10 Simple Ways to a Clean Looking House

Your mother just called that she’s in the area and wants to pass by and see her precious grandchild. You look around in panic as you realize that  your house is definitely not ready for any visitors!  I have been there especially more so now with a toddler. Below are simple and extremely quick ways to make your house look as if you just spent a whole day cleaning even though you only spent 15 minutes.

  1. Pick up and put away (or temporarily hide) anything out of place i.e shoes, toys, laundry that has yet to be folded from the morning, etc.
  2. Clean your screen door if you have one.  I noticed that people assume you just cleaned your home if you have a clean screen door.  First impression is key!
  3. Wipe down your bathroom sink and toilet with glass cleaner.  You will be surprised how clean your bathroom will look with a quick wipe down.
  4. Replace your hand towels in the bathroom if you haven’t recently.
  5. Clean out your bathroom pail and throw out your kitchen garage especially if it’s almost full.  It will automatically give your house a fresher scent.
  6. Make sure you don’t have any dirty dishes in the sink.  Also, wipe down your kitchen sink and stove with a paper towel and glass cleaner.
  7. If you have wooden floors, break out the swiffer and do a quick once over on the floor.  If you have carpet, pick up any obviously visible debris (like this morning pancakes for example)
  8. Fluff up any throw pillows that you visibly have.
  9. Close the door of all other rooms that your guests will not be going into i.e. bedrooms, office, etc.
  10. Light a candle!  It’s lovely walking into a home that smells nice. My go-to scent for last minute visits is Yankee Candle’s Lemon Lavender.  It’s a clean refreshing scent without being too overpowering.

Hope this helps you!  Feel free to share your tips for last minute cleaning.

I would love to hear from you.

Remember you are SIMPLY extraordinary!

Homemade BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • (Sweet Baby Ray is my favorite)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  1. Pour the vegetable oil into the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the pork roast into the slow cooker; pour in the barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, and chicken broth. Stir in the brown sugar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, onion, garlic, and thyme. Cover and cook on Low until the roast shreds easily with a fork, 8-9 hours.
  2. Remove the roast from the slow cooker, and shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker, and stir the meat into the juices.
  3. Serve on a brioche or potato roll with homemade cole slaw and enjoy!

Homemade Cole Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 package of cole slaw mix (you can definitely make this from scratch but it’s more time consuming)
  • 3/4 cup of mayo
  • 2 tsp of white granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp of white (or red) vinegar
  • 1 tsp of mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients well except the cole slaw mix.  Pour over cole slaw mix and refrigerate for at least an hour to chill.

 

Garden Party at Home

This weekend, I helped set up a garden party at a family member’s home.  This party was easy to decorate as the beautiful outdoors provided us with a great backdrop to work with.  We kept everything very simple to keep the focus on the beautiful day.

Party Details

  • Centerpieces: We spent a total of $10 on each centerpiece because we used simple classic vases purchased from The Dollar Tree and bought and arranged the flowers ourselves.  A local florist would have charged at least $30 per centerpiece!  The key to a professional looking centerpiece is to rubber band the entire bouquet together once you figured out how you want to arrange them.  Then, you simply place the entire bouquet in the vase. We added a colorful scrapbook paper at the center of the table for an added pop of color.  This is a great and very inexpensive way to add color and contrast to any table.

Money saving tip: Purchase fresh flowers at a local nursery, wholesale florist shop or even your local grocery store instead of a flower shop.  You will save tons of money on flowers without sacrificing the freshness or quality.

  • Buffet setting: As the party was outdoor and children were in attendance, we chose to serve the food with paper plates and plastic utensils.  However, we still wanted it to look presentable.  We used colorful scrapbook paper to place inside three vases and then used one sheet of tissue paper to help lift up the utensils for easy access.  This simple trick provided color and a fun creative look to the buffet table.
  • Signature Drink: We wanted a fun and colorful drink to serve at the party so what better summer drink than sangria!  We couldn’t sacrifice serving sangria in anything else but in a wine glass.  I purchased these incredible wine glasses at no other than The Dollar Tree!  In my own home, I have both The Dollar Tree and Crate and Barrel wine glasses and everyone always prefers the $1 wine glasses.  They look great, are of good quality and ideal size to serve a nice summer sangria.  I especially love them for parties because if they break, they are only $1!
  • Dessert Table: For the dessert table, we incorporated homemade and store bought desserts.  We served the desserts in beautiful silver trays at (you guessed it) The Dollar Tree!  We used the leftover scrapbook paper as our dollies to give the entire table a pop of color.  I made food labels at home for each dessert.  Feel free to email me and I can send you the template.  The entire table took a total of 20 minutes to set up and made for a great focal point for the party.

Contact me if you have any questions with any details I’ve shared.

I would love to hear from you!

Breastfeeding Tips & Tricks

Hello Mommy!

First of all, congrats on even thinking about breastfeeding!  Being a mom that breastfed for 14 months, I could definitely tell you it’s a wonderful but challenging process.  Below are some tips and tricks that I found useful when I was breastfeeding.

  • Find a support system.  Ideally you would want someone that has previously breastfed. It could be family member, friend, doctor or even someone from La Leche League.  You are going to need this support system when you are having a tough day and you will definitely have tough days.
  • Have a positive attitude.  Remember whatever you are feeling, your baby will feel.  So stay positive so you don’t produce “sour” milk.
  • Don’t lose hope.  This is especially true at the beginning when you have no idea what to expect.  When my daughter was born, she was not latching on and I was getting so upset that I almost gave up.  Thank goodness that a nurse, recognizing my frustration, sat with me for almost an hour and helped me get my daughter to latch.
  • Stay hydrated.  While breastfeeding, you will experience thrist like you have never experienced in your life!  Make sure to stay hydrated with lots and lots of water.
  • Eat well.  Remember that what you eat, your baby eats.  I used to call breastfeeding the best forced diet you can ever be on.  It definitely made me think twice about what I was eating.  This is especially true at the beginning when your newborn’s tummy is sensitive.
  • Start your newborn on a 3-hour feeding schedule.  This will be a life saver!  If you start your baby on a routine from the beginning, he/she will get used to feeding at a particular time which will help you figure out your day.  As a breastfeeding  mom, you need to be able to know when you can take a shower, eat or even go out for fresh air.  If your child is on a schedule, you’re able to plan these things as oppose to demand feeding when you basically have to stop whatever you’re doing to feed your baby.  Obviously, it’s not going to be perfect and you will have days when your baby is going to be off schedule. However, having something that is semi-planned helped me out tremendously.
  • Pump after breastfeeding for a month.  Some moms start as soon as they start breastfeeding. However, for me, I wanted to feel completely comfortable breastfeeding before trying to tackle  pumping.  Plus, I wanted to make sure that I had a good milk supply before even attempting to pump.
  • Pump.  Once you feel ready, go ahead and pump!  For me, it felt great because I didn’t feel the pressure of always having to be around to nurse my baby.  It felt very liberating being able to go out even for an hour knowing that if my baby woke up hungry, there was milk in the freezer. I remember feeling very overwhelmed the first time I used my breast pump. However, with the help of my support system, I was able to figure it out and get comfortable with it. You will too!
  • Pack your bag!  I learned after many mishaps to pack a bag with your breastfeeding essentials. Ideally, you want to get a breast pump that can be used as a bag as well. That way, you can pack everything you need in one bag.  Keep on hand your nipple cream, a cloth for leakage and clean up (I took a couple of my daughter’s washcloths and used that), pads, and extra bottles.  I can write you countless stories of the many times I wished I had one of the items mentioned so make sure to always have your bag stocked!
  • Pump in a bottle not a storage bag.  When I first started pumping, I followed directions on the pamphlet and pumped right into what seemed to be a very convenient storage bag.  I remember feeling so proud of myself for pumping a whole 4oz of milk.  I froze it and went to bed feeling great!  The next day, I took out the milk because I was going to a birthday party and was going to feed my daughter a bottle instead of breastfeeding her at the party.  When I defrosted the milk, it was only 2 ounces!  I was crushed! I realized that the storage bag is not an accurate measurement for the milk. So I would always pump in a bottle and then transfer the milk from the bottle to the storage bags.  I used a small funnel that I bought new at my local Bed, Bath and Beyond and very carefully transferred the milk from the bottle to the storage bag. This seems like a lot of work but it’s definitely better than defrosting what you thought was 4 ounces and it being only 2 ounces.  When you’re breastfeeding, every ounce counts!
  • Label your storage bags.  In my breastfeeding registry guide, I suggested getting storage bags that have an area for you to write down information.  Hopefully, you’re going have a lot of milk to store so you want to make sure to label them all.  You should write your baby’s name (if you’re taking your breastmilk to a child care facility), the date of the milk (very important as breastmilk has very specific expiration date), and how many ounces are in the bag.
  • Create a calming environment when nursing.  Depending on your baby, it could take a minimum of 30 minutes to nurse especially at the beginning so make sure you’re completely comfortable and in a calming environment.  I used to enjoy nursing my baby in a rocking chair in her room. Take advantage of this time to relax, breathe and enjoy your baby. I know some days will be tougher than others but you won’t always have these moments so try to cherish them.
  • Go potty! No matter what, make sure to use the bathroom before nursing.  Again, it could take at least 30 minutes to nurse your baby.  The last thing you want is to be nursing your baby and being uncomfortable because you need to use the restroom. Believe me, I have been there and it is not fun!
  • Give yourself a break!  Breastfeeding can take a lot of you so make sure to give yourself a break and don’t put so much pressure on yourself.  I remember one day during one of my daughter’s growth spurts, I was extremely tired and run down.  I called my mother and asked her to please come over.  After nursing my daughter, I was able to take an hour nap. When I woke up, I felt 100% better.  I know as a first time mom, you don’t want to ask for help but you have to!  One of my favorite mommy mantras is “Happy mommy, happy baby!”.  If you are tired and overwhelmed, you can’t be a good mommy to your baby so make sure to take care of you even if it’s taking a nice walk around the block or taking a nap when your baby naps.  The laundry and dishes can wait.  However, your health and happiness cannot!

I remember how important it was for me to have someone to ask questions to when I was breastfeeding so please reach out if you have any questions or need clarification on anything. I’m excited to help!

Remember you are SIMPLY extraordinary!

Mexican Fiesta at Home Menu

Hola!

See below the full menu to host your very own Mexican fiesta.  When I hosted a few nights ago in my own home, it took me a total of 30 minutes to do everything.  The only things I had to actually cook was the beef and chicken which doesn’t take very long.  Everything else just had to be taken out of its container and places in serving bowls.  Super easy and so much fun!

Menu:

  • Chips and Salsa
  • Simply Homemade Guacamole
  • Ground Beef: Cook 1lb of ground beef with taco seasoning.
  • Ground Chicken: Cook 1lb of ground chicken with taco seasoning.
  • Caramelized Onions & Peppers
  • Black Beans:  Cook a can of Goya black beans with a teaspoon of oil and season with a 1/8 teaspoon of Goya Adobo for about 8-10 minutes in a saucepan.  You can find all of these products in any local grocery store.
  • Hard and soft taco shells

Toppings:

  • Mexican blended cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Taco sauce
  • Chopped Lettuce
  • Diced Tomato

And don’t forget the sangria!  For an even more authentic look, serve in Mexican inspired dishes.  Email me with any questions.

Let me know how your Mexican Fiesta went!

Simply Homemade Guacamole Recipe

So last night, I had a Mexican fiesta dinner at my house.  I realized that you definitely do not need to go to a Mexican restaurant for delicious Mexican food.  I’m sharing my super easy and delicious homemade guacamole. Serve it as part of your very own Mexican night at the house! I will be posting the entire menu soon. You will be shocked on how easy (and super fun) it can be!  Enjoy!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients
  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced (I did 1 1/2 lime because I love my guac to be extra limey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (OPTIONAL)
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (OPTIONAL)
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
Presentation is everything so serve in a Mexican themed bowl or even better, get yourself a  molcajete.  I bought mine at http://www.crateandbarrel.com.
Garnish with diced tomatoes and serve!
 Homemade Guacamole

Baby Registry Guide for Breastfeeding Mommies

Congrats mommy to be for even considering breastfeeding!  I breastfed for 14 months, 8 of those months I was working full time.  I can definitely tell you that breastfeeding is challenging!  However, you have already taken the first step which is deciding to try so yay for you!

Below are the items that I personally used for breastfeeding.  Look for a post about my breastfeeding tips and tricks coming soon!

  • Breast Pump: If you are planning to breastfeed, you must have a breast pump. There’s tons of different types out there so do your research on this and know that they can be very costly.  This is definitely an investment but one of the best ones you can make!  Plus, think about how much more money is it to buy formula.
    • Money saving tip: Some insurance companies are providing breast pumps for free for eligible mommies. Definitely check this out before you register.
  • Nursing bras: At the beginning, I wasn’t going to invest in nursing bras until I started nursing.  I discovered very quickly that nursing bras are the greatest investment!  Make sure to get a proper fitted bra because you need to be as comfortable as possible.  Keep in mind that they can be a bit expensive but having them is a life saver so definitely something I would suggest spending money on.
    • Mommy Tip: Understandingly, some mommies don’t feel comfortable putting this on the register.  This might be an item that you can get on your own and if you’re lucky with a gift card.
  • Nipple Cream: This is a very important item to get.  It will help soothe especially at the beginning when your breasts aren’t used to breastfeeding. I personally loved the Lasinoh HPA® Lanolin.  It’s 100% natural so it’s completely safe for mommy and baby.  I used to put in on after every feeding and in the 14 months of breastfeeding, I never had any irritations.
    • Mommy Tip: This is a typically inexpensive item that you can just get on your own if you don’t feel comfortable putting this on the registry.
  • Disposable nursing pads:  Some women use this to help with “leaking”.  However, I used this to protect my (very expensive) nursing bra from the nipple cream.  I used the Lasinoh brand simply because they were right next to my nipple cream but you can get whatever makes more sense to you.
  • Nursing cover: This is truly a personal choice. If you feel comfortable breastfeeding in public without a cover, then rock on!  I personally felt more comfortable with a cover.  I also would use it when I had to pump and had family over. It takes about 30 minutes or so to pump. So on the days that I didn’t feel like going into another room, I would use my cover.
    • Money saving tip: I was shocked to see how many expensive covers are out there.  I know as a new mom, you want everything shiny and new. However, all you need is something you can hang off your neck and be big enough to cover your breasts. So you really only need one and it doesn’t have to be a fancy designer one. This is where you can save your money.
  • Supportive pillow: There are tons of different options out there.  So this is really a personal choice.  Unfortunately, you’re really not going to know what’s the best option until you actually start breastfeeding which is what happened to me. I registered for one pillow and ended using the Boppy pillow which was a life saver!  It was way more comfortable and a lot less expensive than the one I registered for.  I loved it so much that both my mother and mother in law ended up getting them in their homes so that I didn’t have to travel with it.  would definitely suggest getting something because a regular pillow is not designed to give you and your baby proper support.
  • Bottles: If you’re breastfeeding, why do you need bottles?  Well, there will be a time when you’re not going to be able to breastfeed your baby so you need to have bottles on hand for these moments. Register for bottles that work with both your breast pump and your baby.  Additionally, I used the bottles to properly measure how much milk I pumped before putting it in the storage bags.  I’ll discuss this further in my breastfeeding tips post coming soon.
  • Storage bags: Now that you have all this milk, where are you going to put it?  Hopefully, you’re going to go through these like crazy so I would strongly suggest registering for a few boxes of them.  I would get storage bags where you can write baby’s name (if you plan on providing breast milk at an outside child care facility), date and amount of milk.  At one point, I was fortunate to have over 20 bags in my freezer so having this information right on the bag was extremely helpful.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.  I owe my success in breastfeeding because of all the amazing support I received from my fellow mommy friends so feel free to reach out if you need support!

I would love to help you!

Remember you are SIMPLY extraordinary!

Baby Registry Guide

Congrats Mommy to Be! So excited for you! The time has come! You are registering for your baby!!!!  You eagerly go to to the store. You get your gun but then you realize you have no clue what to get… I have been there!  Hopefully, the below list will guide you.  Enjoy and have fun!

When I was pregnant, I took a child care class and the instructor gave great tips about what you should and shouldn’t register. I also had great help from my fellow mommy friends who gave me great advice on products, gadgets and all things baby!  I also figured out items that I needed more of once my daughter was born.  I practically lived at my local Buy Buy Baby store for the first few months!  Hopefully, with the below list, you won’t have to as well.

  • Infant Car Seat
  • Convertible Car Seat: Yes babies need 2 different types of car seats!  The 1st one is usually up to 18-20 lbs or so. Once they outgrow that one, you move them to a rear facing position in a regular car seat. Most important thing about a car seat is that you want to invest in a good one and not get an old or borrowed one for maximum safety. If you spend your money anywhere, this should be it.
    • Mommy Tip: Get an infant car seat that you can clip on your stroller.  It’s a great benefit to not have to wake or move your infant baby from a car seat to a stroller especially in the Fall/Winter.
  • Stroller: There’s tons of strollers out there geared for every possible lifestyle.  I would go into the baby store if possible and try them out.  You’re going to be pushing this gear for awhile so you have to make sure to love it!
  • High Chair: I personally love the space saver high chair. You put it right on a regular chair so you automatically minimize another bulky item in the house. Plus, they grow with the baby.  My 2 year old daughter still sits in hers now. I just took off the tray and she eats right at the table with us. I also love that it has removable machine washable pads which makes clean up a breeze. I would definitely check this type of product before registering for a “traditional” high chair.
  • Pack and Play: This is a great item to have for many reasons.  I used it every day as a changing table and napping area for my daughter the first few weeks.  I live in a 2-story home and climbing up and down stairs with a newborn after a C-section was out of the question.  So having the pack and play in the main level of the house was great. Now, I keep it in my car in case we decide to have an impromptu sleepover somewhere.  We have also used it when we travel where it’s at a hotel or visiting grandparents.  They have tons of different options so figure out which one best suits your lifestyle.
  • Rock and Play: This is something I discovered after having my daughter and now I suggest that all moms register for this!  It’s a life saver.  I loved it because it’s high enough where I could rock my baby and not have to bend over. It was also great to have her sit in it while I read her a book, folded clothes or cooked dinner.  And unlike a bouncer or swing, it’s a bit higher which alleviates having you bending all the time.  It’s also great to travel with bc it folds nicely.  Once you have it, you can’t imagine your life without it!
  • Tub: There are some super fancy tubs out there. I say get a simple, inexpensive without all the gadgets because your baby will be in it for no more than a year or so.  Plus, a baby just needs a warm bath not a full spa treatment. This is where you can save your money.
  • Toiletries:  Just like their mommies, babies need their toiletries!  Remember to register for shampoo, body wash, lotion, baby bum lotion. I would suggest registering for one of each of these items and not more only because you want to make sure your baby’s skin agrees with the products before you stock up.  Plus, you only use a small amount so you don’t go through this as quickly as let’s say diapers! Don’t forget grooming items like a comb, brush, emery boards and a nail clipper.
  • Bath Towels: I definitely suggest registering for at least 3 of the hooded towels. The last thing you need to have is worry about not having a clean towel on hand. Having 3 helps that problem.
  • Crib Sheets: Like the bath towels, I would register for at least 3 crib sheets.
  • Bibs, bibs and more bibs: You don’t realize how much babies spit up!  You’re going to go through a few bibs. Though it’s very tempting, try and register for the packs of 5 or more and not just the one really cute one that says “Mommy has my heart”.  You’re going to need generic ones that can get dirty and stained for the day that you introduce sweet peas!
  • Sleep sacks: Once your baby is too big to be swaddled and too small for a blanket, this is a great option.  It keeps the baby covered all night and there is no safety concern.  There are some gowns that you can get that are open on the bottom.  However, the instructor from our child care class brought up a good point.  Once the baby starts kicking, they can move the gown up and it could go over their face.  With the sleep sack, you don’t have to worry about anything and they come in different fabrics like fleece which is great for the winter time.
  • Breathable Blankets: Though the receiving blankets are cute, your baby will grow out of them really quickly.  I would suggest registering for muslin blankets like the ones from Aden + Anais which can convert from a swaddling blanket, to a stroller blanket to an emergency bib if needed.  They come in amazing colors and patterns and they get softer and better with every wash. My daughter still uses them now when she goes to sleep and she’s 2!
  • Onesies: This should be the only clothing item you should really register for unless you really want a particular outfit.  People are going to get you tons of clothes regardless so there’s no need to register for it.  Register for a few different sizes as you will be using them for awhile and people love getting these as presents.  I would also register for the side snap ones which are great for newborns especially during the first few weeks when their belly buttons hasn’t fallen off yet.
  • Bottles and accessories: There are tons of options to choose based on your lifestyle.  Remember to register for a few of them.  You be surprised how quickly you go through bottles. The last thing you need is to have to constantly wash them because you don’t have enough.  Also, make sure to register for at least two bottle brushes and a drying rack.  Some people register for bottle warmers.  I think that’s more of an “extra” item than a must have so you can decide.
  •  Toys and books: So here’s my philosophy on toys. Less is more.  I’m not a fan of toys that have lights and sounds especially for a newborn.  Look at “old-school” toys like blocks, balls, and that cute multi-colored ring toy that is always a whole lot of fun.  Even now, my daughter still has toys that let her use her own imagination and “put in the fun” instead of pressing a button that brings the fun to her.  Plus, once you hear the sounds over and over on these toys, you almost wished you didn’t have them in your house.  And don’t forget books!!!  Remember your little one might be a little rough with the books at the beginning so register for board books as well as the classics.
  • Diaper Bag: I save my favorite item for last.  I would suggest getting a diaper bag that has lots of compartments, has a washable material and something that Dad would want to walk around with as well.  Skip Hop is my favorite brand because their quality is exceptional and they have great styles of bags for every type of mom.

So those are the basics.  Feel free to email or comment with any questions or suggestions on particular brands.  Breastfeeding mommies, I will have a post soon specifically for you as you’re going to need a few extra items.  Let me know what your favorite registry item is.  I would love to hear from you!

Remember you are SIMPLY extraordinary!

Summer Orzo Chicken Salad

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb of dry orzo pasta
  • 1 lb of cooked grilled chicken
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mozzarella pearls
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, cut in halves
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan bring 3 quarts lightly salted water to boiling.
  2. Add the orzo and boil for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking together.
  3. Drain orzo in a colander and transfer to medium sized bowl. Cool for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients plus salt & pepper to taste. Fold until all ingredients well until mixed well
  5. Serve chilled or at room-temperature.

Summer Orzo Chicken Pasta

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