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Ring Master MomJuly 9, 20141 Comment

Meal prep

I just did my first meal prep for lunches this week – and it was incredibly easy and satisfying! Let me back up a bit. I eat horribly around lunch time. I run around chasing kids, snack, put together puzzles, snack, have a dance party, snack – you get the point. I really want to change this, so I decided to prep lunches ahead of time for the week so I can stay on track for eating healthy.

I decided to categorize vegetables, grains/legumes, protein, and toppings. Those include sesame seeds, hot sauce, citrus zest, and herbs. Each week I’ll pick a few from each category to (hopefully!) keep things interesting. I also just got started on soups & stews to freeze!

This week I sauteed spinach in garlic and made tequila lime chicken with cilantro. I added black beans and two types of tomatoes from my garden. I love being able to walk in my garden to pick fresh veggies & herbs! It’s inspiring me to plant a lot more next season.

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My favorite part of this process is that I only cook once 5 days! Fewer dishes and less mess are a win-win in my book.

Have you done meal prep before? What are your favorite foods to prep together?

Below is an affiliate link to the containers I used.

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Ring Master MomJune 16, 20141 Comment

Building a vegetable garden with kids

Our family was thrilled when we bought a home because the 4 of us were previously squished into a 2 bedroom condo and were ready to literally plant some roots! There was a park next to our condo so we were always able to play and explore, but there’s really nothing like having the freedom to do that anytime in your

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own backyard and make your own decisions about what to plant and grow. We had to totally redo our entire house once we purchased it (roof, windows, interior, plumbing, floors, you name it – it was redone!) and the garden was on the back burner for a while. We made small improvements here and there for the last two years and I’m very proud of our progress.

Both front and back yards were covered in junpier bushes and red and white rock. The soil was incredibly dry and full of clay with made attempting to dig anything out nearly impossible. James was able to remove a few bottle brush trees in the back by himself, but we needed professionals to help with the bushes.

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I mean seriously, it’s bush next to bush next to bush.

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We also had landscapers add irrigation and a lawn in the front and back. This in addition to pulling out the juniper bushes took 3 guys one week. We also found out a year later that the tree in the back was a fruit tree despite it looking sad and not trimmed maybe ever. We trimmed it back and discovered that we now got to enjoy plums every Summer!

About a year and a half ago, we bought a few raised beds along with lots of organic compost to get started in one corner and work our way around to the chicken coop. Here’s Alice about a year ago supervising her ladies.

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Sometimes we get surprises! I’m assuming it’s from the birds and squirrels who love to sneak a snack and possibly deposit seeds. We had volunteer pumpkins and carrots!

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This is what we have in our garden now

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Veggies:
*Cucumbers
*Yellow & green beans
*Lettuce
*Carrots
*Red potatoes
*Pumpkins

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Fruit trees:
*Cherry with three different varieties
*Mandarin
*Meyer lemon
*Lime
*Fig
*Plum
*Apple with six different varieties
*And we are lucky enough to enjoy a few apricots with a neighbor’s tree that drops sweet treats into our side yard

Fruit:
*Early girl & sun sugar tomatoes
*Strawberries
*Blackberries
*Raspberries

Herbs:
*Cilantro
*Parsley
*Basil
*Mint

Hopefully I can get my act together and grow more veggies in the Winter, too!! What are your favorite things to grow?

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Ring Master MomJune 14, 2014Leave a comment

Apricot popsicles

Patrick and Alice and I have great fun with our popsicle maker. The other day when our

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neighbors’ apricot was literally raining down fresh fruit on our heads, we decided to create a new frozen treat together.

I had some plain greek yogurt and since that along with the apricots can be a mouthful of tart, I added some lavender honey to sweeten our pops.

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I smashed up the apricots with a fork and added them to the yogurt along with the honey. There are no measurements here – just what you see pictured above. This is really more of an inspirational picture popsicle idea!

We froze these for a few hours and as you can see, they were a big hit!

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Below is an affiliate link to the popsicle mold I used to create these sweet treats.

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Ring Master MomJune 12, 2014Leave a comment

Succulents & color

I was visiting my favorite local botanical shop, The Botanist a few months ago and found an unreal selection of succulents. Growing up, one of my Grandmother’s best friends had a spectacular backyard full of large, tiny, and incredibly rare succulents that she herself had found over the years. I loved how unique and colorful each could be, and that inspired me to grow a few in small containers in college. I wanted to do something creative with what I had still had along with what I purchased at The Botanist. I knew I had to incorporate my favorite color – bright pink – into the mix, too!

Unfortunately, it took me about 2 months to find a proper container for this project so I didn’t get started right away. I couldn’t find what I wanted after visiting many nurseries so I decided to go with a shape I liked and paint something myself. I cannot explain how much I loved the warm peach color but it wouldn’t really match the hot pink accent. I think I may have to get more of these for future planting!

I started by painting this white, not forgetting to paint a few inches inside as well.

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I waited for that to dry before taping and painting a shape to coordinate colors with the plants and pop of neon pink.

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Once that layer dried, I filled the containers with potting mix and arranged my succulents.

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The final step was to load some hot pink aquarium rocks on the top layer for a huge pop of color!

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I had several leftover clippings, dirt, rocks, and other containers I wasn’t using so I added a few others to the other side of my front door.

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These beauties are perfect for my porch since it gets tons of sun and doesn’t require watering. What creative ways do you plant your succulents?

Below are affiliate links to a few items I used for this project.

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Ring Master MomMay 15, 2014Leave a comment

Every Mother Counts

I was in labor with my son Patrick for 26 hours. My daughter Alice took 13. The only time I cried for either birth was when I was getting an epidural for Patrick. For hours and hours intense contractions increased and lack of food for energy were catching up with me and I decided to have some help to relieve the pain. As the needle went in, tears came flooding out. All I could think about were other women in the world right then and there experiencing the same pain but were not as fortunate to receive medication when requested. The nurse wiped away my tears and reassured me that everything was okay, but I could not fathom why I was so lucky to receive medication when others had to suffer. The irony is that for the rest of Patrick’s birth, I could feel the pain on one side and not the other since the epidural did not work correctly.

As Mother’s Day came around again, I still felt haunted by how “easy” my birth stories are compared to other Moms. Scrolling through my feed on Instagram had me troubled that day. Through an inspiration blogging conference, Alt Summit, we had been introduced to an organization called Every Mother Counts. At the conference, we had watched a documentary that showed how Mothers across the globe gave birth. The complications and seriousness of childbirth is intense.

287,000 women die every year as a result of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

That’s one woman every T W O minutes.

On average – four orphans are left behind.

Not only is the role of Mother gone, but whatever position/s she held in her community.

The most compelling stat is that 90% of these deaths are preventable.

On Mothers’s Day, I felt helpless. My two beautiful children were enjoying lunch when I walked into the office and started sobbing to my husband James. I had horrible guilt about enjoying these carefree and

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magical moments while other Mothers were not able to enjoy theirs. I follow Every Mother Counts on Instagram, and seeing something in their feed that day started the wheels turning. What can I do for others? What can I do to ensure that other Mothers are around to not only play with their children, but continue teaching and building their communities? James agreed that the best way

Reading more on the Every Mother Counts page, I am ready to help change these numbers. I am compelled to host a screening of the documentary I watched called No Woman, No Cry with my friends and talk about how we can help. Fundraising before and that night along with donating phones will be the first steps, and once I have a date finalized, I’ll have a better idea of what else I can do for the organization. Please stay posted here for the invite. Once a few family events on my end are scheduled, I’ll be posting all the details for a night together with my girlfriends. Checkbooks at the ready, people.

#Alt Summit believes every mother counts

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Ring Master MomApril 14, 2014Leave a comment

Poached eggs & brussels sprouts

I have another quick breakfast recipe involving eggs to share! I’m always on the lookout for ways to cook eggs differently since we get about 4 a day with our hens and my kids seriously crave variety. A few months ago while at the Farmers’ Market with Patrick, he picked out brussels sprouts as a new vegetable to try. I really enjoy them with bacon and thought to myself, “Why NOT cook them for breakfast!”

I hope you enjoy this breakfast/brunch recipe as much as I do!

Ingredients
2

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eggs
2 slices of bacon
A handful or two of brussels sprouts (side note – I never measure things unless I’m baking. Use about a serving or more for this recipe.)

Shave brussels sprouts or slice in half. Shaving will cook these much faster – so it’s up to your individual taste.

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Slice bacon into small pieces and cook at medium heat.

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When cooked, place pieces on a paper-towel lined plate to soak excess fat. Add brussels sprouts to pan and cook for a few minutes. Adding halves will take a little longer, but you’ll want to cook these babies up in delicious bacon fat!

As these cook, start poaching your eggs.

When your sprouts are done cooking, plate them up and mix in your bacon. Add your eggs and enjoy! I’ve added a little truffle salt in the pic – more for flavor than salt. This dish already has salt so I don’t add any to my eggs. Garnish as you please!

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Ring Master MomApril 7, 2014Leave a comment

Easter basket ideas for toddlers

Easter will be here shortly and

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I wanted to share a few goodies that will be appearing in a few baskets in my home!

I try very hard not to include a lot of candy and junk, but know that it’s fun to enjoy special treats once in a while. I really enjoy finding new books or creative craft supplies and had a great time with the roundup below. The colored pencils are double sided and come in a variety of beautiful spring colors.

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Of course egg sized chalk are an eggsellent (ha!) addition to any basket. I seriously want the bunny ball for myself and who can resist a classic set of Peter Rabbit books. And funfetti Peeps – I had no idea you were a thing!

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Below are affiliate links to items seen above

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Ring Master MomApril 6, 2014Leave a comment

Washi tape egg garland

I own a lot of washi tape. This is maybe a third of my stash.

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We craft a lot with washi tape and since it’s almost Easter and my mantle needed some color, I thought why not create some giant washi tape eggs!

Making a washi tape egg garland is a great craft for toddlers and you can adjust how much help they might need according to their skill level. I started with a few pieces of printer paper and drew two giant egg shapes per page. Then, I let Patrick and Alice decorate each egg as they wanted. Some tape is more difficult to get started with little hands, but most I had they could do themselves.

Once the length is measured, they can cut their tape.
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Patiently pushing the tape from one end to the other since Alice likes it very flat! IMG_20140406_123904

I then cut the eggs in the pencil tracing I started with, and the kiddos helped me create an order for our garland. We finished with cutting a small hole at the top of each egg and stringing it with colored twine to hang on our mantle.

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Below are affiliate links for the items I used to make this craft.

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Ring Master MomApril 3, 2014Leave a comment

DIY Chalkboard Easter Eggs

Earlier this year, perhaps January or February, I was flipping through the Williams-Sonoma catalog when I came across a very cute egg decorating kit that let you paint your hollowed out eggshells with chalkboard paint. I was immediately in love with this since I throw that paint on anything but then the thought of hollowing out eggs with two toddlers and having them try to decorate eggshells without breaking the whole thing had me feeling a bit nervous. Luckily I remembered almost purchasing wooden eggs to paint for last Easter, and that got me inspired to buy them and paint for the kids to decorate!

I painted the eggs in two batches since they are a funky shape and I didn’t want the paint to stick to the surface where they were drying. I had a few leftover paper cups in my pantry, so I turned those upside down to ensure the eggs wouldn’t roll around.

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Once it was dry, I pulled out the chalk, and we started

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decorating! The best part about these wooden eggs is that they’re perfect for toddler hands. Also, rather than regular paint which I had thought of using last year, we can decorate every day or as often as we want by using chalkboard paint. And oh the ideas are endless when you throw into the mix how many colors of chalkboard paint you can buy, and patterns you can put on with chalk!

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Below are affiliate links for those interested in what I used to create chalkboard Easter eggs.

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Ring Master MomMarch 10, 2014Leave a comment

Pantry Soup

One of my favorite comfort foods is anything my Mom cooks. Ha – okay, I’ll narrow it down a bit further. She makes great soups and my favorite is called Pantry Soup. Growing up, we never ate the same Pantry Soup twice. The saying went, “Whatever’s in the pantry goes in the soup.” I have great memories of pulling out cans from the shelves and hoping there’d be a bag of alphabet noodles for an extra fun pot.

Fast forward to my sophomore year in college where I was out of the dorms and fending for myself in the kitchen. My pantry was pretty bare being a college student, and I believe I only had a box of Cheerios inside. I had to call my Mom and hold back giggles asking for a recipe for Pantry Soup. This is a dish I’ve cooked for any roommate during my college days, and my now for my family. Although posting this recipe goes against the idea of pulling out cans of whatever’s in your pantry, I thought I’d share since it’s a big request among my friends. Of course, add or subtract whatever you have stashed inside your pantry. That’s the fun of this dish!

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Mom’s Pantry Soup

4 cans beef broth (14 oz. size)
4 cans water (once you open and pour out beef broth, use one of these cans and fill with water. Whatever broth you put in, use the same amount of water.)
1 can chili
1 large can kidney beans rinsed
2 cans corn
3/4 cup barley
1/2 bag of alphabet noodles
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup shell or elbow noodles
1 lb of extra lean ground beef

Put broth, water, chili, kidney beans, corn, barley, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce in pot and bring to a gentle boil for 15 minutes. Add noodles and cook for 20 minutes. This is a good place to check fluid if you’re not really measuring how many noodles or barley you’ve put in and can always add more water at this point. Roll the ground beef into meatballs and add to your pot. Boil gently for 10 minutes and enjoy!