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To the men out there who are real dads I wish you all an early but wonderful happy Fathers Day.

When I say real dads I mean the men who are always there for their children no matter what or where they are in the world, they’ll stop and do everything they can for their children. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it with a partner in the same home, co-parent because you and your spouse split up, are a single dad or perhaps a step-dad who loves a kid(s) that even though they’re not yours by blood you love them as if they were.

To this day I don’t know my biological dad but I was very fortunate that my mom fell in love with someone who loved me like one of his own and to this day has been there for not only me but my son whenever we needed him. It doesn’t matter that we aren’t blood family he has been there since the start and for that I will be forever appreciative of. I’ll never be able to show him how much he truly means to me as a dad but I hope he knows how loved he is. So thank you for being there and I hope you all enjoy your day.

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What you will need:
Ice
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
6 cups cold water
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 6 medium lemons)
lemon slice, for garnish

 

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. In a small sauce pan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

2. Place strawberries into a food processor or blender and process/blend until smooth.

3. Pour pureed strawberries into the sugar water. Add lemon juice. Stir well.

4. Pour strawberry lemon mixture and cold water into a large pitcher. Stir well and add ice.

5. Pour into glasses and top with chopped strawberries and a lemon slice.

 

.:Side Note:.
This is great as a refreshing Summer drink as is or you could add any of the following alcohols to make it a little more adult.

Vodka (plain or raspberry / berry flavored)
Limoncello
Your favorite white wine
Burbon
Champagne

 

Every body is a beach body

SO PUT ON THE DAMN SWIMSUIT AND ENJOY YOURSELF ! ! !

I find myself telling a friend or two the same thing every year “We’re going to the beach to have fun, there will always be someone more skinnier than you, more fit or bigger than you and they’re not going to give a damn what you’re wearing so just have fun” but have never took my own advice, I know bad me how dare I bla bla bla

I don’t remember what age I was when I got my first real bikini but I’m sure I was probably excited to wear the it because maybe just maybe I would feel just as beautiful as my step sister and all her friends when they wore theirs. However when I saw them in their suits and me in mine I got that harsh realization that my body will never look like theirs but tried to ignore it and enjoy just being in the water swimming.

When I was in my very early teens years, I got boobs, my families big hips and their big ol’ bubble butt. I had begged/dreamed for some curves like my favorite singer, actors…etc or even like some of the girls who were dancers at my school. However life (more so genetics)  decided that it should all be settled on my thighs and my waist. These were not the curves I’d envisioned when I’d submitted my requests an I immediately felt like I got the shaft. All the other women in my family were gorgeous and confident. Even my little cousin rocked her beautiful freckles that looked like they were placed on her face by the worlds greatest painters. My dreams of lounging on the beach or pool side in a cute bikini were gone and I scrambled to try to find a “look” that would work for me. I ended up with going for the “surfer look” and rock out the board shorts and bikini top. Which ended up working out for me after because I got more active. I’ve never had a six pack but my flattish tummy was good enough for me to case any of my insecurities away until I was having fun in the moment. It also helped that I kept convincing myself that board shorts were a good option because you don’t have awkward wedges with board shorts like you do picking out a bikini bottom that decided it wanted to live it’s dream of being a thong.

Life went on, the summer seasons did too and during my pregnancy with my son, I felt beautiful. I would of liked to tell people that but was still a little shy / insecure because I’ve become that person who kind of just blends in. Like it felt okay to admit that I felt like I had a natural beauty because I was harboring a human. I was legit glowing and the curves felt like they were in all the right places and I didn’t compare my body to anyone else because I was growing a person inside me and that felt like a miraculous situation all in it’s own but I couldn’t just say “I’m beautiful” out loud yet.

My son was born, my body changed as bodies do with time and age and having a baby. And I dreaded the up coming swimsuit season all over again, even wondering if I would even attempt to put one on. I dreaded the times when my thighs and my stomach would be on display next to others.

As I mentioned I’ve been “fit and healthy” but have always had a little more meat on my bones and the reality is… there are really big things worth fearing in this world. And yet I feared a damn swimsuit.

My body has been torn all apart and put back together during my c-section / other life events, I’ve always fluctuated in my weight. I’ve gone through somethings that made me think maybe I wouldn’t know this body of mine anymore as I once did. That perhaps I’d only be a soul wandering around being too busy no raising my little human on my own to ever really focus on me and I wonder now… what did I miss because I wouldn’t wear the damn swimsuit?!

I have had more anxiety at times over the thought of wearing a suit than I did when I would go 4x4ing or that time when I was scared sitting in the back of my Dad’s truck going backwards down a mountain side cause the breaks failed. Even more importantly I’ve realized this: if in my almost 30 years, there hasn’t been a year in more than 2 decades that I can recall being one hundred percent “comfortable” in any sort of clothing…that I’m the one holding myself back. I’m the one comparing my legs, stomach, skin and even my big ol’ booty. And I gotta let it go. If I want to truly live in the moment of the moments… I’ve got to Elsa the situation and just let it go all while being my fabulous self.

I haven’t done it for long but this is what I’ve learned so far…

Wear the damn swimsuit. Just wear it. If you want to be in on the action splashing with kiddos soaking up the sun, not caring if you get soaked. Not caring that your thighs are friends who are constantly hugging or if you want to look at it as being one step closer to being a mermaid just wear the damn swimsuit and have fun.

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Eat the burger! Enjoy your favorite food because hating food or being scared of what it will do to your body it will only cause bigger issues. Just keep it all in moderation and enjoy it all because much like yourself food is amazing.

Dance when there’s no dance floor. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the kitchen, bathroom, hallway if you wanna dance do it.

Sing like you’re on The Voice. In the shower. In your car. On the stage if you have the courage to do that just sing it loud and proud.

Take a moment to just sit there with the sun on your face and enjoy the warmth.

Or take a moment sipping on a warm drink listening to the rain hit the ground.

Tell someone “Thank you” even if it was just them holding the door for you or the cashier ringing in your groceries.

Call someone and say “I love you

If you miss someone or have been meaning to reach out to someone just do it. Pick up the phone and call them.

Snuggle your kiddo, dog, cat, spouse, whoever you care about just a little longer because our time with them isn’t promised.

Let the dishes wait, because there will always be dishes.

Let the clothes in the dryer sit there a little longer and enjoy the afternoon with friends / family because much like the dishes laundry never goes away.

Write, share and tell your story. It doesn’t have to be on a blog or public either. Go to the store or look online for a journal and write down your memories / story there.

Life is shorter than short, we all already say “Can you believe it’s already {insert time of year here}” just wear the damn swimsuit and enjoy life.

Lemon Raspberry Cake

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What you will need:
6 tablespoons raspberry preserves
1 1/4 cups butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons lemon, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar
1 box Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ lemon cake mix ( water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box )


Steps to yummy goodness:
To make the cake:
1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans).
2. Grease or lightly spray bottoms only of three 9-inch round cake pans.
3. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 2 minutes (do not overbeat) then pour into pans.

4. Bake 15 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (I normally check it at 15minutes).

5. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
6. Fill layers with raspberry preserves.

To make frosting
1. In medium bowl, beat butter, lemon peel and lemon juice on medium speed 30 seconds.

2. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat 2 to 3 minutes longer or until light and fluffy. 3. Frost side and top of cake with frosting. Store covered in refrigerator.

 


.:Side Notes:.
If I’m in a rush I will make extra preserve to put on the top then garnish with fresh berries and just frost the sides

If you don’t like the icing job you’ve done on the side of the cake don’t fret, you can grate or shave up some white chocolate then add those to the icing on the side of the cake to hide any rushed / new to icing job while still having a beautiful cake.

This recipe works well for cupcakes as well, just line a cupcake / muffin tin with liners and check the side of the Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ lemon cake mix box for the appropriate time and baking temperatures.

 

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Maybe your morning was so crazy that you forgot to put that permission slip in your kiddos school bag. Or did you turned your back for one second and your five year old tripped over their own toys and bumped their head or perhaps your newly walking little one just also had their first sip of coffee because you didn’t think they could reach it on the table just yet.

It’s ok, just breath and remember that this doesn’t make you a bad parent because guess what….WE ALL MESS UP!!!

As a parent we want nothing more to make sure our children are safe, properly cared for and know how loved they are. However life can and will just throw you an unseen curve ball which results in a scrapped knee, bump on the head or slip onto the bum. When these moments happen we already feel bad enough that we weren’t there to “save” our kiddos but the extra judgemental looks / comments that come from those around us don’t make the situation any better. So here is that reminder you may need to hear right now:

You are only human and even those who aren’t parents make mistakes and mess up too. No one is perfect and we’re all trying our best.

Now this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to prevent things from happening. Store cleaners / chemicals properly, have window locks so even if a bedroom window is open a crack no one can call out of, teach your kiddo to wear their helmet, the list can and will always go on for your own home / situation. All we can do is try to be the best parent we can be for our children and keep in mind that most accidents are just that accidents that no matter how much you planned and prepared for this one incident would of happened no matter what.

Hopefully this little blog entry is just what you needed to hear today, because I know that I need this reminder once in a while too.

 

happy_mothers_day

This post is a day early but I’m sure many of you reading this won’t seem to care about that after you read it……

I would like to take a moment to thank all those who don’t always get thanked and are normally over looked for what you do. Thank you to the moms who do the work of two not because you wanted to but because you had to for your children as a single parent. Thank you to the moms who are truly there for their children and put themselves dead last after everyone else even strangers are taken care of. Thank you to the moms who were scared when they found out they would be a mom but have blossomed into a wonderful loving and caring mom. A special thank you to the dads who have to act like moms because single parent dads get over looked all the time.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom to be or a mom to a living baby, have had the horrible misfortune of having a miscarriage, still birth, or your little one (some times not so little ones) died due to some terrible accident. To the step parents, grandparents, aunts / uncles, foster parents, adoptive parents and other people who are a mom to someone they didn’t give birth too I would like to wish every mom ( and single dads playing two roles) out there a very happy Mothers Day.

Now put down the technology and spend the day with your loved ones making new memories and having fun. Maybe also take a moment to be thankful for the moms who aren’t around anymore, they still matter as well because if not for them you wouldn’t be here or be who you are.

 

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What you will need:

1 cup flour , pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1/4 cup  maple syrup
1/4 cup  sugar
1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup zucchini, grated
1/2 cup chocolate chips, semisweet 

 

Steps to yummy goodness:
1. Preheat your oven to 350F (176C)
2. Prepare a muffin pan by lining the cavities with paper liners or greasing them with cooking spray or oil. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until they become slightly frothy before whisking in the yogurt, maple syrup, sugar, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix until well combined before folding in the grated zucchini.

5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing gently until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.

6. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling until they’re about 3/4 of the way full. Top with additional chocolate chips, if desired.

7. Bake for 17-19 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

8. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for ~10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

 

.:Side Notes:.
You could also make this with all purpose flour or use a mix of 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1/2 cup all purpose.

You can sub this with regular brown sugar.

I like to place a handful of shredded zucchini between two paper towels and lightly squeeze it over the sink to get some of the liquid out. You don’t want to get it all out, but you don’t want it to be wet and soggy either.

Being a parent you will get asked some random questions, most of the time it’s by our kids wanting to know things like “But why can’t we have a pet wolf? I’d love it and pet it” or “Cookies have food groups in them so they must be good for breakfast“.  However parents of  children with special needs (in my case a child with autism) the random / weird questions I get often come from people in our lives or total strangers. The questions only get more odd once they find out I’m a single parent to boot. Here are some of the things I hear along with my response.

Person – “Have you tried a specialized diet?” 
Me – “Have you ever tried dressing a snail?” {insert pause} “Oh you were serious. How would a diet help my child? He already eats pretty well and I’m lucky that he loves fruits”

Person- “Really? He has autism?  He looks so normal”
Me – “Well I could throw some wolf ears on him if it helps but I’m pretty sure we both rather just have you understand that not all disabilities are visible”

Person – “But he’s so happy and full of energy”
Me – “Yea…..because he is a kid. Did you assume that he is going to be miserable lump on the ground just because he has Autism?”

Person – “I’m sure it’s just a faze and he’ll grow out of it”
Me – “I didn’t know you specialized in children with Autism, please tell me more because the professionals we go to every week say other wise”

Person – “Are you sure?”
Me – “Of what…life? or that I really should or shouldn’t be buying my fourth coffee of the morning?”

Person – “I’m so sorry”
Me – “Why? What did you do?”

Person – “And you’re doing it all on your own, how do you manage to do it?”
Me – “Have you heard of caffeine?”

Person – “I’m sure there’s a nice man out there just waiting to meet you and help you with your son”
Me – “…yea……doubt that. Most people run when they hear that I’m a single mom let alone a single mom to a child with autism. So if he is out there he can find us because I’m not spending any of my limited extra energy looking for them”

These are just a sample of the questions I get, yes they are random and as you can tell I reply mostly with sarcasm because unless it’s a real question about autism I’m not going to give it any real attention. Now I should make it clear that I didn’t write this entry to be rude / vent. My goal is that people will remember that it’s ok to ask questions just don’t ask judgemental ones or ones that are just dumb. Instead when you see a parent (because it doesn’t matter if they’re a single parent or not) say something like this…..

“Your son/ daughter is really lucky to have you as their advocate/parent”

“I hope you remember to take a breather for yourself at some point today”

“You’re doing a great job”

“I hear so much about autism but don’t know that much really about it, what can you tell me?”

The point of this entry is to remember people (single parents or not), autistic children/ children in general, any one young or old with a disability (visible or not) we are all human beings — every judgment you make about them, even more so in front of them, affect them it doesn’t matter if they react to it or not. They think and feel things just as everyone else does, sometimes they can just feel them in different ways. Every parent of an autistic child can spend a great percentage of every day of their life advocating for their child, and if it isn’t apparent to you that the child is autistic — that might just show you how hard everyone is working together to make the life of the child fuller, easier and happier all around.

Easy Food Hacks…

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1.) Cooking bacon with less mess
Place a rack in the lower third of the oven then preheat the oven to 400°F: . If you’re cooking multiple sheets of bacon, position a second rack in the top third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil (this makes cleanup easier) and arrange the bacon on a baking sheet. Bake until the bacon is golden-brown and crispy, it should take 15 to 20 minutes. Exact baking time will depend on the thickness of the bacon and how crispy you like it. Begin checking around 12 minutes to monitor how quickly the bacon is cooking. The bacon fat will sputter and bubble as the bacon cooks, but shouldn’t splatter the way it does on the stove top.

2.) Keeping that take home food order warm until you get home
Keep a hot water bottle / bag (like the ones most of us use for injuries or for the ladies the ones we use to help with cramps ) in the vehicle and when you go to pick up your order ask for some hot water. Put said hot water in the water bottle and place it under your take out order, between the heat from the food and the heat from the water bottle your food will stay warmer twice as long.

3.) The egg slicer has more than one use
–  If you have an egg slicer, did you know it also works wonders with slicing mushrooms, strawberries, grape tomatoes and many other small food items.

4.) How to quickly remove burnt bits from bread or other baked items
Did those cookies/biscuits you made get a little burnt on the bottom, no need to toss them all, just use a microplane grater on the bottom of them. All the yummy goodness of your freshly baked goodies without the burnt parts.

5.) No more cutting up butter for baking
– When a baking recipe calls for  butter, such as a fruit crisp or a breadcrumb-covered casserole (it adds richness and helps browning), grate chilled butter on the large holes of a flat grater to create uniform pieces that are easier to distribute.

6.)  Defrost meat on an aluminum tray
– If you can’t defrost in water (still the fastest method), aluminum is an excellent heat conductor and will cut the defrost time by about 30 percent, according to Serious Eats – much faster than a ceramic plate or plastic cutting board.

7.) D.I.Y cooking spray
– 1 part oil + 5 parts water + squirt bottle = cooking spray for half the cost of store bought

8.) Squeeze spinach with a sushi mat or potato ricer
– Smooshing thawed spinach in a strainer or wringing it out in a paper towel is messy and not very effective. You can easily remove the excess water in thawed spinach by rolling it in a sushi mat lined with a paper towel or gently squashing it in a potato ricer. This trick comes in handy when you’re making something like Easy Spinach Lasagna, spinach dip, spanakopita, and other recipes that call for frozen spinach to be thawed and drained.

9.) Save $200 and vacuum-seal food storage bags with a straw
– Use a straw to suck out excess air in a zip-top bag. Removing the air from storage bags protects the food better and helps it last a little longer. Note: You might not want to use this trick if you’re sealing up a bag of raw meat.

10.) The smarter way to chill wine
– Stop using ice cubes to chill your glass of wine and try throwing in some frozen grapes instead. All the greatness of a nicely chilled wine without it getting watered down.

11.) Make your banana’s last longer
– Tired of buying banana’s and having them ripe faster than you can eat them? Next time just wrap some plastic wrap around the top part of the bundle, it will slow down the process of them getting ripe.

12.) Minced garlic every time
–  Instead of trying to chop a clove of garlic into super small piece try using a microplaner instead. You’ll get perfect minced garlic every time.

 

 

So to keep up with April being Autism Awareness / Acceptance month I wanted to share this animated video.

In my opinion it is by far one of the best videos for children of all ages to see so those who are on the spectrum get a little more compassion/understanding.