Recipe Round Up!

Some of you have requested recipes for my sneaky sweet treats. You can Download your FREE copies using the links below.

All recipes have been toddler tested and hubby approved! Hope you enjoy!

 

avocado pudding Chocolate Avocado Pudding

My kids LOVE this recipe! I won’t name names, but one very picky eater won’t even touch an avocado. But, you mix it with dark chocolate cocoa powder and a some honey she’s all over it! We may have also enjoyed this as a lunch option once or twice.

 

Cookie snack Peanut Butter Chickpea Cookies

This twist on a traditional chocolate chip cookie goes completely undetected! The only difference is the texture. It doesn’t get crispy like a thin cookie, but remains doughy (will firm up once cool).

 

 

Banana ice cream Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

This is a great dairy alternative for those with sensitivities! It takes a little longer with freeze time. My kids thought it was a fun “experiment.” Hey, whatever gets them to eat it! You can skip the crackers and eat the banana ice cream straight from the bowl! The flavor combinations are endless. Add in peanut butter, frozen berries, chocolate. Get creative!

 

 

Hummus Sweet potato hummus

Picky eater says what? This homemade hummus made with chickpeas and sweet potatoes has a slight sweetness. It pairs well with apples, carrots, purple grapes and the toddler staple: Goldfish crackers. As a bonus, I used this hummus in place of oil in a boxed brownie mix. It made cake like, dense brownies. I am pretending the extra protein balanced out all the sugar in the mix.

 

2014 5 23 038

 

Please share any favorite ‘hidden’ recipes!

Backyard Pirate Adventure

I had been trapped for hours in the back yard. Forced to swashbuckle against my will. Someone put a twig in my hand and made me sword fight before I was told to walk the plank. This is not a bad dream. This is my children’s obsession with all things Pirate. Yes, friends my girls love pirates. The bad boys of the high seas. So, when a friend of mine hand delivered an invitation to her son’s pirate themed birthday party, I had no choice. I had to make them their own treasure maps. Mostly because I had two kids fighting over one treasure map. (Thanks G!)

Start by brewing some tea. Not to relax with, but to paint with! Be sure to allow the tea to steep long enough to make a dark brown color. The tea stains make the paper look like aged parchment paper.

Brew regular or decaf tea
Brew regular or decaf tea

Pour a small amount into a bowl, or cup.

Pour small amount into bowl. Small amount = smaller spill.
Small amount = smaller spill.

Use whatever paper you have on hand. (We used regular drawing paper pulled from the tablet). Next, give your kid their favorite paint brush and let the painting begin. Or, you can place smaller pieces of paper on a tray with edges (baking sheet works too) and let them pour the tea over them. Hang it up to dry.

The color on our paper came out lighter than I wanted. After it dried I poured more tea over it and allowed to dry. This made a wonderful layered color effect.

Use paint brush to apply tea to paper

Use paint brush to apply tea to paper

Since the pages were too wet to draw our maps on we left them in the sun to dry while we searched for treasure. The girls sorted their glass gems and gathered their “booty” from their dress up jewelry collection.

Panning for golden treasure
Panning for golden treasure

Once the pages were dry I tore them in half to give the edges a more weathered look. This also gave each kid two maps of their very own.  I used our markers to add colorful nautical art to each map. In true pirate fashion, the girls dictated what they wanted me to draw on their maps.

Final maps
Our maps next to the inspiration map

After everything had completely dried we took the maps outside to walk a treasure trail in our yard.We took turns hiding and finding our treasures. Of course I had to walk the plank AGAIN. It’s not my fault I’m an awesome treasure hunter! Best part of the project is it didn’t cost me a single doubloon.

 

What ‘argh’ ya planning for your back yard adventures? ‘Shiver me timbers’ I need to get out more!

 

How I Became Friends With the TV

“I’m saving up to be a stay at home mom because I want to be around to limit screen time and make sure my kids are eating only healthy food,” said the young single girl I was chatting with. I thought to myself, “Oh sweetie, let me tell you how I became friends with the TV.”

Don’t get me wrong I don’t think TV is evil, and I don’t judge moms who eliminate it or put limits on it. What happens in your household is your business. As a first time mom I really had this fantasy that my children would be capable of entertaining themselves at some point, and before that we’d have beautiful days filled with learning opportunities. We would follow a routine with structure and make arts and crafts, take nature walks and have sensory activities. What I did not picture in this fantasy was the complete physical, emotional and mental exhaustion I’d feel nearly every single day. I did not factor in my children would have their own minds and express their desires so deeply and passionately (by passionate I mean full blown tantrum). Never had I ever imagined a typical day would include being taken down by a toddler tag team. One distracts me with a poopy diaper while the other climbs to the top of my head, and in a choke hold pulls me to the ground. Then it all turns Wild Kingdom. Two raving chimps begin ceaselessly jumping on me (one without pants because she was just getting a change) and they screech with laughter. Oh, also I did not account for having twins. Whoops!

As soon as my kids could walk and run in opposite directions it has been a struggle to find peace and to finish tasks. By the time the terrible two’s settled in I gave up trying to keep the TV off. My kids were up by 6:30 and finally asleep by 9:00-ish. Did I mention they gave up naps? Those two and a half glorious hours I had to myself each day. The only hours where I could finish the dishes, laundry, eat my own lunch and enjoy a solo phone conversation. Gone.

It was around this time I had my first anxiety attack ever and landed in the ER. It took a brilliant neurologist to tell me there’s nothing wrong with you. “You just need a Xanax and a good therapist.” At first I thought she MUST be getting a kick back from big Pharma! What she continued to say was, “you are trying to do too much all alone. Gone is the day we raised our kids in a village. If you want to be healthy learn to manage your stress better.” So began my journey of learning to let things go.

The first thing I let go of? Mom guilt. Then I grabbed the remote. My girls watch very limited programing in small doses. We started with Blue’s Clues then branched out to Dora the Explorer and it was just downhill from there. If I want to finish cleaning up from lunch and start dinner they watch TV. If I need to just take a mental health day (yes even SAHM’s need those!) I turn to Disney Jr. Some days I can feel my brain shaking trying to make room for any singular thought amongst the loud screeching and whining of my children. That’s when I turn on Little Einsteins.

My reality is I am outnumbered. I have limited day care options. There are two human beings suction cupped to my body 90% of the day. It’s stressful. It’s difficult to get through when I don’t have time to decompress from that stress.  How do most adults decompress at the end of the day? In front of the TV with their spouse!   So, how do my girls and I decompress during the day? Sheriff Cali.

Let’s just take a collective sigh here. Give ourselves a break from the mommy guilt and understand that even Harvard graduates probably watched hours upon hours of TV before their 1st birthday. So, my dear young, single friend, when you’re ready to take a break I’ll be happy to bring you a hot fresh coffee and the TV Guide. Then I’ll share with you the magic of bribing your kids with Goldfish crackers and juice boxes.

Make a Summer Bucket List!

Dare I say the winter that would never die has finally passed and we can FINALLY, FINALLY (no for real this time) enjoy some summer time activities? Woo hoo!

For us, summer begins a flurry of travel plans, exciting adventures and new places to see.  I feel like our social calendar fills up so quickly it’s easy to lose track of the simple things summertime offers. My girls are 3 ½ this summer which means they can enjoy a greater variety of activities this year. This age is when those warm memories start to really take hold. I want to share the lazy parts of summer with my kids as well as the excitement of big adventures.

This year we are making a Summer Bucket List!

 

Get as fancy as you want when making your list
Get as fancy as you want when making your list

Making a summer bucket list is a fun way to add new adventures, make memories and keep traditions alive. We made our list by first checking out local sites we keep meaning to try. We added a few new hiking places, some old hiking places and parks/museums that offer free admission days.  I layered in a few summer staples I want to be a memorable part of my girls’ childhood- like making s’mores, snuggling by a camp fire, eating ice cream for dinner and watching fireworks. I didn’t forget about those rainy days that catch us by surprise. I sprinkled in a few rainy day activities to keep us busy and to make some memories with; like dancing in the rain, a puppet show, making a fort and a Disney movie marathon.  I am excited to wake up each day and choose our own adventure!

 

Display list in a frame and use dry erase marker to check off items
Display list in a frame and use dry erase marker to check off items

Here are some tips for making your own Summer Bucket List:

Keep it simple. If you put too many big adventures on your list that require a lot of planning, travel time and money it may feel more depleting than memorable.

Check your local resources. Are there free hiking trails, picnic areas, beach areas you can use? Many libraries have free museum passes to loan, and they offer free programs throughout the summer.

Set an intention for the season. Are you looking for more family time? Are you looking to slow down and enjoy the simple life? Do you want to start a family project, or get more involved in your community? Maybe take a “staycation” and explore what your local area has to offer.

Consider what stage your kids are in.  For the under 2 crowd maybe a simple list of things to accomplish with them. Like learn to blow a bubble, see grandma for the first time, or try a new park. If your little one is more mobile and ready for some action you can try group activities like a new story hour, make a new friend at play group, or try swimming in a pool.  Don’t forget about all the free sample classes at your local Little Gym/Gymboree, Music Together and other “mommy and me” type classes.

The fun part is getting the whole family involved! This way everyone has something to look forward to. Display your bucket list where everyone can see it and take turns checking off completed items.

 

Display your list or make an interactive list by using cards you pull out of a bucket
Display your list or make an interactive list by using cards you pull out of a bucket

 

The completed list becomes a great keepsake for any scrap book. Hey make that one of your bucket list items- scrap booking your summer! Enjoy!

Get your FREE printable bucket list 2014 Summer Bucket List 2!

 

Kid’s Art Storage

During my last visit home my mother handed me this haphazardly filled box of some of my old artwork and collectibles. Not everything fit and it was spilling over the sides of the box. I dropped most of its contents on the way to the car. I was excited to see mementos of my childhood but overwhelmed by sorting through it.

My sad little box.
My sad little box.

This made me think about how to store my kid’s little creations. Now that they are in pre-school they bring home new art projects each week (times 2). I went in search of ways to organize and store their creations. I wanted something to last through their school years.

Some time ago I found a nifty and thrifty way to display our weekly creations. I fashioned a very simple and inexpensive hanging gallery using twine, 3M Command hooks and clothes pins. All stuff I already had on hand. This hangs close to our entry way so the girls can clip their art as soon as they walk in the door.

Our gallery line
Our gallery line

Simply apply the Command hooks according to directions and tie the ends of a piece of twine to each. Clip artwork to the line with a clothes pin. You can get as fancy as you’d like by using colored ribbon and colored clothes pins, or just keep it simple and use what you already have.

3M Command Hook

3M CommandHook

Artwork stays in the gallery for about a week (when the next round of art work starts coming in) before I sort through which pieces to keep and which pieces to toss. I am a ruthless chucker. I only keep the pieces that are really special. I’m a sucker for hand prints, projects made for mom and dad and anything that looks like more than practice scribbles. We haven’t had any over sized pieces yet, but I am already planning to toss those (unless my children are prodigies in that case I’ll keep them).

For storage, I purchased two plastic file bins at Walmart for less than $20.00. I re-purposed some file folders I already have and downloaded some free printables I found online. I like the simplicity of someone else doing the work and then downloading to print.

File storage bins
File storage bins

I don’t have enough storage for each child to have their own file bin, so I am doubling up. One bin is marked for preschool through sixth grade. The second bin is marked for seventh grade to twelfth grade. I will drop keepsakes for each child into one file folder and let them sort it out (10-20 years) later. Each folder is pre-labeled with the school year and inside each folder is a cover sheet to include school picture and school info. Since everything is labeled I can just drop kids’ keepsakes into appropriate school year and be done.

Pretty little tabs all in a row
Pretty little tabs all in a row

I save myself years of organizing time, and I save my kids the hassle of dragging toppling boxes to the car one day. The whole project took me less than 30 minutes. The most time consuming part is cutting out the labels and putting in the tabs. A project you can do easily in front of the TV.

How do you save your kids artwork? Are you a ruthless purger, or a keepsake queen?

Mother’s Day Giveaway Extravaganza!

I am beyond excited to share with you The Whatever Mom’s VERY FIRST Giveaway! In honor of Mother’s Day there will be FOUR lucky winners of some really amazing prizes!

To enter simply sign up to follow my blog and like and share my Facebook posts about the contest! Winners announced on Tuesday May 6th!  That’s only 5 days away- better get to sharing!

Here’s what you could win:

arrival giveaway 2Arrival giveaway

A children’s book and coloring book set! The Toddler Room “Arrival” written by Hudson Valley author Jodi Lobdell Bulson, tells the story of a little boy’s journey to day care. This set is prefect not only for teachers and daycare providers, but also for parents of young children and for children starting a day care routine for the first time. Jodi holds an associate’s degree in early elementary education and now owns and operates a day care in her home.

bucci giveaway

A specially designed pair of  earrings from Bucci Handmade Jewelry! These brass and copper earrings are nickle and lead free. Karen Bucci began making hand crafted jewelry from her home in Saugerties, NY in 2008. She is passionate about creating unique pieces that allow women to express themselves and is very selective about the materials used in her original designs.

HVSC giveaway

A gift basket of extremely natural Hudson Valley Skin Care products!  Glenn and Cathie Arpino, owners of Hudson Valley Skin Care, hand make fresh, small batches of product right here in the Hudson Valley. They include local ingredients into their products as often as possible. This is perfect for yourself, or any mom in need of pampering! (Products in photo do no to represent products in gift basket).

And, the grand prize is:

Union-Health-Wellness-150-2 giveawaygreat_expectings giveaway

A FREE consultation and ONE MONTH of Health coaching with Holly Walsh! Holly is a certified Health and Wellness coach and owner of Union Health and Wellness LLC.  She is committed to helping people find a balanced nutritional path! Plus a FREE consultation and ONE MONTH fitness follow up with Christine McCracken owner of Great Expectings.  Christine specializes in helping moms get fit with or without a gym membership, and getting in shape before, during and after pregnancy. Who couldn’t use a total health makeover?

(Both Holly and Christine offer their services via telephone for convenience).

CONTEST RULES:

Must be 18 or older to win.

Do not need to be a mom to enter- all prizes are great gifts for anyone’s mom!

Must register as a follower of The Whatever Mom, or Like and Share The Whatever Mom’s Facebook posts about this contest.

Winner will be selected at random by midnight on Monday May 5th and announced on Tuesday May 6th.

One winner per prize item.

Happy sharing and good luck! 

*This giveaway is now CLOSED*

Spring Clean Your Look

Anyone else hear about this new fad called “spring cleaning?” It’s where you clean stuff simply because the season has changed?  It’s all the rage in my house right now. We are pulling apart closets and cleaning in corners we didn’t even know we had. It all started because I was tired of my ugly wardrobe. I don’t know about you but I am kind of over selecting outfits based on their ability to camouflage snot stains and glitter.

Before kids if something didn’t fit I would just go buy something new. I didn’t worry about labels like, “machine washable,” or “dry clean only.”  I had plenty of stylish clothing to wear to work, out with friends and while lounging at home. Now, I can barely tell those outfits apart. So, I decided to spring clean my wardrobe.

I started by thinning out the clothes I could no longer wear based on size, location of stains and tatters. This left me with a sparse amount to work with, but I’m a creative mom! I can make toddlers believe terrible things will happen if they don’t eat their peas!

Next, I coordinated a few outfits to have at the ready for moments beyond the standard issue mom uniform (t-shirt, jeans and sneakers).  I waste so much time over thinking and rethinking an outfit before leaving the house. Having outfits I can just grab and go saves me from all that!

 

My sparse, but clean ensembles
My sparse, but clean ensembles

I layered accessories right on the hanger so I have a complete outfit.

Hang coordinated belts, scarves and necklaces with outfit
Hang coordinated belts, scarves and necklaces with outfit

When I finished, I realized my makeup bag could use a little rehab. I have some “vintage” pieces in there it was time to let go of.  I don’t have a lot of time for make-up, but there are days I want a casual look. My new dash out the door (can’t tell I didn’t sleep a wink) look consists of a tinted moisturizer with an SPF, cream eye shadow I smear on with my finger, mascara and lip balm. Kiss My Face Lip TreatMint is  the only lip balm I wear ever ! Feels great and the SPF covers me for play dates at the park!

Streamlined make up routine
Streamlined make up routine

After I cleaned everything up I realized my nails looked shabby too. It seems the mani/pedi is the first thing to get the boot when moms go on a budget. A friend of mine shared her secret for a one minute manicure- press on nails. I know sounds really tacky (no pun intended). But, not only did my husband think I spent big bucks on a manicure, I also got a lot of compliments from friends and strangers. These are great for date night, mom’s night, grocery shopping, or whatever. I don’t have to find time to get out to the salon. No dry time! No smudging!

Instant manicure- no baby sitter required!
Instant manicure- no baby sitter required!

Three and a half years into the mom gig and I realize how easy it is to get sucked into a wardrobe rut. It’s sad how little I’ve invested in my appearance due to time and feeling overwhelmed. Now I have a simple, clean wardrobe to select from and I gain a few extra minutes in my day with a simplified routine.

What does your mom routine look like? What are some tips for keeping your wardrobe current?

 

 

A Funny Bunny Photo Booth

Our sunny funny photo booth
Our sunny funny photo booth

I wanted to do something really fun for the girls Easter pics this year. Short on time and money for a professional photographer, I decided to create my own funny bunny photo booth. But once I made the booth it was too cute to keep to ourselves. So, we invited a few friends for an impromptu bunny bash. Luckily, my very awesome (and talented) friend Danielle brought her fancy camera along to get some great pics of our little party goers.  A total bonus!

Our photographer Danielle and her daughter Sydney
Our photographer Danielle and her daughter Sydney

I selected a fun background to give our photo booth a casual feel. I used a chevron designed wrapping paper taped to an extra piece of paneling we had lying around. You could tape it to your wall, but hanging the paper on the wall is a two person job and I am a one mom operation. Using the panel was easier and allowed me to hide the back drop so I could surprise the girls in the a.m.

Use painters tape to keep wrapping paper in place
Use painters tape to keep wrapping paper in place

I strung a line of foam shaped chicks across the patterned paper. I simply taped some twine to the back of each chick. You could easily skip the paper and just hang a string of fun themed shapes to a clean colorful wall inside your home. Or, move outside and hang the shapes along a fence, around a tree, or on the side of your house.

Tape foam shapes to a piece of twine for an easy garland
Tape foam shapes to a piece of twine for an easy garland

This time of year you can find bunny ears at every dollar store- a must have for a funny bunny photo booth!

Bunny ears from Target
Bunny ears from Target

To make a bunny face I used a wooden mustache prop I found at Michael’s.  I added a fuzzy pom-pom nose and some colorful pipe cleaner whiskers for a touch of whimsy. I tried to use Elmer’s glue, but the hot glue gun worked the best.  Of course I had to add in some recognizable bunny teeth. I used white craft foam with adhesive backing and attached directly to the mustache.

Easy to make props
Easy to make props

I situated our photo booth in the sunniest spot of our house. Natural lighting makes for the best photos! Then, we handed the kids the props and let them have fun! I wasn’t worried about them posing angelically; I was just shooting for nobody crying. My goal was to make some fun memories with our friends. Mission accomplished! How cute are these kids?

Friends posing as bunnies
Friends posing as bunnies
Bunny buddy
Bunny buddy
Little bunny
Little bunny

For less than $10 I now have some fun pics to commemorate our Easter holiday. I can print as many photos as I’d like and email copies to distant relatives (thank you Danielle!).

A themed photo booth is a great alternative for kids who are afraid of the Easter bunny, or maybe too little to meet the EB yet. It’s also an easy, affordable, fun activity to do for birthday parties, play dates, or holidays. Just change up your props!

 

Have you taken your own kid pics at home? What do you do to make it fun?

Gratitude

Cheers to my readers!
Cheers to my readers!

Just a quick post to say thank you to everyone for supporting my blogging efforts! I truly appreciate that you take the time to comment, like and share my posts. It was your support that gave me the courage to start this blog in the first place. THANK YOU!

I am also very thankful my blog was picked up early by a local magazine, Hudson Valley Parent. If you are already following The Whatever Mom blog  you should receive an email every time I post a new entry. If you are not already following me here, please do!!

Get additional pics and updates on The Whatever Mom Facebook page! I will share my Hudson Valley Parent posts on all my Facebook pages!

If this is your first visit to my page- thank you for stopping by! You are welcome to join the party and get weekly updates. Simply click the small gray follow button in the low right hand corner and follow the instructions. To find out more about The Whatever Mom check the about me section.

Please feel free to comment below, or contact me via Facebook with craft ideas and questions!

Thank you all again from the bottom of my heart! Cheers!

How not to host a glow in the dark Easter egg hunt.

Bucket of glowing eggs
Bucket of glowing eggs

I was prepared to write a whole fluffy craft piece about how to host your own glow in the dark egg hunt. I realized it is more important to share what happened behind the scenes during party prep.

Being a “whatever” mom is new to me. I am by nature a high strung personality. I like things to go my way, as planned. I had several plans for this night. It was going to be epic! Not only did I plan on glowing eggs but glowing treats too. I planned for glowing Jello and glowing frosted cookies accompanied by glowing Sippy cups of milk. My kids would ooh and ah over the spectacle. My husband would think, “Wow my wife is so talented!”

Tonic water farse
Tonic water farce

Turns out, the science guy on goscience.com is liar. Tonic water does NOT phosphoresce under a black light (at least not the bottle I purchased). I was more than a little disappointed when the Jello did not glow. That meant my frosting would not glow either. I shouted a bristly, “Whatever!” through gritted teeth and tried to move on. But, I carried that disappointment with me. I attempted a little razzle dazzle with glowing Sippy cups. Not what I imagined. It seemed so much simpler in my head. I thought, “OK, there’s still time to salvage this party. I’ll start filling the eggs early.”

Glowing sippy cup
Glow Sippy gone sideways

Now, all you need to make glow in the dark eggs, is a twisted up glow bracelet placed inside a plastic egg. You can get plastic eggs and glow bracelets at your favorite dollar store.

Twisted glow bracelet
Twisted glow bracelet of doom

I couldn’t bend the bracelets small enough so I enlisted my husband to help. He tied them into a small pretzel shape and jammed them into the eggs. He only broke open six bracelets- releasing glowing ooze (Supposedly “non-toxic.” We’ll know more if he starts growing appendages). I was so disappointed that nothing was working according to my plan. This night did not look anything like I had envisioned. I was about to throw in the towel and call this idea of mine an epic fail. Then, I heard giggles and little voices squeaking with delight. My girls had picked up a pile of the glowing sticks and began running through the basement playing their own games. They used them to cast magic spells and send each other signals- all the while oblivious to the frustration building inside moms head. Suddenly it hit me, I didn’t need to get so worked up about what was going wrong. I simply needed to enjoy what was going right.

Actual glow egg
Actual glow egg

As soon as I let go and said, “whatever” (for real this time) the party turned out pretty perfect. My girls had so much fun hunting for glowing eggs, they didn’t even think to open them to look for treats. They took turns hiding eggs for each other and even cheered each other on. We had a lot of laughs and it was a total blast.

Learning to let go of perfection and the stress it creates in my parenting – that is what being a “Whatever” mom is all about.

Eggs on parade
Eggs on parade