Monday, April 29, 2013

Puke is a 4 Letter Word

Lock your door, shut the lights off and hide under your bed.  The stomach bug of '13 is here (again), and it's lurking around just waiting for a way to get into your home so it can wreak havoc on your family for like a week.  This thing is like the Chuck Norris of stomach bugs.  Apparently regular rules don't apply to this bug.  The way I always understood it, once the stomach bug enters your home and leaves your family mere shells of their former selves, it can't come back again until the next calendar year.  Kind of like a statute of limitations in reverse.  Or something like that.  I'm just talking ragtime here.  I've only slept for a total of like 6 hours since last Tuesday since this epic bug has come in and picked us off one by one.  The remainder of those hours have been spent either 1) cleaning up puke, 2) huddled over the porcelain god praying for a zombie apocalypse to occur in the hopes it would stop this bug somehow, 3) cleaning more puke, 4) buying cleaning products to clean puke, 5) playing Candy Crush while I wait for the next round of puke to clean up.  I mean...why bother trying to sleep in the meantime?  It's just a cruel joke being wretched from dreamland to race with a bucket to whichever child is puking only to realize I didn't make it in time and yet another change of sheets, blankets and pj's would be in order.

The fun started last Tuesday after I had cleaned the house top to bottom.   I'm not joking.  I had literally cleaned the bathrooms and used my handy new steam mop to sanitize all the floors.  I then bathed the kids, cleaned their rooms, changed sheets, etc.  It was one of those days I felt like I'd made some real progress and my house just smelled and felt clean.  It was a proud 24 minutes.  Shortly thereafter all hell broke loose.  We put the kids to bed, only to find Ben screaming and covered in vomit 10 minutes later.  My home quickly became a bio hazard area.  Men in HAZMAT suits quickly secured the parameter, evacuating neighbors from their homes and cordoning off the road with yellow tape so no traffic could pass.  Brian & I got out the SBESK (Stomach Bug Emergency Supply Kit) and took our stations - one by each kid's bedside.  I was feeling particularly confident about my odds of NOT catching this thing, since I had JUST had it in February.  8 weeks ago.  I thought for sure that I'd paid my dues for the season and that I was off limits.  Apparently I had grossly underestimated this new strain, and in a totally insulting turn of events - I got it again.  Maybe even more insulting was the fact that we got it one at a time, and it's completely wasted and entire week away.  One of the nicest spring weeks we've had yet.  This thing is evil.

All that said, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from this bug from hell...
1)   Be prepared with your SBESK (Stomach Bug Emergency Supply Kit)....I know this seems obvious, but you'll want to stock it with some heavy duty cleaning products, old towels, and as many nips of Vodka as you can possibly fit into the kit.
2)  Become a recluse.  Stay away from all people. Don't leave your home.  Quit your job, build a garden out back and live off the land so that you never have to make human contact with anyone who may be carrying the bug from hell.
3)  Start a petition on to stop the stomach bug from being able to enter your home more than 1 time per calendar year.  Let's stand together against this thing.  There's safety in numbers.  Oh wait, not it this's actually a breeding ground for germs.  My bad.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

EZ Enchilada Bake

I got this YUMMY recipe from a friend and it's AWESOME!  You'll totally have leftovers, too!  It's quickly become a "go to" meal in our house and it's so easy.  Here's what you'll need...

1 Can Black Beans
1 Bag frozen Sweet Corn (or 1 Can)
1 Can Enchilada Sauce - (I used Chi Chi's  mild)
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar or Mexican Cheese
1 Cooked Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (I cooked it on the stove top in olive oil on medium heat - sprinkle with salt & pepper and cook about 7 minutes per side) 
Flour Tortillas - Any kind/size
OPTIONAL - Spanish Rice.  I LOVE the Uncle Ben's Ready Rice - pop it in the microwave for 90 seconds and you're good to go. 

First rinse the black beans in a colander.  They come in a thick sauce so you'll want to give them a good rinse.

Mix together the black beans, can or bag of corn (if corn is frozen, defrost in microwave first), chopped up chicken  breast, 1 Cup Cheese, and half can of the Enchilada Sauce.

Scoop mixture onto flour tortilla and roll up...

I used smaller tortillas so I could fit about 9 in a glass baking dish.  If you use the larger tortillas you'll have fewer, but larger Enchiladas.

(Optional step: I then cooked the Spanish Rice and scooped it all around the Enchiladas.)

Use the remaining Cheese and Enchilada Sauce to cover the tops of the Enchiladas...

Bake at 425 degrees uncovered until cheese is melted (about 20-25 minutes)!  Serve with Sour cream.

The reason I don't have a picture of what they look like cooked is because we dived into them and devoured them so quickly, they didn't stand a chance :)  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston, You're My Home

Patriots Day....Marathon Monday - a Boston tradition that conjures feelings of joy, pride, spring, personal accomplishment, fun, freedom, family.  Growing up 9 miles outside of Boston, it's an integral part of the fabric that always signified that the Spring was here.   The ambiance of the city and surrounding suburbs came alive on Patriots Day, and a switch was flicked, from the long cold winter to the rebirth that is representative of spring.   We always knew someone that was running the Boston Marathon on any given year, and regardless of how long it took them to cross that finish line -even if they were staggering past it after nightfall,  it was an accomplishment so great and full of such pride that it radiated to all standing at that finish line cheering them on.  Each and every person who managed to pass that finish line now proudly bore that that badge of honor.

Yesterday's events are tragic on so many levels. The innocent victims who waited patiently at the finish line to be a part of a joyous celebration, some of whose lives are now changed forever.  Lives lost in the blink of an eye.  Runners who would never see the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon.  A joyous day overshadowed by senseless tragedy.  Marathon Monday now synonymous with tragedy, loss, and chaos.  Boston truly is a wicked awesome city filled with resilient people who will grieve, get angry, and then keep on forging forward.  But regardless of how strong the people are, the day will now serve as an anniversary.  A day of remembrance.  A day that will now always be bittersweet. 

 As I watched the events unfold on TV in "my" city - I felt shock & sadness. I thought about growing up with the marathon in my backyard, so to speak, and I felt lucky to have been a part of such a wonderful event - year after year - never giving a second thought to the feeling of security we had growing up.  Many years I didn't even attend the marathon, but felt the excitement of the city and was still a part of the vibe.  I probably took it for granted.  In fact, having that general sense of security - never having to worry about a terrorist attack at a major event...we definitely took that for granted.  Will my children ever experience that innocent sense of security that I did as a kid?  The unfortunate answer to that question is no.  They won't.  The fact is that they are growing up in a totally different world.  A certain innocence has been lost over the years...and there's no getting it back.  So what now?  What's safe?  Is there any such thing anymore? 

All we can do is have faith....pray for all those affected.  Look for some sort of silver lining in all of this.  The heroic acts of those who ran toward the blasts to help the injured - some total strangers - without giving a second thought for their own safety.  This world may be getting crazier every day, but it seems that our sense of humanity and connectedness to one another is also getting stronger.  Strangers helping strangers - random acts of kindness popping up all over the country after the recent Newtown tragedy.  Yes, there's evil out there, but there's so much more good.  All we can do is build on that and in our own individual day to day lives, be just a little more kind, more empathetic.  Maybe aim to do 1 thing a day - small as it may be - to help someone or brighten their day.  Take tragedy and do the best we can to turn it into triumph.  I just read a quote from a friend on Facebook that really struck me..

"Time itself is somewhat meaningless. It comes and goes so quickly. ...its what you do with it that makes all the difference. So use it wisely and don't waste any!"   It's so simple a concept, yet one that we lose sight of so easily.  I know I do and I hope to change that. Live in experiences, not in hours.

I love you're my home!   

Friday, April 12, 2013

Krazy Kale Smoothie

It's one thing to SAY you're going to eat more kale because it's oh-so-good for you, but it's quite another to actually EAT the kale. Kale is the gold standard of leafy greens.  To put it in lay terms - it's the bomb diggety of the veggie world, and according to health professionals all over -the more kale you eat, the more likely you are to survive a zombie apocalypse!  In addition to that, it's nutrition packed with vitamin, antioxidants, and also contains anti-cancer health benefits.  Ok great!  Sign me up.  Sign my family up!  Oh wait, I can barely convince my kids to eat fruits like strawberries and blueberries - and they look and taste yummy.  So how am I going to sell this thick, leafy green pile o' health to 2 very discriminating preschoolers when even I'm not too thrilled about eating it?  Yes, you guessed it - disguise the kale as something YUMMY.  Actually, hide it in something yummy.  So let me present to you my Krazy Kale Smoothie...(although I just tell my kids it's a chocolate shake ;)

The ingredients you'll need are:

 2 Cups Baby Kale - the baby kale is a lot more tender and palatable than the big bunches of kale you see in the produce section - I love Olivia's baby kale because it's organic and prewashed

8 large strawberries
1/2 Avacado
1 Banana (I buy bananas and slice them in half, slather some almond butter on them, and freeze them - YUMMY in a smoothie and they keep in the freezer for months!  This is what you see in the plastic bag above)
2 Tablespoons Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1-2 Tablespoons Raw Honey (not pictured here)
2 cups Ice Cubes
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Almond (or regular) milk

Blend on high speed in blender until desired consistency is reached.  You can add more Cocoa powder to taste.  The end result is a super healthy smoothie packed with nutrition and health and it tastes like chocolate.   It's absolutely yum-o-licious and not only do I love it, but yes, my kiddos love it too!  I got my children to eat KALE!!!  Score 1 for this momma!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dear Chaz Dean: Your WEN is Zen

Ok, so I'm all about finding a good bargain and making smart purchases.  However, there are some things that are just worth the money - and one of those products is WEN Cleansing Conditioner.  I'm not going to sugar coat this - it's a $40 Shampoo/Conditioner, and as far as I know, they're only available online as WEN products are not sold in retail stores.  Before trying this magical potion in a bottle, I thought it was crazy to spend that much on a conditioner...I mean how well could it really work?  Well it turns out this stuff is like magic!  It works and now I'm addicted.  Add it to my list of vices ;)  But there are a few tricks I'm learning to stretch that bottle o' magic as long as possible.  So here's the skinny....

First off, there are also lots of  WEN products - cleansing conditioner, styling cream, texture balm, leave in treatment oils....lots more.  The only thing you really need is the cleansing conditioner.  Save yourself the money & hassle of buying the other products- I'm not saying their not great - they're just unnecessary.  WEN's ace in the hole is the cleansing conditioner.  It can be used as a shampoo, conditioner, as well as a leave-in conditioner.  This is all you need.  The cleansing conditioners come in a variety of divine scents - that's just a matter of personal preference, although I think they all smell yummy :)  You can order the products right from the WEN website, or from Amazon - for a standard 16oz Cleansing Conditioner you can expect to pay about $38 including shipping.  On Amazon the cost is $38 plus free shipping, where as on the WEN website the cost is $32, but then they charge you for shipping.  So either way it comes out to about the same price. 

When you're miracle in a bottle arrives, the instructions will leave you a little dizzy and quick math will tell you that if you were to follow the instructions and use the 3,000 pumps per hair wash like they advise - you'll be out of it in 4 days and will have to remortgage your home to keep up with your new hair regimen.   So here's what I do.....first I wash my hair with regular old shampoo.  Then I wash it again with a modest amount of WEN - just enough to cover my hair.  This stuff doesn't lather - it can seem a bit strange at first.  I work it through my hair, then put it up in a pony tail for the rest of the shower.  Right at the end as I'm about to get out I quickly rinse it out.  They key is to leave it in for about 3-5 minutes while it works it's magic.  It cleans and conditions at the same time, so as you're rinsing it out you'll notice how silky your hair feels.   I then put just a little in as a leave in conditioner - when I say just a little, I mean a little.  The first time I used it I noticed a difference, but as I used it more I noticed an even bigger difference.  I ran out a few weeks ago and my hair is sad.  I'm currently awaiting my next fix :)   

Friday, April 5, 2013

Confessions of a Part Time Insomniac

You know how the things that seem normal to you in your day to day routine would seem completely bizarre to someone looking in at it from the outside?  Like if your neighbors, friends or coworkers were able to peek into a day in your life they'd probably change their phone numbers and alert the asylum they were missing a patient? 

I was thinking about this the other day, trying to imagine what someone would think of our brand of crazy.  So here's a little peek into the oddities that are common place in our house.  Confession time.
The other night I was sitting on the couch watching TV - and my feet were chilly.  Knowing that we had just done laundry I decide to go into the laundry room to see if there were any socks in the clean basket- the laundry room is on the same floor as the living room, and at that point I was just too lazy to go  ALLLL THE WAY UPSTAIRS where I know I have socks in my drawer.  So I'm rutting around in the laundry basket and find one sock.  Just one.  Not even a mismatched pair in there - one sock.  So I'm faced with a dilemma - I could A) just haul my lazy self upstairs for socks, B) go without socks and complain to Brian all evening that my feet were cold and hope he would get the hint and go ALL the way upstairs to retrieve a pair for me.  And then there's option C)  Try to make a go of it with just 1 sock.  I opted for C.

So I head back into the living room with my 1 rogue sock and proceed to put it on 1 foot, and stick the other foot underneath a bunch of throw pillows in an effort to keep the other foot warm. As you can imagine, the naked foot just wasn't as toasty warm under the throw pillows, and after about 20 minutes, I did what any rational person would do.  I switched the sock to the other foot.  I literally went the entire evening switching the sock from one foot to the other instead of just hauling my lazy butt upstairs to get an actual pair of socks.  Anyone that's been inside my home can attest to the fact that the distance between the living room and the stairs is like 7 steps.  I mean, we live in a Cape - it's not that large.   But you know - it wasn't even about the laziness anymore.  It was this sick compulsion to make my plan C work.  Like - I chose this path, dammit - and I will make it through the night with a solitary sock.

Another quirky thing that goes on around here is that I wake up around 3am - every night - and can't fall back to sleep for at least an hour.  So instead of fighting it, I've decided to make the most of my strange 3am burst of energy and I just get up and get things done.   I feed the cats, send emails, brush up on my ping pong skills, sometimes I'll even clean up the kitchen - put dishes away.  It's like middle of the afternoon around here.  People always ask why they get emails from me at 3:30am - this is why.  Then I get back in bed and read, the local news - and email good stories to Brian - who is fast asleep- for him to read when normal people are awake.  I'm not a morning person -however I am a 3am-4:30am person.  Go figure.  Neighbors must wonder why the house is lit up like a Christmas tree for an hour or so every night.  Then suddenly I'm exhausted again and back to dreamland I go.  It's odd, I know.  If you need to contact me, call me anytime during the day or between 3am and 5am ;)  

While we're putting it all out there and baring our souls - I have a final confession.  I'm not proud of this, and in fact, I'm looking into hypnosis as a solution to this issue.  But - I like a....Taylor Swift song.  There, I said it.  Only 1 of her songs - Trouble.  I even - downloaded it to my iPod - GASP!!!  ON. MY. iPOD.  Let that sink in, people. There amongst the ranks of such musical legends as Aerosmith and Eric Clapton...sits a Taylor flippin' Swift song.  I know what you're thinking right now...and you're right....this is only the it's one song, but next thing you know I'm buying her CD's, maybe toying with the idea of getting some TS concert tickets, then it's a poster on my bedroom wall.  This is a slippery slope, indeed.  Next thing you know I'm celebrating her entire catalog.  Oh, this has Trouble written all over it....Trouble...Trouble...Trouble....