Monday, January 28, 2013

Cutting Out the Chaos!

As a procrastinator working mom with ADD a distinct inability to effectively multitask, I have found that preparation makes a WORLD of difference when it comes to organizing life, reducing chaos and getting things done. I started out as a single mom, who, for a while, worked two jobs in order to make ends meet. Sleep was a luxury for more reasons than just the fact that I had a toddler. I had very, very little time to take care of things at home between work, mothering, and trying to get a shower and a few hours sleep before attempting to make myself look decent enough to walk out into public. Over the past 13 years, my life has changed, evolved, and in many ways, come full circle...several times! So here, I will share some little things I've learned along the way that have really helped me keep up with it all.

Sticking to it is another story...but that's your problem. Haha.

  • When hanging up your laundry, hang it up in a week's worth of outfits. Hang camisoles and "backups" (another top, a scarf) close by in case your mood (or the weather) changes. Do the same with kids' clothes. Start out with one week at a time; you'd be surprised how much time this saves you and how fast you can get it done...probably faster than picking your outfit at the last minute.
  • Buy a few separate, medium-to-large-sized lingerie bags. Choose a way to differentiate for each household member (sew on color-coded buttons, put on a pin, write names in permanent marker, etc.), and use to hold socks while washing. This way, socks get clean and none get eaten by the dryer monster or end up in someone else's sock drawer :)
  • Although it might seem like a pain, utilize daily shower cleaner...but not just for your shower! I also use it on my bathroom sink and my toilet bowl! (Remember, you still have to clean these the traditional way, but this can keep things kosher for a few days longer)
  • Instead of buying expensive "Uncrustables" sandwiches for your kiddos' lunches, spend $10 and get yourself the Cut-N-Seal by The Pampered Chef. This allows you to customize the bread and fixings to your children's tastes and nutritional needs (diabetes, Celiac disease, etc). Buy a couple of loaves of bread and take 20 minutes to make these yummy sammies, then freeze in a Ziploc bag.
  • Make "omelets" in muffin tins- awesome recipes here - and freeze ahead to reheat for a quick, healthy, hot breakfast for the kiddos (and yourself)! I will also be posting some recipes for these, so check back!
  • Freeze leftovers in freezer bags to be eaten on weekends/nights when you don't feel like cooking. This is especially useful for finicky family members who don't like eating the same thing two nights in a helps get rid of waste and save you money!
  • Shower, blowdry, and curl or flat-iron your hair before going to bed. Touch up in the morning.
  • Self-tanner is a priceless tool. It really does help cut the time you spend on your makeup by giving you a nice, base glow that helps to even your skintone without makeup! Pick one up that is made specifically for your face (I like Jergens Natural Glow Face), and apply to exfoliated skin before bed. You can also use it under your makeup in the morning; I boost the glow power by mixing So Bronze Tinted Self-Tanner for the face with my tinted moisturizer or foundation.
  • Sugar: An awesome, cheap exfoliant that won't tear into your skin the way that less-expensive scrubs that contain ground-up apricot seeds can. Some people add fresh-squeezed lemon juice to boost exfoliating power (not recommended for people allergic to citrus or with sensitive skin); that is not my practice, but I do add a teaspoon or two of green tea powder to my sugar (I keep mine in a small, clean Smuckers jar on my bathroom sink) to help keep my skin smooth.
  • Keep a collection of plastic shopping bags in your center console/glove compartment; grab all your garbage at the end of the day and take it inside to toss in your kitchen garbage, or throw in your curbside garbage cans or apartment dumpster. Cluttered cars are not only stressful, but there are way better ways to spend your evenings and weekends than picking crap out of your seats and carpets.
  • This one is a significant time investment at first, but will save you lots of time and money in the long run: Make a shopping list of all the things you buy at the grocery store; peanut butter, eggs, laundry detergent, cereal, meats, cheese, feminine products, etc. Print out several copies and go to a few grocery stores that are close to your home. Write down the prices of each item on your list; this will help you figure out which store will give you the best deals (even before coupons/rewards!), and will also help you to total how much you will need to spend before you even leave the house. Another thing I do if I am using my debit card, is to move all my money into savings, leaving just enough to cover groceries in my checking account. These keeps me from impulse-buying a bunch of crap I don't need. I move the money back after I get home.
  • Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest. You will find awesome meal ideas, DIY tips and tricks, and projects to do with your kids (plus great tips for clean-up and storage).
  • Plan your meals ahead of time, and make sure you have everything you need for them. Prep what you can (chopping veggies, defrosting/marinating meats, etc.), and organize things according to their use. It saves tons of time and "quick trips" to the store that waste time, money and gas.
Feel free to post your own tips and tricks in the comments! Hope these help!

Little things that bring me joy..

At a wedding this past two beautiful girls and their cousin, having fun being kids. Whenever life feels overwhelming, I can just look at pics like this and I am instantly happy :) It reminds me of what it's really all about; not money, not material possessions, but my family. My happy, loving family <3

Life's about time.

Some of this is pretty brilliant!

50 Life Hacks to Simplify Your Life

For example:

As a Nutella lover (but only the Italian one; trust me, it's 10x better than the American version), this is absolutely genius. Just remind me not to eat for two days afterward, and to have shock paddles ready.

Another great life hack was the brownie-in-a-mug...however, if you're like me, you don't always have unsweetened cocoa in the house (unless your 13-year-old insists on getting it for her chocolate-yogurt face masks). I do, however, usually have hot chocolate I found a brownie-in-a-mug recipe that uses hot chocolate mix instead of unsweetened cocoa. I halved the recipe and used a pouch of the mini-marshmallow hot chocolate mix, and finished it off with some mint hot chocolate mix (even halved, you'll need more than a pouch to make it). After microwaving, I topped it off with a tiny drizzle of The Fiance's Hershey's was truly amazeballs. Perfect serving, perfect cure for a sweet, chocolate craving :)

Do you have any "life hacks" to make things easier? Share in comments!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Where do I start?!

I created this blog so that I could share all my random thoughts, ideas, recipes, makeup tutorials, product reviews, rants and raves. There is no focus here...partially because I have ADD and I'm incapable of that, but mostly because I have so many different ideas on different things, I'd have to create 20 blogs to organize them all. So this will serve as sort of a guide to what you can expect to find here :)

I love love love to cook and bake. I see it as a way to express myself, as well as care for the people around me. If I cook for you, you know I love you :) Some of my recipes are healthy, some are just straight-up evil. Some of them are recipes I came up with myself, some are recipes that I've been lucky enough to find out in the world; either way, I tweak almost everything I make, and I'll be sure to let you know what and where.

Makeup is a huge part of who I am; I've been a freelance makeup artist on and off since I was 16 years old. It's something that I have loved for as long as I can remember; it's a way to recreate yourself, express yourself, try new things, get creative, get artistic, and be whoever you feel like being in that moment. Just like your wardrobe, it shows the world who you are and what you're about. It's most definitely a huge passion of mine. Am I the best in the world? No, but I think I'm good and I have lots of experience, ideas and tips that might help people achieve the look they want. I also love to get inspired, so I might post looks created by other people, and suggestions for how you can recreate them! It's all in fun and happiness :)

I'm big on reviews. They're incredibly helpful in terms of saving time and money, as well as just being fun to read AND write :) I can't tell you how many disasters I've avoided and things I've learned I could not live without and otherwise wouldn't have tried, thanks to reviews.

Other random stuff
Sometimes, I just gotta talk. A lot.