Archive for the ‘Mommy Shortcuts’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Sunday Cooking Show

No, not really a show. It’s just my own personal show every sunday. I turn on Food Network to keep me company and cook my heart out in the early hours of the day. Although I cook something every day, I like to spend Sundays cooking in mass quantities and freezing portions. I will also focus on the foods that might take a bit more prep and are therefore not ideal to a busy weekday night.

On today’s menu was a delicious beet salad, a garlic infused salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, brown rice with spicy peppers and onions and the grand finale; a squash casserole.  The squash casserole is a large version of bite size snacks I make and freeze to serve as appetizers or between meals. Following is the rough recipe. I say rough because unless I am following a cook book, my recipes are all from the heart.

Ingrediants:

-One large onion (your choice of onion variety, I use white)

-One medium size butternut squash

-Two medium size zucchini (You can really use any squash you like)

-Optional, one large cooked beet

-Approximately 3 cups of puffed brown rice cereal

-24 ounces of cottage cheese (I used 1%)

  1. Peel and cut the squashes into cubes and put them in a tray with some olive oil and salt. Pop them in the oven or toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. They don’t need to be cooked through, just soft.
  2. Chop onions and saute
  3. Slice beet and lay at the bottom of a baking dish. Cover the bottom of the dish. You can overlap beet slices. This is not an exact science.
  4. Once the onions and squash are complete mix in a large bowl with cottage cheese and cereal. Season to taste.
  5. Evenly pour the mixture on top of the beets.
  6. Put the tray in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. You want it to solidify without the top getting burnt. I find that in the toaster oven 45 minutes works just fine.
  7. Let the tray cool.
This dish is tasty right out of the oven or cooled. We actually prefer it after it has sat in the fridge a while. I always cut half the tray and put it in the freezer and keep the other half in the fridge for more immediate eating.
Try it. Make your own twist. Enjoy!

PostHeaderIcon Tightening the Purse Strings with Twins

As most may guess, raising twins on one income at the height of a recession is tough. For the first year, we were so sleep deprived and hazy we paid no attention. We purchased a new home, made some improvements and just coasted by on some unemployment, one paycheck and savings. Once the fog lifted, it was hard not to worry.

I truly think that the best scenario for any kid is to be at home with a parent, particularly with twins. Twins, first of all, require twice the daycare payment and, in my case, they were later to develop and are talking later (we just started hearing the first words between googly googly recently). If this is a sacrifice (i.e. income) you are able to make, then you need to focus on cutting costs wherever you can.

I started with the frugal thinking prior to the twin’s birth. When I found out I was having twins I considered the price of formula and vowed to breastfeed for the first six months at the very least. I actually made it 14 months. When the boys started on solid food, I vowed to make everything from scratch. Both of these decisions were both healthier and more cost effective.

As the boys get older, I always try to find new ways to pinch a penny. Here are just a few methods that have helped make me a frugal mom.

  1. Collecting hand-me-down toys, clothing and books- Since I became a mother long after many of my friends it was easy enough to ask for the used stuff they couldn’t wait to unload. Since my house has plenty of storage space, I have plastic bins of clothing and toys stocked through age 5. I plan on continuing my collecting efforts as long as possible.
  2. Buy used: When I do need some toy (like when I realized my kids loved instruments) I try out Craigslist or garage sales to fill in the blanks. I have purchased some really nice strollers and toys this way. When we went to visit my folks, my Mom bought two playards for $30 total!
  3. Clearance and coupon: While used is great, sometimes the clothing you get does not satisfy the needs to two, nor the right size for the season. I take stock of what I have, make a list of what I might need and scour the clearance sales, along with coupons. I especially like the outlet malls. This has been great for shoes, which we always seem to need.
  4. Bring your own- Whenever possible I bring the kids our homemade meals, snacks and drinks. I check to see if food is allowed and pack what I need. Plus, my kids are so used to fresh they turn their nose up at processed foods.
  5. Don’t be brand loyal- Although there are times when I feel that one brand is superior to others, I try not to be brand loyal and shop around for diapers, wipes and other necessities. This means a combination of online, in stores and armed with coupons. This may require some research, planning and space for storage to really do it right.
  6. Cut costs in spending on yourself- It’s the name of the parenting game; sacrifice. So, we sacrifice. There are fewer date nights and parties at the house. In addition, we really look carefully at the money we spend on groceries and other essentials.
  7. DIY- Be realistic based on your skills. Not everyone is handy, but some who think they are not just haven’t tried. We have used our own skills and plenty of YouTube videos and blogs to slowly remodel our fixer upper home. We employ the DIY method for other elements such as bread making, repairs, lawn mowing, upcycling fashion, building a compost and raised garden and much, much more. For everything we need or desire we think long and hard about whether or not we can make it ourselves, the cost of materials and time and compare that to purchased goods or services. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense and other times it just doesn’t make sense right now.
  8. Yard sales and Craigslist- Like any frugal person I have tried to sell anything I don’t need. I used to donate everything, but those days of a disposable income are gone. To be honest, I have only once participated in someone else’s huge yard sale. Most of my items I have sold via Craigslist. I am currently planning a huge yard sale that will bring in money for little bikes for the boys (used of course!).
  9. Rewards Memberships- I have collected rewards or loyalty points wherever possible. For example, Huggies has them on their diapers and wipes. Since we buy so many it really pays off to save them and utilize the rewards points for coupons or freebies. Take it where you can get it!
  10. Barter- Wherever you can. Seriously. Barter with friends and family for babysitting, carpooling, memberships for places like the zoo and aquarium (many memberships allow up to 6 guests at a time), hosting play dates and more. You can even barter with friends on the task of cooking. You make the two month supply of black bean burgers and they make the casserole. This can be a time and money saving opportunity.

PostHeaderIcon One of my favorite things

Breastfeeding and general Mommy work makes me thirsty. I carry a water bottle with me at all times. The problem? I always drop them or don’t close them properly. I found the best product which solves all of my problems.

Contigo makes a reusable bottle with a function that allows you to sip when you want. Check it out:

http://www.gocontigo.com/

PostHeaderIcon Queen of Drive Through

It’s been a while. As a busy Mom of four-month-old twin boys I am just trying to find my groove. Part of that is learning how to be efficient and effective in running my household. My new best friend is the drive through. Drive through at the bank, for food and, frankly, for whatever other service is available. If they have drive through, I’ll pay more. You can’t put a price on not having to shlep two car seats and one gigantic stroller out of the car.

By the way, I open up this entry to one and all who have suggestions about how to make life easier for a mother of multiples or any Mom with one too many little people in her car. Do you know of quick shortcuts? Businesses that offer solutions such as a drive through or pick up? I welcome your comments and input.