Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011--Welcome!!!

Ultimate Blog Party 2011 I am so super excited to be joining in the Ultimate Blog Party {hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom} for the second year in a row! WELCOME to Life with L & T, my little corner of the blogosphere, thanks so much for stopping by! I am "Eos Mom," so named because my son has Eosinophilic Esophagitis (basically food allergies) and Life with L&T is named for my kids. L is my 5-year-old son. He is super fantastic, but never listens to anything I say. T is my 2-year-old daughter. She is a ton of fun but definitely experiencing the Terrible Twos. She can throw a killer tantrum!
{My kids pouring weeds on their heads. Your kids do that too, right?}

I'm an average mom and I blog about everyday things:

-books I'm reading and movies I've seen

-my attempts at organizing and time-management

-sharing memories

-how we celebrate holidays

-Top Ten Tuesday, Works for me Wednesday, Things I Love Thursday, Five Question Friday

-the good, the bad and the ugly of life as an overwhelmed {What the heck am I doing?!} mom of 2

I blog for the fun of it and to join the conversation. I don't need 1000 followers (though that would ROCK), but I'd love to be part of a community of smaller bloggers who follow and support each other. So here are some facts about me--tell me in the comments what we have in common (or how we are different) so we can get to know each other.

-I've been married for 12 years to my law school sweetheart.

-I'm a SAHM.

-I love Target, Kohls, Kmart, Dollar Tree and bargains.

-I am not crafty, but wish I were.

-I am unable to either wink or whistle. :-(

-I am addicted to tv, though these days I'm behind on even my favorite shows.

-I love chick flicks and Sandra Bullock.

-L is allergic to corn, wheat, pineapple and peaches, and we avoid peanuts, just in case. So we do some gluten-free cooking.

-Speaking of, I hate to cook! But I do it anyway, cuz it's part of my job.

-I like to bake. Nothing fancy, though, I love to jazz up boxed mixes.

-I am addicted to chapstick, regular Coca-Cola, and reading mommy blogs. ;-)

-I'm a night owl. It pains me to go to bed before 11 most nights (I aspire to 10:30) but if I don't, oh those mornings are painful!

-{And also I am so not tech-savvy, I have tried 10 times to take out all these extra darn spaces to no avail. Please pardon my ugly. ;-) }

Okay, enough about me, go get back to the party. But before you go, leave me a comment and I promise I'll return your visit. Thanks so much for stopping by! Happy UBP!!!

TILT--my new bag (a review)

Today I'm reviewing my new diaper bag. I bought it with my own money, this is just to share What I Love and hopefully it's helpful to others looking for a new bag. All opinions are my own.
About a year ago, I started looking for a new everyday bag. At the time, T was about a year old and I'd been carrying a backpack since she was born (easier when lugging the infant carrier) and I was ready to graduate. I went looking for a messenger style bag, it needed a long strap and bottle pockets on the sides. We're in Phoenix and I constantly carry water for me and the kids. My initial search (online and in stores) found nothing but I found a free diaper bag in my closet I'd gotten from a formula company while pregnant. It was ugly but fit the bill. This is what I've been carrying for the last year:

A bad picture but you can see it is big and plain (and you can see the bottle of water peaking out of the side pocket). I follow a few daily deal sites on facebook and would check them out whenever they had bags. The other day, I scored on I got this JP Lizzy strawberry Clara bag ($68 on Amazon, not an affiliate link) for $20 plus $7 shipping. What sold me (besides the awesome price)? Interior bottle pockets! Here's a picture of my bag--notice the water bottle on one side and (harder to see) a thermos on the other?: So I get to carry my water and not look quite so frumpy. Here's me in my lounge clothes modeling the bag. It still isn't small, but it's definitely an improvement!
I love my new bag!!! It feels much smaller and certainly it's much prettier. I feel a lot more put-together carrying it (and I love that my water bottles are hidden, such a nice touch!).

I was worried that it might be too small for all my stuff. Typically, I'm like that Midol commercial where the woman dumps the contents of her purse out on the restaurant table and says "I'm a pharmacy." Yes, I pride myself on having saved many a period-stricken friend with my supply of feminine hygiene products and pain relievers. Meanwhile, being a mom added first aid stuff, an umbrella etc. Anyway, turns out this bag can only {barely} fit my necessities (those bottles take up a lot of space!). In the center are my wallet, phone, and bottle of Imodium. In one interior pocket I have my planner and a pencil. In the other pocket, I have one diaper, some diaper wipes, Wet Ones, toilet paper (I use a lot of public restrooms--gotta be prepared!), and fruit snacks. Anything else, I leave in my car so first aid, umbrella and extra supplies are never far away.

My only complaints.... I don't love the strap. The two lengths of the straps separate as well as twist. Annoying. I'm planning to solve this with some sort of cute strap cover, probably from etsy and in a cute pattern to jazz it up. We'll see. The strap also adjusts too easily, like it doesn't stay put at the length I choose. Also annoying and probably not solved by a cover.

In addition, the "magnetic closure" on the flap, isn't very magnetic. I can feel that there are magnets under the fabric, but otherwise I wouldn't know they were there--the flap just falls, it doesn't "stick" to the bag. A minor problem, gravity works okay, but I would've liked the extra security of magnetism to keep the flap in line. Again, not a big deal.

There you have it, my wonderful new everyday bag, helping me look a little less frumpy. For more Things that are Loved, head to the Diaper Diaries.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Organizing Challenge, Week 12

Week 12 was about grocery shopping. As I mentioned, we typically meal-plan on Sunday. Well the last 2 weekends, I made my plan and list and shopped on Saturday. That way, we were able to plan for that night (Saturday) and the next night (Sunday when my parents come for dinner)
and get the necessary ingredients. This seems to work a lot better than scrambling for what to cook Saturday and Sunday at the last minute, so we'll keep trying to do it this way.

As for making my grocery list, I keep a magnetic list pad on my fridge. Whenever we run out of something, I write it down. Then I write out the rest of the list when planning meals. I run through what ingredients I need for the week's dinners, plus staples for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I also try to look at the current Safeway flyer to see if there's anything on sale I need to grab.

All this makes for a pretty out-of-order list. If it's particularly messy, I'll re-write it, but that takes time and wastes paper. When Hubby does the shopping, he doesn't care. When I do the shopping, I like to make notes on the list to group things together. I'll write a letter next to each item {P=produce, C=cold, L=left, R=right, M=middle} so that when I'm in produce, I'm sure to grab all the P's (and so on) to cut down on back and forth while shopping.

Okay, I think that's all my thoughts on grocery shopping for the moment. The organized part, at least. There's always something I forget or run out of during the week, then I'll shop at Target or Walmart or wherever else I'm running errands. For more OYOL, go to Unsolicited Advice.

How do you handle your weekly food shopping?

Organizing Challenge, Week 11

Ack, I haven't posted in over a week! Lots to catch up on. I'll start by catching up on One Year to a {more} Organized Life. I'm behind as usual--this is for Week 11.
Week 11's assignment was to make a list of meals your family enjoys. The goal was 30 meals, but I was convinced we didn't have nearly that many (we are in a serious food rut), but lo and behold, I counted 33! I'll go ahead and share my list in the hope that it might inspire you (though everything is pretty basic, I think) and you can let me know in the comments if you'd like me to share any of my recipes. :-)




spaghetti with meatballs or meatsauce

beef stroganoff

penne baked pasta



chicken pot pie {I'm the only one who likes it so I rarely make it anymore}

curry chicken--crockpot

curry chicken--creamy

mayonnaise chicken

chicken stir fry

roast chicken in the oven

whole chicken in the crockpot

pot roast--wine

pot roast--creamy

pork tenderloin

pork chops grilled


grilled chicken

BBQ chicken thighs


pizza (frozen or grilled)

prepared pasta (like Buitoni or Costco ravioli)



taquitos {we don't really make these anymore}

fried chicken or nuggets

flautas from Costco

arichera (we buy marinated skirt steak from a Mexican market and grill it)

carne asada on the grill

pulled pork in the crockpot

And I realized that I'm lacking a good recipe for beef stew in the crockpot and for pork roast. Any suggestions?

I'm glad to have done that exercise, it should make meal-planning easier going forward and help us get out of this rut.

For more OYOL, go to Unsolicited Advice.

Does anything I listed sound good to you? Let me know in the comments if you'd like me to share some recipes. I promise they're all simple (or I wouldn't make them). ;-)

Friday, March 18, 2011

On Waiting {with IBS}

Okay, I'm gonna join Gypsy Mama with her writing prompt: "on waiting." GO

Waiting. I hate waiting. Now I won't say I was a totally patient person before the IBS, I but think I took some smaller annoyances in stride. {In contrast to my dad who is super crazy Most Impatient Person Ever, whom I do not want to be like.} But now waiting, particularly in line, is so hard for me. You can kind of get an idea of what I'm talking about from those bladder control commercials. A lady in a long line at the airport--she has to run to the bathroom and comes back to an even longer line. Exactly!

I went to Supercuts today. Haircuts are extrememly IBS-stressful for me {what if I have to go to the bathroom during the haircut--the horrors! Yeah, ain't anxiety grand?} and I had to wait through several other people getting haircuts, never really knowing when I'd be next (because some people had reservations for 11:00). So while I'd love to be cool and enjoy my alone time (and I did get to peruse the Oscar dresses issue of People magazine), there's just a lot of stress and impatience.

But the worst is the airport. Because you have a place to be, you don't want to lose your place in line. The San

I was going to tell you about the San Diego airport, Southwest Airlines terminal, where there's only a tiny bathroom inside the secure area--so I've sometimes had to leave the secure area to use the larger ladies room and then get back into the security line. Not really possible post-9/11. And arriving passengers don't often know that there's a larger bathroom if they just keep walking, so they make this huge line and departing passengers like myself are stuck.

So there are my genius thoughts on waiting. For more {and better} thoughts head to Gypsy Mama.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How I Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Suddenly, I love St. Patrick's Day. I guess it comes from having kids. It's kind of like Halloween--an excuse to dress up and eat junk food. And you know how much I love Halloween. So here are my Top 10 Ideas for celebrating St. Patrick's Day!
1. The hat. A few years ago, I bought a hat from the dollar area of Target and it has become a favorite. It's basically a green Dr. Seuss hat. Love it! Sadly the hat is currently missing--I only have 2 days left to search my cluttered house to find it. Better hurry!

2. peppermint bark. This is a new idea I had this year. I'm going to make my usual Christmas treat of peppermint bark but color the white chocolate layer green. Basically, I melt semisweet chocolate chips in the microwave and spread it on a cookie sheet, and let it cool in the fridge at least half an hour. Then I melt white chocolate chips in the microwave, stir in a smidgen of peppermint extract (half teaspoon?) and in this case green food coloring, then spread that on top of the semisweet layer. Refrigerate to cool, then break it into pieces.

3. giant shamrock cookie. I made this last year and I'm going to do it again this week. So easy and yummy, see my full instructions here.
4. banner. You'll have to bear with me on this. It's a super easy craft but we didn't do it till yesterday so you'll have to check out my Valentine's version instead. I bought a baby blanket from Dollar Tree (light green for St. Pat's) and trimmed it so it would fit over a dry-cleaning-hanger (the type that's like a thin tube), gluing it with fabric glue. I cut a bunch of clover shapes out of dark green felt as well as the word "LUCK." Then L glued the clovers and word onto the blanket with fabric glue and we hang it on our front door.
5. wear green. This is pretty self-explanatory. The kids and I always dress in green for the occasion. A couple years back I bought this tee at Target and I break it out for St. Paddy's Day. High-quality photography brought to you by my son.
6. lime jello. Yeah, you could cook authentic Irish food, but where's the fun in that? ;-) We like green food, and lime jello is a perennial favorite.

7. pistachio cake. I've been told this cake doesn't look appetizing but I don't care--it's delicious. I love pistachio flavor. This recipe is from the Cake Mix Doctor, basically you add pistachio pudding mix to yellow cake mix--and don't forget the chocolate chips and chocolate frosting. {Here's a similar recipe.} So good! Sadly, we avoid feeding any nuts to L, so this will not be on our menu this year.
8. pistachio cookies. Again, love pistachio (and not on our menu this year). These are really yummy cookies but a huge batch. Use this pudding cookie recipe, substituting pistachio pudding for the vanilla. With chocolate chips, of course. And add some food coloring to make them extra green.

9. window clings. I love seasonal window clings, I have them for nearly every holiday. I buy them at Dollar Tree for $1. For St. Pat's we have a bunch of leprechauns and clovers.

10. mantle. This is the first year, I think, that I've decorated my mantle for St. Patrick's Day. It took me till February to put Christmas away but it was too soon for Easter stuff. I found a green and yellow cross at Ross for $4, then gathered some other green stuff from around my house. In the end, I went back to Ross and bought a leprechaun figure for $6. Cute stuff I'll use year after year.
Of course, this list is linked to Oh Amanda's Top Ten Tuesday!
How do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Giant Shamrock Cookie

I love St. Patrick's Day. I am 1/8 Irish, Hubby is 1/8 Irish, so our kids are 1/8 Irish. Which doesn't sound like a lot but it's my biggest portion since I'm otherwise a European mutt. Last year I kind of dropped the ball on St. Pat's Day and nearly didn't have a dessert--so here's what I came up with {super easy} at the last minute: a giant shamrock cookie.

I've made giant frosted sugar cookies before--love them--but this was my first time trying a shape (other than, you know, round). I've used both refrigerated Pillsbury dough and sugar cookie mix; this year I'll be using this recipe so it's wheat-free.

I covered a round pizza pan in foil and sprayed it with Pam. I divided the dough into 4 blobs, the first three I shaped into hearts for the leaves and the 4th blob made the stem. This is what it looked like going into the oven. {Bake according to dough directions, though it might take extra long to cook 'cuz it's huge--keep an eye on it.} Depending what dough you use, it will probably expand like mine did. Not quite what I was going for:

No worries, I just trimmed it up with a knife. I frosted it with a can of frosting tinted green with food coloring. Voila:

Super easy, super yummy St. Patrick's Day dessert.

This post will be linked to Tip Me Tuesday, This Week's Cravings {thanks so much for the invite, Tina}, Works for me Wednesday, and Things I Love Thursday. Yummmm!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Organizing Challenge, Week 10

This week's assignment is Meal Planning. Yea, something I'm already doing! Woohoo!

The Past
Once upon a time, I did not plan our meals ahead of time. And 5 o'clock would come and nothing was defrosted and I would call my husband and ask him to bring home take-out. That is not a good system!

The Present
Currently, my system is to plan meals and make a grocery list every Sunday. Probably my most helpful tip is: I keep track of what we've eaten on a calendar. {I use whatever free calendar I've received from charities, church, or businesses.} I use a dry-erase weekly calendar where I write the meal plan for the week (you can see it in this post) so on Sunday I'll write whatever we've eaten for the week on the meal calendar. That way, when I'm stuck for ideas for what to cook, I look back through the calendar. Sadly we are in a terrible rut and rotate the same darn foods over and over, so at least the calendar helps us not eat the same thing more than once a week. ;-)

I'm not sure that paragraph made sense. I have a dry-erase one-week calendar on my fridge. It iwrite the meal we're going to eat on each day. At the end of the week, I transpose whatever we've eaten that week into the paper 12-month calendar where I keep track of all the meals we've eaten. Does that help?

Okay, so I take out the 12-month calendar. I take a scratch piece of paper and list S M T W Th F. I rarely plan ahead Saturday or the next Sunday. That's definitely a weakness in my plan, but right now it's hard even to come up with 5 meals. By Sunday, we usually know what we're having that day (since my parents join us for dinner after they babysit the kids while we go to 5pm mass), then I plan M thru F. And I write the necessary ingredients on the grocery list. Also, once I've come up with 5 meals, I'll move them around to different days based on things like not having the same meat 2 days in a row and putting the toughest recipe on one of my easier days. And I sketch out side dishes too. That was something I often failed to do in the early days of meal planning. That way I don't make mashed potatoes with burgers on Tuesday only to realize on meatloaf day, darn I wish we hadn't eaten mashed on Tuesday. Etc.

This week has been a bit weird due to the beginning of Lent {no meat plus fasting on Ash Wednesday and no meat today, a Friday in Lent} so I'll share last week's menu instead.

Sun: burgers {we use frozen patties}
M: spaghetti and meatballs {we use frozen meatballs}
T: enchiladas {this is a time-consuming recipe so I did it on an easy day}
W: pork chops
Th: mayonnaise chicken
F: arcihera {we buy a marinated skirt steak from a Mexican market and grill it}
Sat: burgers {it's very unusual to have the same thing twice in one week, but burgers are currently my son's favorite food so we didn't mind having it a second time}

Sorry, but since I'm going off my calendar, this doesn't include side dishes. I apologize.

Oh and another issue in our meal planning is: what will L eat? He has tons of food issues stemming from allergies, many of which he's outgrown, but his diet hasn't expanded to include everything we eat. So we have to plan, okay we're eating burritos, L will have a quesadilla. If we have pork chops, what will L eat instead? A leftover burger. Kind of a pain--but better to plan ahead.;-)

Okay, so since this is supposed to be a challenge, I thought I'd add some meal planning goals.

1) I would like to try new recipes. As I said, we're in a serious rut. But if I try new recipes too often, we get discouraged because so many flop. So perhaps once a week or even every other week, I'll put a new recipe on the menu.

2) I would like to do some freezer cooking. Tons of the blogs I read talk about loading up your freezer with meals for the crazy nights when you'd otherwise get take-out. Sadly, my freezer is already frequently full to the brim, so I'll have to do this thoughtfully, but I have had success making up an extra batch of pancakes to freeze and nuke on weekday mornings.

3) Breakfasts are currently a challenge for me, neither of the kids eats much--and I'm in such a daze I serve the same thing over and over. So it would probably do me good to plan some breakfasts ideas when I'm meal-planning on Sundays.

4) And I should really plan for Saturday and even the following Sunday.

Okay, I will keep you posted as I head for these new goals. For more One Year to a {More} Organized Life, head over to Unsolicited Advice.

Do you plan your meals ahead?

Organizing Challenge, Week 9

I know, I know, I'm behind. But I really want to talk about my progress.

For the last two weeks, I've been trying out my daily schedule (you can see that here). I started off like gangbusters. Making my goal just two activities in the morning (dishes and laundry) was genius (if I do say so myself). So easy and so freeing. That first morning, L woke us up at 5:45am and none of us got back to sleep (well T slept through it, thankfully). To say I was sluggish that morning would be an understatement. But as I was zoning out in the recliner, I felt at ease, no guilt, because I only had two things to do. And sure enough, I got moving in the late morning and the day was ultimately successful. Win!

Oh and I also found that on days where I got my two things done, productivity begets productivity. Win!

However: Thursday came around and I had planned that as my stay home/ignore T/get stuff done day. Fail. The weight of my assignment had me paralyzed. While I managed to eek out the Bare Minimum and a couple other things, "clean a bathroom" was not achieved. I realized this isn't going to work--I am too lazy, I need a new system and assigning myself a ton of tasks for one day just won't cut it. Back to the drawing board. (I will keep you posted.)

Okay so this week I gave up the idea of one crazy busy day and just went back to focusing on my big two--loading dishes and laundry in the morning. It was a busier week than average so that was a great way to keep me focused. That was a success. {I'm so glad this long week is over!}

Speaking of the Bare Minimum, I should probably mention another fail: the mail pile. I have not been conquering the pile daily and therefore my pile has been growing, growing, growing the past 2 weeks. Bad me! It's not just mail but papers from preschool and ads/coupons from the newspaper. At night I move the pile from my bed to the kitchen table {so I can sleep} and in the morning I move it from the kitchen table to my bed {so we can eat}. Fail.

The assignment for week 9 was to put our weekly, monthly and occasional tasks into our schedules. Needless to say, if I can't manage my regular tasks, I'm not going to be managing occasional tasks until I generally get my act together. Again, I'll have to keep you posted. Fail.

Despite these failures, I still overall feel I'm making progress. Reminding myself to do my Big Two in the morning has been a revelation. Really, it's huge. Gets the day off to a good, productive start. And I always have clean dishes and bottles. Yea! So I'll be focusing on that and hopefully I'll build some momentum so that adding in "clean a bathroom" isn't life-shattering.

Thank you again to Brenda for coordinating this project. Head over to Unsolicited Advice to see more One Year to a {More} Organized Life.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In the News {Suri's pacifier}

I'm climbing on my soapbox today to talk about a hot topic.
Suri and the pacifier
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are once again being criticized as parents, this time because 5-year-old Suri was caught sucking on a pacifier in public.

photo credit

Obviously since my 5-year-old still drinks from a bottle, I will be the last one to throw stones on this one. But that's not why I'm going to defend them. Or maybe it is. The fact is, things have not gone as perfectly in my life as I had planned. {That is an understatement.} So my instinct is to guess that if Suri takes a pacifier at this age, it might be because things didn't go as planned. Maybe she's sick. Maybe she hates to travel (these pictures were taken in Vancouver, where, I believe, the family does not live). Maybe maybe maybe. I don't know. So I think it's mean to guess (as some acquaintances of mine did on facebook) that it's because Tom and Katie are horrible parents who don't want the hassle of taking the pacifier away and the tantrums that would ensue. All I know is: there are a bunch of 5- and 6-year-old kids in this world who still suck their thumbs. Why is that any better? {I suppose the answer is because you can't take your kids' thumbs away but you can throw out their pacifiers. Still, thumb or pacifier are equally bad for kids' teeth.} And again, I don't think we should judge others unless you've walked a mile in their shoes.
Maybe Tom and Katie are the worst parents in the world. Maybe Suri is completely and totally spoiled and eats only ice cream and stays up till 2am watching R-rated movies. But I'm guessing that the 3 of them are just {relatively} normal people who are trying their best and making some mistakes. Part of me wonders if Katie "let" Suri get caught with her paci so the girl will finally give it up already. Because you know the longer you let these things go, the harder it is to break the habit.
Anyway, I feel bad for the family. For being so closely scrutinized. For Katie, watching the media and public call her a bad mom. {Aren't our egos fragile enough as moms? Aren't we always comparing ourselves to other moms who seem to be doing it better or have it all figured out?} For Suri, she's going to grow up and be so embarrassed that she was caught with a pacifier at age 5.
And don't even get me started on the paparazzi!
Okay, I'm climbing off my soapbox now.