. So much easier than when I am playing referee later.

  • Emails, PTA stuff, phone calls.

  • Workout **Important item: I was working out in the morning at a gym until I re injured my knees. I am in the midst of getting back after it and figuring out what I can and can't do. This element of my schedule may in fact change if I go back to the gym rather than working out here at home. Then gym time would be in the morning and showering would happen during nap.

2:45pm - School is out and then it's any body's game! Sometimes friends are coming, sometimes we have sports, sometimes we are swimming because it's so dang hot, you get the idea.

After School - Dinner- This time of my day is very hard to predict and usually depends on Mr 1st Grade. Whether its homework or study time, play time, or snack time, I try to keep things low key if possible when we are in fact home during this time. One thing that always happens though is toy clean up. If it hasn't already. Heading into dinner the toys are put away and we have little to fuss over besides each other.

Dinner- The key to our family meals is everyone around the table. Sure I love to cook, and to watch my boys eat, but even if it's a PB&J night, I like everyone around the table. Ten minutes or thirty, we will take what we can get. To make this the focus and not the kitchen mess or clean up, I try really hard to clean as I cook which makes dishes after a snap. I also have an amazing husband who helps/does dishes and also cooks periodically. The team approach makes us all the more successful. Thanks Honey!!

Post-Dinner-Bedtime - Everyone has a job here!

  • Kids clear their own places and push in chairs.

  • One parent cleans up kitchen while the other gets shower time ready.

  • Boys get pajamas, etc.

  • Dad & boys shower, I turn down beds.

  • Clean boys out of the shower, lotion, PJs, teeth, etc

  • Out to the family room to read.

  • Bed for the boys!

Mama & Dad Pre-Bed - This is my lazy time of day friends. I am worth nothing at this point. Whether we visit, watch SportsCenter, read, or drag our tired butts to bed, I am not a productive night/evening worker bee.

So friends, that is some kind of crazy outline to a day. My secret is I work. I work like I am working outside of the home still. I don't nap, I try to "Make Every Minute Count". But don't be hard on yourself if your priorities are different than mine. Every housewife makes her own magic. I take pride in a clean house, home cooked meals, and time with my family. Maximize your time and schedule to the best of your ability. I relish in the opportunity that I can always do better at something or work harder. Make it your own, you can do it!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Five Star Ford

I have worked in two of the three most hated professions and I am only 31. First politics, second the car business; which means all I have left is law! My family background is the car business though, a unique animal providing me and my immediate family with an interesting perspective of other car dealerships sales and service department.

There is good and bad in every industry. Whether or not you love or hate the car world, I have recently had an OUTSTANDING experience at Five Star Ford of Plano in their Service Department. In the last week we have warranty and non-warranty work performed and our service advisor, DOUG, has surpassed all expectations. From follow-up, to communication, to general friendliness, DOUG and the team at FIVE STAR FORD of PLANO has been wonderful.

The next time you are in need of an oil change, recall work, or anything having to do with your Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury, give DOUG a call at 888-384-4958. Five Star service is what they do and who they are.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Man Crepes

Mad Hungry
Feeding Men & Boys
Lucinda Scala Quinn

I love when you are surprised by a recipe. Surprised by how easy it is, how it turns out just like the picture, and how my boys gobble it up! Yay! I am always on the lookout for new breakfast items. Raised in a house where hot breakfast was a staple, I gave my mother hell every morning because, to be honest, I just wasn't hungry yet. An hour later, I would've been but school just doesn't allow for breakfast hour flexibility.

I don't offer cold cereal in the morning to my boys because I want something "that sticks with them". I also enjoy being in the kitchen in the morning and the smell that fills my home as Dominic heads out the door. We do a lot of pancakes and the like, so when I came across these MAN CREPES, I was curious. We had them Monday to celebrate the first day of 1st grade and they were a hit! I had batter leftover yesterday and so I made more crepes for the moms in our playgroup. With the boys, they enjoyed them plain with butter and powdered sugar and then the next day filled with fresh strawberries. For the mommies, I served them with Nutella and peanut butter.

It's been years since I was in Paris watching my sister create a diet solely from street vendors making crepes, but this recipe is so easy and smells so wonderful, you can't help but feel like saying Bonjour!

Man Crepes

  • 3/4 c flour

  • 1/2 t coarse salt

  • 1 t baking powder

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2/3 c milk

  • 1/3c water

  • 1/2 t vanilla

  • butter for frying and serving

Place the flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, milk, water, and vanilla in a blender and blend until completely combined and the consistency of heavy cream. The batter can be refrigerated up to one day in advance.

Heat a 6 inch skillet or crepe pan until very hot to the touch but not smoking. Swirl around enough butter to coat the pan. Gently and slowly pour a 3-4 tablespoon portion of batter, immediately swirling to cover the entire bottom of the pan in as thin a layer as possible. When the edges begin to turn golden and pull away from the pan, use a spatula to lift and flip the crepe. Cook until it is just set, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Photo Affections

Hello new friend, I love you. There are literally a plethora (great word) of online sources for invitations and the like. I am a little obsessed with them because they always have such fabulous looking things like invitations, stationary, etc. I love how my boys pictures look on these genius creative peoples' creations. A new recent online crush is . Searching for Max's 2nd birthday invitations I selected them based on selection and price. I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the RAPID turnaround time on the invitations. CRAZY fast, crazy. Now, being that I am awesome and would never make a mistake, it came as quite a shock to me when the darling invitations arrived with the date printed as SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 11th. If you aren't already laughing, you soon will be since there is no such date, at least not this year. The party is of course on SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 11th. Now shocked as I was with this mistake I MADE, I put a note in the invite and sent them away to little friends. I received an email from Photo Affections asking me to take a survey to receive a discount on a future order, I love me a discount, and filled it out. Everything about the order was wonderful but I did note that due to my mistake the date was wrong. Not their mistake, MINE. Within a couple of hours, I had an email from some fabulous person at Photo Affections offering me a reprint at 50% off! And I made the mistake! I let this kind gentleman know that I had already mailed the invites but sincerely appreciated the gesture! Customer service awesomeness people! With the holidays coming, swing on by and see what they have to offer. And check your dates.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pantry Follow-Up

Well hello world! First day back to school for my now 1st GRADER!!! WHAT?!?! And last week was full of end of summer fun and PTA prep work. Good times but busy busy just like the rest of you I am sure.

I wanted to follow up and let you know the outcome of my challenge. I made it one week. That's right, one. I guess I over estimated what we had in our freezer and pantry, ha ha ha! The good news about it is that I used almost everything I had! A couple creative hodge podge ideas and meals but now, after shopping, I know exactly what is in there and what I have to use.

I am interested in who else has tried this and what you discovered? One website I think is great to find quick recipes searching by ingredients is I wanted to share two things with you that I have not made before but did with this challenge. Enjoy!

Item I needed to use: Lucky Leaf Peach Pie Filling
Recipe: Peach Coffee Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup butter (softened but not melted)

  • 2 eggs separated

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/2 t salt

  • 1/2 t cinnamon

  • 2 1/4t baking powder

  • 1 can (21oz) Lucky Leaf Peach Pie Filling

Mix flour, sugar, and butter. (*The mixture should be lumpy when you pull the cup out for topping and then you can mix the rest up so it's smoother.) Reserve one cup of mixture for topping. Mix egg yolks with milk and add to remainder of flour mixture (the smooth one). Add salt, cinnamon, and baking powder, and mix until very smooth. Gently fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into grease 9x13 glass baking dish. Put pie filling evenly over top. Sprinkle with crumb mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Item I needed to use: 2 cans Garbanzo Beans
Recipe: Hummus
Source: Adapted from Hummus III on

  • 2 cups can Garbanzo beans, drained

  • 1/3 cup toasted sesame oil

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (*you can add a little more, I love lemony things)

  • 1 t salt

  • 2 garlic cloves halved

  • 2 T olive oil

  • 1 pinch paprika (for serving)

Place all ingredients in food processor. Blend baby blend. And VOILA! Fabulous homemade hummus!!! Serve with veggies, pita bread, or a yummy spoon full!

So there you go. A couple newbies from the challenge. The challenge that proved I have no concept of time or supplies. All the more reason I can't go camping. That's an entirely different post. Maybe two.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Nobody is. I guarantee it. Even that mom you know from school who always looks fantastic (but not like she's trying), has everything together, is never late, kids behave perfectly, and she puts Martha Stewart to shame with her skills, is in fact, not perfect. Isn't it wonderful to know that we all have strengths and weaknesses too? If we as women were more honest with ourselves about these things we could do a little less self loathing, less competitive caddy behavior with other women, and more embracing. Embrace who we are and run with it!

I feel good about a lot of things I am able to do. 95% of why I feel good about different things is because I know I always give it 150%. But you know what? This super A-type, perfectionist has a big area of weakness too. My weight. There it is. All out there. I'm not hiding anything. That's my battle, that's my challenge. That's the one area of my life I can't seem to master. In the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter. I say that like it's not on my mind every second of every day and has been since I was about 9. I try, I should try harder. But that's it. By telling you this I hope you just know that we all have our stuff. We all fill 24 hours in our day. Nobody has extra. At the end of our time here, I don't know of anyone who said, "I have all these hours I didn't use." Not true. Everybody is busy and everybody has big stuff going on in their life relative to them.

The point? I don't know really. Just for you to know we are all human and we can all help each other. (Sound like a damn socialist already) I want to work less on perfection and more at fulfilling my life with people and activities I love and enjoy. I don't want to turn 50 and still worry about the size of my jeans. If I'm in my skinny ones or my fat ones or what swimsuit I will buy when summer is 9 months away. These are things I aim to change about myself. Can I do it? We will see.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Drinker

How to categorize this post? Honey, Happy Husbands, or Full Tummies? Mommy tummies that is! A drinker is a bottle of wine that you never feel guilty opening it up and enjoying it because it's so economical. To be frank, that's my entire wine collection these days. Ha! Some people may have very expensive wine that is too sacred to enjoy, a concept far outside of my realm of understanding, and others may have expensive wine they get to drink because they have no wine "budget" per say.

For the rest of us, it's important to find "drinkers". My Dad always said that any guy can find a good bottle of wine for $40 but HE could find a GREAT bottle for under $20. Now that's what I am talkin about! My latest and greatest find is one I was a little embarrassed to admit I had purchased because it is a large producing label. A little small vineyard snobbery there. Once I opened it however, I was hooked! And the best part is, even at regular price it's under $15!! If you live in Texas, Tom Thumb has the best price on this bottle hands down. If you buy 6 bottles and receive their 10% off AND it's on sale, it costs about $9.50ish. If you buy 6 bottles and receive their 10% off and it's not on sale, it's right under $11.

Drum roll please!!!!

Buy it, drink it, share it; LOVE it. Cheers!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ivan & Mary

If you haven't been on you are missing out! Very unique and wonderful treasures await! One particular shop on Etsy is IVAN & MARY.

This proprietor makes the most darling belts for children and is very reasonable. We purchased a golf belt for a little friend's 2nd birthday present who is obsessed with golf. Not only was it unique, affordable, and darling, it arrived so quickly and Mindy, the owner, was a pleasure to work with! So, if you are searching for different ideas from the usual Target trip for birthdays, visit IVAN & MARY on You won't be disappointed Honey!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bits and Bites

During this lovely Pantry Challenge time, I thought it pertinent to pass on to you new and easy discoveries for your own kitchen. Especially if you live here in Texas where the last time we say under 100 degrees or rain was when God was a boy. Seriously.

It's important to be flexible during Pantry time and it's important to have fun easy things to throw together for friends and family. Today, I have two random additions, I hope you like!!

Pantry Chicken (*Namely because I'm that creative to call it this during my new endeavor)

  • Chicken of any kind, I used three of those GIANT frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts that come 50 to a pack at Costco or the like. You could use any piece of chicken you like but maybe frozen will work better in the crock pot?

  • Large jar of your favorite salsa, I used a garlic type.

  • 1-2 cans of Black Beans, drained.

Combine chicken, salsa, and black beans in crockpot. Cook on low all day. Voila! Dinner! Combine with rice and wrap in some tortillas, throw over salad mix for taco salad night, or stand in the kitchen and eat it plain with a fork since it's too dang hot to do anything else!!

And now for a sweet treat easy to make and the kind that makes your dieting friends feel like they can participate... a little. *Wink wink.

Shortcake Bites

  • Pound cake. I made my own but for the sake of easy, let's say you grab a Sarah Lee's pound cake from your grocer. I mean that girl never overcooks her pound cake.

  • Fresh Strawberries

  • Fresh Whipped Cream (*This is crucial, it's just so much better)

Slice pound cake into 1 1/2 to 2 inch cubes (no measuring please). Slice strawberries into quarters. Prepare whipped cream with whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar in your stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Dip strawberry quarters in sugar. Place dollop of whipped cream on pound cake, top with strawberry. There you go! Shortcake Bites!

Just a couple of ideas, inexpensive, yummy, and none that keep you over a hot stove for very long, if at all!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pantry Challenge

I try to be budget minded. I try not to be wasteful. But, without fail, I am always buying more, spending more, and throwing more away! Especially when it comes to groceries. We try very hard in Casa G to eat through leftovers and hodge podge pantry items one week a month. Today I am upping the ante. And here's the reasons why.

1. I cleaned out my pantry today so I could reorganize and see what was actually in there. Honey, it was not good. Nothing alive or dead in there thank goodness, but oh the food we have. Now you can see it, the pretty maids all in a row!

2. A friend of mine (CY), quite the entrepreneurial philanthropist, has been organizing a sack lunch drive every week this summer to give out to kids who probably wouldn't get lunch, since the schools which feed them are closed during the summer. The food pantry she works with for distribution is having to close a couple days of week due to overwhelming need and under-whelming supplies and money.

3. Money. While saying my affirmation "Money flows freely and abundantly to me", I am, like many of you, looking for ways to save and stretch my family's dollar.

In summary, a surplus of food, a reality of our own abundance and blessed life, and desire to save more has given fuel to a new kind of Housewife fire. THE PANTRY CHALLENGE. I am committing to you, my readers, followers, supporters (even if it's just one of you out there) to not grocery shop for anything but milk (trust me, nobody wants to see my Max without milk) for the next three weeks. Between my pantry, current fridge items, and freezer, my goal is to wade through all of the food we already have before buying more. It may not be pretty, it may not have a delightful theme the Barefoot Contessa would be proud of, but it will serve the purposes mentioned earlier.

So I say to you lovelies, are YOU up to the Pantry Challenge...